Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Why Writers Need Blogs by Lucy Radley

You’re a writer and you don’t blog? Get with it! Read on to find out why you really, really should have a blog.

Blogs Exercise Your Writing Muscles
Writing for a blog every week is like going to the gym…it flexes your writing muscles. Once you get into the routine of working, you’ll find you want to do it more and more. Blog posts are usually shorter than that 100,000 word novel you’re working on (if they’re not, you’re in trouble), so they have the added benefit of helping to focus your mind on the important stuff.

Blogs Attract New Audiences
Remember the Dark Ages before the Internet, when you were as likely to bump into someone useful you didn’t know and tell them about your work as you were to travel to the moon? Those days are no more. Once you get a blog you’ll make friends and contacts with people you would have no other way of meeting.

Blogs Increase Connections
People who read blogs are highly likely to be connected to Facebook, Twitter and other social media. Each of these media open up a whole new world of connections and interactions: it’s a welcome snowball effect.

Blogs Help You Build A Fan Base
If you’ve already got fans/followers who are following your progress think how much easier it will be to pitch your idea to an agent or publisher. If you can offer them a ready-made audience/consumers, then your submission will look all the more attractive.

Blogs Help You Build Your Brand
Think of your blog as your shop window…it’s a reflection of who you are and what you’re about, your values and aspirations. Nowadays it isn’t enough just to be a good writer with an eye for character and a feel for plot. You’ve got to be able to market yourself. A blog is a free and relatively painless way to get yourself out there.

Blogs Can Double Up As Your Website
Maybe you’re just not that techy or maybe the idea of your own website to fill is daunting. A blog is a perfect solution to this. Generally speaking, they’re easy to set up and maintain, come with ready-made social media sharing buttons and are free. You can add pages just like a website too. What’s not to like?

Blogs Give You Space To Think Aloud
Blogs are personal. They’re a reflection and record of your writing journey, so naturally they end up being a comfortable place where you can unload and process your thoughts, then step back and reflect on where you’ve been with your writing and where you’re headed.

Blogs Give You Feedback
The “comments” facility on blogs allows your readers to leave feedback. This is a vital part of the writing process and can really steer you in the right direction with your writing. Again, if you can say to an agent or publisher that you’ve had feedback and have acted on it, you’ve got a much stronger pitch to offer them.

Blogs Are Fun!
They don’t have to be serious. And even if they are, chances are that once you get started you’ll find the whole process addictive. Checking out your stats, responding to comments and thinking up the next blog post will become your latest hobby. Go on, you know you want to!

You Might (Just Might) Get A Book Deal
Take the case of Christian Lander. His humorous blog Stuff White People Like became something of a viral success story, gently sending up the values held dear to the average white liberal American. But Lander had the last laugh. Random House offered him a rumoured $300,000 for a book based on his blog (Whiter Shades of Pale). And he’s not alone. Just think, next time, it could be you!

Ideas for Writers’ Blogs
Looking for inspiration for your blog? Read on... 
  • Blog as a character from your writing.
  • Your progress as a writer: the highs and lows and everything in-between.
  • Is your writing set in history? Why not go through a period in history day-by-day and blog about events that took place back then?
  • Blog about your favorite writers/books and what they mean to you.
  • Try a flash fiction blog by writing a short piece of fiction for each post and see what feedback you get.
  • In an inspirational blog you can post a photo, quote or challenge each time to inspire others to write.
  • Blog about writing competitions. You’ll be providing a useful service and meeting up with other aspiring writers.
  • Dedicate your blog to a genre of writing you love, whether it’s romance, sci-fi, history or crime.
  • A magazine-style blog including interviews with other writers, short news items and longer features.
  • A “nuts and bolts” blog offering tips to other writers on how to find work, arrange your schedule and even organize your finances!
Lucy Radley is a freelance writer and researcher living in London. She has been working in the industry for over five years and has had the opportunity to work with many leading brands during this time.