Continuing the Build Your Own Website discussion over at the SCBWI message board. We've already discussed WHO you're doing it for ... and we've had a look at the platforms available for an author to build a website with as little expense as possible (this is not for the select few who have marketing budgets). Now comes the question that those of us authors and authors-in-waiting wrestle with: should I or shouldn't I blog?
In 2007, I gave a talk at a conference entitled Who's Afraid of the World Wide Web. I said I couldn't understand why authors didn't take advantage of the wealth of free tools to promote themselves on the web. Like blogging.
In 2007, blog trackers were claiming between 50 to 112 million blogs and authors were still asking me "So .. you're a web designer, what is this thing called a web blog?" Four years later, it's no longer a question ... more of a lament. "I want to start blogging but I don't know where to start".
In 2007 I might have agreed that it was a good idea. Now, in 2011, with so many author blogs in the blogosphere ... is it still a good way to stand out?
I came up with five reasons why an author should NOT blog.
1 It's addicting and obsessive making. It might suck your energies away from your true passion - the book!
2 Are you really ready to bare yourself to the world?
3 What's up there is up there for a long long time and can be forwarded round and round and round the world. What if you say the wrong thing?
4 There are too many blogs already. you will be one more voice in a very noisy world. there are other ways to be heard.
5 It's too hard to build an audience. what if nobody comments? Can you live with "0 Comments", day after day, blog post after blog post?
But for every argument AGAINST blogging, there are strong arguments IN FAVOUR:
1 Search engines love blogs. blogs get listed almost immediately on search engines. In fact, Google loves blogs so much that it bought Blogger.
2 Blogging allows you to have a conversation with your audience. Yes, so
does Facebook and Twitter, but on a blog, the conversation stays there for more people to discover as the audience grows.
3 If you write for teenagers, an online profile is an expectation. Teenagers EXPECT to have direct access to their authors to have blogs.
4 A blog allows you to be current, topical, on the money about everything from your news to whatever is trending in the world.
5 Unlike the scattergun approach of some social media, a blog is specific in its appeal and can help you target the audience that really matters.
Still confused and worried that you're not doing the right thing? The most recent issue of the SCBWI journal had some wise words from Susan Salzman Raab, author of An Author's Guide to Book Promotion and marketing advisor of SCBWI:
Stay grounded and be strategic. Don't feel that just because a colleague tells you he knows the latest and greatest about how to use Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Flickr that what works for him is what will work for you - there's more available than anyone can try, or anyone can know... the real question is: "what is out there and how does that relate to what you're trying to accomplish" SCBWI Bulletin, July/August 2010
My takeaway from all this? I blog because it's a way of engaging with my audience. It makes me a better writer, if a bit scattier. I don't know if it's making people buy my book. I blog because it's fabulous fun - and that's the best reason of all.