Should a Writer Have a Blog?

Typing via PresentationPro MSPubA reader asked: “I’m curious about one thing in particular, at this moment. How important is having a blog and lots of comments to a writer’s success? Reason I ask: I started blogging almost a year ago, and got sidetracked with blogging. I’m now thinking of changing my schedule from posting twice per week to once every two weeks, just to make more time for my writing projects. ”

How important is a blog to a writer?

Question: How many bloggers does it take to change a lightbulb?
Answer: 100. 1 to change the lightbulb and 99 to comment on how it should have been done differently.

I began blogging when I was researching for my first book. My main character was a blogger who wrote about the bloopers and bloomers that populated her life. She attracted many followers. At that time, I didn’t really know what a blog was. I set one up, started writing about my life much as my character does, and before I knew where I was, I had hundreds of followers. Many of those followers bought my first book when it was published. I blogged every day. It wore me out and took over my life, so I cut down my posts to twice a week.

I have now been blogging for four years and there are days when I wonder why I am not writing books instead of attempting to come up with new stuff for my blog. I now only post about once a week. The blog has changed identity and is where I entertain other authors, maintain my presence as a writer and keep in touch with my faithful followers.

So, is blogging worthwhile and will it add to a writer’s success? The answer is slightly more complicated than a simple yes or no. You really need to ask yourself why you are blogging.

Marketing people in particular say authors need to have an online presence and blogging allows them to build their digital reputation and drive traffic to their author website. That is easier said than done. First off, a writer needs people to read their posts. They have to work at growing that fan base. I did so by visiting blogs written by women who I suspected were a similar age to me. That in itself took weeks of research and participating in endless blog hops. I left comment after comment about their posts and eventually they trailed over to my blog, where if they liked it, they followed. It took a year of hard work, posting daily, visiting blogs, building relationships and cultivating friendships. If you don’t have the luxury of that time, you’ll be posting into an empty void.

Blogs aren’t the only way to grow a fan base. You can post for other blogs or websites on a monthly basis rather than run your own blog. Or, you could maintain a Facebook page and keep potential readers happy there and get feedback. And, don’t forget Pinterest. It offers enormous potential for attracting readers. (See my tutorial post.)

Some argue that blogging helps showcase your expertise or define your niche. Many authors use it to write small bite-sized chunks of their work. I agree. My writing improved hugely after writing blog posts for a year and my storytelling skills developed. However, this can equally be done using Wattpad. Wattpad is a supportive, viral community of readers to reach out to and expand awareness of your work. It is the world’s most popular e-book community. There is even a chance you will be noticed by a publishing house.

Much depends on the subject matter of your blog. If you write aimlessly about what you did one week and what you watched on television another, or about a book you read, there is no structure to your blog. It needs to follow a theme. I wrote three blogs that attempt to give a positive view of ageing. They are filled with anecdotes and jokes. I try to write posts that demonstrate my ability to write humorous pieces rather than advertise my books, and I hope anyone stumbling upon them will enjoy them.

That strategy has finally earned me attention as a writer. Last year, I was invited to write regularly for the Huffington Post Huff/50 and more recently, for a national magazine.

Without a structure to your blog you cannot connect or find the right people to follow you and hopefully become your readers.

Over the last year, like many who have blogs, I wondered whether it was worth my while continuing. I have made some dear friends through blogging. I have hosted book launch parties filled with games and prizes on my blogs and enjoyed my time as a blogger. I can say that without doubt, many of my debut book sales came from followers of my blog. But in recent years, sales have come from other sources as I experimented with other marketing strategies.

Blogging can be a demanding mistress. As long as you are involved on other social media sites and have a website then you can happily give up your blog. There are other ways to grow your fan base and get feedback on your writing that don’t take up as much time. I am of the opinion, if you don’t enjoy something then don’t continue with it. You are either a keen blogger or a reluctant one. If the latter, then consider a different use for your time.

Obviously, blogging and writing are connected. If you are starting out as a writer then blogging is an excellent way to meet friends who will no doubt support you in your endeavours. However, it will require dedication. You need to spend time cultivating your relationships. You can’t use it merely to advertise your wares. This is where I see a rift. Writers are writers who maintain a blog to help with their writing, whereas bloggers love blogging.

Bloggers are a social bunch. They need you to visit their blogs and read about their lives as much as you want them to drop by and see what you have been discussing. It’s much like having a virtual coffee morning meeting at someone’s house. If you merely want to use your blog to direct people to your writing then think again. Blogging is for bloggers and to be good at it you need to be focused on it. So, over to you. You need to ask yourself these questions:

  •  Why do you blog?
  •  Is blogging taking up too much time you could put to better use?
  •  Does your blog have an identity and/or theme or is it a random collection of posts?
  •  Do you enjoy blogging?
  •  Have you got sufficient energy and enthusiasm to put into a blog and your other writing projects?

Once you have answered those, you’ll be clear as to how you should proceed.

Author: Carol Wyer

Carol E Wyer is a Contributing Author for Indies Unlimited and an award-winning and best-selling author of humorous novels including MINI SKIRTS AND LAUGHTER LINES, SURFING IN STILETTOS, and HOW NOT TO MURDER YOUR GRUMPY. Carol has been featured on NBC News, BBC Radio, and in The Huffington Post. For more about Carol, go to her website or her Amazon author page.

40 thoughts on “Should a Writer Have a Blog?”

  1. I am basically NOT a social person. I have a website/blog that I use to post the occasional piece of my own, but mostly to share informative posts from others I’ve read. I keep promising myself I’ll be more regular but it simply doesn’t happen. I know I need more of a ‘presence’ out there but I’ve always felt that if I don’t have something of value to say i should shut up. After looking at your questions it is clear I am not a blogger and I don’t think that will change. I hope my involvement with other sites and media will keep me in the loop.

  2. Interesting thoughts, Carol.

    I see blogging as akin to the op-ed page in a newspaper. Bloggers are like regular columnists who spout off about one thing or another. Some columnists are focused on a specific issue or range of issues; some are humorous; and some write about whatever strikes their fancy. I’ll read any of those, and sometimes the “whatever strikes their fancy” are the most entertaining kind. But the key is to be entertaining, or at least interesting.

    I do agree with you on a few points: It’s important to set a schedule and stick to it as much as possible; committing yourself to a hectic blogging schedule is liable to lead to burnout (better, I think, to start with one post per week, on a specific day, and add days when you can handle it); and if you’re always blogging about your books, you’ll bore the snot out of your readers.

    1. Lynne, I like the op-ed idea.That’s a very good way of viewing blogging. I agree wholeheartedly about being entertaining. If it isn’t, no one will visit you again.
      Sniggering at your ‘bore the snot’ comment!

  3. Thanks for this – I’ve spent the last few weeks debating whether or not to delete my WordPress blog. I’m just not a blogger (nor am I social!). I think you’ve just answered my questions. 🙂

    1. I’m feeling feisty today. (Most unlike me.) If the blog isn’t working for you, bin it, Melinda. You’ll be better off working on your writing. Glad I could help. 🙂

  4. Good post, Carol. You are definitely one of the hardest working writer/bloggers out there. I’ve been on hiatus from my blog since the holidays. I’ve found it’s too difficult to maintain a blog while I’m trying to finish a book (which I’m in the process of now). I wish I were different, but I don’t enjoy multitasking–I’d much rather concentrate on one project at a time (I know, major snorezzzzz). I am continuing with author interviews, although I’ve decided to do 1 per month instead of 4. And, I will undoubtedly continue to inflict my opinions on the unsuspecting public at random intervals, but keeping a schedule doesn’t appear to be in my immediate future 🙂

    1. Dv, as far as I’m concerned, writing should come first and blogging can take up valuable writing time. I’ve just put my blog on hold too for he very same reason. There are only so many writing projects I can manage at any one time and I have had to have a two week break from the blog. I’d rather give it my full attention than a little. Looking forward to your next release.

  5. I have three blogs: two on specific bits of history and one about publishing. Are they valuable? Well, sometimes. The History Press in South Carolina discovered my history blog in 2011 and that led to a two-part book series. I post to my publishing blog when I have something useful to say and then promote the post through FB and Twitter. It builds an online presence and some creds. I never post an article just for the sake of saying something–that is a disservice to readers.

    A blog is just one card in your hand along with FB, Twitter, Pinterest, Goodreads etc.

    I will continue blogging, partly because I like it and partly because every little bit helps.

    Thanks Carol.

    1. Hats off to you. You are doing a superb job and proof of how blogging can be very successful. For those who have a clear idea of what they want to blog about, a good blog is an ace in your pack of cards.

  6. I guess it is only fitting that I respond to this post since you wrote it just for me. LOL

    Hmm. Seeing my own words at the opening of this post certainly got my attention. I was afraid with all of the posts posted on this site, I was going to miss it, especially since I only really read one to three each week, depending on what’s being discussed.

    Okay, I’ve discovered that I love blogging. I am now a blogger and a writer. I’ve spent the last year cultivating several relationships, making blogger friends, finding a following, and even have some fans. I’m on several social media sites, too, but don’t really like the time-suck of them as I get caught up in meaningless things that basically waste my time. I am on most sites, however, as part of my marketing strategy. I dislike marketing, and don’t know a lot about it, but realize it’s a necessary evil.

    Until a few months ago, my blog was a bit of a mess. It had no structure, I posted whatever, whenever.

    Finally, a light bulb went off in my head, and I now know that blogging on a schedule and having a specific niche is important, and so I have restructured things. I have always stuck to posting twice a week, but did so on different days.

    My blog has a theme now: True Tales Tuesdays and Featured Fridays.

    On Tuesdays, my readers can expect to find a personal, true story.

    Fridays are reserved for all of my other posts, whatever they are about I’ve done author interviews and book reviews, I’ve posted social media articles that continually drive traffic to my blog, and have had hosted a few guests. Fridays are not the greatest days to post traffic-wise, but it seems like my readers like the theme. As do I.

    I now blog because I love it. In fact, this Friday I am celebrating my first blogoversary! I’ve created my own “badge” for this event, and finally (today, as a matter of fact), just created a signup form for my new newsletter, which will permit my subscribers the “inside scoop” as well as opportunities for free copies of my books and ebooks.

    I’d also like to add that I’ve only had my laptop for one year. Not bad, huh?

    Carol, I’m thrilled that you have taken the time to offer your opinions and answers to my questions. I’m flattered that KS Brooks took the time to let me know about this post, too. I’m honored, as well, to have become a part of Indies Unlimited and am grateful for the many author friends I’ve connected with as a result. Well, maybe “many” is a stretch, but I’m hoping that will change this year!

    I do know a few of you guys and gals, though. 😉

    And I’m always grateful for what I learn from you all.

    You’ve given me quite a few things to ponder as I continue my online journey into a career in writing and freelancing. It truly seems like my options are limitless!

    My biggest problem now is finding the time to do all I want to do. But I’m working on a few new time-management strategies.

    Thanks again, Carol, for sharing your wisdom.

    I have a feeling I’m going to love being an “Indie” author; everyone is so supportive of one another! I also feel like I may be shunned if I go the traditional route with one of my books…

    Either way, I guess the only thing to do is keep plugging away at the dream. 😉

    And keep laughing at your awesome jokes! Gosh, I nearly fell off my chair when I read the lightbulb one!

    I sooo needed a laugh, too. I had surgery last week.

    Holy smokes. Is this, like, the longest comment, ever? Sorry!

    1. Jeepers, that’s practically a guest post, Lorraine. 😉 We are delighted you found us, and happy to hear you have found your blogging path.

      I look at blogging as being somewhat analogous to the space program. The mission objectives are often overshadowed by the many collateral benefits.

      There are problems to be confronted, challenges to be met. Along the way, we have to think outside the box. We have to impose self-discipline.

      If we do interviews, that will help make us better interviewers, but might just also make us better subjects for having been on the other side.

      We learn new ways to engage people. Maybe we meet someone to collaborate with or discover someone who has some wisdom to share.

      If we focus on blogging as merely a way to tell people about our books, we miss many other potential benefits that can make us better writers and provide us with new horizons.

      1. LOL, yeah, I was thinking the same thing by the time I finished typing all that!

        I agree with your insight, too, about improving ourselves as writers.

        I like learning and improving myself – and do it constantly. Good to know I’m on the right track with everything!

        1. What a reponse, Lorraine! Thanks for replying and you are very welcome. I hope my post has helped clarify the issue. I have been contacted by quite a few writers recently, asking about the importance of blogs so I was happy to put my thoughts down in this post.
          I’m genuinely delighted you enjoy blogging. My own experience has been incredibly rewarding and I can say that I have honestly met and made some sincere friends through it. You must be generous with your time though and visit others as well as answering commens. It can all be exceptionally time consuming.
          One thing I am sure of is that bloggers are great friends and opportunities can arise through good blogging, so keep it up and thank you fr giving me the chance to wax lyrical about something I am passionate about,

  7. Good post, Carole. One thing to consider, while it doesn’t have to be a blog I think an author should still have a website even if it rarely changes as a web presence under his or her control and as a place to gather email addresses for newsletters, even if sent infrequently. The justification I’ve heard for this, which makes sense,, is that depending on social media for whatever web presence you have leaves you at the mercy of the social media sites which can change the rules at a moments notice. For example, the things facebook has been doing that make it so most of your followers don’t see posts.

    1. Al, you are spot on. It is very important for authors to have websites and I should have mentioned it here. Thank you very much for highlighting it. I have a website and three blogs but my website is most important for the reasons you give.
      Authors, take note!

  8. Great post, Carol, thank you! I enjoy blogging and engaging with people online. Last year I tried WordPress’s “one-a-day” challenge but after a few months, it really tired me out. I don’t get to it more than once a week or so these days, but after all that writing and editing on other projects, I often have topics running around in my brain that I want to share or get feedback on from readers.

    1. Laurie,I used to write about 1000 words every day for my blog. It nearly killed me. I built up a huge following but wouldn’t recommend anyone does more than two posts a week. There is blogging, and blogging! I couldn’t even consider the post a day challenge now. Either I have become lazy or just old!

  9. Thank you, Carol. This post has helped to confirm what I have been doing the last six months or so with my blog. You’re smart. 🙂
    I started my blog to work on my writing, the same as you. I have looked at some of my earlier posts and cringed, but I’ve left them alone. All the marketing and branding books I read in 2013 have convinced me that a successful blog offers a benefit to the reader. I thought long and hard about what I’m good at, and that is what I will blog about. Are you surprised that it will be food and recipes? I love to cook and entertain. This is something about me that I can offer to people. I write one post per week on food, posting a recipe. I also feature authors and post to Pinterest. You wrote a wonderful post for me that has been reposted quite a few times on Pinterest.
    I think writers can over-blog. I don’t have time for this. I try to visit other author’s blogs, and I often do not comment unless I have something to contribute.
    I think readers can sense if a blogger is insincere. I try to represent myself as I really am.
    Good luck with your projects in 2014.

    1. Lois,I have been called many things in life but never smart. I think I love you now. 🙂
      Seriously, though, yours is one of the blogs that I think has a real sense of purpose and supports your work. I actually thought about mentioning it in this post because it demonstrates what I was saying about having an identity for your blog.
      Your passion clearly lies with Pinterest and the two: blog and Pinterest in tandem, work very well for you. I shall have to come up with a new name to describe your blogging. Maybe you are a Pinterblogger?
      Yes, bloggers can easily overblog. It is much better to write less but make those posts relevant.
      I am very flattered about my post being repinned. Watch out! My head is swelling.

      1. Pinterblogger! You should trademark that quickly.
        Thanks for the compliment regarding my blog. It took a while before I settled in and figured out what my readers wanted. I am, unfortunately, not the person to go to for proper comma placement in a stream of adjectives. I can, however, explain how to make a roux. 🙂

  10. Thank you for this post, Carol. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about having a blog. For about the last 18 months I’ve been struggling (and I mean struggling) to put “quality content” up about once a week. Although I do have a few readers who always come and read what I’ve written, over the whole period I have not extended my readership base. Also, a lot of my posts have good ideas (especially comedic) which I now regard as wasted – I should’ve saved them and published them in a separate comedy book. Maybe I’m just no good at blogging, or maybe I’m too time-poor to be able to interact with other bloggers sufficiently enough. However, these are not the kind of problems I want to be wasting my energy on, because I’d much rather be writing stories. Thank you for telling me in this post that that would be okay 🙂

    1. Chris, I think your posts are well-written and fun. However, knowing your schedule and how busy you are, your time is probably better spent on writing your books and keeping up your Facebook status. You can be just as funny there and save that good stuff for your books where it will be appreciated more. 😀

  11. I have a blog attached to my website on which I sporadically post something. I wouldn’t exactly say I’m not social but I’m not overly social; I think I’ve always been only just as social as I need to be. And, like Chris, I’m time poor so I simply don’t have the time I would need to put something out consistently and connect on a regular basis with bloggers; I’m also not very good at multi-tasking. My website gives me an online presence, and I suppose my blog plays a small part in that, but I’m afraid I have enough distractions in my life without giving myself more. I truly envy those of your ilk, Carol, and your ability to stretch the very fabric of time to fit in all that you do.

    Excellent article, Carol.

    1. Thank you very much, TD. I hear you. I think you and many others struggle to find the time needed to work on a blog and interact with other bloggers. It is dreadfully time-consuming and you shouldfocus on your other projects first. I’d leave your blog as it stands and if, or when, you feel like adding to it then do so. Conserve your energy.
      Sadly, my fabric has been stretched to its limit and I have beef forced to time out from blogging this month. Who’d have thought it?

  12. Very nice post, Carol. There is a lot to think about here. I went into blogging with nothing more in mind than to chronicle the crazy writing path I was on. I didn’t really understand blogging, and I was kind of freaked out when people started to find me – and then come back. But I’m a social person, and visiting blogs and reading blogs was like a shiny new toy. I started getting around.

    My blog rarely offers advice or teaches anything, and I freely admit there is a fair amount of nonsense going on there. I sort of can’t help myself. I have a static website for my books, and I generally send people there rather than to the blog. Although the lady at the bank laughed one day when she was waiting on me. She said she found my blog. 😉

    I do stop blogging if my writing usurps my time, but I always come back. I don’t remember how you and I came to find each other. If I wasn’t using my book character for an avatar, you might have known sooner I was similar in age to you!

    1. Maddie, nonsense is always great fun to read! I recently discovered that my blog posts have been used by a vicar as part of his sermon each week.
      I don’t remember how we met online either but I’m jolly glad we did. Lie you, I love the social element to blogging.
      I think I might have to get an avatar soon. My wrinkles are beginning to spread so far over my face, I’ll soon look like a road map and I’ll soon frighten people away. 🙂

  13. Hi Carol, I think a blog is a good idea in terms of web presence but only, ONLY, if it is kept current. A blog with a last posted date of over two months ago sends a signal to visitors that the writer is disinterested. And if he/she is disinterested, then why on earth would I take the time to check out the rest of the site?

    A blog should be a calling card, a branding tool, consistent with other online activities and points of view. Definitely agree with your points about staying with a theme.

    1. Jo-Anne, hear hear! You make a very valid point. A blog that is out of date is not worth having. Having left mine alone for two weeks while I was travelling abroad, I know it is now time to get onto it and update it even though I left a message saying I would be away.
      It is very much a calling card and branding tool and should showcase you.

  14. Really great post – although I’m curious about one item in particular. You mentioned that some writers post chunks of their writing – I think that’s a great idea, but does anyone know how agents/publishers feel about it? If you post sections of a WIP and later submit it for publication (and win big), what is okay/not okay to have on your blog as far as excerpted material?

    1. Hi Madison.
      That is a very interesting point because if you publish chunks of writing on any blog it can be considered as ”published material. So, if you want to enter it at a later date for a writing contest you might have already broken the contest rules.
      I can’t answer you with regards to the legalities of doing so, then publishing your work as a book but it seems that some authors have happily published on platforms like Wattpad and still been offered major publishing deals. (I’ll be saying more about that next month) In brief, if a work is good enough, I’m fairly sure an agent or publisher won’t be put off if snippets and sections have already been seen on a blog.
      Hope that answers your question. Sorry, for the delay. I was abroad with no internet connection!

  15. Great article Carol, and I agree – if you blog, you have to love blogging for its own sake because it can be very demanding. I discovered that I loved blogging, and it’s now become my window on the digital world. Not sure how successful it is in terms of marketing and promotion, but I have made some wonderful friends and that’s all that really matters to me.

    I hope you do continue with your blog as it’s a great pick-me-up. 🙂

    1. Thank you for your comment and kind words about my blog. It IS very demanding and as other writing projects come in, blogging becomes more difficult. however, I think it is addictive and I really feel I have made some excellent friends through blogging. I guess, I’ll always keep it up because I would miss the blogging community too much. You’re right, of course. Friendships are the driving force behind blogs like ours and that is what counts.

      1. Yes, it is addictive! I start every day with a coffee and the comments that have come in over night. Couldn’t imagine not having that sense of connectedness to look forward to each day. 🙂

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