Blogging for Your Local Newspaper

Reading the Local NewspaperWhat’s a writer’s biggest challenge? Apart, that is, from writing great books? Bringing those books, and the name of the author, to the public’s attention. It’s a never-ending job. We not only have to keep writing, keep putting out new (and better) work, but we have to get our names out there so people will notice. Yes, that means social media; that means online forums, that means book fairs and book signings and radio and TV interviews. But there could be a local outlet that’s right under your nose: blogging for your local newspaper.

I happen to live in a small town (~10,000 people) in northern Arizona. The nice thing about small towns is that the local media is usually very receptive to local talent. While chatting recently with a friend, a staff reporter for the Camp Verde Bugle, he suggested I apply for a blog at the newspaper. My first reaction was (1) I didn’t even know the paper had those, and (2) just what I need (*groan*), another blog. This, however, was going to be slightly different. Both my friend and I are photographers, so after sharing some of our more interesting shots with each other, he urged me to start a photo blog. Hmm, that was new. While I have, at times, entertained the idea of doing a photo book at some point, it’s far from the top of the priority list. But a blog …?

This appealed to me on several levels. First off, it didn’t have to be a long dissertation. The main thrust would be one photo per post, plus a brief description of where and when and how. Not so much what camera, what speed, what exposure, but what was going on, what brought the scene to my attention. Brief was good. I tend to spend about two days on every blog post about writing, wanting it to be the best it can be, so quick little vignettes about a photo could be worked into my schedule quite easily. The second advantage? You got it — getting my name out there. If every couple of weeks people read my blog, see my name, they just might, at some point, check out my books. Can’t hurt, that’s for sure.

But wait, you say. I’m not a photographer! You don’t have to be. What else do you do in your spare time? What other talents lie beneath the author surface? Do you love to cook? Love to tweak recipes into your own personal style? Do you garden, and have you discovered some nifty ways to display your plants or keep varmints from your vegetables? Do you love to hike and have mapped out many of the trails in your local area? Are you handy with a wrench or do you turn your hand to carpentry? Whatever latent talent you have could become a blog. Whatever you’ve learned could become an ah ha moment for someone else.

Now I’m not saying this will project you or me into the celebrity stratosphere. I’m not expecting any kind of a sales bump from this, but … you never know. This is just one more tool in our kitbag. One more plank in our platform. With the digital world at our fingertips, it would be easy to overlook the communities right outside our front doors, but why? They’re people; they’re readers. And people like to buy from people they feel they know.

So who’s with me? What have you got to share? Come on, you know you want to. Just find one tiny little thing that you can share with your neighbors. And if you’d like to get an idea of what one of these blogs looks like, you can check out my new photo blog here.

Author: Melissa Bowersock

Melissa Bowersock is an eclectic, award-winning author who writes in a variety of fiction and non-fiction genres. She has been both traditionally and independently published and lives in a small community in northern Arizona. Learn more about Melissa from her Amazon author page and her blog.

24 thoughts on “Blogging for Your Local Newspaper”

  1. That’s a good idea. I live in the wops near a small country town here in New Zealand. The local paper regularly uses my photos already. Mostly on sports topics but also various others. My photos have also been on national television on the daily evening weather. How did you persuade them to let you be a regular photo blogger?

    1. Tui, it was more the other way around–they asked me! The paper here is always looking for input from the reading public, and of course I’m happy to oblige. If your paper is already using your photos, hit ’em up with a proposition to do a blog. They might jump at the idea, and you might start a trend.

  2. Beautiful photo and explanation — it sure doesn’t read like something you threw together in 15 minutes!
    I think it makes sense to do this, especially if you are thinking of publishing a book of (or about) photography one day — this would be exactly what you want to be doing. Make sure you share it on PInterest, too, since I think a lot of people who love photography hang out there.

    1. Sandra, thanks much. I’m sure there’s a photo book somewhere in my future; it’s just all about making/taking time. But you make a good point about Pinterest. I have a photo board there, but I haven’t updated it in a while. Thanks for the reminder!

  3. I never knew there was such a thing. I have written to several newspapers about my books and asked if they would be interested in submitting my books, for a fee of course, but I never got word back from any of them.

    1. Newspapers nowadays are extremely short staffed. Most of them very rarely do book reviews. I think that is probably why there are these new opportunities for folks to blog for the papers. And another trend I’ve noticed is that some papers will not touch anything you send them (press releases, story requests, etc.) unless you purchase advertising. It never used to be this way, but times are tough for everyone.

      1. That’s the beauty of something like this: it’s a win-win. The paper gets a free column and you get the exposure. Give ’em a call and ask about it. I’d love to hear that more authors were taking advantage of this sort of thing.

  4. Congrats, Melissa. Sounds like a good plan. Wish I had something quick and easy to blog about. I like the idea of more exposure but I don’t think I can fit another full-length blog post into my schedule. A photo with a description is the perfect speed for the busy writer.

  5. Fantastic idea, Melissa. I must say, I’m impressed with your photo and the way you “painted a picture” with words! I hope that you’ll share more entries from your photo blog in the future.

  6. Wonderful cloud, Melissa. Now you’ve got me wondering: how do I turn tooled leather into a blog for my local paper, which is more interested in children’s tea parties and grannies’ knitting bees than things like that? 🙂
    I could, of course, just offer them regular articles and save them the cost of paying a journalist. they’re always trying to save money. But that would be cynical.

    1. Thanks, Ian. It sounds to me like your newspaper needs a “man cave” corner, and your creations could provide that. You might think about proposing a blog to them, not so much on the artistic side but on a pragmatic leaning. What useful items have you made? What have you learned about working with leather? I definitely think there’s an opportunity there. And re: being cynical, as I said above, it’s a win-win. Go for it!

  7. Really good idea. Building a grass roots following is something I’d be keen to do and showcasing your skills in this capacity is a good way to build your portfolio and brand. Who knows what opportunities it would lead to. Nice!

    1. Exactly, Aidan. It all contributes to our overall platform, and a small groundswell could grow with time. I’ve also gotten involved with the local library, putting on workshops about writing and publishing. More of that win-win activity!

  8. Great post, loved the blog and the idea.
    When I read Tul Allen’s post from New Zealand, it got me to thinking. Why not approach other areas of the country, even out of state or country, and submit a blog with pictures about your area as a way to educate the world about your little corner of the world–what it looks like, customs, dress, family, etc.
    It wouldn’t hurt to approach several areas, submitting the same blog post, doubling up on your exposure. Just a thought.

    1. Janice, that’s an excellent idea. I would not have thought of that. But just look at all the travel shows on TV, people getting paid to travel around and explore beautiful and interesting places. Well, now you’ve planted a seed! I’m going to have to think about that. Thanks!

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