|Photo Credit kpwerker|
Why am I telling you this? Well, it's because there is a belief that ALL writers MUST blog. Some publishing companies require their authors to blog regularly. There is an assumption that blogging is a major part of marketing success for the writer.
Recently, though, some writers are challenging the popular wisdom. A recent article by L.L. Barkat (ironically published in a blog) contends that experienced writers should stop blogging. Barkat argues that the impact on sales is so low that it is pretty useless as a marketing tool.
In this, I have to agree. Think about the time involved. This post will take at least a half hour to write, possibly an hour. I'll probably want to find some sort of graphic and maybe tweak a few things before posting. Although, I admit that I do only very basic editing for these. In an hour, I can write 1500 words on a novel, write the copy for a web page for a client, hit a half dozen social media sites with a few thousand followers. Meanwhile, on a good day, my blog will draw a couple of hundred readers.
In advertising, we talk about cost per thousand for advertising. Considering that my base pay is $25 an hour, even if I get 250 readers, that's a CPM of $100. Hardly a bargain. Okay, if I spent more time I might build up that readership, but again that's time spent marketing that I am not being paid for. The increase in readership will likely cost me the same CPM because I will need to spend more time promoting the blog.
Does this mean a blog is useless for writers? Far from it. Even Barkatt notes "No. I encourage new bloggers, just the way I always have. It’s an excellent way to find expression, discipline, and experience."
Of course you can do the same thing in other ways. Editing a church or club newsletter, writing a column in a local newspaper, writing for a website or ezine. Even journaling can develop those skills without the angst of feeling like a failure if no one comments.
(Note: If you do blog, do not judge your success or failure by the number of comments you receive. Only a small number of people reading a blog will comment. One to two percent is a good response. Readership and interaction are quite different critters. Some who interact don't read as closely as some who do not.)
For the nonfiction writer, blogging probably is more useful promotionally than for fiction writers. A popular blog can establish the writer as an expert in his or her field. However, the blog posts must contain useful information that readers can apply to their lives, hobbies, businesses or families. But this is a different type of animal than much blogging that focuses on providing personal insights into the writer's life, reviews of books the author likes or even interviews with other authors. This type of blog is more like a series of how-to or journalistic articles that explain or instruct the reader in some way.
A final value of blogging is that of personal expression. So much of what we do as writers is filtered through the lenses of someone else - an editor, client, reviewer or reader. In a blog post, you can be yourself. Once, you forget about the idea of the blog being this killer piece of marketing, and accept it as a place for personal expression, you can use it to get out all those things that don't really have a market anywhere else.
So, does an author NEED a blog? No. Can a writer benefit from a blog? Yes, but it depends on the writer, the writing and the expectations that writer brings to blogging.
I don't know when I'll post another blog post. I enjoy writing them, but I do have paying work to do. I have a small readership, I trust you enjoy these little missives when I write them. I'll keep blogging on my terms when, and only when, I have something to say and not out of any sense of authorial obligation. I hope you will do the same.