Writing Blogs with Jim C. Hines: Part 2

This week on Hide and Create, Jaye Wells, Joshua Essoe, Moses Siregar and Jordan Ellinger continue talking with Jim Hines about blogging!

Some standard advice is if you are a writer you should blog. Blog consistently and interestingly and [slowly] you will build a platform. I see why people dig it so much. You write stuff and others see it. And they see it immediately, there is no waiting around. Your content is available for anyone who cares to read it the moment you upload.

So why is having a blog good?

1) You can show off your awesomeness. A blog is a great way to show that you are, and why you are, an expert in your field, or that you’re entertaining. Obviously that means you have to write compelling content that appeals to your target audience.

2) You can build platform. A blog is a great way to get readers talking about you, to you, and to each other—again, assuming your content is interesting enough to talk about.

3) Search engine rankings. If you’re blogging about writing and publishing, the search engines will pick up all the keywords you’re using that readers might search for. The more relevant your content is, the more traffic, engines will divert to your site.

And why is having a blog bad?

Time sink. I mentioned consistency, and that it is important. Why? Because your blog is like a locomotive. It’s slow to get moving, but if it keeps being fed, it will pick up steam and get more and more momentum. But what happens if you stop feeding it? It starts to slow down until it grinds to a halt. The only way to keep your momentum is to keep feeding it new content. If you don’t have the consistency, you’ll lose what you spent so much effort and so many words to get. Readers are fickle. Especially now — it’s a reader’s market. There is so much out there, that they can afford to be as choosey and picky and finicky as they want. No new content on your site? Oh well, on to the next author who does.

It could be your time would be better spent writing your next story.

And in case you want to jump down the rabbit hole, here is the link to RaceFail ’09 we talk about in the show.

2 thoughts on “Writing Blogs with Jim C. Hines: Part 2

  1. One other reason to have a blog: If you have an very ordinary name like mine, it’ll help you get your name higher in the search ranking. I went to a con and searched for one of the writers when I came back. Mine name’s pretty common. Hers was slightly less. She was nowhere on the first three pages. I’m in the two top or three.

    But a blog is where you really have to learn time management of your writing (especially important if you want to write full time). I’m part of a writing group where people jumped on and started blogging three times a week. Six months later, they were all complaining about how they were blogging and not writing — and they’d spend hours upon hours writing each entry and then laboriously revising it for many more hours. I write the posts in the morning, a time when I don’t normally write any fiction. I do them in blocks (2-3 of them). I keep them relatively short — 300-500 words and I limit the time I spend on them. It takes 15 minutes to write 250 words, so an internal alarm kicks off if I feel like I’m taking too long with it. It’s only 500 words. It shouldn’t take 5 hours.

    1. Good point about the search engine ranking, Linda. Thanks!

      I’m in the camp that if you’re going to spend time writing, and you want to be a successful author, then you should spend that time writing. If you see that your writing time is spent 60% blogging to attract attention and increase platform, and 40% creating/finishing new stories, then I’d say you need to realign your priorities. I’d say a better mix would be 85% stories, 15% blog — or even 90/10. Especially for new authors who don’t have product to back up their platforming. And then I’d tell them to put all their effort in their stories first. It comes down to the choice: do you want to be a blogger or a writer? There’s nothing wrong with being a successful blogger; but, ostensibly, the blogging is only a means to an end.

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