Blogging for Writers : Read This and Then Knock Your Readers Out
|Bryan Collins||Aug 12, 2015|
Do you want to share your writing with the world?
Are you struggling to find a direction for your work?
Will starting a blog answer these questions and help you become a better writer?
I started blogging three years ago when I was let go from a dream job that didn’t work out.
Knocked down, dejected and running out of money, I wanted to set myself a realistic writing challenge: to fill my free time and find a job through blogging.
That blog was a failure because no one found my content useful (ouch!).
My old blog helped me find employment, and I learnt a lot of writing and blogging lessons from my many mistakes (more of those in a moment).
Blogging is the perfect outlet for writers who want to build a platform, share their message with an audience and develop their writing practice.
The internet’s number one blogger Seth Godin summed it up best in his 5000th blog post:
My biggest surprise? That more people aren’t doing this. Not just every college professor (particularly those in the humanities and business), but everyone hoping to shape opinions or spread ideas.
Entrepreneurs. Senior VPs. People who work in non-profits. Frustrated poets and unknown musicians… Don’t do it because it’s your job, do it because you can.
If you’re a writer toying with the idea of starting a blog, consider this before you step into the ring:
Don’t Be the Dinner Part Guest Who Talks About Themselves
Content marketing rule 101: it’s not about you, it’s about them.
There’s little point publishing blog post after blog post about what you had for dinner, your thoughts on the latest Apple product, and why the new Batman vs. Superman film is an awful or great idea.
Wait! I’m not a content marketer.
Here’s the kicker:
If you’re a blogger, you are.
As a blogger it’s your job to identify a niche and then commit to creating high-quality content that solves problems for readers in your niche.
I learnt this lesson the hard way.
Three years ago, I wrote about things like home theatre systems, books, and my thoughts on the latest Apple software.
Who read this boring, meandering content?
Almost no one.
This is one reason why I pulled the plug on my old site.
On Become a Writer Today, I only write about the act of writing and creativity, and I am committed to publishing content that helps readers (you) become better writers.
This is why I ask every new reader: what are you struggling with right now?
Their (your) answers give me focus for my writing and makes my posts about them (you).
Go Forth and Tell Stories About Your Work
There are over 250 million active blogs in the world today.
Here’s the problem:
As a writer, your blog has almost no chance of rising over this noise (sorry!) unless you learn marketing strategies for writing and blogging:
I know many writers are uncomfortable with the concept of marketing, but there’s no need to run in the opposite direction.
Marketing is simply a way of telling stories about your work.
Write quality guest posts for larger blogs in your niche
Build relationships with other bloggers and reach out when you’ve great content to share
Start an email list and ask your most loyal fans to join it
Build your personal brand as a writer on social media
Pay for products or services by more successful writers and marketers and leverage these customer/buyer relationships to skill up
Save Some Painkillers for Technical Headaches
You don’t need to be Bill Gates to learn how to set up a blog and publish your posts.
WordPress is free, and it only takes a few hours to learn.
Blogging is not as simple or straightforward as some make it out to be.
I’ve spent hours figuring out:
The best hosting provider for a serious blogger
How to change the look of my posts using HTML and CSS
The pros and cons of various WordPress plugins
Taking online courses on sites like Lynda.com
None of these tasks are connected to writing, and they take up time.
If splitting your free time and creative energy makes you feel uncomfortable, you may be better off avoiding blogging and self-publishing a book on Amazon instead.
Still unsure about blogging?
Here’s a time-saving tip:
Test the water by writing a few posts on a platform like Medium or by submitting your writing to other people’s websites.
This way, you can avoid the technical headaches of running a blog until you commit.
Balancing Blogging With Writing Will Keep You Up at Night
I try to write fiction in the morning and non-fiction (i.e. blog posts) at night.
I won’t lie, this is a difficult balancing act.
I sometimes wonder if I’m spending too much time on one type of writing and not enough on the other.
If you’re facing this dilemma, figure out what type of writer you want to become and who your audience is before you write your first blog post.
Then, ask how much time you want to dedicate to blogging.
For me, this means writing one high-quality blog post a week and dedicating the rest of my time to writing fiction and non-fiction.
Any more than one post a week feels like overkill and any less feels like taking my foot off the accelerator.
Copywriters Make for Great Bloggers
Several years ago, I took a creative writing class during which we practiced writing long sentences that expand over 5, 10 and even 20 lines.
Blocks of text may look great on paper, but they are terrible to read on-screen.
As a blogger and online writer, it’s your job to learn how to break up your content with white space, lists, and clever formatting tricks.
You’ll also need to learn the basics of copywriting.
Blog like you’re writing literary fiction, and your would-be readers won’t read your content.
Here’s the good news:
Blogging and copywriting are types of writing practice that will help you become a more concise writer who knows how to sell a great idea.
It Ain’t About the Money Honey (At Least Not Yet)
If you want to make money from writing, blogging isn’t the shortest and easiest way to get paid.
However as a writer, you can make money from blogging by:
Selling your books to your audience
Offering writing and coaching services
Creating an online course based on your writings
Becoming an affiliate for products and books you recommend
It’s only worth doing the above after you’ve built an audience for your content.
If you write non-fiction, blogging is a great strategy because you can repurpose content from your books as blog posts and vice-versa.
It’s harder to build an online audience for your blog if you only write fiction, but you can still do it.
The Bell is Ringing, Your Readers Are Waiting
Blogging is a fantastic venue for writers because we can express ourselves for free and practice the art of writing and publishing in public.
We don’t need permission to write or to publish our work.
(I hate asking for permission.)
Taking blogging seriously demands you as a writer pivot from talking about yourself and your ideas towards solving problems for your ideal audience.
You need to get into the ring with your readers, understand their every move before they do, and then provide content that knocks them out.
This is a challenge to pull off.
Like all writing challenges, you’ll succeed if you train like every blog post is a championship fight.
Or as Seth says:
I’ve never once met a successful blogger who questioned the personal value of what she did.
Still want to start blog? Great.
Now go put your gloves on.