Platform 205: Should You Blog?

Janalyn Voigt, Author of Novel Books, continues the series on Platform Building.

You find a wonderful patch of Internet turf and build the best website money can buy, full of fabulous fonts and nifty widgets. You display all your books and book trailers, workshops and e-books. And then you put out the welcome mat.

People might come and admire your photographs, books, and wallpaper, but they won’t stick around if no one is home. Web sites need to be interactive. One way to connect is to maintain a blog readers can return to for updates about subjects relevant to them and, of course, your author news. Whether you blog from your website or import post snippets through a feed from an outside blog host or just provide a link to your external blog, the effect is the same.

It goes without saying that blogging is not the only way to interact. You can maintain a presence on your website by posting periodic updates on a landing page — items of interest about your writing and platform activities. Feed your Twitter account to your home page. Host a forum instead of a blog.

Podcasts or brief video presentations go a long way toward helping visitors feel they know you. Even if you don’t have a flip camera or webcam, you can use Windows Movie Maker (free on most Windows-based computers) to create slideshows on your area of expertise. Blogging has the advantage of being low-key and less hassle than some of these activities, and it can be a great marketing tool. You decide what works for you.

It’s best to have people come to your website and/or blog not just to enjoy your great posts, but to purchase the products you offer. Some noble souls blog (and write) for the love of it and don’t care if they ever get paid. If that’s not you, make sure you focus your blogging as a step toward attaining your monetary goals.

So far, I’ve mentioned blogging relative to owning a Web site.  Read my blog post on Author Haven to help decide whether you should have a Web site of your own.

Weigh the pros and cons of blogging before you get into it. It can be difficult to keep up the pace at times. You’ll be ahead if you save three-month’s worth of posts before you launch your blog. That way, should you become sick, go on vacation or need to push for a deadline on one of your other writing projects, you’ll have a little margin.

It takes roughly one hour to write a post, and most bloggers post two- to-three times a week. Blogging requires a little time spent in set up and maintenance, as well. If time is tight, consider going in with others and share the duties.

Author Haven benefits from the varied perspectives of the people who post to it. Many hands make light work. I maintain the blog and it’s registered to me, which saves time in discussions about which font to use, style of header, and that sort of thing. However, it also means I do the maintenance chores. Since I’ve become proficient at maintaining blogs and my co-bloggers want me to do this part, the arrangement works for us. Each situation will differ. As always, when working with others, make sure you are all clear on your roles, and you may want to put things in writing from the start.

Homework

Decide if you will add blogging to your platform. Will you blog alone or with partners? Brainstorm to determine the theme of your blog, which should come from your purposes and goals, but don’t make any hard and fast decisions. Next time, we’ll continue our discussion by taking a look at some blog styles and themes.

Do you have any questions about blogging? If so, leave them in the comments and I’ll try and answer them for you.

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This post appeared February 1, 2010 on Author Haven. Used by kind permission.

Janalyn Voigt writes  novel books.

“Flower of Life” by Janalyn Voigt, in THE BOOK OF SYLVARI, Summer 2011.

DAWNSINGER, book one of her TALES OF FAERAVEN trilogy, will release with Port Yonder press in Autumn 2011.

Other publication credits include Focus on the Family, Scripture Press and Pentecostal Evangel. Janalyn is affiliated with ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) and has been a NCWA member since 2008.  Visit her website.

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