Monday, 10 June 2013

Do Writers' Blogs Work?

Agents, publishers, editors and other authors always tell me that if I am serious about a writing career, I must have some sort of web presence. That blogging is one of the most important ways to market your persona and your writing because readers want to hear about your everyday life, what set you on the path to authorship etc.

I looked up a few statistics, which may or may not be accurate, after all we have all heard that 96% of statistics are made up, or that there are lies, damn lies and statistics, but here they are anyway.

Apparently, 46% of people read blogs multiple times a day, and another 32% read them at least once a day.

These figures don't specify what sort of blogs these refer to, and writer blogs tend to occupy their own niche, so this may render them totally inaccurate - but I have to begin somewhere.

But do they work, in that does a writer's blog sell more books?

Also, are paid blogs any more effective that free blogs? Not easy to quantify that one, so I shall avoid it. A blog is a blog is a blog. Even if you are diligent and blog once a day or once a week, does the magic happen and thousands of people spot your blog and come back to read it regularly? Not necessarily.

What's the magic formula to draw readers and then get them to buy your books? Do you write about the genre your books are about, or stick to personal anecdotes, including your progression from hobby writer to published author? Bearing in mind that particular journey could be a protracted and depressing one - how many of us write a novel, send it out to agents and published and Yay - someone picks it up and it suddenly appears in the bestseller lists? Writing as a long term career is not that simple for most.

Do we hope someone will notice our hard work—and reward us with an endless supply of traffic that converts readers into book buyers, fans and a stream of positive reviews?

It's logical that the more time you spend working on something without seeing quantitative results, the harder it is to continue doing it.  We all begin with the best of intentions but sometimes blogging gets in the way of the real 'job' as it were - the writing. Then there is always the problem of what to write.

Do readers really want to hear about how cute your cat is and how he nudges the keyboard as you are trying to work? Difficult to say - there are plenty of cat lovers out there-but how many of them are likely to progress from 'cute cat anecdotes' to buying your books?

No one knows, which is exactly the point, and deserving bloggers can easily become demotivated, so the next time you visit their blog, you notice the last post is dated months before.

According to the marketing bods, creating too much content can be a death knell - not everyone can keep up with writing daily blog posts never mind reading them. Apparently, adding more content to blogs which have a small number of readers doesn’t help get more readers. I suspect the effectiveness of blogs, including author blogs, is that there are so many 'out there' we couldn't keep up with them if we tried.

One blog marketing company says:

“You don’t have to create content, day in, and day out. You just have to work on getting the content you already have… in the hands of more people.”

Good advice - I think - but how?


Jen Black said...

Perhaps the best thing is if you like blogging, do it, and if you don't, forget about it. Have a website instead and update it as necessary.


Anita Davison said...

Good point, Jen - this was inspired by the folding of a group blog I contribute to which the members feel has reached its peak.
Maybe there is a shelf life for blogs

Jen Black said...

I think there is a shelf life, and there is only so much you can find to say on themed blogs. With a personal blog you can dodge about a bit topicwise, and maybe weather the doldrums.

Tara Chevrestt said...

I don't know. I had a marketing coach last year who advised me to blog everyday as I'm really not reaching my FB fans, at all, 'cause I won't pay for their advertising. But...I blog my heart out and though I get 4k hits a month, my own stuff, stuff about my books or me, gets no attention at all. So people are interested in my guest posts, I guess, and to be honest, I'm beginning to get a wee discouraged.

Petrea Burchard said...

I blogged daily for 5 1/2 years. It's not for the sane! I kept posts short, my topic was my city, and I didn't talk much about writing. (Too much about me, as Tara hit on.) But occasionally I would throw in a post about my book, my progress with it, etc.

I don't know if this worked. I think personal contact helps sell books, but not by itself. I try to keep in mind that I'm selling to readers, not necessarily to writers, agents, or publishers.

Thanks for reflecting on this topic, Anita.

Lilo Huhle-Poelzl said...

When I got up this morning, I stumbled rather drowsy to the computer and the Goodreads website where the first words I read (don't ask me on what page) were the first words of your blog "Do Writers' Blogs Work?". I continued reading, as I am about to install an author profile and website and have asked myself this question many a time.

I would really like to write my books and be not bothered with anything else, be it publishing, marketing, or blogging (for marketing). I used to be a published writer, years back in Germany, when all this self-publishing and self-marketing was not needed. If I were younger, I would still opt for traditional publishing, but it takes so much longer and can, as you have experienced, also be quite disappointing.

By the way, when I wanted to get back to where I found you, I lost my way and would have lost you, had I not happened (wonder of wonders!) to remember your name.

Did your blog work with me? I am afraid not. While I found it very informative and would like to thank you for it with all my heart, I do not read the genre you write -- not that I would not like it, it is just that I have so many other priorities, and while I am aiming for it, I might not succeed to live to age 300.