Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Writer Will Take Your Questions Now (#237) -- Blogging Intentions

What would you recommend for a fellow writer looking to start a serious writing blog?

By "serious" writing blog, I assume that means you're wanting to avoid the more personal blog about what's going on generally in your life and family, and not just posting your old poetry or waxing nostalgic about your favorite season or scrap-booking (not that there's anything wrong with those things).

I'm by no means and expert at maintaining a "serious" blog about writing, but since I'm the only one on whose behalf I can communicate, I'll pass along what I did to start and maintain this blog.  

First, I went into the blog with a plan.

That means I figured out the goals and pacing and schedule of the blog before I ever wrote the first post. My goals were:

1. Promote my work by promoting, encouraging, and assisting other writers.
2. Support the work of genre writers with practical helps, from tutorials to interviews to posting open submissions from various markets.
3. Build a stronger and larger network through interviews, guest posts, and roundtable discussions.

And...

4. Become the best damn genre writing blog on the planet. (I'm still working on that one.)

Next I committed to a flexible but regular schedule. 

When I started, I committed to posting at least three times a week. After I got into it and the content finalized, I realized I'd need to adapt my schedule. Now my schedule is:

1. Post a "The Writer Will Take Your Questions Now" post every weekday morning, if possible by 6:00 am.
2. Post a weekly roundtable discussion each Thursday at noon.
3. Post one additional post each day, whether a link to a writer-focused article on the web, an author interview, a press release about upcoming work (mine or others), open submissions, etc.
4. Schedule as much as possible of the posts a week ahead of time so that an unexpected delay won't throw me way off schedule.

Next, I went to my network for support and content. 

I knew from the get-go that I couldn't accomplish the four goals listed above on my own. I would need help. Thankfully, between my time writing for comics, working with other writers, being on Facebook, meeting people at conventions, collecting business cards from face-to-face meetings with other writers and editors, and years of being a part of various newsgroups and other online communities, I had a much larger network of folks to turn to than even I thought at first.

Some help would be as simple as having someone to interview.

Other help might include getting writer/research/editing focused guest articles from folks I know who would be excellent resource people.

Still other help could be gathering a large group of like-minded writers to contact for roundtable discussions.

Others might not have time to commit to writer or doing roundtables, but they could help promote the blog inside their networks to raise awareness.

Then I started posting. 

The content was weaker admittedly at first as I adapted the plan as needed on the fly, but even then, the soul of the content was already present.

I started with whatever I had to offer. Press releases about upcoming work of my own and from other genre writers. Links to interviews I'd taken part in. Links to interviews with other writers I respected. Sneak peeks of upcoming comic book work. Links to practical, helpful articles about the craft of writer and editing. Anything I could get my hands on.

I kept up regular posting, and gradually was able to implement the kind of articles for which the site has become known (Question of the Day, Roundtables, Author Interviews) as my forays into my network started producing leads and original content.

Finally I spread the word like a madman. 

I printed business cards.

I linked the blog to my Facebook, Google+, and Twitter -- and linked it from the front page (not links page) and blog listing page of my official website.

I joined groups and met like-minded writers and contacted them for interviews and with upcoming roundtable discussion questions. I asked for help LONG before I ever thought of spamming the groups with "Come see my blog" messages. I provided content first and promotion second. In other words, I earned the right to post my questions and (yes, also) my promotional content.

I talked up the blog at conventions. I made sure that each new genre author I met got an invitation to be interviewed and to join in the roundtables as it related to his or her area of interest and expertise.

I linked as often as I could to other writers' websites and blogs to drive traffic to them and not just to store up traffic for myself.

And I cant' stress this one enough... I made a list of the blogs or regular columns of every writer who asked and whom I respected as a writer and put it on right on the front page of my blog, not hidden away in a list few visitors ever care to visit. I called the list "Heavy Hitters," and you'll see it on the right side of this page AND ON EVERY PAGE OF THIS BLOG. Why? Because I was taught to do unto others as you would have them do unto you. And I'm still just country Baptist enough to believe that's good advice.

And after all that, I kept at it.

Especially when I didn't feel like it, like tonight when I thought to myself: "I'm exhausted, and would anyone really miss it if I didn't post a Question of the Day today?"

Then it dawned on me that even if you never faulted me for missing it or even if you never noticed it wasn't there, I would, and it mattered to me.