Note: This is an updated version of an old article, part of an effort to improve the educational quality of this website. You can read the original version here.
Starting a blog is a great way to build an author platform and a great way to show potential publishers and clients how serious you are about writing, but your blog shouldn’t be about writing. I’d even go so far as to say your blog should focus on anything BUT writing.
As serious writers dedicated to building a career from our craft, we spent a lot of time thinking about writing. I follow half a dozen blogs about writing and I’ve read some great books on the subject. I’ve participated in Nanowrimo and other writing challenges numerous times. Writing is at the center of my life, so it seemed natural to blog about writing.
You probably feel the same way. If you sit and think about it for even five minutes you can probably come up with a dozen ideas for writing-related articles. You’ll probably even get excited about a few of them. But blogging about writing is often the worst way to build an author platform.
Here’s why you should blog about anything BUT writing:
1. There are already thousands of writing blogs
Every writer who’s serious about building a career from their craft has at some point considered creating a blog about writing. An online presence becomes more important for writers every year, and we all know a blog is a great way to build one.
Still, an online presence has been essential to a writer’s success for a long time. And writers have been blogging about writing since blogging was invented. Some of my favourite writing blogs have been around for ten years or even longer. Many of the most successful bloggers, the ones we’ve all heard of, started back when the internet wasn’t so crowded. The age of their websites gives them extra credibility with Google, and frankly, many of these sites offer fantastic advice.
There are also thousands of writers in different career stages, from the writer who just started their first novel to the writer who’s published a dozen, who blog about writing with varying levels of success. Each one might be able to offer a somewhat unique perspective, but in the end there’s only so much information to be shared about writing.
All of these factors combine to make writing an extremely competitive blogging niche. Deciding to blog about writing is setting yourself up for a struggle. These days there are millions of voices clamoring for attention in almost any niche, but in most other niches your writing skills will actually set you apart. If you’re blogging about writing, most of your competition are also good or even great writers. You’ll have to work much harder to stand out from the crowd if you start a blog about writing than you would in an industry filled with mediocre writers.
2. Writing about writing means you’ll only attract writers
My blog has always been focused on writing and helping other writers, and in some ways this has served me well. I’ve mentioned before how the writers I’ve interacted with here on the blog have often become my biggest cheerleaders. They’ve hosted me on their blogs, bought copies of my books, and shouted my accomplishments from their virtual rooftops. I am grateful for all of these connections and the support I’ve gained from them.
But your primary audience probably isn’t writers, and not all writers are going to be interested in your books. Moreover, the majority of readers have some interest in your writing process, but they will eventually grow bored of hearing about it. And the last thing you want is bored readers.
Today’s readers want to know who you are outside of writing. They want to know about your favourite shows, movies, and books. They want to know about your hobbies. They want to see you as a whole person, not just a writer. You can post the occasional insight into your writing process, but most readers don’t want to know more than when the next book will come out. If you can give them insight into another area of your life–and maybe even help them with similar things in their own lives–you’ll get a lot more traction from actual readers.
So why do I blog about writing?
As I mentioned above, I started blogging about writing because it seemed like the most logical choice. I also started blogging young, and I jumped right into it without any strategy whatsoever because I’d read somewhere that it was a good thing to do. Along the way I made many mistakes, and starting out with a blog entirely about writing was one of those mistakes. It did a good job of netting me freelance clients, but my readership numbers remained small and my audience consisted entirely of other writers.
Over the years I’ve considered changing my blog’s topic many times. I even changed my blog’s name from “Dianna’s Writing Den” to “The Dabbler” because I hoped to focus on a wider variety of creative endeavors. Unfortunately nothing ever stuck (turns out I’m REALLY boring when I’m not writing). The only other topic I’m passionate enough to blog consistently about is reading, and I have mixed feelings about authors doubling as reviewers.
Eventually I reached a point where I had to make a decision about my blogging: either I would quit and focus entirely on my fiction writing, or I would find a way to turn this blog into a business of its own. I also knew that I really needed to update my subscriber freebie, so I asked my social media followers what they’d like.
The clear winner was a pamphlet called “Self Care for Creative People“. I started outlining this pamphlet and quickly realized the subject was big enough for an entire book–and voila, I had the beginnings of a business! One perfectly suited to the audience I’ve already built here. It will be at least next year before the book is published and I start offering courses on self care, but I have a firm direction, and a reason to pour even more time and effort into this blog than before.
In other words, I kind of did this whole blogging thing backwards, and now I’m working on books for writers to go with my blog. I don’t recommend that anyone take the weird roundabout route to a business that I appear to be taking. It involves years of hard work you don’t get paid for with rather slim chances at even recovering your investment. And if you don’t want to teach writing or write books for writers, the audience you need to be focusing on is readers.
So please, blog about ANYTHING but writing.
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