For a lot of writers, blogging might seem like an unnecessary and counterproductive chore.
"Why should I waste time forcing myself to write shit that people can read for free when I could be using that time to write the books that I want to write and expect people to pay for?"
"Also, what the hell am I supposed to blog about? I'm not an expert on anything. I don't even know what the fuck I'm doing!"
These are legitimate concerns, hypothetical writer who is averse to blogging, and I will do my best to address them. Here are some reasons why I believe it's important for every writer to keep a blog. I'll kick this off with an entry I hope will put your mind at ease.
1. None of us know what the fuck we're doing.
Don't take it from me. Take it from Socrates, one of only a handful of names of historical figures you can sarcastically call your friend when he drops his phone in the toilet.
"I know that I know nothing."
Even if it was a symptom of the prolonged, ceaseless verbal abuse from his special lady, he said that shit, like, a thousand years before English was even a language. That's the kind of smarts you can take to the bank.
This isn't the nine o'clock news. Nobody is looking at your blog for earth-shattering information. Sure, you'll want to be informative or at least entertaining, but at the end of the day, blogs are just people's opinions and reflections on whatever they happen to be interested in. And, unless you're a complete shithead, your opinion is just as important as anyone's.
2. It's a good way to connect with your readers.
Unless you're one of the multitude of 8-page smut peddlers who are enraged over the recent changes in Amazon's Kindle Unlimited program, you know that writing a book takes time. Lots and lots of time. And while it's nice to chat with your readers via Twitter or Facebook, they're thirsty for more of your words. They buy your shit because they like the way you write. A blog post doesn't have to take up too much of your time. Part of why you write is surely for the feeling you get when others enjoy your work. A "like" or a "share", or even a nice comment down in the comments section might give you that little boost of encouragement you need when sales are slow. And who knows? It might even lead to...
3. Attracting new readers.
Often times I'll get a message from a fan that says they've told all their friends to buy my books. That's a great thing to hear. That is, until the next day when you look for that boost in your sales only to determine that that fan of yours must lead a cripplingly lonely life, what with so few friends who give a shit about his opinion.
The problem is, reading a book by an author you don't know is a risk in both time an money. A blog post, however, demands an investment of no money and very little time. People log into Facebook solely for the purpose of reading the same kind of bullshit that you're reading right now. If that same fan were to share a link to this post, or even to one of my better ones, his friends who were reticent to go out and purchase my books, but who are scrolling through their Facebook feed, desperately seeking something to distract them from the productive things they're supposed to be doing, just might click on that link. And if I've done my job right, and written something that entertains them, it might be the nudge they needed to go buy my books.
4. Writer's Block.
We've all been there. You're working on your game changer. Your other books may not be doing so hot, but this is some Pulitzer level shit you're writing now. The heroine has just witnessed the billionaire morph into a bear for the first time. All you need now is the perfect initial reaction. She says... um...
"What the fuck?" No, that's not the mood I'm going for.
"Oh my!" No, she's not George fucking Takei.
"Come hibernate in my moist cavern." Sweet Jesus, why am I even writing this shit?
You've hit a wall. The right words simply refuse to come to you. Minutes tick by as you stare at the blank white screen, a barren snow-covered landscape. You have two options at this point.
1. Allow wasted minutes turn into wasted hours while you browse porn or scroll through your Facebook feed.
2. Climb that fucking wall.
Writing words that people are willing to pay money to read is hard. It's a skill that develops over time spent doing it. Staring at a screen isn't going to make you a better writer. Neither is polishing the ol' joystick or looking at shitty writer memes on Facbook.
There are so many distractions in your life as it is. Everyone and everything around you is nagging for your time. Work, family, horses, the king's men. You've set aside what precious little time in your life that you could afford to get some writing done, and you'd better damn well use it to get some fucking writing done. If the words just aren't happening on the thing you want to be writing, then maybe it's a good time to write a blog post.
And once you've published that blog post, reached the top of the wall, you can look back on that snow-covered landscape with a new perspective and a fresh mind.
"Hey there, sexy bear. Who wants to lick Mama's honey pot?"
Pulitzer level shit, I tell you.
5. You have opportunities to reach a wider audience.
At first glance, this might seem like I'm doubling down on Entry 3 to stretch out this post. But that's not the case. Entry 3 was about reaching your friends' friends on Facebook. In this entry, I'm talking about getting your work in front of the eyes of random people who you have no connection to whatsoever.
This is particularly effective if you blog about topics that are hot at the time of your posting. People all over the internet are specifically looking for that stuff.
When the U.S. Supreme Court made their big gay marriage ruling a few weeks ago, I jumped all over that shit. I had a funny idea, and the only demographic I'd be likely to piss off was largely composed of illiterate shitheads anyway. Win-win!
I don't have any stats to show how many people landed on that post without being led there by a Facebook share or Twitter retweet, or how the post translated ultimately to book sales, but it was one of my more popular posts, and some people shared it who've never shared any of my other shit before. So there's that.
Likewise, my post about KDP Select, which I wrote nine months ago, is the eighth link listed if you do a Google search for "KDP Select". And my D&D Moral Panic post turns up on the second page when you type search "Dungeons and Dragons moral panic". That's not bad for a small-time blogger like myself.
And there's a lesson, I suppose, to be learned in that. The narrower you focus your topic, the more likely you are to get noticed by Joe Random Websurfer. So maybe instead of writing about your love of the Wu-Tang Clan, you focus more specifically on Ol' Dirty Bastard.
6. You're creating a perpetual motion machine.
As your blog grows, and more people discover it independently of your books, some of those people will go on to read your books. (Always include a link to your books.)
As your list of books that people enjoy reading grows longer, many of them will be eager to read whatever it is you have to say on your blog.
If you do it right, the two forces could potentially turn into a cyclone of success. I'm not there yet, but I'm working on it.
7. Some things you want to say just work better on a blog.
Writers write because they feel a need to have their words read. They think that what they have to say is worth reading. But it's not always worth money.
Take this post for example. I think it's both entertaining and informative, but I'd feel like a giant douchenozzle if I published it on Amazon and charged money for it. And yet I've put too much effort into it to simply post it on Facebook, where it will be forgotten in a day.
Jesus wanted people to know about his Beatitudes, as he felt they were pretty important. But he didn't print them up and try to sell them. Volume-wise, there simply wasn't enough content. So what did he do? He hiked his ass up a mountain and shouted them to the crowd that followed. That was the blogging of the day.
History provides many worse people whose examples you could follow than Jesus, but maybe try to avoid surrounding yourself with friends who will abandon and betray you just before you're brutally murdered, your corpse left to the mercy of the elements.
For one more great reason to start a blog, read my post about the Amazon Affiliate program.