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March 10, 2015

Should We Change Our Blogging Style?

Fall leaves with text: Is It Time for a Blogging Change?

I’ve had a couple of people ask me (or mention in a comment): “Are you going to continue your blog now that you’re published?” That’s a fair question that deserves a full answer because I’ve seen authors take both approaches.

Many authors—both traditionally published and self-published—continue to blog about writing or publishing advice after publication. But just as many authors stop blogging about anything other than release news tidbits for readers once they’re published.

Neither approach is wrong, and I remember years ago wondering how I’d handle my blog when that dreamed-upon publication date hit. And now here I am. *smile*

Even if we’re not at the point of publication, we might wonder if we need to change how we blog. At any time, we might ask ourselves if our current blogging style is working for us. Let’s explore how and why we might decide to change how we blog.

Do We Need to Change Our Blog?

We can use a simple four-step process to decide whether to continue on our current path or to change our style. (Note: “Change” might also include starting a blog if we’ve never had one before.)

Step One: Identify Our Original Blogging Goal

There are nearly as many reasons for why people blog as there are people who blog:

  • Some blog to build a platform.
  • Some blog to get an agent or editor’s attention.
  • Some blog because they don’t know how else to reach others.
  • Some blog to build a community.
  • Some blog to share their writing or ideas.
  • Some blog because they love to teach.
  • Etc., etc.

If we’re facing the question of what to do after we publish, each of those reasons would come with a different attitude toward post-publication blogging.

Step Two: Decide If Changes to Our Situation Have Affected Our Blogging Goal

If our situation has changed since we first started blogging, such as becoming published, we might find that our original reasons and decisions for our choices no longer apply. Depending on our original blogging goal, our reason for blogging might no longer be relevant. In that case, we might stop blogging entirely, or we might blog only when we have relevant news.

Or maybe publication or other life circumstances have changed our blogging goals. Our new goals may or may not fit with our current blogging efforts.

Step Three: Examine Our Blogging Strengths and Weaknesses

If we’ve been blogging for a while, we’re probably more familiar with our blogging strengths and weaknesses than when we first started. So even if our goals stay the same, we might have better ideas about how to meet those goals now.

Step Four: If Necessary, Adjust Our Blog to Meet Our Goals

If our new status or our new goals have changed the purpose of our blog, we can change our blog to fit our new goal. Or if we’ve realized a different way to line up our blogging strengths with our goals, we might change our approach. Or if our goals haven’t changed and we’d already adjusted to our strengths, we can keep doing what we were doing.

We Might Want to Change Our Blogging Style When…

Let’s go through a couple of examples to see when it might make sense to change our blog after a major status change—publication. Many of these examples apply for other life changes as well.

  • If we’ve blogged for the purpose of becoming published—such as to get the attention of an agent or editor—or for another specific purpose, we might not continue our blogging efforts after we reach our goal.
  • If we’ve blogged to share our journey to publication, we might blog only about our books after we’re published because that’s what’s important on our journey now.
  • If we’ve blogged just because we thought it was expected of us, we might look to quit blogging at the earliest opportunity.
  • If we’ve blogged minimally before (or not at all) with the thought that no one would care about a pre-published author, we might increase our blogging efforts after we feel more relevant.
  • If we decide we want our blog to appeal to readers, we might change our posts to be more reader focused.
  • If we realize we have a weakness in meeting our current blogging schedule, we might change our blogging style to match a schedule that works with our strengths.

We Might Want to Keep Our Blogging Style When…

Now let’s consider some examples of when it might make sense to keep doing what we’ve been doing—no matter our publication status or any other major change.

  • If we’ve blogged to share our writing, we might continue after publication and just add “buy links” to our excerpts.
  • If we’ve blogged because we loved blogging, there’s no reason to stop or change.
  • If we’ve blogged to teach others what we know, we might continue because that goal is still relevant.
  • If we’ve blogged to build a platform or connect with the writing community, we might continue to expand our platform.
  • If we’ve blogged within a social niche to connect with non-writers who might become our readers, we might already have the reader community we want.
  • If we’ve already adjusted our blogging style to match our strengths, we might be comfortable continuing to do what we’re doing.

The Pros and Cons of Any Approach

There’s no “one right answer” for this question. After publication, some want to focus their blog on reaching their target market and hope to find readers who care enough about them to visit their website and follow their blog.

Others quit blogging after becoming published and use that reclaimed time to grow other areas of their career. And yet others continue despite the time and effort because they’re getting other (maybe intangible) benefits out of their blog.

Should I Blog after Publication? — My Thought Process

Realization #1: Author-Specific Reader-Focused Blogs Rarely Draw in Readers

Years ago, I watched an acquaintance in the blogging community try to spin her popular and respected writer-focused blog into a reader-focused blog when she became published. It didn’t work.

Debut authors don’t have thousands (or even hundreds) of dedicated fans, salivating for every morsel of “here’s how I came up with my characters” and subscribing to our reader-focused blog. We’re far more likely to reach readers if we go to where they already are, such as providing “tell me about your book” interviews on book-focused blogs.

Most fans want to receive a newsletter update letting them know of new releases, but they don’t want to have to stay up to date on every post of every blog of every author they like. Author-specific blogs for readers rarely work unless we’re a big name author or offer them something valuable in our posts, such as exclusive content, extremely humorous anecdotes, etc.

I’m a slow writer and I’m not sure a steady diet of humorous anecdotes is something I’m capable of (I generally find myself pretty boring *smile*). Those options didn’t connect with my strengths, so I decided that a reader-focused blog wasn’t a good fit for me.

Realization #2: I Like Sharing What I Learn

I’ve often said that I’m a teacher at heart, so while I occasionally grumble to myself about the amount of time blogging takes from my schedule (that’s entirely my own fault for writing such monster-long posts *smile*), I truly enjoy sharing my thoughts and insights into what I learn. That’s a strength of mine.

I saw no reason to change my blog to something that would ignore that strength and take away something I enjoy. We each have to know what we have passion for, and holding discussions here about writing and publishing and balancing our lives is something I feel passionate about.

Realization #3: Writing-Focused Blogs Are Good for Non-Fiction Work

Because of my teacher heart, I’d like to find the time…somewhere, somehow, sometime…to work on a book of writing advice. For that future potential project, having a blog filled with ideas for material and an audience of writers isn’t a bad thing. *smile*

Realization #4: The Writer Community Is My Online Home

But most of all, I feel like I belong here—in the writing community. I want to help writers in a “circle of life” paying-it-forward kind of way. I want to remain a useful member of this community.

I often talk about how grateful I am to all of you, and I really mean that. I love helping my writing friends just as much as I love writing fiction.

So yes, I plan on continuing my blogging. I’ll throw in new release announcements when appropriate, but my mix of (hopefully) helpful posts will continue as well. I’m not planning on giving this up anytime soon. Now if only I could figure out how to write shorter posts… *smile*

Have you ever wondered if you should change your blogging style? What triggered that thought and what did you decide? Have you seen authors change their blogging focus after they published? Did their plan work? Have you thought about your blogging goals from a pre- versus post-publication perspective? Do you disagree with any of my reasoning?

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What do you think?

44 Comments on "Should We Change Our Blogging Style?"

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Elle Lee Love
Elle Lee Love

Hi Jami,
I look forward to reading your blog every Tuesday and Thursday at 9:00. Wherever I am in my writing process, I stop and read your blog. It’s my favorite part of the morning! I’m so happy to know you will be continuing to post here, even after publication of your novels. Newbie writers like me truly appreciate your willingness to share your knowledge and experience with us. I don’t know where I’d be without your help. Thanks so much.

Kim

I’m glad to hear that you will continue blogging. I get a lot out of it and you give great advice!

I have a blog, but it has nothing to do with writing, and I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned my own writing (something I should probably fix when publication gets closer!). Since my novel is about Vikings, I often blog about Norse mythology. But I’m also a martial artist and blog about what I learn in my practice…and then there’s the occasional post about what I’ve learned from Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter! I’m all over the place, and I should probably fix it, but for right now, that’s where I’m at.

I follow a few authors who are all historical and their blogs are always about the time period in which they write. Maybe something to consider for my own blog.

Roni Loren
Great post, Jami. I think the component that is also a HUGE factor once you get published is time. As you know, I had a thriving “on writing” blog for a few years. I loved it and like you, I love teaching. But once deadlines enter the picture, it becomes a whole lot harder to juggle. I’ve been published for a little over 3 years now, and the good news is that things are going really well with my books–yay! The flip side is that this means I’m under the gun deadline wise ALL the time. Pretty much any weekday of the year I have a minimum of 2000 words to write for my WIP that day. That is in addition to all the business-y things that come up each day, getting edits on previously submitted manuscripts, promo for books coming up or that are already out, keeping a social media presence, writing newsletters, planning for conferences, doing workshops–oh and being a wife, mom, and an actual person lol. So blogging just falls further and further down the list. So when you see formerly active bloggers fall off the radar after being published, many times that’s why. So my blog has become more of a “news” space. And I feed my need to teach by doing workshops at conferences a few times a year. I’m glad you’re keeping your blog because it’s a good one, but also remember to be forgiving of yourself if things get too hectic and it’s… Read more »
Rhonda Lane

For me, blogging is both a blessing and a curse. Believe it or not, blogging led me to new friends, but it also takes away from my fiction writing. I’m not yet published, and I’ve been a long time on the road, too, if you get my drift. For good or ill, I have two blogs – one is about horses, especially horses in culture, and the other is at my main website which includes things I’ve learned along the way about writing and various essays. Several months ago, a bad plug-in crashed both blogs, so I made more progress with the fiction. But now, the websites are back up, and I feel torn between serving the audience I have and keeping all the forward momentum I’d built with the fiction. Who knew we writers would have to do all this multitasking? 😉

Glynis Jolly

I’m pretty sure that I’ll want my blog and keep the content more or less the same after/if I publish a novel. And I think I’ll also keep the design/theme I’m using now. Still, I wrestle with the thought of changing the name of my blog. To what, I don’t have a clue yet. I just know that my current title was probably wrong from the beginning. My fear is that I may lose followers because they won’t be able to find me.

Amanda
I actually had a virtually identical conversation with myself a few weeks ago! Over the last couple years, my blog has focused mainly on two things – book reviews and writing posts, because those are the topics that get me the most hits. Whenever I get a follow and it’s a fellow WP user, I check out their site to see WHY they followed me – and over half the time it’s a fellow writer. I recently made the decision to discontinue most review posts once I’ve fulfilled my current review obligations, and I am REALLY looking forward to it. I only blog twice a week (sometimes three, depending on what’s going on) and it means a hit to my visibility, but it also means I won’t have to spend my hour of writing time in the evening working on a blog post. I took a look at a few other authors I know that still blog (Jeaniene Frost, Michelle Sagara, Ilona Andrews, Richelle Mead, and Chloe Neill). Of those five, Ilona Andrews seems to be the only one who blogs regularly – the others are more irregular (meaning there’s a post or two per month). Ilona posts writing updates, life updates, and other book related news. I LOVE Michelle Sagara’s State of the Writer posts – she tries to do them once a month, and she lets people know what she’s up do with her books. Since her regular readers know she does them, they can check back at… Read more »
Anne R. Allen

Great topic, Jami. I’m glad you’re discussing it. Like you, I have a writing-focused blog and I have kept it up for the last three years after I got my fiction back into print after my first publisher went under. I’ve never regretted it. The blog keeps my name out there and brings in opportunities as well as readers of both my fiction and nonfiction.

I do see Roni Loren’s point–her career has really taken off and her fiction audience is very different from the audience she first drew with her blog. So her change in blogging style makes sense.

You may find you want to cut back to once a week, but this is such a great and useful blog, you can use it for many things. Lots of your posts could be adapted for writing-magazine articles which would help get your name more widely recognized as an expert in craft. And there are all those writers conference gigs that are fabulous for a published author. So keep up the good work!

Rose
Rose

Delighted to hear you intend to keep blogging. Writers I’ve introduced to your blog have found it useful and appreciate it , as do I. The need to teach (share what you know) is innate to some and a call which cannot be ignored. I’m not a fan of ‘how to write’ books, but if yours was in similar style to your blog, I’d buy it! Good luck with that future project, and congratulations on your publishing achievements.

chemistken

I haven’t decided what I’ll do when, or if, I get published. I’ve thought about expanding my topic list to include posts about castles to help draw in readers, but I haven’t decided if I should do that at the expense of writing related posts, or if I should have a separate blog for that, or what. Only time will tell.

Robin
Robin

Jami,
You make the path ahead look like a place I want to walk, with exciting challenges, adventures, and some really nice folks. 🙂 I hope in my someday published far future, I am as inspiring to those starting on their path as you are to me. Thanks for what you do. 🙂

Renee Regent

Jami,
Glad to hear you will continue your blog. I look forward to reading it and often find your topics very timely, and I always learn something. You have a very clear way of communicating that is easy to understand.
I started my blog a few years ago, just to get the feel for putting my work out there. Turns out I love it, and I have not run out of topics yet (fingers crossed)! I try to strike a balance between writing-related topics, and other things that interest me which will later show up in my novels (the supernatural, etc). I am no expert, but I like having a forum to throw out a subject and get people talking. Keep up the good work!

Marcy Kennedy

I’ve been struggling with this question for about six months now, in part because my life has seemed to be a perpetual “one of those weeks” and I’m physically and emotionally at my breaking point, and in part because I don’t think the “split audience” thing is working for me. I don’t think the writers who come to my site are interested in the fantasy stuff and I don’t think the people who enjoy the fantasy stuff really want to read writing tips. I wonder if I focused would it help my blog. But I’m also afraid to make the change to an all-writing blog (with a newsletter for my potential fiction fans). The only thing I can think to do is to (a) do a bit of a survey on my blog and (b) try going to an all-writing blog for 3-6 months and see what happens.

Ed
Ed

I’ve found a lot of good, solid information on your web site, and enjoy your posts. An axiom I have found useful is, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”

Sharon

Jami-
I’ve been thinking about this issue and I’m so glad you approached it on your blog. And of course you approached it in the same logical way you do everything else – which helps me focus my deliberations.

I wanted my blog to help me connect with my audience. I don’t have many followers – still, which says something about my content that I don’t really want to know about – but most of those who interact there are other writers or my friends and family. Not exactly the readers I hoped to attract.

Should I focus my writing time elsewhere? I’ll be pondering this now that you’ve given me a logical approach to do so.

I’m glad you’ll continue to blog and share your writing wisdom with us. I wouldn’t be as far along on the writing path if it weren’t for you and some of the other WANA writers I read after.

Lisa Hall-Wilson

My blog has been sadly neglected for several months because, as Roni said, the paid work had to trump the blogging. There’s only so many hours in a day and I don’t want to sacrifice that time with my kids to do it.
That said, I drank the kool-aid and gave up the writing blog – which I dearly loved and was good at – for a topical blog which has never been successful no matter how many courses I take or attempts to revive it. I’m a teacher at heart.
Think I might start up the writer blog, but be very narrowly focused – maybe on social media or just Facebook. I can talk about FB endlessly and there seem to be lots of writers interested in what I have to say about it.
Still – there’s only so many hours in the day. I really enjoy your blog for what it’s worth – I just don’t comment very often.

Dani Jace

First off, I’m so glad you’ll be continuing your helpful blog posts that always hit me in some area of my writing that needs tending. I’ve been debating the blogging bit for a while now. Today’s post showed me why my reader based blog isn’t gaining much of an audience even though I’m on blog hop with other writers twice a week. Hosting and interviewing other authors doesn’t generate numbers either. I’ve had moderate success with posts about local beach resorts that are part of my brand, so maybe I should concentrate on posts relating to them and maybe go deeper such as interviewing the local talent and businesses. Wishing you much success with your book!

Helene Pulacu
Helene Pulacu

I’m SO happy with your decision, Jami!

Your blog is a TREASURE TROVE of writing advice; I immensely like the way you’re exposing your knowledge / discoveries on the subject, and it has helped me several times with my (recent) efforts at fiction writing. Don’t take it away from us!

And, yes, before I even got to your considerations about your blog posts being a source for non-fiction writing, I was thinking to myself that you could use it for such purposes. It’s stellar material. 🙂

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Deborah Makarios

Glad you’re sticking around!
I’m not really sure what my goal is with blogging – get out there, meet people, practice writing to schedule, just have fun being me – ? I feel I’m a bit scatter-shot subject-wise at the moment and might need to pull in my focus a bit.
What do you think?

Alex J. Cavanaugh

Ken shared a link to your post, so I came for a visit.
It does all depend on what the original purpose was and how much you enjoy it. I’ve seen a lot of authors blog regular until then have a book or two and then their posts drop to promotions only. To me, that’s sad, because they are no longer as connected to the blogging community.
My focus has altered since I first began, but even with my fourth book coming out next month, I still blog regular and continue to build. My goal is more to build the writing community through the IWSG. And of course, to entertain with movie reviews and fun stuff. I enjoy it and can’t imagine not doing it.

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