hamlet to beSometimes I have these amazing epiphanies. I realized this past weekend there are real bloggers and real writers, but the two are not very compatible.

And so the question – To Blog? or Not To Blog?

Real bloggers write intricate and interesting articles, review books, movies, and other entertainment regularly, give us fascinating insights into writing, reading, editing, and breathing. Their blogs are passionate, funny, serious, pointed, and often controversial. Bloggers often write about specific themes. Some write blogs designed to disturb their followers in the hope of giving attention to a specific cause. Professional bloggers usually write non-fiction books (not fiction or poetry) and post top quality blogs on a regular basis.

marketing and salesMost writers make the effort to follow the advice out there about building an Author Platform and as a result try to blog on a weekly schedule. Unfortunately, many miss the whole point. Their blogs often include new and ingenious way to convince the reader to “BUY MY BOOK”.

When not flogging their wares, they use re-blogs (usually re-blogging a REAL blogger), toot about recipes they haven’t tried, write pretty book reviews, and proliferate memes—all this to fill their blog space.

Unfortunately, when they do write, their blogs often seem forced, display sanitized subject matter, and tend to be redundant. Re-blogging a popular blogger’s site is quite tedious for many readers/writers, since many already follow those sites. Cooks already have great recipe sites they follow. If they’re like me, after the first couple “shared” recipes don’t work, you simply ignore them. Book reviews lose credibility when the blogger is a fiction writer. Can they afford to pan another writer’s book? Probably not—so how valid is a “good” review?

Give me coffee wineThis photo to your left is a very cute meme. Let’s talk about memes – “…An Internet meme may take the form of an image, hyperlink, video, website, or hashtag. It may be just a word or phrase, including an intentional misspelling. These small movements tend to spread from person to person via social networks, blogs, direct email, or news sources. They may relate to various existing Internet cultures…”

I have been on the internet for quite a while. I initially thought memes were thoughtful, meaningful, and fun. Then a friend told me to stop—he had already seen them all. (He’s been on social media much longer than me) It didn’t take long to understand his irritation. The same memes circulate again… and again… and again… and still… and again…

Writers who produce only blogs they feel are interesting rarely write on a schedule. They can definitely contribute worthwhile content. Their following is sparse compared to real bloggers, but they don’t give you the feeling, they were obliged to do something on schedule to get your attention. They create blogs about their ideas, their process, and often come up with very insightful advice. I also enjoy those who post bits and pieces of their writing or put up a poem. Those blogs work for me.

Since I’m kinda ranting, I need to talk about those writers who employ the daily habit of “engaging”.

Their endless engagement amounts to multiple comments, syrupy replies, and “likes” for pretty well everything. I’ve gotten likes for blogs I wrote, that the “liker” never read. (My blog site has really good stats) I’m not sure what they liked – maybe the lead photo or those first few lines really hit home for them.

complimentsI especially gag when two authors start complimenting each other on social media or post super complimentary “interviews”. I sure no one would ever realize they know or work with each other (yeah right), or that the entire effort is too sell books. It’s always fascinating to realize how much some writers underestimate readers.

Why do so many writers think, because they can write great fiction or gorgeous poetry, they can and should be blogging? We know the powers that be, harp endlessly about Author Platforms and how important it is to blog regularly. What they forget to mention is that blogging is HARD, and very time-consuming. Just because you can write poetry or fiction, doesn’t mean you can automatically write effective blogs.

If your car needed repairs, would you take it to a plumber? He has some of the requirements needed, good with tools, mechanical aptitude, but he isn’t a mechanic. If you wanted to learn to dance, would you go to a golfer to learn, because he’s good with stance and precision? I can go on, but I’m sure you get the idea. If you don’t know how – never assume it’s easy to be as good or as popular as the pros. Sometimes the wisest thing to do is to stick with the thing YOU do best.

I am NOT a real blogger. I try to give you things in my blogs that are interesting and thoughtful. I’m very opinionated and sometimes I even rant. When I have something to say I will write a blog. I know my blogs, like most done by writers, will never measure up to the pros.

My point is very simple. (I have a meme for that – Go John!).

John LennonTo all the writers out there following some formula for success, leave the scheduled blogging to the experts. If you’re going to blog, at least write about something you actually believe, explains a concern, or expresses your opinion. Forget the schedule and write when you have something to say. Leave the writing tips to the experts, the recipes to the cooks, the memes to the lurkers, the reviews to credible reviewers.

Never assume we need the constant “engagement” – we get that you ARE out there – remember us, we’re following you. Clogging our newsfeed on Facebook or Google, or tweeting the same thing every hour is just annoying.

Please understand I am not knocking every fiction writer/blogger. I’m a fiction writer and I blog too. This epiphany means I no longer feel guilty that I don’t spend hours every week meeting a blogging schedule. I don’t feel I have to fill my blog space with crap – just so I can play “Look at me!” You shouldn’t feel guilty either – after all your expertise is writing fiction, and your time should be spent doing what you do best. Your blog, if you decide to write one, should promote your Brand. The experts are right in that regard. That means the real YOU, not a lot of junk pumped incessantly into cyberspace, just to be noticed. Your readers want to read about who YOU are – they want to hear YOUR voice.

I will blog my observations and opinions, only when I actually have something to say, want to brag a little, or maybe found real treasure. I even re-blog when I find an obscure article that is on point. I’m an opinionated, logical, but passionate person, who believes in truth, honesty, and integrity. I’ve never been afraid to speak my mind. I can even respect those who  disagree. At least they’re being honest (even though they’re wrong). All those attributes need to be part of MY “Brand”, because that’s who I am, and who I want my friends and followers to see and recognize.

What’s important to you? Do you ask your followers to know, and trust you? Do they see who you really are? Something to think about…



6 Responses to TO BLOG? OR NOT TO BLOG?

  1. Pingback: TO BLOG? OR NOT TO BLOG? | Christine Hayton – A Writing Adventure

  2. You make some interesting points Christine. As a writer who follows a weekly blogging schedule, I’m not sure I agree with them all. You are certainly right there there is a difference between a professional blogger and a writer who is promoting her brand, but I believe there is a place for authors who feel there is worth in regular engagement.
    There are several authors who’s regular post (or newsletter) I look forward to all week long. I’m not saying I’m one of those, but the few followers I have tend to express similar feelings. I know I’m not going to have the kind of appeal or audience as those pros, but sharing my thoughts and experience as a new author can have value to some.

    • Ben – your scheduled blog is definitely of value – You express your feelings and relate your experiences as a new writer. The time you take writing your blog is appreciated by many new upcoming writers and I’m sure they can relate to your experiences. That is exactly what I meant when I asked that writers express their real selves and not simply follow the dictates of the “experts” by filling space with impersonal trash. It is obvious you make an effort to connect with your readers and I’m sure they appreciate it. Believe it or not – we are in agreement on this – there is a place for authors who feel their worth is in regular engagement. My comments were to those writers, posting anything just to fill that weekly slot. Your postings are well-written and certainly not filler. I read and enjoy them.

      • Thank you. Perhaps I misunderstood the complete argument in this post. You are right in that just filling space is a waste of everyone’s time. Clearly this post was one of the good ones, as it evoked a response. Keep it up!

  3. Christian Laforet says:

    Hey Christine, I totally hear you on this one. It’s something I’m constantly fighting myself over. On one hand, I know I should blog more, if for no other reason then to keep my name in people’s minds. But, on the other hand, I can’t stand people who shamelessly self promote. I don’t mind the occasional “Buy my book!” post, but when I see it ten times a day, EVERYDAY! it makes me crazy.

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