Wednesday, May 25, 2011

To Blog or not to Blog

Blogs seem to come and go. Most begin as a means of interacting with a specific group such as family, followers, those who share a particular interest, or as a means of promoting sales or a certain ideology. Some have taken the place of telephone calls, some are an outlet for frustrated writers, and some merely form a linking bond to keep a specific group together and informed. Some are a means of sharing information with those who are just learning a specific field. There are two types of blogs; those open only to a small closed group and some which are open to anyone who wants to read them.

Many writers have latched onto the blog concept to stay in touch with their fans, to network with other writers, and as a means to share ideas and concepts with like-minded readers. Some blogs are owned and written by a single individual, some belong to a small group and each blogs when the mood strikes or they have something to share, and others are shared by a group with a set calendar for when each member should blog. Blogs reduce the time spent answering individual letters, provide a means of announcing new releases and other industry news simultaneously to many people. A blog also provides a means of getting feedback on ideas and viewpoints in a more personal way than through the larger social networks such as Facebook. Writers also use blogs to maintain their presence before their readers between releases. And not to be overlooked, there are blogs which are written simply to entertain and in some cases the writer actually makes money from the ads attached to the blog.

Most bloggers worry about increasing their readership unless their blog is a closed/by invitation only blog as many family blogs are. A favorite means of increasing readership and encouraging comments is to sponsor a contest. Some bloggers work out a complicated formula for blog contests and others simply have a drawing. Prizes for most writing blogs are books, but some give away gift cards or some item related to the blog. Others use their blogs and build their readership by reviewing what others write, by imparting news, or providing a service to their readers.

I read a limited number of blogs. Some are blogs of a family nature or of close friends. Others keep me informed of the changes and direction of the publishing industry. Many help me stay abreast of the careers of other writers. Perhaps the most helpful aspect of the blogs I follow is the helpful information I glean concerning writing and publishing. On my own blog I love the opportunity to feel like I have a real relationship with the people who read my books. I love hearing what others think and the ideas they share not only about my books, but about life in general.

Almost every blogger I know reaches a plateau where it's hard to think of something original to blog about. This burn out spells the doom of many blogs. Personal circumstances change and committing one's self to a regular blogging schedule often becomes unworkable. The instant interaction of social networks lures both bloggers and readers away as well. Some bloggers take on different interests and are no longer a good fit on shared blogs. Many blogs taper off, then just quietly disappear.

One of the most read and loved group blogs bid their followers farewell last week. Six LDS Writers and a Frog appealed to many people, especially writers because of the diverse group of individuals who blogged about various aspects of writing and personal happenings as they related to their writing and because the members of this group are particularly gifted writers. This group will be missed, but most of the writers have started personal blogs (most of their personal blogs can be accessed from my personal blog if you missed their farewells where they posted their blog adresses).

A few years ago I had no idea what a blog was. I guest blogged for Kerry Blair on the frog blog a few times, then started my own blog. Shortly after, I joined with a group of friends to form the V-formation. I've discovered that sometimes blogging is a chore, sometimes it's a great way to express a viewpoint in a shorter format than a book or magazine article, and it's a great way to stay in touch with the many great friends I've made and continue to meet through my writing. It's also provides a great opportunity to learn more about other writers, other view points, and sometimes to be delighted by another person's clever words, to encourage someone who is at the beginning of his/her writing career---and reading blogs is a marvelous way to put off doing something I really should be doing like working on my WIP.


Anna Buttimore said...

I didn't know the frog blog had finished! I loved it, that was my favourite blog ever!

Stephanie Black said...

Thank you, Anna and Jennie! It was a great five years in the Frog Pond. Now I'm trying my hand at solo blogging. We'll see how it goes!

Cheri J. Crane said...

Great post, Jennie. Blogging has been an interesting trend. ;)

And Stephanie, I will also miss the Frog Blog. It was a wonderful resource for many writers.