Blogging Alternatives for Authors: Choosing Your Stage and Microphone

As many of you know, I’m a diehard blogging fan. Approached well, it can broaden our readership, strengthen our writing, introduce us to fabulous friends, make us more appealing to industry pros and help us land freelance gigs. If you’re a blog-o-holic fellow fan, you’re probably nodding your head right now. Others of you, I suspect, are somewhat skeptical.

I led a blogging workshop at a conference recently and asked, “Who here has a blog?” Most every attendee raised a hand. When I prompted them to keep their hand up if they enjoy the process, all but one shot down.

I realize that not all aspects of writing are pleasurable, but I believe that many can be. I also believe that forcing ourselves to partake in optional activities we detest can work against us. Regardless, blogging isn’t for everyone.

Blog choices

We’re crazy-fortunate to be writers in a day rich with freedom and opportunity. The question isn’t if we’ll be published, but when and how. We also have a broad range of choices when it comes to book marketing, branding and the beloved author platform. (Note the sarcasm; I know few authors who jump up and down at the sound of the P-word.) I view “brand” simply as who we are—as people and writers, and “platform” as the stage and microphone we use to share ourselves and our work. The more we’re read, heard, seen and/or appreciated, the stronger our “stage,” “microphone” and audience become. And there’s no one or “right” way to enhance or utilize any of them.

When To Make Changes, Quit or Avoid Blogging

If you don’t enjoy blogging, you may want to consider tweaking your habits and approach. If you loathe it regardless, why do it? Hating blogging, but forcing ourselves to do it anyway, is a lot like following a tasteless diet and tedious exercise routine, in my opinion. It won’t stick, provide lasting results or prove worthwhile. We may even go bonkers in the process.

I’d also suggest not blogging, or seriously shifting your habits, if it’s taken priority over your primary writing—unless you’d prefer to build a blog in lieu of books. You may also be rockin’ your author platform without blogging, or detest the notion of even starting. While no one tool or medium works for everyone, it’s important that we present ourselves somewhere–preferably beyond our living rooms. If blogging isn’t your cup of novel-tea (ba-dump), I’d suggest the following:

5 Alternatives to Blogging for Author Platform Building

1. Rely on other social media platforms. I’ve heard Facebook and Twitter called micro-blogging, and for good reason. They, and other social media platforms, offer many of the same benefits blogging can—if we use them consistently, present ourselves authentically and avoid telemarketer “BUY MY STUFF!” techniques. (Thank goodness those don’t work. Blech.) If you’re unsure as to which platform to focus on, experimenting with a variety can help. For tips on using Google+ for building your platform, check out Marcy Kennedy’s post on Jane Friedman’s blog. For Twitter basics, InkyGirl’s free Writer’s Guide is groovy. To learn the benefits of Facebook pages versus personal profiles, check out Lisa Hall-Wilson’s post on Jami Gold’s blog.

2. Write guest posts for other blogs. Guest posts build content much the way personal blogs do, and introduce new readers to our voice and work. They can also make nice additions to our main author and social media sites. (If you’re on Pinterest, for example, create an interview/guest post board.) For best results, choose blogs you appear on wisely. There are loads of fantastic blogs out there—well-written, compelling sites with interactive readers and lofty readership. Countless others have lower-quality posts, very few followers and little interactivity. Before seeking or accepting a guest post opportunity, ask for demographics and stats, unless you have a good grasp of and respect for the blog’s content already. We can also learn a lot about a blog by skimming through posts, comments and social media shares.

3. Read, follow and interact with authors who do blog. Blogging isn’t the only way to engage in the blogging community, in which there is tremendous value for authors. (It’s one of the most supportive writing communities I feel we have access to.) Make sure you have a Gravatar profile, so that your photo and profile link accompany your comments when applicable, then seek out and read blogs that strike you. Sharing links to posts we find compelling on social media helps us, the post creator and readers who benefit from the links. When we share valuable content, we attract like-minded followers.

4. Contribute stories, articles and pitches to magazines, journals, contests and websites. Being findable on search engines and having plentiful online content are major blogging perks. We can get these same advantages by contributing stories and articles—paid or not—to print and online publications. (Exposure and experience are valuable “pay,” particularly in our early days.) Short stories can boost book sales, by serving as leverage during price-drop promotions and adding to our body of work. (A reader who loves your short story will be more likely to buy your books, and vice versa.) Entering writing contests can help instill deadlines—another perk of blogging. Winning brings us recognition, enhancing our reputation.

5. Write awesome book after awesome book, and team up with fantabulous reps and/or marketing gurus. I believe that high-quality work attracts and breeds success, regardless of what we do otherwise—and obviously, writing book after book is vital for all career-oriented writers. On occasion, a book does so well with readers or publishing pros, word-of-mouth (including others’ social media) and/or a powerful marketing force takes care of the whole shegang. If you can manage and enjoy that, kudos! Sadly, most of us aren’t so lucky. The harder we work, and the more high-quality work we produce, the better off we’ll be. Meanwhile, if we’re resistant to blogging and other social media, we best team up with qualified others who aren’t.

Speaking of blogging writers, a group of us are highlighting a special one today. Susie Lindau, a prolific blogger I’m honored to call friend, is facing breast cancer with courage, heart and humor. Please take a peek at her latest post, The Boob Report: Laughter is the Best Medicine, and you’ll see what I mean. ♥ She’ll inspire you, whether you’ve joined the blogosphere or not.

Susie gang 2

Lynn Kelley, Susie Lindau, Debra Eve, me and Debra Kristi

How do you feel about blogging? Any alternatives to add? What’s your preferred method of platform building, on or offline? Or would you rather hide away in a remote cabin, type-typing away? (We all have days like that!)

Leave a comment

32 Comments

  1. Nodding my head here.

    I’ve long been against the “every author must blog” mentality. If you don’t enjoy blogging, not matter how you approach it, chances are that will show in your writing, and who wants that?

    Reply
    • I think so, too, Amber. That’s certainly not the best intro. to our other work, unless ‘grumpy’ is part of our platform. 😉

      Reply
  2. Gee, my hand would’ve stayed up when you asked about enjoying the process. I’ve only had a rare “Oh crap, I gotta write another post” moment or two in a year and a half, and that’s usually when I’ve been overwhelmed with work from my writers. Sometimes it just sneaks up on you.

    Reply
  3. I like your outside the box thinking about blogging!

    And I love your photo with Susie and fellow writers. Thinking of her today and sending pink vibes. #SusieStrong

    Reply
  4. Vlogging (video blogging) is another option. However, it probably takes more time than blogging and you still have to think of/write content to talk about. But it can be fun if you’re an audio/visual kind of person.

    Reply
    • Unless you’re too old to look good on camera. I’ll stick to old-fashioned blogging.

      Reply
      • Great thought, Alana. I suppose it’s less time consuming once you’re in the swing of it—and great for the non-camera shy. 🙂 David, you’re not too old to look good!

  5. This is one of your best posts yet, and that’s saying a lot. There are so many people, like me, who can benefit from these suggestions on taking “the road less blogged”. Most important, though, I no longer regard my not blogging as a detriment. Thanks, you.

    Reply
    • That means a lot to me, Mike. Not blogging is SO not your detriment. Blogging when it fails to jive with you and your lifestyle, though, could be.

      Reply
  6. Very nice! I love having Contributors or Guests speak on my blog. It’s a great outlet for someone who is considering blogging or for someone who wants to step outside their niche and blog something a little different.

    Reply
  7. Catherine Johnson

     /  May 31, 2013

    There’s always so much to analyse with blogging, not just to do that rather than stick to Twitter and FB but there are seasons to it too. I can’t believe I once hated it and almost quit. It’s so fun now.

    Reply
  8. Interesting thoughts. Blogging isn’t for everyone and I hate it when people say “you HAVE to blog.” I agree, it’s not for everyone.

    And thanks for the shout out to Susie today. She’s definitely in the thoughts and prayers of a lot of people today.

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

    Reply
  9. Fortunately, I love blogging, but that doesn’t keep me from having the occasional blank mind where I just can’t think of anything to write.

    Reply
  10. Some days, blogging is as natural as sharing a new story with a friend. Other days, I beat my head on my desk trying to think of content worth sharing. I guess I’m a middle-of-the-roader–enjoying it, but still learning. Having said that, I get so excited when someone leaves a comment on my blog. That’s a cool feeling! (Hey look, I’m not just talking to myself!)

    Thanks for the post.

    Reply
    • Aw. I know that feeling, Scott! I recall when only my dad and a friend or two commented. 🙂 Most non-bloggers don’t comment, which you probably know. Sure you’re reaching folks!

      Blogging is a learning curve for all of us, and it seems to me that you’re on the right track. Good luck!

      Reply
  11. Another fabulous post, August! I’m with you on the thought that if blogging makes you twitch, and not in a good way, then don’t do it! I only don’t like blogging when my mind is a complete blank on what to post. Those are usually the days that I won’t put anything up. The first time I did that, I thought the blogging police would track me down and stun-gun me. Guess what? They didn’t. My blog and I survived. Ultimately, it made me like blogging more because I took all that pressure off myself. Sweet!

    Reply
    • I’m so glad you cut yourself some bloggy slack, Tameri! If there’s a blog police, I bet he/she gives points for that. 🙂

      Reply
  12. I hear ya Tameri. The first time I skipped a post, I too thought the blogging police would come after me. August, you have such a nice way of putting things. I am struggling with the blogging right now. I found that I wasn’t working on the WIP. Not good. And, as you know, I’ve had some family issues to contend with which are finally working themselves out. Thank you! Whew! So now I only post when I feel passionate about something. Once things settle down, I’ll post more often. I just felt burned out. But I really appreciate your encouragement girl! 🙂

    Reply
  13. lynnkelleyauthor

     /  May 31, 2013

    Excellent post, August. I actually enjoy blogging. In fact, I’ve come to think of my blog as my playground. The problem is I just haven’t had the time or energy to keep up like I used to before I became caregiver for my grandbaby. He’s 21 months old now. Gotta watch him like a hawk. In three days or less, his baby sister will be born. In August, I’ll have two babies to care for full-time M-F, so blogging time will be cut down even more. Kind of sad, but I love being caretaker of these little darlings, and they grow so fast, so I know to enjoy every minute of it. I also enjoy reading other blogs. So many fascinating posts and so many talented writers. And I’ve become invested in my blogger friends, so when I can’t keep up, I truly miss them. No sense dwelling on what I can’t keep up with. I’m just thankful when I can, especially having the time to take part in supporting Susie today. Awesome WANA community and other bloggers who haven’t discovered the WANAs yet.

    Now Twitter presents more of a challenge for me. It moves so fast and I’m not the fastest reader, and I’m more visual, so Twitter doesn’t appeal to me as much. Most of the time, I forget about it, but I need to make more effort to get on there.

    I love the hearts you added to that picture, August! So darn funny, especially the ones on me because they’re off center! Haha! Seriously, adding those hearts, such a clever idea!

    Reply
    • LOL Sorry for the crookedness! I’m a uni-boob gal, apparently. 😉

      I love the playground analogy, Lynn, and caring or those wee ones is far more important. You rock! And I love your posts, regardless of the frequency.

      Reply
  14. Love the tribute to Susie!
    I enjoy my blogging and, though it does take up my main writing space, for now, that’s fine. I am learning about things and meeting people (virtually) and just enjoying life right now.
    Scott

    Reply
  15. As you have already figured out, I’m one of those blog lovers. For me it’s been a combination of an outlet for my thoughts as well as a tool to hone my writing skills. Rarely do I edit or censor myself on my blog. Instead, I let it be a free flow stream for whatever thought, idea or cause happens across my brain that day.

    Getting to know other writers and receiving comments and encouragement have been awesome benefits when I’ve started to doubt myself and my abilities (anytime you put yourself out there so personally, it happens, regardless of how secure you may be as a person).

    Dig your shout out for Susie. She’s a fantastic person and deserves all the love and support we can give her. 🙂

    Reply
  16. Raani York

     /  June 1, 2013

    I was nodding – and I do enjoy blogging enormously. LOL I figure, otherwise I had stopped quite some time ago.
    I however LOVE your advice, August. You’re a very wise person!! Thank you!!
    I did make sure your advice spreads out by all possible platforms I could!!
    Sending you hugs!
    Raani

    Reply
  17. Great advice August!
    Thanks so much for the shout!
    I LOVE the fabulous Boob Power picture and will definitely print it out and frame it. Wow!
    I had thousands praying for me that day and I could really feel the vibes. It was amazing! I have you and everyone else to thank for my amazing prognosis. My preliminary results for recurrence twice as high as the results from the Mayo clinic. Miracles happen!
    I am so lucky to have you as my friend!

    Reply
    • It’s so wonderful to hear from you, Susie! You totally made my night. 🙂 I’m proud to know you and so blessed by our friendship. I hope you’re feeling continually stronger, and can feel the #SusieStrong vibes in the air 24/7! You’re so loved, woman—and a living, breathing miracle. ❤

      Reply
  18. I agree. I tell people to find what they like about social media, do that and let everything else go.
    I enjoy blogging. Unfortunately I don’t have as much time as I’d like to blog. I lot of my writing time goes to writing novels and of course there’s that pesky day job. (I say jokingly because I do like it.)
    But my other favorite part of blogging are the comments and virtual friends.

    Reply
  1. The Boob Report – Bosom Boosting Buddies | Susie Lindau's Wild Ride
  2. Randall Kennedy, I Am Here For You. | I AM TOM NARDONE

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