Blogs for Writers: The Benefits of a Low-Key Approach

Blogs for Writers: The Benefits of a Low-Key Approach

You’re a writer (or run a small business).
Do you have a blog?

Really? Why not?

I recently gave a talk (on story structure and practice) for the Independent Writers of Chicago (IWOC, excellent networking for freelance writers . . . thanks Dave Epstein for arranging it!). At one point, I asked how many had blogs (as a good place to develop their own business stories).

I was amazed at the small percentage, given the high level of experience and skills of that group. But I find this is true when I ask the question elsewhere.

My question stands: No blog? Why not? What’s the down side?

The answer, of course, is an impression that having a blog means (a) a requirement to post frequently,  (b) resulting in a blog that is useless unless hyper-active . . . and is doomed to soon be abandoned, due to a lack of time.

Plus, it’s not clear to many professional writers where to draw the line between the online journal of blog blather (what I had for breakfast . . .) and the glib, personable, über-blogger whose business success is related to the gift of gab. You know who I mean, those who were born to blog.

Let’s tackle those concerns.

1. Does it take a lot of time?
No. You can easily limit the time. In fact, you can put up a totally static, minimal blog (like a mini-website) in a few minutes, post a description of your services and contact info, and then walk away.

2. Cost?
Free, if you do it on a public-platform site like Blogger or (the one I use) WordPress. (I like WordPress for its multiple page options, making it look like a mini-site.)

3. Does it take long to put up a basic blog?
Maybe 15–30 minutes. Create an account, pick a blog name, register it, then take your contact info, bio, and services description . . . and dump that into an “About Me” page or post (or two).

4. But don’t you have to blog a lot to get attention?
You’ll hear about the search-engine attention you’ll get if you do a lot of short posts: 3 per week, or something like that. Yes, that’s true. But who’s got that kind of time? (Unless this is a major focus of your service.)

But you don’t have to do that. You don’t have to do anything. Think of it as a mini-website. You can put it up and walk away. It’s there, online . . .  and just might help someone find you if they search for your name, business name, city, specific products, publications, etc.

The hyper-active blogging is important only if you’re trying to move high in an topic that’s very popular. But if you want to start a blog about your services in your particular city . . . there’s a lot less competition.

Then, the nice thing about a blog is if you want to add something, it’s there and easy to access. You can do it remotely, at home or in the office or on the road. So if something good does happen (an article is published or you get an award) . . . or something newsworthy happens for you or a good client . . . or you stumble on an interesting professional thought or resource that you’d like to record and share . . . you can post a note in a minute. Without any need to go through a web master, without cash expense!

5. What the minimum I should post?
Hey, there’s no minimum! For a very low-key approach, just commit to one good, helpful, or interesting post a month. Seems like so little. But at the end of a year, you’ve got 12 posts. Twelve points of online contact. And they stay up and accumulate.

6. So what’s the cost/benefit?
Cost in dollars: nil. Time: not much for a minimalist business blog. Benefits: a bit of extra online exposure. It’s a versatile, extra directory listing, leading to you, without a drain on your checkbook.

In the next post, I’ll address some specifics ideas for a few good things that might be good to blog about, once you have that business blog set up.

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