Why start a blog in the first place? That's easy. I started my blog as a way to help me push my name out there attached to something besides my books. It's about name recognition. After all, most people can't pump out a book a month in order to keep reeling in new readers and fans. (Unless you want to count those ungodly crypto-porn magazines that some people claim are books.) You can't put out a book a month, but you can put out short stories and blog posts once a month, or even once a week. That's not too difficult and it gives readers something new to look at. It's about creating a platform from which you can call attention to yourself.
Now, after the first six months of doing my blog, I started to actually learn things about the writing business, and I started doing posts based on the mistakes I've made and the things I've learned, in order to pass that information along to others who might be looking for that information. Some of it is things I had to look around for quite a bit to find, and I feel like putting it out there on my blog as well, will make it easier for the next people to find it.
At it's basest, a blog is a tool to communicate. Whether that communication is based around advertising, promoting ideas, passing along useful information, or just a soapbox for nonsensical ranting is up to the person that uses it.
Now that my blog is somewhat established, in that it's over a year old, it should be fairly clear how I'm using my blog.
Writing - Most of my posts over the past year, have focused on the act and business of writing, with topics on why editing is important, things we self-published authors are doing wrong, and tips on how to power through writing your novel. These will probably continue to be a fairly regular and high focus on what I blog about. For those curious, this is where I'm labeling this post, as it deals with one of the common ways authors market themselves.
Horror - My chosen genre tends to be Horror; that's the kind of story I like to write, as well as what I like to read, and watch. This has been the second biggest theme I've talked about and that is likely to continue as well. This includes discussion of Monsters, in film and writing, in addition to rumored monsters like Bigfoot, Nessie, etc. etc.
Rants and Reviews - These combined make up the majority of the rest of my posts, of which there are fewer than ten out of eighty. Still, while I promise rants will remain a rarity, reviews, especially of other author's works in the Horror genre, will probably increase over the coming year. At least that's the plan.
The last thing I want to go over, is what (I think) makes a good blog.
Content - Obviously, the biggest thing. If you don't have content worth reading, there's no reason for people to come check out your blog. Now, it doesn't even have to be real original content, but you need to make sure your blog is entertaining, education, informative, or a mix of those three, otherwise, they're just pointless words on a page which people won't be waiting anxiously for the next posting of. Content also comes in many forms; there are words, sounds, pictures, and video. The best blogs can have posts which use one or all of those in any kind of mix. I've found a modicum of success with a simple mix of words and pictures. In the future, though, I'm considering video, and there is always the option to add music to your posts as well. An atmospheric little tune to go along with a short story or a writing sample sounds like a good idea actually.
Timeliness - A lot of people post whenever they have time, and for some, that isn't very often, or it might even be daily. The point here is, it's usually a good thing when people can have an expectation of new content on some kind of schedule. If you post randomly every two weeks or so, it can put people off, as they check back, only to find nothing new has gone up, or they find they have several posts to catch up on. If you do write a lot of posts though, it wouldn't be a bad idea to still have one day a week where people can expect a post up, and then do extra posts around it. I've tried to ensure I put up a new post every Tuesday, though rants and reviews tend to go up whenever something irks me enough to write about it, or I finish doing whatever with what I want to review.
Consistency - Posting on a schedule falls under this, but specifically, I'm speaking in terms of what your content is. Making sure you have a few specific subjects that you focus on for your blog and sticking to them. If people can't have reasonable expectations about what they are going to see on your blog, most aren't going to be interested. Sure, your interests may stretch the gamut from Hypnotherapy, to the life-cycle of a fruit fly, to knitting, to sky-diving, but if your readers never know if your most recent post is going to interest them, they're not going to sit around and wait. Worse, if you consistently disappoint them, they're not going to waste their time checking, even the next time you do write a post they would like and appreciate. Basically, be consistent in your themes and topics. Your readers already have expectations depending on what you write, don't let them down by having a blog that's totally random.
Quality - Obviously, a well-written, and thought provoking post is going to get more attention and be passed around more than one written in txt spk and full of lols. If every post is high quality, putting forth good information in a way that everyone can appreciate, it won't even matter if you post once a month or less. The quality of a good post will carry your blog for that long and more.
Anyone disagree? Anyone have other thoughts on what we can use blogs for or what constitutes a good one? Leave a comment or send an email. I'm always happy to hear what others think.
Space Corps Directive 1694: During temporal disturbances, no questions shall be raised about any crew member whose timesheet shows them clocking off 187 years before they clocked on.