Friday, March 01, 2013

Is It Time To Move On?

Like the "old gray mare," blogs just ain't what they used to be. When I started writing, authors were told that it was imperative they have a blog and a website. I was flabbergasted to see figures recently that my website gets a lot more hits than this blog.

Many of my writer friends either have or will soon put their blogs in hiatus. I'm wondering if that's not a good idea, to let us spend our time more productively. But I'm not quite ready to jump off that particular high board. So I need your help.

I maintain a presence on Twitter and Facebook, visit GoodReads from time to time, but have always thought this blog was a good way to connect with others. Maybe I was wrong. Which brings me to the survey. There's only one question. Click here to take the survey. Feel free to leave a comment to expand on your answer. Then, we'll talk.


27 comments:

James Scott Bell said...

Well, Doctor, you've heard me before on this. When I left that "time suck" comment on Rachelle Gardner's blog some time ago, it generated a whole lot of thankful responses. It's all about ROI, and you have to put your writing first.

Blogging is too time intensive for most writers vis-a-vis the actual return. Unless it's something one truly enjoys and doesn't take away from the fiction production, I'd advise against it. I especially don't like it when industry types tell wannabe writers they MUST blog. Feh and phooey.

An exception is the group blog idea. That does require a bit of recruiting (maybe there should be a potential blogger combine for assessment) to find the right mix.

Richard Mabry said...

Jim, Well-said. Between you and Randy Ingermanson, I've become a fan of Return On Investment--or, as my former chairman used to term it, Compensation For Aggravation.

I'll be interested to read the votes and comments of others. And if no one else comments, that says something as well.

Thanks for your comment.

Beth Goddard said...

ROI can more easily be achieved by those who have found a blogging voice, me thinks. :) Those who rise above the millions of other blogs with said voice. But I think perhaps finding your blogging voice comes with the desire to be a great blogger. LOL Most novel writers want to write novels. That's just my two cents, and I'm so pleased to learn that I don't "have" to blog.

Beth

Richard Mabry said...

Beth, Am I to infer that, like Jim (and, frankly, me) you'd rather write than blog?
And this brings up another question: is it still imperative for a writer to have a blog presence? Will a good website and participation in Twitter and Facebook do?
Inquiring minds want to know. Thanks for your comment.

Charmaine T. Davis, author said...

Doc Mabry, I'm not a "brand name" in the writing world, so I'm not sure if my two-cents of anecdotal evidence is worth anything, but I get more interaction on Facebook and Twitter than on any other medium. I used to write blog posts, tell people about them via FB and Twitter, and less than 1% (is that possible?) would even check it out or if they did--never left a comment--only rarely. I've since turned my blog into a sort of static welcome page featuring my bio and my books, and party and fellowship on FB and Twitter. I'm finding people want their communications short, sweet and light. Now I have more time to write (which keeps me happy!) and I am fellowshipping with more people without getting depressed at the lack of traffic and/or comments on my blog. Thank you for allowing my input. Blessings!

Richard Mabry said...

Charmaine, I think your anecdotal experience is very worthwhile, and I'm glad you shared it. Today I checked a few of the blogs I follow regularly, and find that there were zero or sometimes one or two comments--these at sites where recognized authors and agents posted. I have to agree that people are getting used to distilling information to 140 characters. Thanks for your input.

Michael K. Reynolds said...

YIKES! I am about to crash the party here.

I believe the mistake is seeing the Blog as only a "marketing tool" and not as it's true potential, which is a ministry tool. (A quick note doctor from my marketing hat--you might consider embedding your Blog into your website, so all traffic will add to your totals.)

I love being a novelist and am grinding away at my third to be published. But there is a profound satisfaction I get from my Blog ministry which I can't imagine abandoning...EVER!

It's such a unique, powerful and interactive tool, and a blessing to share openly and freely.I get to write intimately and with the skin peeled off of the grapes.It's my own publishing printing press, which I have full control over.

And...it's at the center of my author discoverability strategy (leveraged by Social Media).

I've read posts by both Jim & yourself which have blessed me as I'm sure it has others.

I'm on deadline now, so I'm on a Blogging hiatus, but I'm quite anxious to jump back in shortly, and my "greatest hits" have been serving my audience in the interim and still drawing hundreds of daily page views.

So a big NO vote from me.

Richard Mabry said...

Michael, Thanks for your comment and the good advice. And, by the way, my blog will be embedded in my website within the next couple of weeks, if not before.
You're right, of course. A blog isn't just a marketing tool...but that's what authors are hammered with on a regular basis, so that's what most of us think about when we think of our blogs.
I appreciate your input. Now get back to writing some more great books--Flight of the Earls is on my TBR list.

Julie Arduini said...

This is a great question. Although I think the old gray mare analogy rings true, I'm not ready to say goodbye. But, my reason may be different.

The blog to me is part of a package to build my platform as I study the craft and refine my work. I might receive more feedback from Facebook, but the back end stats on my blog tell me I have an audience.

More than that, I hear from people apart from the comment section. And when I do, I'm reminded that at least for me, my blog is a ministry. Readers are encouraged and given personal examples that surrender is worth it. At the very least, I learn that they bought a book because I mentioned it.

It's about perspective for me. I can view it as a time sucker, or a ministry. I know everyone enters the blogosphere for different reasons. For me, it's a ministry, and I plan to keep on keeping on.

Richard Mabry said...

Julie, Great perspective. I agree--the blog is different from the other social media venues. On my blog, I post "stuff" on Tuesday and insights into the writing life on Fridays. And I'm not limited to 140 characters (although I've learned to keep blog posts short).

Not sure how much I'm ministering to the followers of my blog, but I hope they're getting to know me.

As i look over the responses, I think the answer to the question I pose in the title is, "It depends..."

Thanks for your comment.

H L Wegley said...

As a new author, trying to get my name and work known, the policy changes on Facebook have really shut down my reach. A couple of months ago over 200 people would see my posts. Now it's more like 20. Maybe I need to learn to play the game better, but I'm thinking Facebook will get less of my time .. for now anyway.

Lena Nelson Dooley said...

My blog has a large following, but I don't really write all the posts. They're interviews with authors, so much less time intensive for me.

And now I'm on three other blogs. We don't have to write often on them. However, I think one of them has seen its best day, and I'm thinking of dropping out of it it.

Lena Nelson Dooley said...

I do find that Facebook and Twitter can steal much more time than a good blog will, so I'm very careful about how much time I spend there as well

Richard Mabry said...

HL, I've given up trying to keep up with the changes Facebook seems to give us on a regular basis. Right now, I have both a fan page and a personal one. I haven't yet bit the bullet to get people to change to the former from the latter. And, interestingly enough, right now Facebook is getting twice the votes on my survey than either Twitter or blogs.
Thanks for your comment.

Richard Mabry said...

Lena, I've often wondered how you find the time to be so active on your blog, but you make a good point--you don't do all the work. I did a survey some time ago among my blog readers and discovered that they weren't interested in either author interviews or book reviews. However, I may take a second look at it.

And you're right--Facebook and Twitter can be, as Jim Bell puts it, a big "time suck." Got to watch out for those. Thanks for stopping by to comment.

Elaine Stock said...

As a pre-pubbed author who has a growing blog (though like Lena, I feature weekly guests so it's not as time consuming as other blogs), I must say that I am so grateful to have started to blog. I've been blessed with connecting to many beautiful people who have either become friends or good publishing connections--or both. But more, blogging is just not on what *I* get from the effort but what I can give to others: help to uplift and encourage others in a way that they see God's Mighty Hand holding their own.

Richard Mabry said...

Elaine, I'm hearing this a lot, and I think it's good to separate the "marketing" from the "ministry" aspect of a blog. And if the blog is focused too much on either one to the exclusion of the other, it's probably time to rethink the project.
Thanks for your comment, and good luck on moving from "pre-published" to "contracted" to "published."

Elaine Stock said...

Thanks, Richard.

Cecelia said...

Yes, I do think Facebook and Twitter are replacing blogs. I've found myself floundering on my blog lately, not posting as much, and spending more time on Facebook.
~Cecelia Dowdy~

Richard Mabry said...

Cecelia, The reason behind this post was that I was feeling the same sort of frustration. I'm about to be convinced by some of the commenters that blogging, tweeting, and posting on Facebook all serve different purposes.
Right now, on the survey, Facebook is getting more than double the number of votes for Twitter or Blogs. I'll keep the survey open until next week and post the results this coming Friday.
Thanks for your comment.

Jennifer Valent said...

I found the same thing, Richard. The blog was taking up so much time and creativity, and I wasn't seeing an increase in traffic that would justify it. I have much more interaction and participation on my FB page... and it's a positive return for me emotionally as well. Very encouraging to interact with readers there! So I've kept the blog for announcements, etc. and only update when necessary. I put most of my efforts into social media.

Richard Mabry said...

Jennifer, Thanks for adding your comment. I'm seeing a tendency for people to use social media such as FB and Twitter for more immediate communication, and blogs for connecting and imparting more information than can be squeezed into a brief message.

Jan Thompson said...

I agree with everyone who says that they view blogs as a ministry rather than a marketing tool (unless you blog about live writing process or journey to publishing). It's also true that most people don't leave comments on blogs.

I think a writer's blog should be used in conjunction with Twitter and Facebook to interact with fans and friends, but the best marketing tool is still, and always, the author's published books. Bar none.

Just my two denarii as a reader.

Richard Mabry said...

Jan, Your two denarii are worthwhile contributions. Thanks for spending them here. Appreciate your comment.

Anonymous said...

This from author BJ Hoff, who, for some reason, Blogger seems to hate when it comes to posting a comment. Sorry,BJ.

When I set up my blog a few years ago, my only reasons for doing so were to announce the release of new books and, hopefully, to offer a little help to new or aspiring writers. Back then, blogs were "big." But that was before Facebook and Twitter became active. At that time, blogs served as outlets for ministry and promotion. I do think that Facebook, especially, but Twitter, to some extent, have more or less replaced blogs for both purposes. I never intended my blog to be a ministry tool, because I've always considered my fiction writing itself as my ministry. As to promotion, many blogs seem to strike a tenuous balance between just enough and too much. Because of that, and because I totally dislike promotion in general, I've tried to let my publisher handle most of it for me. Besides, over the years I've seen too many promising writers spend their valuable writing time doing so much promo and marketing that sooner or later they become more marketers than writers.

I'm not sure Just how much help or advice one can offer (in regard to writing) before it begins to border on repetition. As for interaction with readers, I've found Facebook to be a far more active venue for that and not nearly as much of a time draw as the blog--and it's certainly as useful when it comes to announcing new releases and updates.

I've also found that over the past year--and according to what I've heard from other writers, I'm not alone in this--I seldom read blogs at all, other than maybe three or four that I may visit once or twice a week Partly because of time constraints, but also because, with a few exceptions, many of them, and their formats, are beginning to seem a little "stale."

I do think we'll see blogs losing more of their popularity (and thus their readers) in the future as they're replaced by newer or more interactive outlets, not only for promotion, but for those who use them as ministry outreaches as well. Admittedly, mine is still "open" but it's rarely up to date, and I doubt I'll keep it going much longer.

I suppose I'm just old-school enough to still believe the best marketing and promotional tool we writers have is the best book we're capable of giving our readers.

(And, yes, Richard, your blog is still one of ones I read on a regular basis.)


BJ

Crystal Laine said...

I just discovered Hootsuite (through your agent's blog!) as I haven't Twittered much at all. Facebook and Pinterest seems to be where I get a lot of interaction but I think my "audience" is there. I am lousy at blogging, even group ones. Sigh. But Facebook does take time and relationship building.

I dunno, Dr. Richard, but I like connecting a little more personally, so FB suits me. I will try Hoot Suite to see if that cuts down that time crunch.

Richard Mabry said...

Crystal, I'm interested in Jane Friedman's recent blog to the effect that we're wasting our time on social media when we should be writing. Don't know if I'm just using it as an excuse, but it's heartening. Meanwhile, I--like you--struggle on.