Last week I read a post by Wendy Lawton over at Books & Such Literary Agency in which she talked about "What's Not Working?" when it comes to marketing. One of the things that surprised me was that she listed blogging as the first one that is "not working." She even goes so far as to say this:
"I wouldn't recommend a writer start blogging in order to publicize his book in today's climate. It would be tough to picture a scenario where the outcome would justify the means."
I have to admit, the statement shocked me a bit. Obviously, I'm a bit biased because I'm an avid blogger and really enjoy that part of social networking. But after I got over my initial pause, I read through the post again to think through what she was saying more rationally.
Her argument is that unless you've already built an uber-blog, then you're going to have a nearly impossible task of standing out in an over-saturated blogosphere.
Okay, I can see her point there. The blogosphere IS glutted. And when it comes to writers blogging, we're a wall-to-wall crowded room of writing advice, writer ramblings, interviews, giveaways, and randomness. After a while, click after click begins to blend together and sound the same. I know my blog reading has gone down in the past year because of lack of time and because much of it feels like reruns. It takes a great headline on Twitter at this point to get me to click over to something. My google reader goes neglected.
So how in the world do any of us stand out in that crowd?
I'm not entirely sure. My guess is that it's often like books--it comes down to the voice of the blogger, the freshness of their take on things (even if they are old things), and their engagement with their readers. And even then, many times the audience on the blog is comprised of other writers--so we're still really only reaching a niche group. A fabulous group, but a limited one a best.
Wendy also, by the way, isn't big on blog tours for the same reason. Authors put forth all this effort to write up new posts and interviews for tour stops--which takes a crapload of time--and then "tour" on sites that pretty much appeal to other writers. So you're swimming in the same pond, promoting to the same school of fish.
Believe me, that is weighing heavy on my mind as I try to formulate my plan for my book release. I am planning to do a blog tour, but now I'm wondering if my time might be better spent doing something else. I mean, there are only so many interviews people want to read. And I'm hard-pressed to think of sites that I could guest on that would expose me to a totally new group of people. I honestly think getting reviewed on the book blogger sites is probably much more effective.
So in that respect, I can see Wendy's point about blogging's effectiveness. (For the record, her exception to the "blogging doesn't work" belief is the person who has a particularly unique slant, some previous celebrity, or an already established audience.)
Does that mean I'm giving up blogging? Hell no. I love blogging. It makes me happy and I feel blessed that you guys are still reading me after two years, lol. (Thank you!) And I really do love reading others' blogs. But this post is not about me (shocking, I know.) ;) This post is for those of you reading who are in the early stages of your blogging or who are considering starting a blog or who have been blogging but kinda sorta loathe it. Here's my opinion, take it for what it's worth.
Even "If" Blogging Is Dying, You Should Blog If...
1. You just love blogging and don't care if it's promoting you as a "brand."
2. You are a published author who has or will have fans seeking you out online.
(Caveat: If you are a published author and don't like to blog, that's fine. Just find some online outlet where readers can get to know you and interact--twitter, facebook, whatever.)
3. You have a unique slant to offer (like Wendy mentions).
Meaning, you have something to offer your readers that would sustain a popular blog even if you weren't an author with a book.
4. You write non-fiction.
I'd be hard-pressed to imagine how blogging wouldn't help a non-fiction writer.
5. You're not into short-form social networking like Twitter, FB, Tumblr, etc. and feel more comfortable connecting online in long form.
I'm sure there are others, but these are the ones that come to the top of mind for me. Number one is my reason (and hopefully number two will apply to me soon too, lol.)
So what are your thoughts on this? Do you think blogging is dying? Do you find yourself reading fewer blogs, leaving less comments, or do you see traffic on your blog trending down? How do you connect with the authors you love? What makes a blog a must-read for you even when you develop blog reading fatigue?