To Blog or Not to Blog

A little while ago, I was wondering aloud to my wife Allysen whether keeping this blog going was a smart use of my time. After all, I don’t post to it nearly as frequently as I should to keep up an audience, and it does take up writing time that arguably I should be spending on my next book. Still, it’s a connection to you folks that I might not otherwise have. (Yeah, I could post to Facebook instead—but really, what’s the diff?)

And so, with perfect timing, along comes a very funny column in today’s Boston Globe:  “Not Blogging,” by James Parker, a contributing editor to The Atlantic. After the first two lines, I knew I had to read it aloud to Allysen. Says Parker:

I should have one, of course. I mean, shouldn’t I? I’ve been urged to get one. A confused middle-aged literatus like me, trying to keep himself afloat while the old industry paradigms, the old machineries of reputation and reward, shiver into fragments around him? I need a blog. A place to consolidate my brand. A forum for my views, untrammelled, unedited. A one-stop shop for all my “stuff.”

That established, he goes on to offer the opposing view:

So allow me then to dissent — to offer, if I may, a small and fading valentine to not-blogging. Or, as it used to be called, “living.”

Let’s start with the most obvious point against blogging: the labor. A blog must be fed several times a day, like a weight lifter or a Great Dane. Are you ready for that kind of commitment? Update, update, keep the posts coming… We all know the tiny electronic swat of dismay that one experiences upon checking a favorite blog and finding it unchanged or unrefreshed. Do that too often to your readers and they’ll ditch you, and your blog will die…

It’s not that I won’t blog — I just can’t. I’m a slow writer, for one thing. I write ve-ery slowly, in a soft mist of incomprehension, like a garden gnome coming to life on an English hillside. This is no good for a blogger. Bloggers write fast. They react.

I do sometimes wonder if that describes me. Though certainly there are some days when, if I didn’t write a little on my blog, I wouldn’t get any writing done at all.  Hmm…

Excuse me while I go make sure that this isn’t one of those days.

0 Responses

  1. Beau
    | Reply

    I like reading the blogs of authors I read. (you happen to be one of them!)
    The whole 3-4 times a day thing seems overkill. Since I've subscribed to your blog via RSS, your updates will always show up in my reader.
    So please, keep the blog!

  2. Jeffrey A. Carver
    | Reply

    Thanks! Not long after posting that, I came across a video I really wanted to share, and so charged right ahead with another post. (Which, come to think of it, is my idea of f**king proper f**king blogging: posting when you have something you actually want to say.)

  3. Anonymous
    | Reply

    Keep posting and i'll keep reading and occasionally add my 2 cents. Of course if you decided writing here was keeping you from writing your books i'd understand if you decided had to make book writing a priority. – Marco

  4. substandardTim
    | Reply

    I've spent a few years in the blog world now and so hopefully my thoughts will offer something of value for you:

    1. Those folks who post several times a day are ones who are specifically hoping to make a living off of their blog. You are not doing that, you want to make money from your books, which you occasionally talk about on your blog.

    2. Food for thought: I spent 2 years writing music reviews for a website I was running. That was two years that I could have been working on my own music more.

    3. More Food for thought: I spent a year writing 100 articles for a blog about trying to get out of the rat race. (hoping to make money to do so from the blog). I made next to nothing and spent a year talking about getting out of the rat race instead of actually doing anything about it.

    The best advice that I could give you is to convert your main website to a wordpress blog. A time consuming task with all the content you have on there. All of your current pages of content would be "Pages" in wordpress. Anything you feel like blogging about would be "Posts". It would all be on one site and have a clean look and feel.

    I for one never go to your main site, there's no reason to. If I want to know what's going on with you, I come to your blog. And so I never see your books for sale because those are on your other site. (I already own them all but perhaps other visitors don't).

    As a side note, I still think you ought to ad some Adsense ads to your how to write sci-fi site. You are the top search result for that phrase! If you want to have an email conversation on effective ad placement sometime, I'd be more than willing.

  5. substandardTim
    | Reply

    more food for thought…

    Part of good search engine ranking is based on good unique content. If your blog and your main site were integrated, then the times that you do actually post in the blog, would be adding fresh content to your site which helps bring new visitors because you are pumping up your content juice a little bit.

    With your blogger blog…you are doing the same thing, but again you aren't bringing visitors to where they can see your books for sale. The link on the sidebar to your main site doesn't count.

    Sorry, I get a little hyped up about search engine tactics and blog strategies.

  6. Jeffrey A. Carver
    | Reply

    Hi Tim — Thanks for your comments. I've actually had a number of conversations in the last six months about integrating my blog with my website, with or without switching from blogger to WordPress. I think your arguments for bringing the two together make sense–although I'm not yet convinced that it's worth the effort of moving from my current platform to WordPress.

    The problem is…I want to do a complete overhaul of my website. At a minimum,this would mean a cosmetic makeover, and at a maximum a restructuring of the page content. I've wanted to do it for years. But it's a big job, and I haven't had the time to devote to it. Don't see myself having the time real soon, either.

    So I could move the blog over to the website, but then it'd be getting dropped into a design that's clearly from the last century, and just looks a lot less polished than the current design.

    Right now, it's hard to say what my cross-section of readers of either the blog or the website really is. The website seems to get more traffic than the blog. But the blog goes out on feeds, and appears on my Facebook page and my Amazon author page. So I really don't have an effective way of tracking the readership. I know that a fair number of people come to my blog through links on my regular website and also my writing site.

    Basically, it's a problem that I need to be able to dedicate about a solid month to, to really solve. And that's a month not writing.

  7. Jeffrey A. Carver
    | Reply

    Oh–about the suggestion of putting ads on the writing site. I've thought of that. One reason I've held off is that my hosting service is hosting the site for free, as a public service. (The site was really aimed at younger writers, though in practice I mostly hear back from adults about it.) To turn it into an attempted profit-maker would seem contrary to the spirit of our arrangement. (I don't know that they would object; this is my own feeling I'm talking about.)

    I also know that ads are more effective if placed higher on the page than where I've got them here, and on my website. But that would also turn my website into a billboard, which does not thrill me. And truth be told, I don't think there's a lot of money to be made from Adsense on my kind of site. Why? If you look at the ads on any given day, chances are they're mostly going to be ads for self-publishing. I don't see those as high click-through items. Nor do I particularly want my website to look even more like a giant ad for self-publishing than it already does.

    Long answer. Sorry.

    I do want to make some of these changes, but it always seems to be next month's project.

  8. Jeffrey A. Carver
    | Reply

    Tim — I did think of a quick way to change the blog's template to address one of the problems you pointed out: the disconnect between the blog and the pages that actually advertise my books. Take a look and tell me what you think!

  9. substandardTim
    | Reply

    Definitely a good thing! Something like 70-90% of web users don't ever scroll down past the page fold. Those percentages are probably lower for blogs but the reasoning still applies that if you have it right at the top, more people will see it.

    Good change!

  10. Jeffrey A. Carver
    | Reply

    Thanks, I like it, too. I've added a similar thing to the writing course site. Though I've noticed that the actual page I've added–"Get Books"–is hardly getting viewed at all. I have it also on the Read This page, which does get looked at more.

  11. doctorwinters
    | Reply

    I prefer occasional very good posts rather than quantity. I have too many feeds to keep up with as it is!

  12. Jeffrey A. Carver
    | Reply

    That's good. I think. Assuming you consider my posts good. 🙂

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