Three key assumptions:
...You already know how to write.
...You want a new venue for your writing,
as well more visibility for your writing and writing-related
...You are interested in the blog as a new
literary genre / artform.
#1. Start with clear intentions.
What do you want your blog to do for you? How much time are you
willing to spend blogging? What image do you want to project?
What kind of readers are you aiming to attract?
I started my blog, "Madam
Mayo," to help promote my anthology, Mexico:
A Traveler's Literary Companion, as well as my
other books, events, and workshops.
That said, I have continued to blog because I love exploring
the form. I now think of my blog as a kind of filter (read
about that here).
#2. Open your mind to the many possibilities
of what your blog can be and do.
Be careful not to jump to conclusions about what a blog is or
is not. Guest-blogging
on "Madam Mayo," Tom Christensen (whose blog is "Right-reading")
wrote: "Just as there is no one way to write a novel,
so there is no one way to write a blog. I imagine Joyce's blog
would look a lot different from Proust's, or from Kafka's, or
from Celine's, and so on."
Be sure to have a look at my
list of top writer's blogs you might be amazed at how
different they are from one another. Writers are forever telling
me, "I can't blog because I don't have time to post every
day." But why, pray tell, do you "have to" post
every day? Or, "I can't blog because I don't have time to
deal with all the comments." Who says you have to allow
With your blog, you make the rules.
#3. Provide content that is useful, interesting, charming,
or at least funny.
Because otherwise you will not have readers! This sounds
obvious, but for a large number of writers, alas... well, go
visit a few and see for yourself.... Writes
Tom Christensen (again on "Madam Mayo"), "you
have to have something original to offer. Some bloggers do succeed
as aggregators of content produced by others, but I think it
is more difficult to get by with that approach than it used to
be. Sure, many posts can consist of passing along items spotted
elsewhere, but unless you create some original content with a
unique point of view, it will be difficult for the blog to grow."
#4. Make it clear to a first-time
visitor who you are as a writer.
Your name, what you write, the link to your books and web page,
etc. This information can be contained in a link and/or the sidebar,
but make sure it's right up front.
#5. Offer brief posts, as
opposed to essay-like posts.
There are some notable
exceptions, but generally, the better blogs offer short posts
(a single sentence to a paragraph or two), that are rich with
#6. Feature guest-bloggers.
A voice other than your own can liven up your blog. Tip:
Anyone who is actively promoting something (a new book, for example)
is usually game to offer a guest-blog post. I find they are most
likely to accept when this does not require more than a paragraph
of writing, and when I can offer them a specific date for their
guest-blog post. Madam
Mayo, for example, hosts guest-bloggers (generally) on Wednesdays
with a "5
#7. Offer lots of good links.
For example: if you mention a book, link to that book's page
on, say, amazon.com. If
you mention, say, Jane
Austen, be sure to offer a link to some
web page about her. I love to find lists of links. On my
own "Madam Mayo" blog, I offer, for example, Top
10 Books read in 2007; Top
5 Pug Videos on Youtube; 10
Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Writing Workshop.
#8. Post on a regular schedule.
To attract repeat visitors, predictability is more important
than frequency. Though certainly, frequency helps. As noted on
the home page, "Madam Mayo" is "updated every
Monday and in-between more often than not. Guest-blog posts generally
#9. Indulge in a few off-topic
This tip is from novelist
whose blog is "Work
in Progress." Guest-blogging
on "Madam Mayo," she wrote, " I enjoy feeling
there's a person complete with quirky taste behind
the magic curtain."
#10. "Mine" your
Dig into your blog and
bring up the better / more interesting / traffic-generating posts
and link to them from your sidebar. Some of "Madam Mayo's"
post popular posts include "The
3 Questions I am Most Frequently Asked About the Writing Business";
Poliphili, and "Jill
Bolte Taylor's TED Video".
#11. Offer Beefy Blogrolls.
Tom Christensen, "Your link neighborhood,' the
constellation of sites you link to and that link to you, says
a lot both to your readers and to the search engines
about the nature of your blog. It's karmic if you are generous
with credit, praise, and links, I promise you will be repaid."
#12. Offer RSS feed.
means "Really Simple Syndication" and, basically,
it is a way for readers to subscribe to your blog's updates (or
"feed") without their having to actually go into your
website and without your having to take their e-mail address.
and/or "tag" your posts.
If you have time, bookmark your posts to bring
in more traffic. For more about this and how it works, see Blogging
#14. Don't use the free blogging
programs and hosting get your own.
Otherwise, you don't
control your own blog. I need to take my own advice (right now
my blog is on www.blogger.com),
and will, asap.
#1. Blogging that's nothing
Pietrzyk, guest-blogging on "Madam Mayo" wrote:
"I'm happy you have a book out; I really am. But if it's
all there is to your blog YOUR book, YOUR readings, YOUR
conferences, YOUR mother loving the book I am going to
move on. Please learn to promote yourself shamelessly in a discreet
way." Writes Tom Christensen, again on "Madam Mayo,"
"Try to look at the blog as the product, not as a vehicle
for promoting the product: that is how your readers will look
#2. Endless self-referential
Christensen, guest-blogging on "Madam Mayo" wrote,
"being too self-referential is a common, and deadly
#3. Opening a blog post with
"Sorry not to have
been posting as I should" oh, yecch. Just blog.
#4. Long strings of ginormous
I'm talking about pictures
here. I love to find them, and I love to include them but
when a blog post has several of them, and I'm on dial-up, and
they take eleven cen-tu-rie-sssss to doooooooown-n-n-n-n-load,
I've surfed away, click.
#5. Black or dark backgrounds
These may look lovely, but they are a strain to read. Be
kind to your readers, use a white or very (and I mean very),
#6. As a header, using the
generic forms provided by the hosting service
Try to get something
original in there that presents you and your blog in the way
that best serves your purposes.
for Dummies, by Susannah Gardner and Shane Birley,
Wiley Publishing, 2007
See also "Madam Mayo" on www.cmmayo.com
which has an extensive archive of posts on blogging and writers's
For more about choosing blogging
software and services, see Blogging for Dummies.
(All Very Different From One Another)
#1. Design expert and author
Edward Tufte's Ask
He calls it a moderated forum. Yeah, I'm calling the page a blog
because I want to.
#2. Novelist and journalist
James Howard Kunstler's Clusterfuck
Once a week, a zippy op-ed style
#3. Novelist and creative
writing teacher Leslie Pietrzyk's Work-in-Progress
Highly focused and meaty with helpful
information. Frequently updated and features many guest-bloggers.
#4. Poet and literary magazine
editor Deborah Ager's 32 Poems
Wide-ranging, quirky, frequently
updated. Big on Web 2.0 tools.
#5. Childrens writer Erica
Childrens' book recommendations
(and a bit more). Part of Offsprung news.
#6. Travel writer Rolf Potts'
Fun, daily updates, multiple bloggers
working for him.
#7. Professor of History,
Middle East expert and author Juan Cole's Informed
One of the go-to places for news
about Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East. Updated daily with
multiple links and commentary. (Boy howdy does he sell ads!)
#8. Novelist Laila Lailami's
She's been around almost from the
time blogging began.
#9. Editor, graphic designer,
translator and writer Tom Christensen's Right-reading
Eclectic quality links,
and he encourages both mail and comments.
#10. A cabal of crime novelists's
Regular posting by Paul Levin, Patricia
Smiley, James O. Born, Jacqueline Winspear, and Cornelia Read.
#11. Fiction writer and editor Maud
News, opinion, a charming miscellanea--- hers is one of the longest-standing
and most respected lit-blogs.
#12. Novelist and essayist
(on the Huffington Post)
One of our finest novelists. Her blogging, however, is focused
#13. Fiction writer and journalist
David Lida's Mostly
Interesting photos of Mexico City
with brief commentary.
#14. Novelist M.J. Rose's Buzz,
Balls & Hype
She's the author of some steamy best-sellers; the blog supports
her "AuthorBuzz" advertising business.
#15. C. Monks's Utter
Quirky, elegant design.
with Websites and Blogs: My Experience and Some Tips
Conclusions After 8 Years of Blogging