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Blogging: Developing a Web Presence

Lately, I've had a few people ask me about my blog and how I developed my following. I haven't been blogging all that long, so I'm definitely not an expert.

But I thought perhaps I could share a few lessons I've learned that may help others who are struggling like me to make blogging a successful and rewarding effort.

I won't be delving into how to balance blogging with other responsibilities. I did a series about it not too long ago and if you want my two cents on that subject, you can read about it here: Balancing It All. Instead, this week I want to focus on another aspect of blogging: how to have success at it.

Writers blog for various reasons. We're all at different places in our writing careers and so naturally our reasons for blogging will reflect this. Therefore, I think one of the first things bloggers must decide is: Why are we blogging? What are we hoping to accomplish through our blogs? Here are a few ideas:

  • To journal life experiences

  • To share a message or touch another life

  • As an outlet for writing

  • To gain a readership for potential published books

  • To connect with and find encouragement from other writers

  • As a way to learn about the writing craft and industry

  • For building a platform or web presence

And what, might you ask, is web presence? Here's my definition: Web presence is the length an author's name reaches into cyberspace.

Some writers are cruising around lots of cyber pathways, intersecting with many others, reaching to the far corners of cyberspace. And some writers are going a short distance, meeting a few others, but not branching out too far.

Not all of us are ready or even need to develop a greater web presence. If we're still fairly new at writing or are at the beginning stages of learning the craft, then developing a web presence will be a lesser priority. Agent Rachelle Gardner said it this way in one of her recent posts:

"If you are writing fiction. And you are unpublished. You really MUST be putting your writing first. Spend most of your discretionary time learning to write. You do this by continuing to write, and by reading high quality fiction, and by using crit partners, and reading books on craft. But mostly from writing, writing, writing."

"Dabble in social networking for fun and leisure, and to get a head start on what you'll need in the future. But you should keep in mind a 90/10 ratio. Spend t 90% of your free time on your writing, and no more than 10% on platform building. Things change when you're published. And things are different if you're a NON-fiction writer. But again, if you're an unpublished novelist, improving your writing is top priority. If you don't do that, all the rest will be irrelevant anyway."

However, if we're nearing publication or headed in that direction, then we should begin to look at how to build a wider web presence. Blogging, Facebook, and Twitter are all useful tools for pushing our name into the nether reaches of cyberspace. But blogging is often the best home base.

So, how do we blog effectively to build a web presence? How can we make blogging a successful endeavor to promote ourselves and our careers? After all, if we're going to take precious time to blog, we want it to be successful, right? Those are the questions I'd like to tackle this week.

For today, I'd like to hear about your web presence. Why are you blogging? Is developing a web presence one of the reasons you blog? And if it is, how far into cyberspace is your presence reaching?

Join in on Wednesday as we discuss the 10 Most Common Blogging Mistakes.

47 comments:

  1. I blog pretty much for the reasons you listed. Obviously to build a web presense, but I also like the social interaction with other writers/readers. I blog to share my message too... to make people laugh and make them think sometimes.

    How far is my reach? Probably not as far as it should be. It could be farther. I have ALMOST 40 followers. I get about 30 hits a day on my blog, very few of those if ANY are family members or non-writer friends (my family kinda rolls their eyes at the whole blogging thing). So yeah, I need to work harder at it eventually, but I also need to make sure I'm giving most of my time to writing, as Rachelle noted.

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  2. The main reasons I blog at the moment (my blog is still in the early stages) is to 1. Write, write, write, 2. To stay in touch with writing friends I've made, and 3. To encourage other writers.

    I believe I am definitely on the path to build a web presence (and that's important to any writer who desires to be published), but it's not my highest priority at the moment. My highest priorities are to learn the craft and share what I learn on my blog and to be encouraging to others.

    Thanks for the great post, Jodi.

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  3. I blog for all the reasons listed in your blog. And mostly because I love it!!! I actually have three blogs, so depending on what I feel like writing about, I have an outlet for everything. (Well one is a website actually) I try to write every week day on my main blog Desperately Searching for my Inner Mary Poppins and the other ones are more sporadic.

    If you Google my name however, Marybeth Smith, I'm pretty sure I'm on the first page. If you google Mary Poppins with the words blog, searching, desperately, etc. I'm on the first page as well.

    My husband is a web designer/developer and I have dabbled in a bit of internet marketing, so I haven't had too rough of a time getting my name out there.

    But right now, I'm not too worried about stats. I just want to write, make people smile, meet new people and enjoy every minute of it.

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  4. I think being successful as a blogger is mostly about offering information that's useful to people.

    Right now I'm blogging to document my own transition from journalist to author, to provide a resource for others writing their first books. It's interesting to think about my reach here, because it's fairly limited. I still think this is a worthwhile pursuit, but when I compare my readership to the readership of my travel blog, it's nothing.

    Which means I need to re-frame my initial comment -- being successful as a blogger can also be about entertaining, or bringing readers somewhere they wish they could be, when they're actually just sitting right in front of their computer.

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  5. The main reasons I blog:

    - to connect with other writers/readers
    - to learn more about the craft
    - to get a head start on networking
    - I enjoy it

    I'm looking forward to these posts, Jody. :)

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  6. I blog for the reasons you listed in today's post. I've reconnected with some old acquaintances and developed a deeper friendship with them. I've also made some new friends in cyberspace (you're one of them!). I'm trying to actively expand my web presence so I'm looking forward to what you have to say this week!

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  7. Hmmm, I'm not sure how far my presence reaches. Apparently there's an actress named Jessica Nelson and most of the time she comes up if I google my name.
    I started blogging for fun, just to write my thoughts on writing and books down. Also, so my name would be out in the cyber world. Somewhere. LOL
    Now, though, it is something that I think about as a networking tool. Not only that, but I love meeting all these other writers and talking "shop". LOL!

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  8. Jody, I'm really looking forward to learning from you here. I think my blog content is far too scattered as is. I'm always amazed at how each week you run with a new topic and create three great posts centered around that topic and even manage to reveal a little of your family life in it. It's wonderful. Thank You!

    I blog for all those reasons you listed too. There are just so many benefits to blogging, but you're right, the balance has to be there for the rest of life not to suffer.

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  9. I blog to keep in touch with other writers, keeps the loneliness at bay.

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  10. To connect with and find encouragement from other writers

    That was my main reason when I started blogging. I also wanted to share with others my journey--the good the bad and the ugly--and to encourage along the way.

    I don't think I stretch too far but that's ok. I love who I already know and I am learning so much:)

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  11. I started blogging because a friend encouraged me to step outside my controlled environment and risk letting new and unknown people read what I wrote. My very first comment was from a blog hopper who hated what I wrote and said some pretty horrible things. I almost quit then! But I stuck with it and now write just to share life. I don't have a lot of official followers but many people tell me they read, and that keeps me motivated to write and to try to write well.

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  12. I've blogged for years, but my posts are as ADD as I...and therein lies the problem! All I read/hear is that readers go to blogs with certain expectations; for example, there are mommy blogs, writer blogs, agent blogs, editors blogs, blahblahblah.

    When I go to Rachelle's blog, I expect to read something about writing, publishing, agenting. My blog topics boomerang from teaching to writing to children to politics to videos to bizarre news...

    So---I'm working on a "plan" to narrow my focus. Perhaps that will help. And, I'm also paying attention to those who are writing blogs that meet people's needs. Like you, for instance!

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  13. I blog for the writer connection first. I learn so much from other writers, get encouragement and often I'm entertained.

    I hope that my blog will touch even one someone else's life and make a difference. And that has already happened with someone who's not a blogger but read my blog and started writing and submitting again! Yeah!

    Most of my writing is short stories but I'm working on editing my first book and possibly have a short story in the works that's crying to be a second book! I can use all the help I can get and your blog is like taking a writing course.

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  14. Jody,
    I'm doing all the social networking stuff, and (as I posted recently on my own blog) I continue to have spells when I wonder why. I've been blogging for quite a while, doing it for all the reasons you mention, and the interchange with my regular readers has been fun. Does it help build my platform? Ask me next April when my novel comes out. Meanwhile, thanks for your own blog. It's a fun read.

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  15. Hi Jody!

    I actually started blogging to get my writing out into space so that someone - anyone! - might read it and comment on it. Once I got going, however, I realized what a wonderful network of writers there are out there. I'm enjoying learning what others have to say, experiencing their ups and down and sharing my little bit of wisdom (as I glean it). It helps me feel less alone in this solitary profession. And with four blogs to my name, I have little time to be lonely!

    I'm looking forward to this series!

    ~Jen

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  16. I began blogging in hopes to document growth and movement of my thoughts and faith. I continue blogging to connect and to write. I plan to blog in the future to help market my novels and remain connected.

    I'll admit, I've been somewhat surprised at who has followed my blog. I'm grateful, but know all credit and honor goes to God.
    ~ Wendy

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  17. I started my blog as foundation for a web presence, but also to express and work and find a network. It's been great for all those things! My readership has built slowly but steadily, and I think my efforts have had great return thus far. We shall see what happens in the future.

    Can't wait for Wednesday's post!

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  18. Hey, Jody!

    I blog for many of the reasons you listed above. I'm really trying to be intentional about posting and what I write about because I am want to build my web presence. My writing blog has only officially been up for 2 weeks and I have 7 followers already! Hopefully that will continue to grow. I'm definitely still learning about it all, but it's a lot of fun! And the community of writers that I've found is the best part.

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  19. My blogs once had a daily view count of around 5,000-8,000. But I was spending ALL my spare time online. I realized at one point that if I ever wanted to get anywhere as a writer I needed to focus on my book because, as nice as it is to have that readership to a blog, it's not the same as having a book in print. Plus, let's face it...we all want to pay the bills with our writing. But we have to set a priority and I think for many of us, blogging is a fun diversion but it's not our first love.

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  20. I'm definitely still learning how to blog effectively. I started blogging because I knew I needed to build some kind of platform and I was curious. I continue to blog because I enjoy meeting new writers, I enjoy trying to post useful advice. I enjoy writing about my journey. I also blog because I want to continue to build that platform and I love the idea of having a place where other writer or readers (who hopefully read my book after it's published :D) can come and learn about me and share about themselves.

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  21. Um, I'm blogging because it gives me something to do while I try to act patient about the querying process?

    Seriously, though...

    1) to have a dialogue with other new/aspiring writers (for both the connection aspect, and the learning-the-craft aspect)

    2) to have a place to share any publishing-process insights I learn before they are forgotten (I hope to get an agent, then write a series of "how I got my agent" posts before all that good information is lost, and I start having to worry about editing letters instead of query letters...)

    3) because I'm sociable, but unemployed, and blogs are my new way to chat at the water cooler

    4) because when I get published, I want a place where people I know can come celebrate with me! And isn't it fun to be able to say, "I knew her way back when" about someone? Well, then I figure I have to start posting "back when," not just AFTER I get successful...

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  22. My reasons for blogging pretty much mirror Katie's.

    My readers are increasing all the time.

    One other reason I blog is to promote good Christian fiction (mostly written by my friends. :) )

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  23. Great post. I blog to both build a web presence and journal my own path to publication.

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  24. Rachelle Gardner's comment about the 90/10 percent split b/n writing and platform building is interesting. She says that it is different for non-fiction writing, though. Since I am a non-fiction writer, I would be interested in knowing is she has addressed this. Do you know? Thanks, WB

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  25. Hi Jody -

    For me, blogging is primarily about connecting with and encouraging other writers. If they can learn from my experience, enjoy a book review or author interview, and explore links they might otherwise have missed, I'm happy.

    I've never seen a better definition of "Web presence" before. Thank you.

    Blessings,
    Susan :)

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  26. i started my blog in january. at first, it was just me writing a little slice of my publication journey to no one else but me. and to be honest, i thought, what's the point? but i had just read that i needed to have a "web presence," so i stuck with it. then i remember when i got my first comment by an published author. WHOA! and then comments increased, as did following, and now i'm over 100 followers and around 50-60 hits a day. how did that happen? why? b/c i tried to be unique in what i had to offer other writers. so far, so good! and i really do enjoy it, esp. the anticipation of logging on to see how many comments you have and who said what! :)

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  27. Um... How do I know how far into cyberspace I'm going? Is there a way of checking this?

    Lynnette Labelle
    http://lynnettelabelle.blogspot.com

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  28. I used to blog mostly for the journal aspect of it, but now it's more about the interaction with others. This is too weird, though. My posts this week are all going to be about blogging, too. We'll have to compare notes. I can't wait to read your thoughts. You always have such great insight!

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  29. I began blogging to build a potential audience for future books I hope to publish. But I received the surprise bonus of many friends helping, coaching and encouraging me in my writing journey. I even gained a crit partner through a relationship I formed with a dear blog sister.

    The reason I do it now? I can't stop!!!
    "Hello, my name is Jeanette and I am a blogaholic. But please don't give me twelve steps, because I am having too much fun!"

    Your blog is one of the most encouraging, Jody.

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  30. I'll be sure to tune into this series. I blog for reasons 1-5 and seven. I find I can learn the writing craft better fronm books where I can underline, star and deface and use the contents. Thanks for this great helper blog.

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  31. Since my mom just started blogging, I'm going to send this excellent post her way. Thanks, Jody!

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  32. all of the reasons listed in the above comments and also for the sheer fun of it.

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  33. Jody, my primary reason for blogging is to connect with other writers and offer support and encouragement. I've been blessed beyond measure by other writers' generosity and want to give back.

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  34. Great post, Jody! I blog for all of those reasons - but mostly to share a message or touch another life. My presence is not far-reaching, but I'm working on it! Can't wait for your next blog :)

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  35. Great post--I think we all are eager to learn more on this topic. I blog for a few reasons: to build platform, for the social support, and for instant gratification. It's fun seeing my writing out there.

    Can't wait until your next post!

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  36. Excellent post, Jody! I look forward to the wonderful information you'll share this week.

    As for your question: I'm still trying to figure out why I blog. Primarily I use it as an avenue to write and try to glorify God...hopefully touching people along the way.

    I struggle with the depth in which I should blog. As of now I don't venture too far into cyberspace.

    Blessings,
    Kelli

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  37. I started blogging to establish a web presence, but if that was all I was getting out of it - I would have quit a long time ago. What I really get out of blogging is connecting with other writers and people with similar interests.

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  38. I like reading blogs to learn and interact with other writers, but I am not sure why I blog. I guess the interaction. I don't need a presence yet, but will someday.

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  39. I started blogging shortly after becoming a parenting columnist for our local newspaper. With only one column a month, I quickly found, once that channel was open, that I had more ideas than once a month allowed. Blogging became a way to express all the in-between thoughts. In addition to this, I was already a published author, and though I hadn't yet heard the terms "platform" and "web presence" when I started, I did have an innate sense that blogging would keep my book titles and work circulating in ways my website might not. All of the other benefits that have been mentioned here have been delicious icing on the cake, and I've found it's a wonderful way to keep my creative juices flowing in ways book writing alone might not. The exchange, when it happens, is particularly wonderful and uplifting.

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  40. Hmmm...good points. I started blogging to force myself to write daily. I can tend to be a bit of a 'when the mood hits me' writer. But now I love the support and interaction with other writers. i just wish my time zone matched up better. i always feel like the last one to the posts cause I am nearly a day ahead. Thanks for the post and for visiting my blog.

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  41. Jody,

    I have two blogs. One I do for a local parenting magazine and one I do to talk about my alma mater (mostly college football). I do it to have a presence, but I don't know how to push it beyond that.

    My football blog is particularly interesting. January-July, I'll get about 1-2 hits a day. Now that we're in August, it's picking up. Last season, I received scant commments from visitors, but drew 500-600 hits per week.

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  42. Great post! I remember reading those words from Rachelle awhile earlier, and that's when I made up my mind to follow everybody anonymously for now. I'm trying to focus more on my writing, and although I think I reach a little bit into cyberspace it's a perfect spot to be for me at the moment. I've made great friends and learned a lot, but I also have to spend the majority of my time on my craft for the moment.

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  43. I blog for the same reasons listed. I do love connecting with other writers and i love the sense of community we have here esp. within this semi tight circle of bloggers. It's important to me to write therefore it's a gift to share the experience with like minded people. Thanks Jodi, great post.

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  44. This is such a thoughtful post. I have been asking myself that very question. Why do I blog? What am I hoping to accomplish. I think it is to gain readership for my memoir, but it is also to connect with others--not necessarily other writers--but others on a spiritual journey, other seekers.
    Karen

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  45. great post w/ lots to prompt thought. will consider further

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  46. "Spend t 90% of your free time on your writing, and no more than 10% on platform building"


    oooh. I think I like that guideline. Starting tomorrow.

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  47. I feel like I am kind of cheating because my twin helps me with my web precense so I can concentrate on my writing. She loves doing it. We make a good team.

    Very informative article!

    -Alisa Hope

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