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Open Book: Is Blogging Overrated?

September 18, 2011 Leave a comment

After blogging for a couple of years now, I am wondering if blogging is overrated.  Yes, as a writer, you would think that this process is a no brainer and enjoyable.  But in truth, it steals time from my day, from my other writing and reading, and although pleasurable, may or may not be all that productive from a return on investment viewpoint.

In another blog written not long ago (http://www.corichu.com/blog/2011/08/22/create-blog-written/), I took the position that blogging is an activity that helps a new writer.  The blog is free self promotion, a foundation for building a loyal fan base when that first novel gets published.

I was struggling last week to come up with something worthy of writing.  I realize that “worthy” is subjective, but I wouldn’t want to read a blog if I didn’t expect to come away with a new idea, a different point of view, or at least a bit of humor.  Geesh, my time is worth something…and that’s what this blog is all about.  Is blogging overrated?  Am I getting something out of my time investment? 

Blog posts are not quick, easy breezy well-written snippets. I think more  like a journalist; someone who reports or makes sense out of a series of facts.  I just happened to pick the topic of writing, but I could be writing a blog about baseball fashion or nutrition, or focus on the aging baby boomer body.  I read other writing blogs, who have covered the grammar topic, the how-to topics very thoughtfully and thoroughly and wonder if I should just make this blog a series of great links that I found.  After all, the nuts and bolts of the writing process doesn’t change enough to warrant me to re-invent the wheel just because I can’t think of something to publish in my blog. 

Blogging pressure can be annoying. Besides, even though I write fairly quickly (and I do have opinions), I find that I just can’t  spew out anything that comes to mind.  I have to have a topic that I find interesting, come up with an outline, and then research the fine points.  All this is time consuming.  I don’t write my blog because I have a passion for it, and certainly I don’t like that I am adding to more deadlines on my to-do list.  Even though this is self induced, it is nevertheless annoying and pressure.

Marketing component. Also, what people fail to realize is a blog is a product.  Like any product to get the readership up, there is a marketing component.  If you create a blog, how many hours do you expect to spend reading, commenting and linking to other blogs….other social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter?

More time consumed? I hear that we are a nation of non-readers.  I can hardly believe that, but if it is true, then the vlog (video blogging) is the next big marketing platform.  And how much time are you going to invest in vlogging when blogging becomes passe? 

Money making blogs. If you are blogging because you think you are going to make money from affiliate programs, realize this venture has its own pecularities.  First, you will need a great niche…one that will have pull, even when you skip a few days.  (A good example is a celebrity watch blog.) Second, be prepared.  This as a full time job, even though it seems like a part time occupation—one that insidiously steals your time from you.  Third, Technorati reports that only about 10 percent of blogs are money producers.  Some are wildly successful, but most are not making more than $20K a year.  I have been reading about the success stories.  They are inspiring. 

Final Thoughts.  Eh, am I still going to blog?  Yup, I am. I don’t know why though.  It seems to boil down to my need to share.  I am on Facebook and Twitter, but for some reason I don’t post often. 

You will have to weigh the pros and cons for yourself.  Just remember what you devote to this activity usurps the time on another writing project, with the family, with friends or another activity.

Light bulb moment!  Hmmm, maybe I should be sharing and getting paid for it? LOL

Open Book: Blog Content Basics

September 8, 2011 Leave a comment

No two brands of ketchup taste the same.  The basic ingredients may be similar — tomatoes (or tomato concentrate), sugar, vinegar, salt, onion powder, garlic powder, etc.  — but the taste differences lie in the ingredient quality and proportion.

And so it is with your blog.  Your blog site is uniquely yours even though there may be a couple of hundred or more people blogging about the same topic.  To keep your followers, consider these basics when you post your next entry:

     Does your post solve a problem?
     Does your post inform?
     Or have timeless content?
     Maybe your post is in demand (trending)?
     Or does your musings provide a bit of humor…something that is insightful,     but leaves your reader chuckling inside at your wit or twisted viewpoint…a bit of comic relief?

If you can say yes to one or more of these questions, your post content will provide value to your reader and will have them coming back for more.

Like the quality of the tomatoes in the ketchup, so is the quality of your writing. Write well (with the help of the SEO gods) and your posts will fly off the shelf.  Write incoherently and well, your writing (while surely highlighting your unique brand) might limit your viewing audience.

Open Book: 3 Great Reasons for an Unpublished Novelist to Blog

August 22, 2011 1 comment

People blog for many reasons, but for the unpublished novelist, blogging is a no brainer.

I can’t remember which self-help guru wrote that if you want to be a novelist, you have to do what novelist do. If you imitate the behaviors of novelist, you will one day be that novelist.  One of the behaviors all published authors seem to share is blogging.  Here are the three great reasons why you need to start if you haven’t already.

1.  Name Recognition – Your friends and family might know you are a budding novelist, but you will need a few more thousand book buyers when your novel is finished. Establishing a platform before your first book comes out will give your book a sales foundation.

2.  Expertise – Blogging is a wonderful way of validating your writing through your expertise.  For example, say that your novel is about a mother of a young boy who joins the Confederate army and is wounded inAntietam.  What if you blog about the Civil War?  What if you create a following of historians with your historical interpretations, suggested readings, and new findings about the topic?  Couldn’t you see yourself having a dialogue with some of your followers?  Wouldn’t it be great if your loyal followers retweeted your blog to their loyal followers? This is called viral marketing.

Your Civil War expertise gives your readers the confidence that you will be able to tell a Civil War story with confidence.

3.  Website, Blogging and Marketing – You can shamelessly promote your first novel on your website.  You can blog about it.  You can hop on related websites and leave a link to your new book to increase more widespread viewing and inevitably sales.

Today, a website is equivalent to yesterday’s business card.  However, unlike the painful process of handing business cards out one at a time, now you can reach thousands of people from all corners of the globe in a few minutes.

 Your website will reveal much more about you than merely the standard business card contact information.  From the tone, the style, and the format, your personality will emerge.  The viewer, a complete stranger, might make an intellectual (and sometimes an emotional, depending on how open you are about your personal life) connection with you.  This translates naturally into greater book sales.

And for the website, blogging keeps your site fresh.  If you understand your audience, you can select topics that you know that will keep them coming back.

It might be prudent to keep in mind that even though your candor or attempts at humor might increase your click rate, the energy expended in placating someone else’s bruised ego means less time working on your novel. You just don’t know how your life will move forward with an angry mother —or worse yet, an angry mother-in-law.  So, innocuous storytelling can have consequences.

Blogging

November 14, 2008 Leave a comment

I have been blogging for a few months now and realizing that successful blogging is not successful without equal attention to all its parts.  Writing well and offering substantive content are certainly plusses.  However, there are other components…marketing related. 

A successsful blog includes reading other blogs and leaving messages.  Surfing the web to see what others wrote and their online presentation.  You are in a quasi competitive position.  You want people to read what you’ve written (otherwise why bother writing it in cyberspace), yet you never dreamed you would be competing for eyes.

To draw attention to your blog, you leave messages and add your blog address on other blogs.  Be sure to email all your friends, family and colleagues announcing that you have launched the best blog ever.  If they like it, they will pass your blog onto their friends. You offer contests. You link to other blogs.  You carefully select metatags and sign up with other search engines.  You join social networks and describe your blog on each of them.  Some examples of social networks are facebook and my space.  Others might be jigsaw.com, linked in, classmates, reunion, you get the idea?  You could run down the directory from your college or group membership.

One other thing that attracts readers.  That is if you have an edge to your writing. Maybe you write with humor?  Or maybe cynicism?  Your writing has to have bite.  You need to engage or incite people, so that it gets readers to think and revisit.  Or if you aren’t prepared to critique or write humor, try supplying straight fact or information. 

If you give a reason for people to visit, they will come and come back. 

Blogging with a Purpose

July 13, 2008 Leave a comment

When I started blogging, I never realized just how much energy it would take to sustain writing consistently.  I have to admit it became a little easier the more I posted, but still sometimes I think of it as work instead of a fun thing to do.

I like blogging.  Did I kill the fun when I limited the topic to the business of writing?  On some days, such as this, I like writing about whatever I’m thinking about.  (Okay who’s yawning out there?)

Unless my blog becomes a reveal all reality journal, what will be the attraction, the hook?  And do I really want to venture into the realm of telling people I hated my ex-boyfriend’s mother or brother or couldn’t stand my husband’s best friend?

Is it okay now to air the family’s dirty laundry?  Remember the Jones next door will know my secrets and the Jones family in Siberia will too.  

Victoria Schmidt writes “if you can’t stand conflict in life, then you won’t be able to write conflict on the page.  Conflict is what stories are made of, so get used to it.  Enjoy it.  When writers can’t stand to do bad things to their characters, they usually are terrified of conflict.  These writers rarely have successful careers.”  Her point is well taken…but who goes out there and taunts viewers to charge them with daggers? 

Okay, yes shock jocks like Howard Stern and Don Imus, well known for antagonizing one group or another do it.  Yes they are successful for not dancing around conflict but what is the price they have to pay? 

Will I ever be that controversial?  Probably not.  Do I have something to say?  I think so.

So, my immediate issue is that I need to make blogging fun again.

We blog because we want attention.  Otherwise why not write in a journal and hide it under the mattress, the way most people did four decades ago? 

I’m changing the tone, but not the look.  I’m evolving and so is this blog.

Welcome to: The World According To Cori Chu. 

Blogging: The Newest Panacea for Good Health

July 6, 2008 Leave a comment

 

Geesh.  Blogs are now the new hip research project.  The hypothesis is that blogging is good for you. 

 

And this is a surprise?  Didn’t anyone read the same studies I read about 25 years ago  (cough, cough)? How writing encourages good health was the research topic.  Isn’t blogging considered writing?  So why wouldn’t you surmise that the results might be similar? 

 

The 25 year old article stressed how even the simple act of writing a list of things to do can greatly improve your well being.

 

Drawing up a checklist can relieve mental stress, it reported.  By looking at the tasks at a glance, you can tell how realistic your expectations are.  When half the list falls to the next day, it comes as no surprise.  You have become mentally prepared for the stress of  not completing everything you had hoped and therefore, alleviating some of the stress that accompanies leftover tasks.  As the tasks are accomplished, you tick them off,  and aside from getting stuff done, you also get a surge of serotonin, a chemical in your brain, which makes you appreciate what you accomplished.  You feel good.  You feel satisfied.

 

So what if you poured your feelings onto a page, spewed forth your anger, your frustrations and recognize your many gratitudes and why you feel so blessed?  Will it have a more noticeable, positive impact?  If I remember correctly, it does.  When you spill your guts onto a blank page, it is like opening a pressure cooker valve release. 

 

At Southern Methodist University and Ohio State University College of Medicine the scientists conducted clinical tests that show that writing contributes directly to your physical health too.  They noticed that their subjects who wrote thoughtfully about their traumatic experience showed increased T-cell production, drop in physician visits, fewer use of sick days, and overall improvement in physical health.

 

This makes sense, because say we accept the assumption that writing relieves stress.  If stress is relieved, then the immune system is not compromised.  Supposedly, stress and over eating can cause the immune system to slow, leaving the body vulnerable to greater opportunities for infection.  So it is safe to say writing is considered a stress coping mechanism.

 

Research also reveals that writing improves memory and sleep and speeds healing after surgery. 

 

All of this is not new.  People have been writing journals and diaries for eons, but what is different is that blogging has allowed the researchers greater access to the process and content.  Bloggers share their thoughts with the world.  And maybe that’s what is making a difference in this round of research studies.  Bloggers hide nothing. 

 

One article referred to blogging as self-medicating.  Interesting viewpoint…maybe this is up for further exploration in another entry?  Suddenly I’m feeling quite tired.  Did I over do it with the self medication with all this thinking and writing?  Until another day.