Tuesday, May 19, 2009

TOP TEN REASONS YOU SHOULD HAVE A BLOG

10. Everybody who’s anybody has a blog.

9. Want a platform? Build a blog.

8. You can have a virtual party! Host a blog tour.

7. Want to show off your writing chops? Blog, baby, blog.

6. Connect with people all over the world. Maybe even the universe.

5. It’s free promotion! Free! Free! FREE!

4. Got personality? Let your light shine in your blog.

3. Publishers/editors/agents check to see if you have a blog.

2. Can’t afford a website? Use a blog.

1. Yes, it’s free. Really.


Okay, you’re convinced you should have a blog. But you’ve been putting it off because you don’t know that much about the process. And you’re a little embarrassed to ask. Aren’t you glad you’re here, at the Virtual Writer’s Conference!? I’m here to give you five easy steps to setting up your blog. Wait. I think I can do it in two.

Yeah, it’s that easy!

Step 1. WHATCHA GONNA BLOG ABOUT?

This might be the toughest step in starting a blog, so give it some thought. A good blog promotes you while also promoting your concept and building a platform. A great blog manages all that, while giving something to your readers to keep them coming back. Let’s see how this works. Say you’re a writer, hoping to publish a cookbook called, “Chocolate-covered Everything.” You could blog about the making of a cookbook, promoting yourself and your terrific cookbook while giving readers lots of publishing pointers. Or you could use your blog to post recipes and get feedback. Your readers get chocolate-covered goodies galore, while you might possibly hook a book deal!
Once you’ve figured out what you’re going to blog about, brainstorm names for the blog. Zip around and look at lots of blogs. Which blog names appeal to you? That’ll tell you which direction to go: cutesy, clever, or classic. Once you’ve got your name and concept, you’re ready for the next step.


Step 2. TWO WORDS: BLOG-GER. (Okay, it’s one word.)

There are other programs for blogging, but if you want something simple, go to Blogger. The templates are a snap to use, and easy to understand, even for the most computer-dysfunctional person. Trust me. Pick a style and play around with colors and fonts until you get a look you like. Choose your options, then write your inaugural post. No one will know you labored two hours over those first 200 words. But by the third time you post, you’ll zip through in twenty minutes!


That’s it. No, really. Just a few tips, now that you’ve started your blog.

You don’t have to post on your blog every day. You can post three times a week, or every Monday, or once a month. But once you’ve determined a schedule, try to maintain regular posting. And remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and your blog doesn’t have to be a super-techno wonder the first week. Give yourself time to figure out what you’d like to add, and build the blog you want as you go.

You’re going to love your new blog! But just in case you’re not feeling the love and have a problem, leave me a question and I’ll try to help. Even if you don’t have a problem, leave me a comment about your new blog. I’ll come visit -and not like those annoying relatives who never leave.


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Cathy C. Hall is a freelance writer, humor columnist, and hoping-to-be-published children’s author. You can follow her ups and downs on the road to publication at Cathy C.’s Hall of Fame. Or catch up with Cathy at Finders & Keepers, where she finds children’s writing stuff you’ll want to keep!

16 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. Okay. Let's try that again with some more thought into the comment!

    I totally agree with you, Cathy, although it took me two years to start posting regularly and utilize it as a promotional tool rather than a 'this is the angst of my life' journal. I still have periods where I don't post regularly enough, but on the other hand, I used it as part of a multiple author blog tour and got over 90 comments, so... it's definitely worth the time and effort to put into it!

    Back to YOUR blog now! I just visited. :-)

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  3. I have a blog that I post to five days a week. I also have a blog that I posted my first novel on. Nothing was selling so why not! I posted it chapter by chapter on my main blog, then transferred it to its own space.

    My question is: how does one do the "links to this post" below the comment box.

    You're right. I love blogging. I'm off to visit your links.

    The Texas Woman

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  4. See, Dana, every little blog post helps! And now, I must scurry over to some blogs, including The Texas Woman, Cher. Hmmm...do you mean the button that will link your posts to Facebook, Myspace, and others? Go to Addthis.com to get that button. And if you're looking for something else, than I'm making a blogger appeal: if you know what Cher's looking for, chime in!

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  5. Cathy, I was clear as mud, wasn't I? For an example of what I mean, go to
    http://moonlighthollow.blogspot.com/2009/05/pop-test_18.html#comments, scroll past the comment box, and you'll see "Links to this post" with blog links.

    The Texas Woman

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  6. Cathy, I could agree more!

    I don't understand the 'links to this post' thing either...

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  7. Cher, those are backlinks.

    See http://help.blogger.com/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=42533

    At this link, it reads, "Backlinks enable you to keep track of other pages on the web that link to your posts. For instance, suppose Alice writes a blog entry that Bob finds interesting. Bob then goes to his own blog and writes a post of his own about it, linking back to Alice's original post. Now Alice's post will automatically show that Bob has linked to it, and it will provide a short snippet of his text and a link to his post. What it all works out to is a way of expanding the comment feature such that related discussions on other sites can be included along with the regular comments on a post."

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  8. Um, yeah, Cher. What ALVN said :-) (And thanks, ALVN. Guess I better go figure out how to do that!)

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  9. Yeah, I need to work on the mechanics of that also. Let me know if you figure it out before I do!!!

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  10. Excellent advice, Cathy—except I'm a fan of self-hosted WordPress blogs rather than Blogger because you can do so much more. However, Blogger is a great place to start because it is free and very easy.

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  11. Thanks, Lillie. And because of the adaptability of Wordpress, I have another blog hosted there. I use that blog for my children's writing connections, but I'm not gonna lie...it was tougher to get started, and I still have to really think whenever I post! :-)

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  12. Hi,
    I like yur post on blogging. But, I was the last erson onthe plant to get cable T.V. or a cellphone but now I can't live without them...so why not a blog? I have a google account and so maybe later intemonth, yu couldhelp me get started?
    Virginia Davis

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  13. Sure, Virginia, you know where to find me :-) But I think you'll be surprised at how super easy Blogger is to use!

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  14. Hi Cathy:
    Thanks for this article. I started a blog a while ago and was very enthusiastic about it. I still am. But I can’t help but think I’m not providing something interesting and useful for anybody by writing about my thoughts, so that has stopped me from writing in it. I feel a bit lost.
    By the way, what is a blog tour?
    Thanks,
    Anahita

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  15. Oh, Anahita, you are in for such a treat! Jodi Webb is sharing info on blog tours sometime today. Look for Blog Tours 101 to get the long answer. The short answer is that a blog tour is very much like a book tour, except with blogs! So, an author with a newly published book will get the word out by posting at various blogs to discuss the new book.

    As for your blog worries, if you're enjoying writing at Connections (yes, I took a look around!), then why not continue? Sometimes a blog can be a great tool for writing practice, or an idea starter. And sometimes a blog can just be fun. Now why would you want to stop that??? :-)

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  16. Hi Cathy,
    Wow! Thanks a whole lot for the information and for your comment on Connections. It was inspiring. I’m looking at Rachel Dillon’s blog tour on The Muffin. It is interesting. And so is Cathy C.'s Hall of Fame.
    Thanks.
    Anahita

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