This past weekend, I had the honor of attending and speaking at the Breathe Writers Conference in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I spoke on Saturday about blogging basics to a wonderful, if somewhat larger than anticipated, crowd of writers. As a result, I’m attaching the handout I used here (Blogging 101 with Josh Mosey) for anyone who didn’t get a copy on Saturday.
And since I believe that most of the value of writers’ conferences is in being face-to-face with other writers, I’m going to share a bit of the content that I taught in my class here on my blog for free. Not all of it, of course. But some.
This was the description for my class:
Blogging 101: Why to do it, How to do it, and How to keep it from killing your other writing—Josh Mosey
You’ve heard from countless publishing experts that you should be blogging as part of your platform (expand your online footprint!), but you want to do it right. Don’t waste your writing time making blogging mistakes. Figure out how to do it effectively, how to engage readers, and how to make blogging fit into your life without upsetting your other writing projects.
After a brief introduction to yours truly (readers of my blog should need no introduction as I’ve poured more of my secrets into this website than Tom Riddle poured into his horcrux of a diary), I launched into the reasons why writers should be blogging:
- Get an audience/community for your writing
- Writing more will lead to better writing
- “You should be practicing your craft.” – Judy Markham, Discovery House Publishers
- Develop and show off your voice
- Publishers need to see examples of how you attract and interact with your community
As to how to blog, I encouraged everyone to set one up soon. As there was another seminar following mine on the process of setting up a blog at WordPress.com, I didn’t go into detail about such things. My advice regarding blogging was more about the routine and scope of the craft than the minutia of posting etiquette.
Basically, I believe that blogs should be consistent in their focus (so readers will know what to expect), their voice (so readers will know your writing), and their schedule (so readers will know when to expect a new post).
We then turned to perhaps the most difficult bit: how to keep your blog from killing your other writing.
My first point was that a blogger needn’t blog everyday, but however they decide to divide their writing time between projects, they must be consistent in how often they post content to their blog.
With regard to the length of blog posts, I discussed the two schools of thought. Short posts of 200 or fewer words take less time to write, are easier for readers to digest, and can be best for bloggers who decide to tackle daily posts. Long posts of 1500+ words often get better interaction from readers and are easier to find by web-crawlers based on their content.
As another effort to protect a writer’s time for their projects, I suggested that the blog needn’t live in a separate world from their main focus. If they could find a way to incorporate their ideas, voices, and subject matter into their blog, then readers might be more motivated to buy their writing when it comes out (since they’ve already sampled and enjoyed it in blog form). The big warning for this, however, is that you must not publish the exact content on your blog that you are hoping to get published in book form. Once a blog is posted, it is published and no one will touch it in the publishing world.
Lastly, I encouraged the writers to be accountable to a writers group in order to stay on track with both blogs and book-writing.I then gave them some ideas on how to get new readers and followers to their blogs as well as some links to other resources. I’m not going to give them to you here, because you didn’t pay to be at the conference (but if you click around my site a bit, you may find them anyway).
I’ll be writing through some of the sessions that I attended this week, so if you aren’t into writing, you may want to check in next week for normal content. I’m just kidding. Visit everyday and send links to all of your friends whether you like my content or not. Thanks!