Writes And Wrongs: Shiloh Walker On Building A Solid Blog Foundation

Best-selling author Shiloh Walker pens this bi-weekly column of online advice for writers. Walker is a full-time author who is published in both e-book and traditional print formats. Now she shares her experience and advice to help aspiring and published authors figure out the "Writes and Wrongs" of the digital world.

Finding your blogging inspiration and creating a blog people come back to...

So you want to blog, but you don’t know what to blog about?

There was a post at Lynn Viehl’s blog, about how blogging could be a writing exercise, and that’s a good way to look at it. I started making myself blog, regularly—I’d have a post go up almost every day. I’ve been doing it for a couple of years now.

There’s no set rhyme or reason to my posts. I don’t just blog about writing, I don’t just blog about books, I don’t just blog about my kids and my husband, or movies, etc, etc etc. In a way, my blog has become a reflection of me. I do blog about my kids and my husband. I do blog about books. 

do blog about writing. I blog about things that matter to me, things that catch my interest, things that I want to share with others.

The thing to blogging is that you have to make it interesting. Do you really want to blog 24/7 about your books? It seems to me that would get boring, boring to write and to read. Do you really want to blog 24/7 about writing? Again, would get boring and think about the readers who come to the blog that aren’t interested in writing—you’ll lose their interest and fast.

If you’re new to blogging and you want to try it out, but just don’t know how, maybe start out slowly. Pick two or three days a week, a set schedule and stick to it. You do need something regular because blog readers tend to come looking and if they see the blog is inactive, well…you don’t gain new readers by not keeping the material updated.

Plan for doing just a few days a week. Maybe time it around a new release, or if you’ve just signed a contract, gotten cover art, that sort of thing—that gives you something to talk about right off of the bat. Read blogs by authors you like and see what they talk about. Plan "regular" features—an example…a few years ago, ‘memes’ were really popular, things like "TEN THINGS ABOUT ME" and then you’d tag somebody else who had to do it. I don’t know if memes are still popular, but there was one that I liked, called THE FRIDAY 56, where you took the book closest to you, opened it to page 56 and type in the 5th line.

I did that for a few years and a lot of readers seemed to enjoy it. I got out of the habit, but I wanted to keep up something on Fridays, so I came up with a FRIDAY READS contest—based on the format of the FRIDAY 56, with readers entering the 5th line from the 56th page. One reader would win a book. It’s an easy post, takes up that week’s post, and readers like it. Similarly, on Saturdays, sometimes I’ll do a SATURDAY SNIPPETS, with a short bit from one of the books I’m currently working on.

Other times, I’ll talk about things that help me with writing—mindmapping is a current focus, and that often leads to several days worth of posts when I discuss the different mindmapping software that I’ve tried.

If you really want to try blogging, try sitting down and thinking up an easy schedule, a couple days a week, jot down notes and/or topics that you think you can talk about. And don’t be surprised if some of those topics end up taking on a life of their own and leading to several different posts.

- Shiloh Walker

Check back for the next installment of Shiloh Walker's column in two weeks. Seeking more specific advice? You can ask the author any questions about the "writes and wrongs" of online behavior here. Your question might even get featured in an upcoming article. And of course, you can also follow the Shiloh Walker online daily at her website, on her Facebook page and via Twitter.