Hello, and welcome to my Beautiful New Writer's Blog. Yes. capitals and italics. It is all very interesting and important.
Introductions first. I'm Zara. I'm a writer based in London. I also dabble in illustration. I've been writing on and off for 10+ years, mostly freelance content writing, and now I'm a writer for Netmums.
But I started off as a blogger. This was back when blogging about your life for fun (and not just for profit) was normal. Now we have social media for that though, and apparently pictures speak a thousand words.
So what do writers blog about now? I pulled a few questions out of my hat, did a bit of googling, and my first blog post is ultimately going to be sharing my discoveries, and working out where to go from there.
Let's get on and learn how to create a fantastic writer's blog!
What is a blog?
So let's be clear – typically, a blog is a list of posts, usually written in a personal and conversational style, as opposed to the traditionally more formal and informational style of an article or feature. Although, there is often some crossover. I have seen blog-style articles and article-style blogs.
Blogs can contain written content, images, or even videos. But most aim to strike a balance, conveying most of the content via the written word.
Blogs today also tend to zone in on a single topic or "niche" in order to narrow down an audience.
What is a niche?
A niche is a narrowed-down area of interest, or a specialised topic.
Many successful and profitable small blogs these days narrow down their content even further into micro or sub niches ...
... these are even smaller segments of niche markets, that target a very specific audience. For example, If a niche is 'pet food', then a micro-niche might be 'hypoallergenic dog food'.
Do niche blogs make money?
It is easier to make money from niche blogging because you're attracting a target customer to your blog with specialised content that's relevant to their specific interests, questions or consumer needs.
If your whole blog is focused on that niche then visitors are likely to spend more time on the site because the content is valuable to them. This means you'll have more chance of selling your products and services, or of readers clicking on your affiliate links.
A blog doesn't necessarily have to be focused on a niche though, or even be about making money. You can still blog for pleasure about topics that interest you.
Thankfully online diary style blogs still exist, and they are fun to read. Who doesn't love to have a nose into someone else's business and be a fly on the wall?
Focusing in on a niche essentially helps your audience to know what to expect from your blog - However, I am a firm believer in taking note of the rules and then disregarding them in favour of doing whatever the hell pleases you! You only live once.
Remember – your blog is likely to evolve naturally as you hone your interests and work out what your goals are. So don't be afraid to experiment in the beginning.
Should writers have a blog?
If you enjoy writing for pleasure then a blog provides you with the perfect opportunity to brush up on your writing skills and hone your craft, build your audience, and become an expert in a field of your choice. Plus, if you do it right, it can be a lot of fun. And by 'right', I mean what is right for you!
You don't need to have a blog just because you are a writer. Blogs are time-consuming, and if you don't have a genuine passion for writing your own blog – well, what's the point?
A static writer's website works with your contact details, services and a portfolio of your previous work is enough. It'll be a place where potential clients can find you and hire you for work.
But consistently writing and posting content on a blog does have its benefits.
The benefits of blogging for writers
As a freelance writer who writes content for clients I sometimes find myself feeling a bit too niched-in. It can feel like my identity as a writer disappears the more I take on the tone of voice required to write for the audiences of my clients' brands or businesses.
Having my own blog is like having a space where I can just me myself. I can explore my own voice, thoughts, interests and ideas. It's refreshing, and I highly recommend it.
The disadvantages of having a writer's blog
As I have already mentioned, blogging requires time, and that is time that you could be spending on paid writing work. It's also a lot of effort to maintain a blog.
There's the planning, the writing, the publishing, and don't forget the promoting of consistent fresh content, preferably to a schedule. You have to ask yourself - how much time do I have to dedicate to blogging for pleasure?
Personal blogging can also hurt your reputation. Imagine that you have had a bad day, maybe a client rubbed you up the wrong way, and you end up publishing a rant on your personal blog that doesn't read professionally.
You may feel like your blog is your personal online diary, a place where you can be authentic, but you still have to be aware that there are many important eyes on your words. Something like that could lose you current clients and potential future referrals.
Your blog represents not only who you are as a person, but more importantly, who you are professionally. You should have a clear idea of what you want to gain from your blog, and from every single post you publish.
Ultimately whether you should have a writers blog, and what you write about on it, are personal decisions that only you can make.
Blogging is right for some writers – it aids self-expression and can provide a ready-made portfolio of writing clips. But for others, blogging may end up being a waste of time, stressful, and distracting.
It doesn't hurt to give it a go and see what you think though. You can always archive it or take it down if you change your mind later on down the line.
What do writers blog about?
It's worth taking some time before you set up your writer's blog to think about what topics you really want to write about.
Here are some things to consider:
Why are you creating this blog?
What will you get out of it?
What will your readers get out of it?
Being able to sum up what your blog's purpose is in a short paragraph will help you when it comes to thinking up new content, and make sure that you don't veer off topic. Let's face it, it's just weird when a personal finance blogger starts writing about their cat!
Outline your interests and publish those on the 'About' page of your blog. This way, anyone who wants an overview of your blog can see what it's all about. It's also a good page to refer back to when you're feeling like you've lost your way, or can't remember why you started a blog in the first place.
Editing your 'About' page is an easy way to shift the focus of your blog if you find that your content is changing over time. We're multi-faceted people and as much as the modern online world wants to put you into a box, it doesn't mean you have to let it close the lid on you. Just do you.
Blogging prompts for writers
We all suffer from the dreaded writer's block from time-to-time, so here is a short list of writing prompts to get you thinking about what to write about on your writer's blog.
Blog about the writer's life
Writers are a bit of an enigma. Any insight into your creative thought process and daily work-at-home routines can be highly interesting for mere mortals, wannabe writers, and fellow nosy bloggers like myself.
Share your personal thoughts
A writer's blog can simply be a collection of personal essays. You can use it as a place to share your personal thoughts about literally anything that you find relevant. It will be your personal take on the world that ties everything together.
Everybody has an opinion, and once you start sharing yours, others are bound to jump in with their penny's worth. Don't forget, a lively comments section is a blogger's dream.
Offer value to your readers
Keep in mind that a proportion of your readers are probably going to be other writers eager to learn from your experience. So why not take the opportunity to impart your valuable wisdom?
Instructional posts and pro tips are great ways to attract new visitors to your blog. Plus, they make your content more shareable on social media, which leads to more exposure for your writing - Win!
Add the personal touch to your posts
Depending on the style of your blog and your intended audience, I think it's important to inject as much of your own personality into your blog as appropriate.
You want to remain professional and on topic, obviously, but I think it's just as important to remind your readers that you're human too.
Sifting in personal stories from your life and snippets from your interactions with people can help you to appear more relatable, more likeable, and more interesting in general. We love to read about real people, warts and all, so don't be afraid to show them from time-to-time.
With social media, apps, vlogging, and incredibly short attention spans, you'd be forgiven for thinking that blogging isn't as relevant in the online world as other forms of content. Don't knock it 'til you try it though.
Once you start blogging, I warn you, it can be addictive. I used to have several blogs, each one expressing a different part of myself to the world. I don't recommend this though. It'll dilute the quality of your work.
Pick the topics you have the most to say about, and work out how to present them as a package in one blog. Then put all your energy into developing and growing that blog. You'll enjoy the process so much more.
I hope that you've found this post useful – please share it if you did. And don't forget to subscribe to my blog if you enjoyed it so that you don't miss out on my next post!