Author Blogging 101: The Blogging Mindset

by Joel Friedlander on November 8, 2011 · 18 comments

Post image for Author Blogging 101: The Blogging Mindset

There’s a bit of a leap you have to make when, as a writer, you decide to start an author’s blog.

But what you hear if you ask writers why they decided to start blogging, are things like these:

  1. My agent/publisher told me to do it
  2. I heard you were supposed to
  3. Joe Konrath has a blog
  4. My book just came out and I want to let people know about it

Some of these writers will abandon their blogs pretty quickly, others will try to soldier on. Without much traffic and not sure what to write about, they might end up with reports about their latest work in progress mixed with personal journalling. Most of their readers will be other writers and bloggers.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Getting Started

I vividly remember getting started in blogging and how confusing it was. Even the simplest things escaped me.

I tried for a couple of weeks to figure out what the heck a “trackback” was and what to put in that field in WordPress. I even talked to other bloggers about it, but the explanations went right over my head.

I was a true newbie.

Then, like now, it didn’t take much to set up a blog. What I was concerned with at the time were header images, how widgets worked and how many pixels my sidebars should be. I thought there might be some formula that would guarantee that people would read what I was writing.

Looking back, I see it differently, and I bet you’ve had that experience too. Now I would say to get started blogging you need:

  1. Some software to blog with
  2. An idea of what you want to blog about
  3. A willingness to connect with readers, and
  4. The blogging mindset

The most important is the last—having the right mindset to succeed at blogging.

The Blogging Mindset

One of the things that surprised me when I started blogging was the realization, which really dawned on me very slowly over the first year of my blog, that I had created a little itty bitty tiny media outlet. I had become a broadcaster.

There are two sides to broadcasting—or to blogging or publishing for that matter. On one side is an audience. Now this audience may be 4 people, it may be 4 million, that’s not the point.

On the other side is the broadcaster—you. When you start to publish your own content, you will naturally attract people who are interested in reading what you’ve written.

I’m assuming that you are a competent writer and if you sit down to write an article or a list of tips that it will be readable and you know how to make it compelling, too.

The next thing that happens is pretty interesting. In effect, the audience says, “Hey that was pretty cool. What else do you have?”

This is the origin of the blogging mindset.

As a blogger, your view of the world changes. Before you started blogging you had your family, maybe colleagues from work, friends and social acquaintances. Now you also have an audience, and because blogs are very interactive, an audience that you may come to know well.

Maybe you see your role as teacher, confidant, guide, guru, authority, friend, or any other persona that suits your purpose. But now you have your audience to think about.

And that leads to the blogger mindset.

  • A blogger knows how to find information, stories or entertainment their audience will enjoy. You might not be right all the time, but who is? Audiences are forgiving.
  • A blogger knows how to turn events, successes and failures into lessons other people can learn from, and takes the time and trouble to communicate those.
  • A blogger has opinions and a willingness to express them and stays informed about their field because that’s what they’re passionate about.
  • Successful bloggers reach out to other bloggers and influence leaders in their field, growing their blogs through network effects, joint venture partnerships and social engagement with their peers.
  • A blogger has the discipline and commitment to their audience to take action on a regular basis. Writers need a fair amount of focus to create content that will be useful and interesting to readers on a schedule, whatever that schedule is.
  • Successful bloggers are willing to learn new things, look for new opportunities, and are dedicated to creating quality content.
  • Bloggers understand the importance of distributing their content to as many interested readers as they can, and are willing to use the tools available to market what they are publishing.

The realization that you have become a publisher, and that people will give you their time and pay attention to what you have to offer is at the core of the blogging mindset.

And that’s why I think it’s the number one key to blogging success. Don’t get me wrong. You might have a few false starts, some fallow periods and a bit of self-questioning before you find that mindset.

Or you might dive into blogging with a plan and determination and simply embody the blogger mindset by your very actions.

However it works, here’s something you can do every time you publish. I know I do it. Before I hit that “Publish” button, I think about my readers, and if I’ve really fulfilled the reason they come here.

More in the Author Blogging 101 Series

Author Blogging 101: 11 Reasons Your Blog Isn’t Working
Author Blogging 101: Presenting Your Content
Author Blogging 101: Up With Comments!

Be Sociable, Share!

    { 15 comments… read them below or add one }

    Martina December 27, 2011 at 4:22 am

    Hello Joel
    Your website has invaluable content for us self-published authors. Thank you! I am reading bits here and there and am trying to ‘digest’ them gradually, in order to make the most of your advice.

    I have started my own blog 4 weeks ago. I had ‘resisted’ having a blog for a few years, the reason I gave for this was lack of time. I told myself that if I had any time to ‘spare’ this would be spent on my second novel, rather than blogging. Part of me still feels guilty about this. As my second novel is progressing very slowly, I feel I’d rather dedicate more time to it.

    I read with great interest your article on the Blogging Mindset.
    I had never thought about blogging this way and it has inspired me greatly.
    I am still trying to understand what to blog about. Because my novels will be of different genres, and might attract different types of readers, it is a challenge to find a topic that can be of interest to many. Hence I’m starting with something a little personal, but still talk about the ordinary things that affect most people. I intend to do this with a little irony, not in a serious way. My blog is also in two languages, English and Italian, because I want to communicate with two different audiences (which are both part of me).

    I believe I just started a new journey, I am still finding my way around, still finding my blogging voice, so I have to be patient (and I hope my blog readers will be patient with me too).
    Thank you for sharing such important advice with us. It’s very much appreciated.

    Martina

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander December 27, 2011 at 1:38 pm

    Thanks, Martina. Since you’re just getting started, the best advice I can give you is patience. If you stick with it and remember that blogging as 2 sides—creating content and marketing that content—you will have good results even though it might take a while.

    Also, there are more posts coming in the Author Blogging 101 series, and you can find them all easily by using the link in the Topics list in the sidebar. Thanks for stopping by.

    Reply

    Gina Amos November 9, 2011 at 1:55 pm

    Hi Joel
    Thanks for the article. I have just created a blog to promote myself as a serious author:) much to the amusement of my teenage children! Quite challenging but fun. Loved the creative side of it but feel like I’m standing naked in the middle of a circus ring. I’m a crime writer so I gather it is important to stay with a theme rather than showing photos of my last holiday etc?

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander November 9, 2011 at 2:21 pm

    Good luck with it, Gina. If you have a strong drive to blog about more personal matters, you might think about setting up 2 blogs rather than trying to fit them all into your author blog. The idea is to appeal to readers of your kind of book. You probably know what would interest them, and my advice would be to stick to that.

    Reply

    Darby November 9, 2011 at 10:40 am

    One thing I’ve done lately is force myself to create and stick to a schedule, since my focus on writing my novel will override everything else. What I’ve done is set aside my Sunday mornings to develop and then schedule blog posts for the following week, based around what are going to be some core themes. I’m still trying to work in what is becoming a blog about writing with ‘Hey, that movie I saw last night is awesome!’

    Reply

    Roger C. Parker November 8, 2011 at 5:44 pm

    Dear Joel:
    I really like the idea of a “mindset,” especially the idea of committing to a process of empathy, exploration, and sharing–in contrast to “something I have to do.”

    Of all the writing I do, I receive the most pleasure and satisfaction from my blog posts: I look forward to writing them and enjoy seeing them mount up.

    The only thing I would like to add is the importance of creating a process–based on frequently returning to 3 or 4 core themes that you will feel address in different ways–and creating your own deadlines.

    Sometimes the simplest processes can work the best, i.e., the first Thursday of each month, I’m going to review a new book in my field. On the second Thursday, I’m going to profile an expert or high performer in my field. On the third Thursday, I’ll share 7 simple tips others in my field can use, on the fourth Thursday, I’ll share a painfully learned lesson, etc.

    Great post, Joel. It’s surprising how much success is possible when “mindset” is used as a propellant.
    Roger

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander November 9, 2011 at 10:21 am

    Roger, thanks for that. And your advice seems very sound, even for someone like me who does not really follow an editorial calendar or other publishing plan. But I think it’s a great way to organize yourself and remove one of the most vexing questions bloggers face: “What should I write about today?”

    Reply

    Shirley November 8, 2011 at 1:38 pm

    Thanks, Joel, I found this overview to be very insightful and helpful. I
    I think it took one whole year of blogging until I found my blogger’s voice. Recently, I’ve gotten a lot more focused, and now that I have a book contract and one year before my mss is due to the publisher, it’s wonderful to have a small but mighty group of faithful readers cheering me along the path. So glad I started when I did–three years ago.

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander November 9, 2011 at 10:17 am

    Shirley, one way or another you are following the advice of most book marketers to spend plenty of time—as much as three years—building the platform from which to publish. And the deadline does tend to focus your attention, doesn’t it?

    Reply

    Camille November 8, 2011 at 1:30 pm

    I’ve always thought of a blog as like a daily newspaper column. In the heyday of newspapers, there were all sorts of columns — from political opinion and muckraking, to recipes and housekeeping tips, to advice for the lovelorn… to simple wit and wisdom. And yes, even the daily observations on life’s journey — the very kind of “journal” that a lot of writers do.

    The key is to realize that your blog is a product, just as your books are. It’s not an ad. What you write in your blog is a part of your brand, and a part of your body of work.

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander November 9, 2011 at 10:16 am

    I’ve often had the same thought, Camille, about the similarity of blogs and columns in newspapers and magazines. In fact I often read columnists I admire now to get tips on both content and how they approach their work. Thanks!

    Reply

    Darby November 8, 2011 at 10:38 am

    Joel, this is a great article. I’ve been blogging more or less for five years or so, but I have never felt like I was using it to the best of my ability. Lately I have given a lot of thought to focus and frequency. Your blog is essential reading for me every day now. Thank you!

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander November 8, 2011 at 10:59 am

    It has taken a lot of focus over a period of time for me to build my blog, but because I’ve stepped through these challenges I know how difficult it can be to find your place and fully occupy it.

    This Author Blogging 101 series is a way of giving back what I’ve learned over the past two years.

    Reply

    Dirk McFergus November 8, 2011 at 9:35 am

    Hi Joel, first let me thank you for your kind response yesterday. As I read your article, I realized that I had never thought any further about what to blog other than what I was entertained by. Being so new at it, I don’t know any readers, just what kind of reader I want to attract. But I do wonder before I hit publish, did I do my best? Thanks for the tips.

    Reply

    carol brill November 8, 2011 at 3:50 am

    Thanks Joel, another timely post for me. Good to be reminded how far I’ve come in the last year since I decided (ie was told at a writer’s conference) i had to blog and have a blog.
    Our blog is still new and in the not much of a following stage. If I think of this phase as part of the learning process – just like writing the s**ty first draft, it motiviates me to stick with it.

    Reply

    Leave a Comment


    two + = 6

    { 3 trackbacks }