Why You Should Be Blogging Your Origin Story

by Joel Friedlander on September 30, 2013 · 26 comments

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As an author, you know how important it is to maintain a blog, how critical it can be in helping you meet your publishing goals. Particularly for nonfiction authors, I for one consider an author blog to be absolutely essential.

Just to review, here are some of the reasons it’s essential:

  • It allows you to explain and promote your ideas at length and over time.
  • It encourages an active engagement with readers.
  • It shows you over time how to find the readers interested in your topic.
  • It makes it easy to start building an email list, essential if you hope to create sustainable business from your publishing.
  • It promotes your own authority in your field.
  • It provides you with a media platform from which to publish.
  • It attracts people who will want to partner with you in various ways.
  • It gives you a place to host products and services you offer to readers.

The list goes on and on, but I think you get the idea. There’s just no way to replace the ability of your blog to help you publish and promote your work.

Some Blogging Essentials

Many of you may be thinking about starting a blog, or refreshing a blog you used in the past but which has been abandoned for a time. Or maybe you’ve got a blog but you’re looking for ways to make it work better, attract more readers, do more of those good things for you.

Particularly for new bloggers, you’ll find guidance in my archives on:

In the last of these articles I mentioned that a great series of foundation posts might include:

Your trade biography—A great way to also build authority and trust with your audience to explain your history in the specific field about which you are blogging.

However, very few bloggers seem to take this advice, so I think it’s worth repeating.

Your Origin Story—Where Are You Coming From?

Readers naturally engage with bloggers when the blogger reveals something of herself in her writing. It just makes sense, as humans we’re wired to respond most of all to other people.

And if you’re hoping to establish authority or trust with your readers, the more they know about “where you are coming from,” the easier it will be.

I’m not referring to where you grew up and went to school, that kind of thing is of interest to a pretty narrow range of readers.

What I am talking about is the specific background behind what you’re writing about on your blog.

For instance, if your publications deal with gardening, and your blog offers gardening advice and tips, don’t you think your readers would be interested in:

  • where you got the experience that you are sharing
  • how you came to be in this field
  • what’s behind your personal approach to your topic
  • who influenced you on your journey

Yes, you bet they are interested.

And that’s why you should consider telling your “origin story” in a series of posts, especially if you are creating foundation posts for your blog.

My Publishing Journey

I came across this idea in the training course I took on blogging when I first got started. One of the exercises in the course was to create this narrative. Being a good student, I spent quite a bit of time creating a series of 7 articles tracing my own history in graphic arts, printing, publishing, and design.

I called it my Publishing Timeline.

While writing it, I mentioned some of the life changes that were happening as the story progressed, but almost everything in these articles relates to how I came to have the experience that’s behind what I publish here on my blog.

Rather than talk about the various dogs I’ve lived with, or which relationships flamed out and which survived, I kept the focus on my professional life almost exclusively.

That was almost four years ago, and this series of posts continues to help me almost every day.

  • It has given readers the opportunity to learn more about me and my qualifications.
  • It has provided a series of posts to link to when talking about specific events or changes in my industry.
  • It has given background to the bloggers, writers, events planners, potential partners, and other people who want to know more about me.
  • And it has established a foundation that goes back decades for the space I occupy within my niche.

To be honest, it was also great fun writing these posts.

If you’ve never considered this before, give it some thought. Creating an origin story can provide great foundation content for your blog and work to your advantage in many ways.

Think of it as a gift to your readers, the ones who are most attracted by your writing, and who really want to know more about the person “behind the keyboard.”

Make it part of the foundation of your blog, it will pay off more and more each year.

Do you have questions about posting your origin story? Let’s talk about it in the comments.

Photo credit: glasseyes view via photopin cc

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    { 21 comments… read them below or add one }

    tam francis October 4, 2013 at 2:49 pm

    Thanks! Woo hoo, good to know I’ve done a couple of these things, but can still do more. Thanks for the kick in the butt! Time to go assess the blog and make sure I’ve hit all your suggestions. Thank you. You’re advice is wonderful!

    Reply

    Louise Findlay October 3, 2013 at 11:19 am

    What experience would you put for a fantasy author? P.S Do you have a share button for buffer?

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander October 3, 2013 at 1:04 pm

    I would talk about your experience becoming a writer and how you got interested in writing fantasy, who your influencers have been, etc.

    There’s a floating palette of share buttons on the left side of the blog that includes a Buffer button.

    Reply

    Kevin Booth October 3, 2013 at 5:40 am

    This is a great idea, and very true. If I think about experts for whom I have respect, knowing where they come from professionally is a valuable reference, which helps to corroborate their expertise.

    The challenge for me – as someone who loves talking about himself (lol) – will be to avoid turning it into a 200,000-word autobiography!

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander October 3, 2013 at 1:05 pm

    LOL that’s true, Kevin. I think mine ended up around 9,000 words, but I just wrote and posted one episode at a time, so it really wasn’t any trouble, and I quite enjoyed writing it.

    Reply

    Lynne Cantwell September 30, 2013 at 10:19 am

    Joel, thanks very much for giving me a topic for my next blog post! :)

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander September 30, 2013 at 11:52 am

    Go for it, Lynne.

    Reply

    Linton Robinson September 30, 2013 at 8:40 am

    Maybe this works for any given writer, maybe it doesn’t. Maybe having a blog is a great idea, maybe it’s not.
    All these “should” and “have to” things people tell writers are almost never as concrete as they are presented.

    [Deleted]

    What, I’m saying… there are different ways to skin the cat, and one person’s whizbang is another person’s waste of time.

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander September 30, 2013 at 11:52 am

    Linton, for the second time I want to remind you that you are welcome to comment here, but you are not welcome to disparage other people with whom you disagree. Three strikes and you’re out.

    Reply

    Jason Matthews September 30, 2013 at 7:13 am

    Marcy, change my schedule today to double-check all those damn website and blog About pages. Drop everything else and send Joel F a dozen roses and a thank-you card.

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander September 30, 2013 at 11:51 am

    LOL, well, I suppose you could work it into your schedule, Jason, I know how busy you are.

    Reply

    Katie Cross September 30, 2013 at 7:04 am

    I never thought much about it as an ‘origin story’ but I know that connecting with readers on a personal level is key to any success, at least in literature.

    At the end of the day, people sell books, not twitter. Not blogger. So showing how you got where you are in a good way is an obvious way to form a good connection! Thanks for the thoughts, Joel.

    Reply

    Carol Fragale Brill September 30, 2013 at 5:13 am

    Joel, thanks for this great post. Even before I got to the end of it, the idea of writing my original story started percolating and I had to stop reading to start my next blog post.
    Don’t worry, I came back to finish, but I’d say a blog post that plants a seed that immediately starts growing into a new piece of writing is a very powerful post.

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander September 30, 2013 at 11:50 am

    Thanks so much Carol. I’ve been wanting to write this post for a while, glad I finally got to it.

    Reply

    Debra L. Butterfield September 30, 2013 at 4:57 am

    I’ve avoided this to a certain extent because I’ve got the mistaken belief that a college degree in English or journalism is essential in the writing field. I know that’s not true, but it still holds me back. If I wrote my origin story, I might be surprised at just how much training and experience I do have.

    Thanks!

    Reply

    Carol Fragale Brill September 30, 2013 at 5:19 am

    Debra, I’ve spent most of my career in Human Resources and I can tell you that people get to the same place in careers/life on many different routes–some have natural talent, some get degrees, some go to the school of hard knocks to gain invaluable life experience. All have something of value to offer. carol http://4broadminds.blogspot.com/search/label/Carol

    Reply

    Debra Butterfield September 30, 2013 at 5:24 am

    Carol, so true. I don’t know why I let my lack of a bachelor’s degree trip me up. I can see the seeds of a blog post in that struggle.

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander September 30, 2013 at 11:49 am

    Carol, thanks for your reassuring comment. Because your blog is linked in your name, it’s not really necessary to put an explicit link into your comment, readers know how to find you.

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander September 30, 2013 at 11:48 am

    Debra, I’m betting you will be amazed when you finish it. And you’ll see that there are good reasons your readers have a lot to learn from you, degree or no. Blogging is about the most democratic form I know of, and if you can be helpful, reliable, and engaging, you’ll gather a great bunch of readers.

    Reply

    Debra Butterfield September 30, 2013 at 3:25 pm

    Thanks, Joel. A much-needed word of encouragement. Your website has saved me hours of work and frustration. Keep up the great work.

    Reply

    Rinelle Grey September 30, 2013 at 4:24 am

    I like this idea. Not that my journey is going to be filled with much in the way of industry experience, but I do think people relate more on a blog if they know you a little more. I think I might go do a bit of this today even.

    Reply

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