Author Blogging 101: 8 Blogging Styles You Can Use Today

by | Jul 2, 2012

There are lots of ways to write an author blog, and lots of bloggers who do it their own way.

You can find great articles on other blogs, pick out the juicy parts, perhaps make comments on them, and link back to the originals. This is a lot of what Passive Guy does on his popular The Passive Voice blog.

Or you can post personal stories from your past, or from your reading, stories that are held together by your own ability as a storyteller, like Derek Sivers does on his avidly-followed blog.

Or you can run video interviews interspersed with long, thoughtful essay-type posts like Dan Blank does on his blog.

Really, there’s no limit and no set model to what you do, it’s totally up to you.

When you’re first getting started it makes sense to find a style you like and try it, keeping in mind that you can change, continue to modify, and refine what you’re doing as you go along.

Here are 8 different blogging styles to look through. I bet you’ll find something here you’ve never tried before. But something that sounds like it would fit in on your blog. Try that one first.

1. Personal reflection
Probably the first blogging style, since blogs started as online journals. This is still powerfully attractive to writers who love having an outlet for material that might not fit projects they are working on for publication. The downside of this style is the difficulty of finding subject matter that other people actually want to read.

2. How-to
The how-to blog may be the easiest to get going. You’ll have quick recognition from search engines, since millions of people are looking for how-to instruction all the time. You might use illustrations or photos, and your posts are pretty easy to put together since you follow the process you’re explaining. The downside is that it may be difficult to insert much of your personality into your posts. And remember that the technology explained in many how-to blogs changes pretty quickly. But for many new bloggers, this is a brilliant way to get started.

3. Character development
You don’t see this much, but you could use a blog like this to support the launch of a book or series. There are two variations on this style: you can blog from the point of view of one of your characters, interacting with other characters who might even appear on the blog as guests or commenters. The other way is to use the blog to develop backstory for your characters, although you are writing as yourself. This probably would work better for authors who already have a lot of readers who already know your characters.

4. Genial authority
If you really are an expert in your field and have a lot to teach newbies, this is a great style that will please lots of readers. Without being preachy or dictatorial, you write about your field of expertise, concentrating on basics, answers to frequently-asked questions, discussions of recent developments in your field, and provide content for readers of various experience levels.

5. Muckraker
Although this style is associated with periodicals, writers who specialize in exposing corruption, uncovering environmental hazards or similar topics can gather an audience by blogging, too. While your books provide deep look at a topic, your blog articles can be more news-oriented, or you can use the blog as your development platform for your next book, releasing parts of it as blog posts.

6. Iconoclast
This is a classic style that’s suited to some people’s temperaments. Poking larger actors in your field, finding errors, drawing attention to the failings of others in your niche all draw traffic. Posting rants about people has a powerful effect, too. Although it divides your audience into “I’m with/against you” groups, the people who are with you become avid readers and supporters in your “crusade.”

7. Newbie
The newbie writes from the perspective of someone who knows just a little bit more than you do. This allows the blogger to try new things, to fail without penalty, and to write blog posts about all those experiences, passing along what they learn to readers. One of the reasons this works is that you are much closer to your readers’ experiences than you would be as an authority. And you still become a “go-to” person for answers in your field.

8. Content Curator
You search the web to find content your readers will love. Blog posts might be an extract from an informative, newsworthy or instructional post somewhere else. You can also extend or comment on the post to add your own content, but the prime reason people visit your blog is your editorial taste. They know they’ll find great work from lots of sources. Curating content becomes more and more valuable as the total amount of content online continues to multiply.

Mix and Match Blogging Styles for Variety

Over time as your blog matures you’ll find yourself using many of these styles at different times. You can mix how-to articles with curated content from other how-to blogs, for instance, to give your readers some variety.

Looking over this list, I think I’ve used 5 out of the 8 styles here, and continue to do so regularly. Both bloggers and readers like variety, and using these blogging styles will give you lots of variety on your blog.

Photo by Nieve44Luz

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  2. Ros Nelson

    It takes a while to find your own voice when blogging. Mine definitely falls into your “personal reflection” category. I am building a business that relies on happy customers referring me to others. It offers a comfortable and trusting platform from which to work. My goal is not volume of business but quality of relationship (guess I’m not a real American). At any rate, I am getting good reader response with my latest post called DIRTY WORDS. You might enjoy it.

  3. Tracy

    This is another great article.

    Since I am still working on getting my first novel out, I am going to try a modification of the character development style of blog. My novel has some fairly complicated fictional elements that i want to expand upon with the blog. I have been writing a series of behind-the-scenes style articles that highlight an item in the novel. I have been including things like sketches and more in-depth thoughts of the object or concept.

    I am building something of a content driven series of posts that will contain “wiki” style writing. Each article will be factual and outside of character for the work, including my thoughts at the time i wrote them. One post per week, until the launch, is my goal. I hope to cover a lot of new material to supplement the novel and add to the reader’s enjoyment of the entire project.

  4. Shaquanda Dalton

    Hi Joel I loved this post.

    I blog about writing fiction and I mix and match the how-to technique and the newbie technique since I’m about to self publish this summer for the first time.

    I think mixing the techniques up will make blogs more diverse and attract different readers that like to read different things.

    Thanks again :)

  5. Maria Grace

    I’m in the process of retooling my blog. As an author I want to attract readers, as others have mentioned. These were some great and timely ideas and I love the flash fiction idea too. I have definitely shifted from discouraged and dreading to looking forward to what I might be able to do.

    Thank you so much for all the coaching you do.


    • Joel Friedlander

      That’s great, Maria. I think blogging should be mostly a fun activity for writers, and I hope you enjoy finding new ways to attract readers.

  6. Katie McAleece

    I think it’s important to find your niche’ in the blogging world but like you said at the beginning: there’s no limit or set model- it’s really up to you, as the writer.

    I’ve never seen writing styles categorized in such a clear way before. This was a fun, interesting read! (:

    • Joel Friedlander

      Thanks, Katie, glad you enjoyed it. The most important thing is finding a style that works for you.

  7. RD Meyer

    I think my own style is some combination of #s 1, 2, and 8. Jumping around keeps people on their toes – the readers, as well as myself.

    • Joel Friedlander

      As my writing teacher used to say, “No surprise for the writer, no surprise for the reader.”

  8. Ilana Waters

    Don’t forget humor and entertainment as a category! Or perhaps this could be covered in one of the aforementioned categories. But there are a lot of blogs I go to just b/c they allow me a good laugh, and remove the stress of the day.

    • Joel Friedlander

      Good point, Ilana, and one that could be added to this list for humor writers.

  9. Jim Williams

    I enjoyed this. I am a new blogger and have much to learn. Thanks for the advice!

  10. Sarah Elisabeth

    Thanks for the breakdown, Joel.

    I’m prepping to take my blog in a new direction, focusing on fiction since that’s what I want to build my platform on. Over the past two years, I’ve written over 50 flash fictions, just the right length for a blog post. They are almost ready for book publication as a collection, but I also plan to use them on my blog now. We’ll see how it works :-)

    • Marilyn Oser

      Hi, Sarah. Your project sounds interesting. I’d like to read some of your flash fiction on your blog. How do I access it? (Me? I write novels.)

    • Joel Friedlander

      Sarah, I would be interested in how that goes. Many fiction writers have struggled with how to create a blog that really works as far as attracting readers rather than other writers. I hope you’ll keep us posted.

      • Sarah Elisabeth

        Exactly, Joel. It’s a challenge. Writing about writing isn’t attractive to readers unless they’re already fans of your fiction.

        I stumbled on this idea by accident when I committed to enter the Writing Challenge every week until I reached the Masters level. Along the way, I accumulated 50+ stories and several fans who began looking forward to my story each week and leaving me comments on the site.

        I’m also going to give away my first ebook, Third Side of the Coin, Seven Flash Fictions, to entice new email subscribers. I’ll keep you posted on how it all goes.

        • Vivian De Winter

          Hi Sarah,
          I posted about 30 separate pieces of flash fiction on my website, based strictly on writing exercises. I would pick three random words and take it from there. Once a week, for almost a year. The results varied from three sentences to approximately 200 words. What better way to provide content and flex those writer’s muscles!

          I’ve recently re-designed my website, so I had a reason to pull down all of the “flash fiction.” If I am creating a collection of works as an incentive for a reader to become a subscriber, I do not want the same content posted online. New(er) content is KING (or at least QUEEN).

          I’ve been pondering this idea (opportunity) for about the last two months. I plan on creating a PDF document which will allow for creative formatting. I’m going for visual interest. Something that will really standout. This particular project would translate well to a printed book (perhaps in the future).

          I also want to keep this FREE document out of the online ebook retail loop. Not sure if that’s the best option, but there are so many free ebooks out there right now. Why do something everyone else is doing?

          Wishing you all the best with your next adventure!

          • Sarah Elisabeth

            Hey Vivian,

            Thanks, and yeah, I’ve wondered how long the “free” will stand up because everyone is doing it. When I first got my kindle, I downloaded every free ebook that looked remotely interesting. Now, I’m much more selective.

            Hope the best for you on your projects!

      • Vivian De Winter

        Hi Joel,
        As a fiction writer, yes, it is difficult to attract readers. I’m a writer, artist, gardener, home renovator and crochet fiend. Up until two months ago, I’d always included blog posts about my crochet projects. Most of my web traffic came from other crafters, asking me for free patterns for the items I had designed!

        I decided to re-focus my website–pared down to writing and art. The crochet side-line was for my own interest and not as an income-generating possibility.

        If I decide to write a book about crocheting, I’ve already proven to myself that there is a “tribe” out there! Hopefully, they don’t migrate too far off by then.

        I think readers might find research information interesting. One of my novels (WIP) includes references to Vincent Van Gogh. I’ve conducted quite a bit of research regarding his life. Deadly chemicals used in the oil paints. Mental illness apparent in his family. Many other facts that do not necessarily appear in the story, but readers might appreciate knowing.

        Also, another book I plan on writing includes an ostrich, a donkey and a goat. I don’t know much about those farm animals right now, so I know a trip in the name of field research will be required. I plan on writing little snippets about the results of my interviews with local farmers.

        Should be interesting!

        • Joel Friedlander

          That’s interesting, Vivian. I think at some point it really becomes about the quality of the writing. It may be that people just like to read your content, whether it’s crocheting or Van Gogh. As you say, the niche readers will always be there since they are focused on topics related to their interests, but readers come in many “flavors” and those people who respond to you are the ones that will be there for you long-term.

  11. Michael N. Marcus

    Folks should consider adopting different personality types and/or subject matter for multiple blogs, or for a blog plus other social media.

    I’ve used six of the eight types you mentioned on blogs, plus another on Facebook.

    Another blog tip: try out a blog for a week or so to determine if you are satisfied with the title, subject, design and viewpoint — and if you can develop enough content — before publicizing the blog.

    You can even write blog posts for your own examination (and for comments by associates) but not publish them until you are confident that you are “ready for prime time.”

    Michael N. Marcus



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