I Gotcher Blog-Writin’ Advice Right Here

Oh, the greatest sin of them all:

Blogging about blogging, that bloated, bloviating serpent devouring its own tail. And yet, here I am, blogging about blogging because many of you asked me to commit this very trespass.

I DO IT FOR YOU, MY LOVES.

*kisses the back of your hand*

*your hand falls off and plops wetly onto the floor, because it’s not a hand but rather a can of excised Spam meat-glued to a broken mophandle*

*eats your Spamhand*

Ahem.

You want my blogging advice?

I give you my blogging advice.

Don’t Blog!

There it is. That’s my advice to you. Don’t blog. Don’t do it. Not worth it. You’re probably asking me as a writer, and as a writer to another writer I say: mmmnope, fuck it. Don’t blog.

The blogs of writers are often sad, sad things. They go largely unused, acting as empty, gutted monuments to the writer’s own lack of blogging productivity. You visit a writer’s blog and the last post is from June, 2012. Wind blows sand over a corpse. The comment sections are, two, maybe three people deep (and the author is one of those commenters). One of the most recent posts is a promise to post more posts, to blog more blogs, to blargh more blarghs, and that post was three years ago. Two rats chew on a third rat. The ground is salted and dead.

Here you’re saying, But an agent or a publisher says I have to blog. To which I respond, that agent or publisher is operating on bad information from five years ago. And it was bad information then. Blogging because you have to? What an execrable task. Who wants to read a blog that you feel is an obligation? I want to read something the author wants to write, not filler content meant to prop up a dead thing. This isn’t Weekend At Bernie’s. “HEY LOOK AT MY BLOG IT’S TOTALLY ALIVE.” *waggles dead blog’s sunglasses* *forces dead blog to messily eat carrots and dip*

Now you’re saying, But I need a blog to sell my books, to which I respond, ha ha, whoa, yeah, no. Blogs don’t sell books unless your books contain your blog, or rather, content similar to your blog. Okay, an effective blog may sell your book over time, but as I am wont to tell people: I have over 7,000 daily subscribers at this blog and over 10,000 additional daily readers. All of these people are not buying my books. Some of them are. And sometimes I get people who tell me, after three years here they finally decided to check out an actual book of mine. And certainly this blog focuses as outreach to get the word out about my books and sometimes your books, too. It’s taken a while to get here. It was not overnight. And even now, it still doesn’t magically push my book sales. Which is of course the fallacy that agents and publishers are operating on when they tell you to blog: they think you will built a “platform” and use it to “sell books,” but it doesn’t really work like that. What works to sell books is when a publisher is committed to selling your book. Your cover reveal at your blog doesn’t mean a whole hot cup of poopsquat if you get like, 30 readers. You and your blog should not be your publisher’s primary avenue of marketing and advertising.

And now you’re saying, quite correctly, But Chuck, you do it. Yes. Yeah. I know. I do it because I am a mouthy shitknuckle who wants to blog. I don’t blog because I think it’s essential to my brand or my career, I blog because I really, really like blogging. I like having a place where I can get up onto my rickety scaffolding made of digital bones and squawk fruitlessly into the void. This blog began as — and often continues to be — me yelling at me about me. And sometimes, I yell at you, too. I have thoughts and this is where I share them.

And finally you’re saying, But I wanna blog, too.

Well, okay, then.

Then it’s time for a different set of advisory points.

Fine, You’re Going To Blog Anyway

Welcome to Der Bloggerhaus. Here is your blog.

*hands you a lump of half-eaten Spam*

No? Okay, fine, that’s not your blog. YOU PASSED YOUR FIRST TEST.

You want advice on writing a blog, I will give you a shotgun spray of it. Ready?

• Conventional wisdom says not to write about writing at your blog. I say “conventional wisdom” is a very good way to be a bad blogger. I say write what you want to write about. Kids, food, writing, monkey taming, driveway construction, bondage, art history, books, movies, coffee, Muay Thai kickboxing, true crime, fake limbs, whatever. It’s your space. It’s free to visit. It is your topical playground. Run wild and go down the slide naked. Unless it’s one of those metal slides and it’s a hot day because ow cooked buttocks.

• Probably don’t blog about one thing. Unless you wanna be known as THAT [subject] BLOGGER. “HEY LOOK,” someone will yell on the streets probably never but let’s pretend. “IT’S THAT MONKEY TAMING BLOGGER. THAT GUY’S ALWAYS WRITING ABOUT MONKEY TAMING.” Even me writing so much about writing here sometimes gets this labeled as a “writing blog” rather than a “writer’s blog.” I have also been called “dad blogger” and “death blogger.”

• Don’t advertise on your blog. I mean, advertise your books, fine. You are a writer and it’s fair to expect that. But I don’t want to think your blog is compromised by the greed of getting clicks. Once in a while I get someone criticizing this space and calling it CLICKBAIT, but ha ha, fuckers, I don’t make any money off your clicks. Makes no difference to me whether my numbers are up or down. (In this case, “clickbait” is usually an insult that translates to, “he said something I don’t agree with and he said it in his own way and what a jerk but it’s easier for me to dismiss the link as clickbait rather than engaging on its merits or flaws.”)

• Own your blog or at least backup your content.

• I like to occasionally blog using ALL CAPS because ALL CAPS are cool.

• Blog regularly. Doesn’t mean every day, but make sure it’s not ONCE EVERY SEVEN YEARS DESPITE PROMISING OTHERWISE. Once a week is probably good.

• Conventional wisdom (that pesky goblin!) again says, long blog posts do not work. Write short posts, they say. Yeah, fuck that. I regularly write long blog posts. My most popular blog posts are also the longest ones. If you are afraid of long-form content on a blog, just go post cat pictures and amateur porn-fic on your Tumblr. No harm in that.

• Moderate your comments. The Internet is so often a giant sucking Sarlacc pit of shittiness because unlike almost everywhere else in reality, comment sections are treated like bastions of freedom. And when you get bastions of freedom, you invite angry human cankersores whose mothers did not love them enough and they spatter their opinionated mucus all over everybody’s monitors. The reason Gamer-Gate doesn’t exist in public is because public spaces are driven by actual decorum and even actual laws against being a public nuisance (read: shitbird). DON’T READ THE COMMENTS is the common warning because too few websites and bloggers are willing to actually take an aggressive hand when moderating their comments. You don’t have to be perfect, but get active. The shittiness in the comments is, in part, on you.

• Please make sure we can all read your blog without blistering eyestrain. Everybody has different blog preferences, but a dark background and light text is a good way to make people’s brains bleed actual bloog. Aim for: Big, clear font. Bright, but not too bright background. Don’t make me read text over some kind of grungy, gribbly texture or a picture of unicorns fucking or something. You’re a writer. Treat a blog post like the page of a book.

• I like WordPress. Installed on my end. You don’t have to. You do as you like.

• Have an opinion, but as always, don’t be horrible about it. Be the best version of yourself online. Some of you are probably making worried faces as you realize that this blog very likely represents the best version of myself. *sheepish grin* Sorry!

• You’re a writer, so the quality of your blog should be an exemplar of your work. We’ll forgive imperfections and typos. But if your blog is just some mumblemouthed manifesto, written with all the quality afforded to slogans painted on a bathroom stall wall in your own waste, that’s not ideal. No, your blog won’t sell your books 100%, but it can damn sure turn people off of them, too.

• A blog isn’t a good way to sell books, but it is a good way to meet new people — people who may eventually become your readers. People who may even become your friends. Like all of you. You’re all my friends. Come over to my pool. Let’s have a party! Caveat: I don’t have a pool and I don’t like parties and that address I gave you is actually to an abandoned factory outside of town where a cabal of forgotten clowns live. Say hi to Mister Squeakers and his gang!

• Link to your blog a few times a day over social media to make sure people across various timezones see it. But don’t make every tweet a link to it. That’s gross. Stop that.

• Your blog is you. It should echo your voice. It should demonstrate who you are and what you believe — a larger, more direct version of the voice people will get inside your books. This blog and my books do not sound exactly alike, nor should they. But both, hopefully, sound like me. And your blog and your books should sound like you.

Otherwise, my advice remains the same:

Don’t blog.

* * *

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86 comments

  • I think a lot of writer are writers first. But my writing grew out of blogging. Some people keep notebooks, some people write on scraps of paper, some have a permanently open word document. I have a blog. And perhaps because of that, I’ve always imagined fiction writing as a conversation, always unstable, always intertextual, always linked to other things.

    For people whose aim is commercial success as a writer, I think you have explained your stance well and made exceptionally good points. But if you have other aims, I think blogging is very fertile. It certainly has been for me.

  • I have two blogs, one for the more political and work related stuff and one for my writing – ironically or not my writing blog was fading away until I discovered Chuck’s prompt challenges. I blushed a lot reading this post; as I’ve committed nearly every sin in it at different times.

    I guess what I take away from it is that I can still blog – but when I finally (self) publish that book I’ll create a separate site for it, and won’t use that for blogging at all.

  • I started a personal blog even though I was writing for a living, full-time and then some. But there was some stuff I couldn’t say at MSN Money or Get Rich Slowly or any of the other sites that hired me. So I decided my blog would be my playground for words.
    That was May 2010. It’s still my playground, with headlines like “Dr. Demento and the desecrated turkey,” “Turning invisibility into stealth,” “Negotiating the Crappy Things Spectrum,” “The bottle blonde at the DMV” and “Who would Jesus strafe?” I write about smart use of money, earning a university degree at age 52 (better late than REALLY late), making Kool-Aid pickles, escaping a long-term abusive marriage, classism in the U.S., the healing power of mashed potatoes, personal finance lessons from grand opera, attending the Talkeetna Bachelors Auction and Wilderness Woman Competition, watching the aurora borealis from my back steps….
    Basically I write about whatever comes up that day.
    Does it make me money? Don’t make me laugh!
    But that’s not why I do it. I used to work at a newspaper and a colleague who chose wire articles for the inside pages had one rule. She said, “If it ain’t fun, it don’t run.” Nothing runs on my site that isn’t fun for me to write. Then again, I have an odd idea of fun.
    As for writing about writing: Guilty. I just started a writing-focused blog, to go with an online writing course I launched a couple of weeks ago. So sue me.
    Did I need to do it to sell my course, the way authors think they need blogs to sell their blogs? Nah. It’s more that I’d be happy to talk about writing all day long (invariably come home from conferences with Overused Larynx Syndrome) but I can’t do too many language-based articles at my personal website because it’s not a single-subject place.
    Plus now that I’m teaching writing (holy crap), I want users to have a place to share their thoughts. Will it work? Too soon to tell. In fact, today I found out that I’d accidentally locked out any commenters who weren’t site members. Ooops.
    But it doesn’t matter whether anyone comments or not. I’ll still be out there nattering away, as long as it’s still fun.
    P.S. I’ve found it to be true that you will meet new friends with your blog, or people you’d love to be friends with if they didn’t live 3,000 miles away.

  • Dear Chuck Wendig, owner of one of the very few writing-related blogs I still read:
    How in the name of all that is holy, unholy, or just plain crazy do you manage to write all your novels and whatnot, and produce a new blog post almost every single day? Oh yeah, and still have time to spend with your wife and kid (which you must do, in order to have all those hilarious stories about B-Dub)? But then again, you’re an imaginative guy, so maybe you spend 24 hours per day with butt-in-chair, and just make up stories about the fam so you seem almost human. Right. That got a bit out of hand. Anyway, the main question remains: how dost thou produce so many blog words, on top of all your bacon-bringing-home words? I see that your friends do indeed help you out fairly often—Delilah S. Dawson freaking rocks—but there’s still a huge amount of blogging that you do yourself.

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