Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Blogging Blues

© Marta Stephens 2010 all rights reserved
I’ve been blogging since around 2005 and like all newbies, I sponged in every bit of information on writing I could get my hands on. Let's face it, blogs can contain fantastic writing, trigger wonderful writing ideas, and open our world with new thoughts to explore. Needless to say, a passion was released and although it was daunting to think that anyone in cyber space could read my posts, I quickly discovered the excitement of meeting and sharing with others from around the world who had similar interests.

Over the years, the readership to my blogs (especially here at Murder By 4) has graduately increased so I’m particularly watchful that the information posted has value and gives something back to the reader. I’ll admit that lately, I’ve not been as active on my blogs and other social networks as I like, (I have some really good excuses too!), but my thoughts on that is, if it's a struggle to post, don't. On the other hand, with so much available on the internet I’m rarely short on words to share.

I believe I’ve posted this piece on blogging before, but with the new year inching around the corner I think it’s worth repeating for those who are contemplating a new blog or thinking about revamping an old one. The following was published in an online newsletter  a year or two ago titled, Blogging No-nos.

Know what makes a meaningful blog. You don't want a blog just to have one. It needs a theme, purpose and take-away value. Who cares what you had for dinner? Do people really want to know what your children did lately, unless your blog is strictly a family communication tool? Sure your daughter's

Halloween costume is adorable, but is that snippet of writing worth other people's minutes in a day filled with many other stops and obligations, online and off?

In a way, a blog is a window to you. Some use it like a memoir. The truth is, a memoir is a hard work to sell. Unless you have a remarkable, uncanny ability to project your life in a way that takes away someone's breath, the bottom line is...who cares?

Know these common blogging mistakes:

1. Taking more than you give. Don't sell instead of filling your customers' needs. Even if you have a product to sell, make sure your readers leave with more than they paid for.

2. Not updating regularly. This lack of effort reflects on your respect for the readership. At least two times a week is decent.

3. Fast writing without much thought, just to make a post. You know what I'm talking about. No one knows better than the writer himself when his writing is lame, and he writes just to fill up space.

4. Copy-catting. Be unique, don't copy someone else's blog. You want to be known for you, not the shadow of someone else. If you're serious about your blog, also consider a different background that isn't a standard template offered to millions of other bloggers.

5. Don't write about a topic that isn't appealing to the masses. If a thousand people wouldn't be interested, don't blog about it. A good sign of this flaw is lack of comments.

6. Over writing. Keep it to the point. Try to keep blog posts under 300 words. From personal experience, I know that a long post won't be read. I usually stop around 100 words. I'll stop at 300 words if it's interesting. I'll read the entire post if it's short or if it's phenomenal. Few fall into the latter category . . . very few.

Always be on the lookout for a few good blogs. Reading blogs equates to reading the paper, if you take the time to find those of quality. Once you recognize what you like, note the strengths of the author's work - that magic that keeps bringing you back.


So, there you have it. If you plan to start a blog, consider the focus of your blog, your target audience, the tone, and it’s value to your reader. If you plan to blog every day, consider if you are up to the challenge--trust me, at times it is a challenge.

About the authorMarta Stephens writes mystery/suspense and the author of the Sam Harper Crime Mystery series.

THE DEVIL CAN WAIT (2008), Bronze Medal Finalist, 2009 IPPY Awards, Top Ten, 2008 Preditors and Editors Reader Poll (mystery).

SILENCED CRY (2007) Honorable Mention, 2008 New York Book Festival, Top Ten, 2007 Preditors and Editors Reader Poll (mystery).

Her books are available in paperback, Kindle, and e-book format online at Amazons, Barnes & Noble, Borders, Books-a-Million, Smashword, and Powells. For more information about Stephens and her writing, visit

"Life's too Uncertain, Eat your Dessert First"


Joylene Nowell Butler said...

Great post, Marta. I'm guilty of writing way too much about eagles. And my pets. But I am hoping to cut back. There just isn't enough time to do it all. I was reading so many blogs that it was noon before I was finished and back to editing. I'm always wondering how other writers do it. Plus, I'm wondering how those bloggers who don't visit other blogs, yet keep their large numbers, do it. The whole thing is still a mystery 3 years later.

Marta Stephens said...

Hi Joylene! Great to hear from you. I've come to the conclusion that this blogging thing is cyclical. It comes and goes with our writing energies.

I felt like the blogging queen for several years and like you, got too caught up with keeping up with my blogs as well as posting in the social networks I belonged. The time I spent blogging ate up my writing time. Shame, shame, shame! It’s what I needed to do though to promote my books. I also felt compelled to follow other people’s posts on the social sites and comment on each one and still, that voice in the back of my head kept reminding me that when I’m blogging, I’m not writing.

Over the past two years I've slowly walked away from the sites and blogging and since this past summer, my blogging and writing have nearly come to a screeching halt (except here on MB4 and sometimes that’s been debatable). Part of me is concerned and I have to wonder if my lack of Internet presence affect my readership when the next book is published. Yet the part that isn't worried knows I've needed to recharge in the worst way. I do feel a spark starting to slowly glow again though and think in 2011, I’m going to do many things differently. This time around, I’m going to concentrate on my writing and do my best to let the writing bring in the readership.

Aaron Paul Lazar said...

Great advice, Marta! Thanks for sharing this list with us - wonderful stuff! Hope you're staying warm.

s.w. vaughn said...

I'm with you on the blogging blues. It just seems so... ugh right now. Guess it's just the rest of life getting in the way at the moment.

Maybe after the blasted holiday season ends (for me, anyway) I'll perk up. :-)

Hope you get in lots of relaxing and recharging, Marta!

Nancy J. Parra said...

Great advice. Thanks for sharing. Cheers~