Blogging For Writers: How Authors & Writers Build Successful Blogs, by Robin Houghton
I have to admit that this book somewhat disappointed me. To be fair, I have been blogging for a long time, since the mid 2000’s, and I thought that there would be more discussion when it comes to creating great content. What I saw instead is a lot of frippery, as the author seemed to indicate that dumbing down and reducing text and increasing the number of pictures to make for showy and glitzy visuals is the key to building a successful blog. It is commonly said that the current generation of computer users is not generally one that is friendly to text. Writers and authors (and bloggers), though, are people whose passions lead them to write text, sometimes in very large amounts. The author might take it for granted that such bloggers would by definition have a lot of text to work with and decided to focus on elements that authors and writers might be less knowledgeable about, namely pretty themes and lots of pictures to attract the semi-literate masses. I don’t think people are that uninterested in text, though, as solid information compellingly presented with a minimum of visuals can still be immensely compelling for those who enjoy reading.
This book is less than 200 pages long and it is divided into twelve chapters. The author begins with an introduction that seeks to justify blogging to existing writers and encourage the reader to choose a blogging persona, plan, and name (1). After that comes a discussion of the choice of blogging platform, layout, as well as some basic building blocks (2). After that comes a step-by-step discussion of how to set up a blog in either Blogger or WordPress (3). This is followed by a discussion of how one can get the right look (4) for a blog as well as adding images, audio, and video (5). The author then discusses how to get noticed (6) and how to use social media to drive traffic to one’s blog (7). There are then discussions of using the blog as a PR tool to court the media (8), earn money from being an affiliate, advertising, or selling merch (9). The author then looks at how a blogger can measure how they are doing (10), troubleshoot and avoid problems with law or with one’s motivation to write (11), and encourages people to get blogging (12), after which there is an index and acknowledgements.
If this book was a bit disappointing to me, it is probably something that those whose blogs are included on here would well enjoy. The definition of what makes for a successful blog is left deliberately vague by the authors. Some people end up creating blogs that have thousands of views a day. Others of us (myself included) have hundreds a day and come up with new content that occasionally draws interest and commentary from others. This is a book to read if you want to create an aesthetically pleasing blog or if your blog was deemed pretty enough and successful enough to be a part of this book. Given the amount of blogs included here, there are at least a few hundred potential readers of this book who would enjoy what the author has to say. Some of the technical information is useful as the author is keen on promoting Blogger and WordPress, and I have personal experience using both myself (as is likely the case with at least some other writers). As is often the case with books aimed at writers, the author assumes that the writing part is down pat and that it is the marketing and technical elements that need work, which is probably a fair assumption for the most part. Take of this book what you will.