This is a bit of a different angle than I’ve taken in previous Thursday Technicalities posts. However, a few people have asked me about what sites to use and how they can integrate their writing with things like Pinterest or personal blogs. Admittedly, it can be a bit difficult to determine when or if you should have a blog and what to write if you do. Then, it’s even harder to determine which writing sites to use, if any, and how to use them. My aim with this post is to go into some of the pros and cons as well as some guidelines and other things you should know about each post. This will get fairly technical in areas, but this is Thursday Technicalities, of course. So, let’s dive in!
To Blog or Not To Blog?
That’s the major question for many authors, isn’t it? Simply put, you should. If you’re trying to build your platform and bring in new readers, the blog is the way to do it. This may be slow to gain traction, but it’s important anyway. Here’s the thing. As much as social media is great for spreading the word about releases and for doing release parties with readers and friends, that form of media is not under your control.
At any time, you could lose your account or access to it (Facebook has notoriously given people trouble with this when accounts are hacked or people are put into Facebook jail for posting content they don’t like). If this happens to you, you’ll lose everything. Your entire following. All of the content you had there. Everything.
A blog and email list, on the other hand, don’t go away. You control them. You control what people see. You can send them to your other writing platforms, such as Amazon, without fear that a site like Facebook might flag your post and ban you due to content that shows up on the Amazon page’s advertisements. Naturally, you have no control over book covers or other pictures that show up on the “suggested for you” section of the product page. And the bots that various social media sites use to look for inappropriate content don’t care if you don’t control it or not. They flag it anyway.
So bottom line is this. If you’re looking to build a following, blog and draw people into your email list.
What to Blog About?
Now that you know you should be blogging if you want to really build a following for your work, the next question is probably what you should blog about. This one is something you’re going to have to decide for yourself, ultimately. But I can give you some guidance.
First of all, pick a niche. There are lots of blogs out there that talk about writing, but you don’t want to be just another blog. You want to stand out in a good way. So narrow your focus to something that you can write about that isn’t so general. We’ll use my blog as an example since it wasn’t so long ago that I went through this very decision making process.
I knew I wanted to start a blog, but I wasn’t sure what to write about. I thought I could write about fantasy, but again, that’s pretty broad, so I didn’t want to just do that either. So, I spent some time thinking about what other fantasy writing blogs don’t cover. And that’s when I found a niche. Most fantasy writing blogs didn’t seem to be filling the needs of both readers and writers. So, I decided I wanted to have a blog that could appeal to writers and readers. To this end, I have posts to teach readers about new genres in addition to teaching writers how to write them. I include reviews of books as well, including both a readers’ portion and a writers’ portion. And then there are portions of the blog meant specifically to teach writers how to write fantasy. That’s why I have posts like this one!
But none of that would have happened if I hadn’t first identified my niche: talking about fantasy with something for fantasy lovers of all types, both writers and readers.
Second, once you’ve decided on your angle and niche, you should start building up content for the day you launch the blog. Don’t start setting up the blog until you’ve decided on a posting schedule and have several weeks of posts ready. This gives you time to continue building up content and ensures that, if you have a bad week or issues that keep you from writing, you have backup content already available.
Last thing major thing to consider. How you’ll get exposure and who you’ll go with. Personally, I recommend WordPress. It’s one of the best hosting sites for blogs, and it allows you to get started for free until you’re making the money you need to in order to support it. Besides that, when it comes to exposure, WordPress allows you to use Pinterest, Facebook, and a couple other sites with it. Pinterest and Facebook are the two main things though.
Pinterest is a great way to market your blog, the email list, and your own work. The platform, unlike other things like Facebook, is a search engine, meaning that viewers come to Pinterest looking for something in particular. If you use your keywords right and gain traction, you can get your pins all over Pinterest. Best of all, those pins have a much longer lifespan than any post on social media. People pin it again, and you’ve got a pin that’s seen by people you may never interact with in your writing career. There’s much more I could say about this, but that’s not the point of this post, so let’s move on!
Okay, let’s talk about Wattpad. Several people have asked me if I think Wattpad is a good choice. Some have had good results while others aren’t seeing much success. I’ve been on Wattpad for around five years now, so I’ve gotten to see the good and the bad things about the platform. We’ll start with the good.
Wattpad is a great place to network with people. I became a member of my current critique group, The Writer’s Edge, through Wattpad. I met most of the founding members through another critiquing/book club that I got involved with on Wattpad. Not only that, but some of the writer friends I am still in touch with today came from different writing games (called Authors’ Games on Wattpad) that I participated in. So that’s a great thing about it!
Another good thing about it is the feedback. When networking with readers and writers, you’re able to have people help you review your work. Wattpad has threads on their forum that allow you to ask to exchange critiques or to ask people to beta read, either as an exchange or just for fun. (Most people do it as an exchange.) I generally post everything I write up on Wattpad and Inkitt (which I’ll discuss briefly in a bit) because it allows me to gauge reader response and get that early stage feedback to help me understand what might need to be changed.
Now, on to the cons.
First of all, it’s very difficult for certain genres to be found on Wattpad. Hardcore fantasy, in particular, doesn’t get much exposure on the site. Things like teen romance, fan fiction, and adult romance generally dominate the front pages of suggestions. There are ways to get it out, but since Wattpad restricted writers on the platform to only one genre, both on the book’s information page and on their Share-Your-Story Threads, it becomes difficult to be seen. If your book is a bit of both sci-fi and fantasy, for instance, you’ll be stuck choosing one, and you can’t advertise in both forums. This makes it hard to get it out to readers from both genres that might enjoy your work. I really don’t like that. It’s extremely frustrating, especially for authors just starting out. It isn’t impossible, but is a bit of an obstacle to surmount.
Second, I’ve found that it’s hard to move your readers on Wattpad over to your blog and then your book page. This can be a little frustrating when you realize that many of your followers may not read your stuff or aren’t willing to convert from Wattpad to your paid content. Circumventing that is a little obnoxious. My recommendation is to do one of two things with this one, by the way. Either only post the first few chapters or parts in each work or post the entire rough draft and remove the majority of the content when you publish. How you decide to do it honestly depends on what you’re aiming for. If you’re aiming to build your current audience from the ground up, then posting some work that’s complete for readers is a good thing. But if you already have a following and a decent number of readers for your blog, you may not want to do that. You don’t want to give all your content away for free, and most readers can understand that when it’s communicated clearly.
Finally, to really keep your work out in front of readers searching for books with tags like yours, you’ll have to keep posting content on the book and actively promoting it. Once the book is finished, you will mainly be focused on promoting it while you work on your next piece. Either way, this can be just a little bit frustrating if you don’t have the time for a regular update schedule. But for Wattpad, a regular schedule generally gains better results for writers, and creating new content is pretty much a must if you want to continue drawing new readers in.
Inkitt has some of the same pros and cons as Wattpad. However, I would say that Wattpad is set up much better for networking. Inkitt doesn’t seem to have clear forums on the sight, opting instead for writer-run Facebook groups. That makes interacting a little more complicated because the forums aren’t easily collected into one place on Inkitt for the writers and readers. However, I will say that Inkitt doesn’t have as many restrictions on how you label your work’s genre or where you share it. Individual groups on Facebook might, but there are writing groups for Inkitt that are more general in the genres they accept.
The other thing Inkitt has down better than Wattpad (though Wattpad is moving into this area) is publishing. They use algorithms and people to track stats associated with your book to allow them to tell if it has publishing potential. Books that perform very well and are entered into their Novel Contest may be selected for publication with them, which offers a way to monetize your writing on the site. But the system is very much based on popularity with readers, so, once again, romance and teen fiction dominate the platform in many cases.
Okay, so I messed around with this for a little bit. But what I discovered is that this site is pretty much dying. People mainly use Discord for communication, which I don’t use, so I didn’t have much luck networking. And because people use Discord to communicate there, the forums that RR does have are pretty much dead. It’s really difficult to gain exposure for your work because of the inactivity of the majority of the site. So I don’t really recommend this. I would stick with Inkitt and Wattpad, honestly.
While this isn’t a writing site, if you have a blog, you should be using Pinterest to get important posts from the writing site out there. I’ve shared some of the Thursday Technicalities posts there because I knew the content in that post had to do with commonly searched for terms. I’ve also used it to get the word out about things like free giveaways or other things I offer through the blog. It can have a bit of a learning curve because of key words and SEO along with graphics. But, given the things I mentioned earlier, hopefully it’s obvious why you should be using it.
I hope this post has been helpful. It’s longer than most of my posts have been, but that was unavoidable in order to cover the topic thoroughly. If you have further questions or more to share with others about this topic, feel free to comment below! Have a topic you’d like to see covered on Thursday Technicalities? Comment below or shoot me an email!