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I believe your writer’s website is (or should be) the center piece of your internet presence. The crown jewel at the center of your online web. All outside links should lead to your homepage. Anytime you sell a story, or publish a book, that web address should be included in the ‘About the author’ para, and a corresponding link to your latest writerly triumph posted on your site.

I like to think of it as a kind of online gallery. At the click of a button, folks from all around the world can pop in to find out about you and your writing, watch your book trailers, listen to podcasts etc, as well as follow links to your online stories and places which sell your work (at least they can if you have them).

Why then, do I think it’s NOT a good idea to have your blog there (or at least, only there)?
Because, from a strictly self-promotional point of view, there are two types of people in the world: those who’ve at least heard of you, and those who aren’t even aware you exist.

What about that mirrored site thingy? Can’t I use that?
Sure. In this technological age, it’s possible to duplicate your journal entries on several blog sites at once, including your own website, but there’s so much more to an online presence than just being there. You still need to be ‘Active in the community’, as it were, otherwise your blog is only reaching that pool of folks who’ve already heard of you, and that’s a tiny pond compared to the ocean of people who haven’t.

To me, your website is really for people who at the very least, know your name. Your blog, on the other hand, is for everyone, and that’s why it doesn’t belong on your site. It belongs out there in big wide world, where it has more opportunities to add to that list of people who know your name. It's there to let people know you exist, that you’re an interesting person, and yes, that you happen to be a writer.

From a self-promotional point of view, your never-ending goal is to increase the number of people who’ve at least heard of you, because some of those folks will remember your name when they see it on the spine of a book, or the index of a magazine, and if you’ve done your self-promotion well, and your work appeals to them, a teeny-tiny percentage of those folks will make a purchase which they would not otherwise have made.

[Edited after discussion with jimhines and saetter]
That’s why, when I update my site in the New Year, I may well mirror this journal there (if I can figure out how to do it), but I'll still think of them as seperate entities.

How about you?

Do you think a writer’s blog should be separate from his/her website?

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( 62 comments — Leave a comment )
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the_faery_queen
Dec. 7th, 2009 08:22 pm (UTC)
i have an update section, where i put updates on my website, stories published/sold, changes to teh site. that sorta thing. no actual journal. i don't want people to know how pissed off i get with my own work! i don't want them to know the frustration, the bad ideas, i want them to see a finished, shiny project. the blog i have is for me, my rants and thoughts. i don't bother to maintain a second, writing blog. i don't think people would really care about just writing either. but that's me. i don't even really care about famous people's blogs. im more interested in finished projects.
jongibbs
Dec. 7th, 2009 08:26 pm (UTC)
To be honest, my own site needs tarting up a bit. You're right about the writing blog I think. If all I ever posted about was my writing, even I'd get bored with it :)
(no subject) - the_faery_queen - Dec. 7th, 2009 08:46 pm (UTC) - Expand
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jimhines
Dec. 7th, 2009 08:43 pm (UTC)
Hm ... I wouldn't want the blog to be the central feature of the web site. I.e., if you go to www.jimchines.com, I don't want that to be my blog. But I do include the blog there as a subpage at http://www.jimchines.com/blog/ for several reasons.

1. I like Wordpress, and it allows me to incorporate everything.

2. This gives me a central, "official" blog for those who just want to use RSS feeds or whatever, but feeds out to LJ and other places.

3. For those who choose to follow my blog at the web site, they're also getting the sidebars, which means they'll see information on the latest novel, links to free fiction, and so on.

3b. When I do blog posts that really explode (Neil Gaiman Facts, that Slush Pile poem, etc.), I suddenly get hit with hundreds or thousands of new readers. If they're coming to jimchines.com/blog to check out the post, they also get the info on Jim the writer and my books. If the blog was separate, it would require another click to then visit my web site, which I suspect most of them wouldn't do.

This was originally just supposed to be my two cents, but I think I'm up to at least a quarter...
saetter
Dec. 7th, 2009 09:00 pm (UTC)
I agree with Jim here (who, by the way, I first became aware of because of his blog, which led me to his fiction...)

I also started having my blog mirror to LJ, even though those posts have been very scarce lately. The posts are also mirrored to my Facebook. Right now, my website is pretty quiet. Most of the people who know me are on LJ or FB. But I still want that to be the center of my web presence. LJ and FB are spokes off that hub.

If your blog is mostly rants and ravings and sputterings of frustration, yes, keep it apart. If your blog is a blend of updates, self promotion, as well as other random stuff, then why no have it mirrored from or to your website? Jill Myles irysangel is another (new) author who has her blogs mirrored from her site and still keeps up her presence in both places.

Like you mentino, the key is to be active in all the places you send your blog posts.

Edited at 2009-12-07 09:01 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - jongibbs - Dec. 7th, 2009 09:17 pm (UTC) - Expand
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brent_kellmer
Dec. 7th, 2009 08:47 pm (UTC)
Personally, as long as you update your blog consistently, I think you can be well-served by locating it on your website. Two caveats to that, though -- because it is in such a prominent place, it needs to be updated regularly, and not just with "I went to the market today" or "here's my kitty looking cute" posts. A good number of the posts should be about writing and your writing process. But I think that it should be mirrored to things like LJ, and perhaps other communities -- those give people another way of getting to your site, which is where you ultimately want to drive them. If you get someone new to read your blog from your site, you've probably got them for at least one sale, since it's easy for them to go to the other places on your site, including buying a book.

If you have the blog on your site, then if someone googles you, you're making it easy for them to find both blog and website. If they're separate, you're losing the opportunity to drive them to your site from the blog itself.

That being said, I agree completely that you need to be active in the communities to which your blog is mirrored -- otherwise you're not getting any advantage whatsoever.
jongibbs
Dec. 7th, 2009 09:32 pm (UTC)
Being active in the relevant blog community is the key. Sad to say, many writers don't seem to feel the need, which is ironic because they end up putting people off.

From a self-promotional point of view, I think the goal isn't so much to drive traffic to your website (though that's a plus of course) as it is to increase the number of people who’ve at least heard of you, because some of those folks will remember your name when they see it on the spine of a book, or the index of a magazine, and if you’ve done your self-promotion well, and your work appeals to them, a teeny-tiny percentage of those folks will make a purchase which they would not otherwise have made.

Thanks for sharing :)
karen_w_newton
Dec. 7th, 2009 09:04 pm (UTC)
Well, I think of them as two distinct things, but I do have a link to my website on my blog and vice versa. But until my agent sells the book, I don't have a whole lot to put on my website, which is one reason I blog frequently.
jongibbs
Dec. 7th, 2009 09:36 pm (UTC)
Oh they absolutely should have prominent links to one another.

I'm in the same boat as you when it comes to not having lots of things to put on the website, though I've been giving it a lot of thought lately, and I have some ideas about how to change that, which I'll be covering in next week's TFAOSP post :)
mtlawson
Dec. 7th, 2009 09:06 pm (UTC)
Jon, what do you think about linking your Facebook or MySpace pages to your website? (Okay, there's Twitter now as well....)

Do the same criteria apply?
jongibbs
Dec. 7th, 2009 09:24 pm (UTC)
I have Facebook and Twitter accounts, though I don't use either. I'll use Twitter when I sell my first novel, but I think I'll only use it for "Just updated my blog" type messages. I've put off using Facebook because, even though I can mirror my posts, I'm focusing on LJ for now (again, that will change when I sell a novel).

For me, the emphasis isn't so much on where it's mirrored, as to whether or not you actively engage with the community to which you mirror it, as opposed to just answering comments left on your own posts, if that makes sense :)
(no subject) - jongibbs - Dec. 7th, 2009 09:58 pm (UTC) - Expand
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sboydtaylor
Dec. 7th, 2009 09:09 pm (UTC)
My blog is, realistically, my only web presence. So the issue is moot for me. :)
jongibbs
Dec. 7th, 2009 09:41 pm (UTC)
Mine too, though I'm looking at ways to make my site more interesting. That said, this self-promotion thing doesn't happen overnight. I plan to have it sorted so that when I do sell a book, I won't have to start from scratch :)
(Deleted comment)
jongibbs
Dec. 7th, 2009 09:43 pm (UTC)
'I consider my site to be for those people who might not have heard of me before, a place to find out more about my work.'

But if they haven't heard of you, why would they visit your site?

I'm not trying to argue, I'm just confused :)
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(no subject) - jongibbs - Dec. 7th, 2009 11:07 pm (UTC) - Expand
jdawson001
Dec. 7th, 2009 09:51 pm (UTC)
I've seen it both ways, and I guess it just depends on two things: how private a person you are, and how professional (or unprofessional) your blog is.

I keep mine separate, but I link to one from the other.

Jenn
jongibbs
Dec. 7th, 2009 09:54 pm (UTC)
I'm looking at this from a self-promotion point of view, but sure, if it's a private journal, that would be totally different.

Thanks for sharing, Jenn :)
(Deleted comment)
jongibbs
Dec. 7th, 2009 10:44 pm (UTC)
'...i'm not quite sure about the why would anyone come read you?'

It's not that I don't think people would enjoy reading a blog if it was only on someone's website, it's that they wouldn't know it was there.

Sure, we need something new for website visitors, but those folks already know you. From a self-promotional POV, a blog will get way more new readers if it's out in the world where people can see it, than if it's only on your site, don't you think?

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a_r_williams
Dec. 7th, 2009 10:26 pm (UTC)
I think a blog on a website all depends on the individual, what their likes are and what they want to share with their readers.

What do you blog about?

You can have fun entertaining and personal stuff or you can have updates and comments on your work.

When I get my website up, I may have a blog on it, but it will be far different from my LJ one. More focused on the work, projects, and news. So new readers can find old stuff or learn when new stuff is coming out.

I don't want it to be a personal blog where I talk about the family and sports or what we did on vacation.

It's important to know what your comfortable sharing with people. My personal life is just that--personal.

But whatever a writer decides to do, they should make sure they keep it somewhat professional. People have a tendency to judge based on what they read--even if it happens to be something that has nothing to do with writing or your work.
jongibbs
Dec. 7th, 2009 10:49 pm (UTC)
I think with blogging, the biggest no-no is to be boring, other than that it depends upon what you want to promote, and what you want it to achieve self-promotionwise.

As for content, I'd say a little diversity is a good thing, but if you don't have an overall theme, I imagine you'd be losing old readers as fast as you bring in new ones.

I didn't realize you don't have a website. Is it imminent?
maeve_the_red
Dec. 7th, 2009 10:55 pm (UTC)
I have two blogs: LJ, which is primarily for friends, and the blog which acts as the front page for my website.

LJ is mainly for personal/non-writing stuff stuff though I also use it to flag up new entries on my other blog (along with Facebook and Twitter). The website blog is more professional and writing orientated, and generally comes up as the top hit (or even top x hits) if anyone googles my name(s); there are thumbnails of my books alongside the text to tempt potential punters.

This works for me, but whether it's the most effective strategy I could employ is another matter.
jongibbs
Dec. 7th, 2009 11:02 pm (UTC)

I'm not sure I could run two different blogs. I get confused enough as it is :)
musingaloud
Dec. 7th, 2009 11:10 pm (UTC)
I do think it should be separate. I confess to being slightly irritated when I can't click on "comment" when I read a blog on LJ because I have to go directly to a different site and comment there. I don't know why it irritates me, because when you comment on anyone's blog, essentially you have to leave your friends page to go to their blog to comment. I guess I just small-minded enough? Or something? Maybe it kind of gives the message, "I'm really not interested in YOU, I just want you to be interested in ME."

Do you think? I hadn't really thought of this before now except to feel that mentioned irritation when I can't comment directly from my friends page.
jongibbs
Dec. 7th, 2009 11:14 pm (UTC)
I know what you mean, though I think Jim Hines's LJ blog is mirrored and we can comment on his, so maybe it's down to the way they're set up.

Thanks for the input :)
meredith_wood
Dec. 7th, 2009 11:27 pm (UTC)
I do think having a link to your blog or the mirror thing is a good idea, but I agree with you 100% that your blog should not spring from your website. And I agree for most of the reasons you mentioned. :-D

Edited at 2009-12-07 11:28 pm (UTC)
jongibbs
Dec. 8th, 2009 02:29 am (UTC)
Thank you :)
mongrelheart
Dec. 7th, 2009 11:53 pm (UTC)
To me, your website is really for people who’ve heard of you already, your blog, on the other hand, is for everyone, and that’s why it doesn’t belong on your site. It belongs out there in big wide world, where it has more opportunities to add to that list of people who know your name.
I guess I'm confused. How is a blog inherently more "findable" than a web site? Isn't everything that's on the web, "out there" in the world?

Hmm... unless your definition of a blog = a web log that resides on a social networking oriented blogging service such as Livejournal?
jongibbs
Dec. 8th, 2009 02:29 am (UTC)
'unless your definition of a blog = a web log that resides on a social networking oriented blogging service such as Livejournal'

Yep :)
(no subject) - mongrelheart - Dec. 8th, 2009 03:39 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jongibbs - Dec. 8th, 2009 12:26 pm (UTC) - Expand
clarionj
Dec. 8th, 2009 12:49 am (UTC)
You still need to be ‘Active in the community’

Yes, I think that's key to both gaining and maintaining a following (at least until you're Stephen King huge).
jongibbs
Dec. 8th, 2009 02:30 am (UTC)
I think blogging takes work, but it's definitely worth the effort :)
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