why you probably do need a blog
There’s a lot of talk about ‘platform’ and ‘brand’ and ‘voice’, as if these are individual elements that are separate from each other. What I suggest is this:
Your platform is your brand is your voice.
There is no clear separation of the three.
And the heart of this is your blog, which is why I think it’s so important for writers to have one.
Because websites are static.
Which is the same problem I have with the way that a lot of bloggers talk about personal or author brands. They talk about the brand as something static.
In the old, offline world, a brand was static. Stephen King = horror writer. Danielle Steele = romance. You controlled your brand through what you chose to write and publish. Your brand wasn’t a set of ideas so much as one overriding idea, based on the genre you wrote in or maybe the region you wrote about.
I think things are more complicated now. Spend enough time online and you quickly realize that social media isn’t static. It’s the opposite. Get deep enough, and it’s like entering a wave of energy sweeping across the different platforms. It has a life of its own. It moves. Anything that’s static is like a billboard at the side of the highway, passed and abandoned.
A writer absolutely does need a website. Websites are coming back into fashion. While you still need to spread yourself across the web – to fish where the fish are – you also need a central hub that pulls everything together, that can not only collect the people clicking through from different portals (twitter or youtube or facebook or whatever) but also serve as a kind of one-stop shopping for fans who want to see all your different streams gathered in one place. It makes life easier for them (and it’s all about them, so pay attention).
And featured prominently on your website: your blog.
Because a blog isn’t static. It changes the website into something else – a website/blog hybrid that takes on energy and motion. A blog changes and grows and evolves.
It gives people a reason to keep coming back. (So long as it’s about something other than your books, which can get really old really fast.)
And when they come back, they get repeated exposure to your name — and your books. They develop a relationship with you, your ‘brand’. Some of them engage in dialogue with you, the person. You become a part of their routine.
Your blog is what changes your website into an author platform. A platform could be loosely defined as the network of relationships you have, the tight and loose ties, the sets of eyeballs that you can command at any given time.
And people don’t form relationships with billboards.
They form relationships with ‘brands’.
Your blog helps you evolve your brand, because your brand is essentially your voice. Everything you do online contributes to your brand, to the mental impression that other people have of you. You may not even believe in having an ‘author brand’ – but you’ll find you have one anyway (because it believes in you). And because you’re tweeting, posting, tumbling, whatever, because you’re engaging in different interactions and conversations, your brand moves as you move. Like you, your brand has become interactive. You can guide it, by knowing what you want to represent and staying (more or less) “on message”, but you can’t control it. Your brand is whatever other people say it is, and other people can see things about you and your work that you can’t see yourself, because you’re too close to them or simply take them for granted.
(This is why authenticity is so important: your brand may grow, naturally and organically, in different directions and incorporate different ideas, but the core of the brand is who you truly are. Your persona, your worldview, your set of values, your big meaning, your voice. Fake that, and the center cannot hold. There is no ‘there’ there.)
As more and more people buy e-readers, as more and more books go digital, we’ll be downloading books instead of browsing the tables at Barnes and Noble. Which changes the process of how we discover new writers in the first place. Your potential Ideal Readers might be in the bookstore once in a while – where your book may or may not be featured – but they are online everyday. Give them a way to find you, give them a blog post they resonate with…and share with their friends, pass around their networks …and your ‘brand’ grows on its own. Your brand is like your alter-ego, your double, going out to meet new people even while you sleep or make out with your partner or watch that reality show you don’t admit that you watch.
I, for one, find that extremely cool.
Your platform is your brand is your voice.
Bring your voice to life – over and over and over again – in your blog.
image by Orientaly