We’re just under a month away from the release of A Fantasy Writers’ Handbook and today I’m delighted to give you another glimpse inside the covers. When somebody first suggested blogging to me I told them in no uncertain terms to ‘eff off’. My concern was that I had nothing worthwhile to say, nothing anyone would find interesting. In this teaser chapter, I reveal what changed my mind, what I’ve learned in my years of blogging, and some ways to make some cash in this developing field.
There have been a couple of advanced copy reviews on Goodreads so far. Here’s the latest…
“This is the most comprehensive book I’ve read on the subject. And unlike most nonfiction books, the tone of it was light and interesting, where I’ve come to expect dry and boring. I’d recommend this for anyone that’s interested in writing, not just fantasy writers. And I think the worldbuilding and character portions would also be great for role play.” Amber Christiansen.
When somebody first suggested blogging to me I told them, in polite terms, to eff off. I thought it’d be a waste of time—who even still reads blogs? Turns out, a lot of people do. Today, if somebody asked me what I thought about blogging I’d tell them that I should have started sooner, that I should do it more often, before reeling off all of the reasons behind why they should do it themselves. In this chapter, we’ll look at these very reasons.
People blog for different reasons—an expression of their creativity, for the fun of writing, to highlight a cause, to share their experiences with others. You can pretty much blog about anything you want. And I suppose this is part of the problem when starting out. What in the seven hells am I going to talk about? In that moment you feel as if you know nothing at all.
But ignore that thought, because you do know things. Things that other people don’t. Experiences that other people haven’t endured. Have confidence in your words, and if you come up with an idea, start writing. One of the best things about blogging is the freedom of it. There aren’t any hard and fast rules, no fixed formatting guides, no editor telling you what you can or cannot say or do. There’s just you, your keyboard and a blank slate for you to fill.
Earlier on I said you want to showcase your writing to the world. But what if you have none? A blog is an excellent way of changing that. Not only is it a fantastic way of reaching out to fellow readers and writers but it drives traffic to your site.
A blog is a means of helping others. For me, I chose to blog about the things I’ve learned while studying the craft of writing so that others could benefit too. It’s geared toward expanding people’s knowledge and skills and helping them to become better writers. If they improve their craft then we all benefit from the better writing and the brilliant ideas they produce, and now, in this crazy era of ours, we need it more than ever. Forget about gains in exchange. It’s sad that as humanity grows, we’re becoming more insulated as individuals, more focused on the self than on the whole. Those who merely blog about themselves, particularly if they’re not that interesting, aren’t so enjoyable to read. Who cares at the end of the day? I’m so grateful to the bloggers that share their knowledge and experiences for the benefit of others. I’ve learned so much from them. And now I follow them, read their every post, and buy their books.
When thinking of what type of content to write, think about what kinds of skills you have and experiences you’ve lived through or any specialist areas of expertise. What have you learned that you can share with the rest of the world? Don’t worry if someone else has already done it. You can do it your own way.
Are you doing a creative writing course? Have you been to a workshop? Why not share your notes on what you’ve learned? I once visited a castle, took some pictures and blogged about it, and it ended up being one of the more popular posts on my site. You can blog about anything! So be helpful. You have something to give to the world. We all do.
If you’re a sufferer of procrastination like myself, then blogging can be tricky. It requires commitment and dedication. Time must be spent thinking of new and original ideas, planning, drafting, editing, formatting, sharing. A single blog post could take weeks or months to write.
In the beginning, it helps to work out how much you want to produce, and how much you physically can. With all the will in the world, there are times in our lives when we’re just unable to do the things we yearn to do. Not long ago I decided to increase my rate of blogging to three times per week. With my job, family and friends, it left me with little time to work on my fiction writing. I kept it up for about a month before reducing it back down to once per week. That’s been my average for the vast majority of my time blogging. It works for me, and that’s what it comes down to: what works for you. Because if you’re doing too much, it’s going to affect the quality of your content and readers will be able to tell. And besides, you’re not going to enjoy it.
I recommend keeping a feasible schedule. Every Tuesday, for instance. Or every Monday or Friday. Schedule your plotting and drafting around it and allow it to become part of your week. Once it becomes routine, it becomes easy.
Promoting your blog
Once you’ve published your first blog post or you’ve just finished polishing your shiny new website, you need to get promoting. People have written whole blogs on this point alone. Here are a few of my favourite pointers:
- Read other people’s blogs and engage with them. The blogging community is incredibly supportive and co-operative. Bloggers love to read each other’s blogs. If you take the time to connect by reading posts and leaving a comment, it goes a long way. Chances are that person will go and read your blog, engage with it, maybe share it, getting your blog out to many more people.
- Guest blogging. Once you get your foot in the door on the blogging front and you’ve made a few friends, why not invite a few other bloggers to write a guest post. Likewise, you can ask other bloggers if they’re looking for guest writers. You’re collaborating to help each other out. It’s win-win. I’m always looking for guest writers for my blog so if you’re looking for opportunities, please drop me an email.
- Join writing forums. In joining writing forums you can make connections with people who appreciate helpful content. Some have rules about self-promotion, which personal blogs fall under, so watch out for those.
- Use social media. Twitter and Facebook are the two platforms I use most. I have more joy with Facebook. There are loads of genre-specific writing groups on there filled with people who’ll appreciate your content. On Twitter, use hashtags like #amwriting #amwritingfantasy or #writingtips, to link your content to potential readers. Check out this very helpful article on marketing on Twitter. When posting always bear in mind the time at which you do so. First thing in the morning, say around 9-11am works well, and another peak time for me is around 1-3pm. Most people who read my blog live in the US so 2pm for me is 9am for them.
When most people think of blogging they think of pasty teens bashing away at their keyboards in their bedrooms. Few people take it seriously, but I think the times of change are upon us. Blogging is shifting to the forefront of people’s sources of information. People are making careers out of it and earning significantly more than most of us.
One of the simplest and most effective ways to make money from blogging, while also promoting your blog, is through Medium. If you’ve not heard of it before, it’s a monetized blogging platform. Some content is free, but others require a subscription in order to read it. And it’s through the funds generated by subscriptions that writers get paid. Medium calculates it as fairly as possible: it goes by the number of unique reads and interactions your post gets, if I’m not mistaken, though they do tend to change it up every now and then. There’s no limit to what you can earn, and everyone at least earns $3.50 a month.
On Medium you’ll find hundreds of magazines on topics ranging from health and travel to mindfulness and creative writing. Some have readerships of hundreds of thousands. And you can write for them. And earn money for doing so.
I cannot profess to be an expert with Medium, but there are plenty about, and if you’re serious about giving this a good go, then I encourage you to read as much as you can about how it works and what the most successful bloggers on there do. There are plenty of helpful articles knocking about, mostly on Medium itself. Here are a few quick pointers to get you going:
- Familiarise yourself thoroughly with how Medium works: formatting, presentation, image permissions and most important of all, the Partner Programme. You’ll need to enrol in this to make money and select your posts as being available only for subscribers.
- Get your Medium profile up to a good standard with links back to your own platforms.
- Sign up for Smedian, a sister website of Medium (smedian.com). On this site, you sign up to write for different magazines on Medium. Once accepted, you’ll be able to submit your posts to those magazines on the Medium website.
- Remember to credit all of your images. If there’s no source link for an image, a publication is going to reject it outright.
Blogging, in a sense, is a form of networking. Ah, networking. That vague term they bandied about in university. As I’ve gotten older my understanding of what it means has grown. And indeed, it means opportunity.
I dislike the phrase ‘it’s who you know, not what you know’. Knowing people, befriending them, helping and supporting them, can open doors, and this in a nutshell, is networking. So when you comment on another bloggers post, that’s networking. Easy?
If you’d like to receive word of any new teaser chapters before anyone else and be in with a chance of winning a free copy, just fill out the form below. All subscribers to my mailing list also receive free lists of publishers of short and long fantasy fiction, a list of fantasy book reviewers, and a bunch of short stories.