Why blog? And what the heck is a writer’s platform?

A few years ago, a friend made a comment which changed my life. “You really should write these stories down,” she said after laughing at one of my wild tales. This began a whole new adventure. The germ of an idea for a humorous non-fiction book about Boulder women was born. Editors suggested I blog in order to build a writer’s platform. I had two problems. I didn’t know the definition of a blog or a writer’s platform.

When I first heard the word blog, I thought of McElligot’s Pool. Remember the dreamer who fished in a tiny pond and imagined an underwater world filled with sea creatures? I think one of the fish made the sound, “Blog.”

book_mcelligotspool

My only experience with blogging came from the movie Julie and Julia, but I hadn’t seen it. By the time I looked up Julie Powell‘s blog, she had taken down most of her posts.

According to Wikipedia, the word blog comes from the words, web and log.

web + log we  = blog.

I prefer writer’s site. No one ever confuses it with fish sounds.

I created a blog on OpenSalon.com after I couldn’t figure out how to attract readers on Blogger. A few months later, I discovered WordPress.

Since my non-fiction book was set in Boulder, I blogged about my adventures in Colorado. This became my brand. After blogging for a few months, I abandoned my non-fiction book and wrote a psychological thriller based on a flash fiction written on my blog. My protagonist is young woman from Boulder, so the brand still worked. Believe me. She goes on a pretty wild ride!

At first, I was nervous about using my real name when blogging. Would I be stalked? Would people find out where I lived? Thousands of famous people live in un-gated communities. It’s pretty egotistical to think anyone would bother looking for me. I plan to author the book as Susie Lindau when published, so it was a no-brainer.

At Open Salon, most used pen names. I chose a blurry gravatar to give me some anonymity.

Susie Lindau Open Salon

When I discovered the meaning of a writer’s platform, I realized the importance of using my real name. *drum roll please*

My definition of a Writer’s Platform:

It is the connection and name recognition you develop with readers which results in engaging followers by marketing yourself as a writer. This can be accomplished through social media such as Twitter, Facebook, and your blog. It can also be attained by public speaking or simply having a conversation with someone and handing them a business card. In theory, when you publish a book a percentage of your community will support you by promoting, buying and reviewing it. I have no idea what the percentage is, but hope to find out in the next year when I publish my first.

Readers find blogs to which they can relate or enjoy reading. There’s quite a variety out there. When I started blogging on WordPress three years ago, there were around 350,000 blogs posted a day. Now there are around 40,000,000 posts a month or 1,333,333 posts per day. I still have a question. Is it blogs posted or posts blogged?

Each writer has a unique voice and writing style. Mine carries over into my book. When it is published, my followers should recognize my Wisconsin accent, (kidding), but should feel an instant familiarity. My readers know who I am. They know me better than my real life friends who have never read any of my posts since I reveal my inner thoughts and feelings on a broad range of subjects.

For me, blogging will never be confused with creating a site to attract a huge amount of hits. If that was my goal, I would spew away on a website where I could buy them. A loyal following comes from mutual respect, honesty, and reciprocating by reading other blogs. We all seek support. Our writer’s platform starts with basic construction. It’s about becoming acquainted with your reader and building a community.

I would imagine writers who find themselves on the New Times’ Bestseller List with a contract to produce two books a year or notable authors who are cranking out published work, don’t have time to blog much less reciprocate or comment on comments. I think everyone understands that. They continue to market and build their platform by making appearances, traveling to book signings, and speaking at writer’s conferences.

In the beginning, most people used blogs as an internet log or journal. It can be used to showcase photographs, artwork or your favorite recipes, to name a few. I use my site to hone my craft, to practice writing in different genres, and try out subject matter. Some hit while others missed my target by a mile or two. I still chronicle my adventures which keeps within the original weblog theme.

When I embarked on this new adventure three years ago, I had no idea where it would take me. Building a writer’s platform is a great marketing tool, but one small facet of my journey. What I have built are strong bonds and friendships which will last a lifetime.

I’ve been traveling. Here are some photographs of my super cool blogging friends. I plan to meet a whole lot more.

California friends

From left to right, Lynn Kelley, Kate Wood, Jenny Hanson, her husband, Steve,  August’s husband, Mike, August McLaughlin, me, and my daughter, Courtney. I met August and Lynn a year and a half ago. It’s always a pleasure to hang out with my modern-day pen pals.

The Guat

The Guat and I soaked up the incredible California sunshine. This surfer girl is as cute as her kids.

Ted and Me

I met up with blogger friend Ted Strutz in Boulder! What a super sweet guy! 

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Me, Kristen Lamb, Julie Hedlund, and Piper Bayard had a blast in Louisville where they pronounce the “s.” Meeting bloggers for the first time feels like getting together with old friends. 

RMFW 1

Me, Piper, and Susan Spann at the Colorado Gold Writer’s Conference. Susan is the queen of elevator pitches and helped me with mine. 

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While in London, I had to meet up with the hysterical Jim O’Sullivan AKA Gingerfightback. My husband Danny couldn’t stop giggling.

After three years and posting 350 essays on my writer’s site, the rest is history. *blog*

Why do you blog?

123 thoughts on “Why blog? And what the heck is a writer’s platform?

  1. Why I blog is not why I started blogging.

    I started, on wordpress.com, because it was “the thing to do.” I’m opinionated and I have a few funny anecdotes, so I posted every week…then every month…then maybe once a year and a half.

    On the professional side, as a marketing campaign for my graphic design business, I created a few pieces called AmperArt, featuring “the ampersand as fun & fabulous art.” These were to be mailed (the old fashioned way) as postcards to my clients, once a month. Somehow they became email attachments instead, still one per month, to not just clients but anyone who I thought might be an ampersand fan.

    I realized AmperArt had become something I’d been wanting to do for decades: a person design project. (What commercial artist has time to do his own art? Well, it just happened.) I created a website and an email template to match the website. An anecdote or history or curiosity about the artwork’s topic accompanies each edition. (And usually an opinionated rant in the “chaz sez” column.)

    Now I blog to have a personal creative outlet (AmperArt); to do some creative writing (since I doubt I’ll ever get to writing my book since a recent tragedy happened); and to keep at least one persoanl project on track. (I haven’t missed a month since I began AmperArt–although many of the editions are posted on the 30th or 31st to just make the deadline.)

    Just like you, Susie, I have made some great friends and met some interesting people through posting my blogs or blogging my posts.

    Like

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