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! 

IMG_20130516_193434_972

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. 

DSC03777

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?

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

Add yours

  1. I just started blogging because my beloved literary agent left the biz this fall before she submitted my novel for publication. I was DEVASTATED. I created Mudpie Writing to give writers a fun place to fight our creative monsters together. It’s helped pull me from my writer’s funk + I’ve loved making new friends like YOU!

    Like

    1. I loved meeting you too! Pike’s Peak was the BEST!!!!!
      I’m glad you landed on your feet and joined the crazy blogging world. Your life will never be the same!!!
      Thanks Marcy!

      Like

  2. It’s been awesome to meet you, too, Susie! At this point, I can’t imagine how dreary life would be without my blogger friends, especially the ones who have become face-to-face friends, like you.

    I started blogging because Kristen Lamb told me I had to if I was ever going to build a platform. Now, it’s an end unto itself. Holmes and I love having the opportunity to share unbiased information with the world, and we enjoy the posts that others share, as well.

    Thank you for the shout out, and Happy Blogoversary!

    Like

    1. Thanks Piper! I am so amazed that I met you through Clay who lives in Phili!!! That sums up the whole blogging experience. It is exponential. Some day, I want to sit down and make a list of all the bloggers I’ve met and come to know online. It’s easily waaaaay into the hundreds.
      I’m so glad we met!!!

      Like

  3. I started my blog for some of the same reasons — to flex my writing muscles and to build a writer’s platform. I’m still not sure if I’ve done that. 🙂 I don’t have a niche — I don’t blog on any specific topics. What’s your feeling about that? Does it help or hurt the writer’s platform?

    But I enjoy the community of bloggers most of all. I’ve had the opportunity to meet a few bloggers and had a blast. (If you’re ever in the NYC area…)

    Like

    1. I will definitely let you know when I come to NYC. Not this summer. I just got back from Cali and am on another trip! This will be one wild summer!

      I questioned my brand not long ago and then realized that being a wild rider will work well for my projects. I understand the importance of attracting readers to your genre, but I’m not going to sweat it and start blogging tons of paranormal material. I picked humor as my main thread and stay away from politics and religion. Every once in awhile, I make a list of blog posts. It keeps me on track!
      Thanks Jackie

      Like

  4. Why do I blog? I enjoy telling stories. I like tying stories and photos together to create an illustrated essay. I think I’m getting better at understanding how to write compelling fiction… and writing it. And, I like to see my name in print!

    A big plus to this blogging thing, is meeting and talking to people. Just look at how many friends we all have… some really good friends. And some we actually meet in person. I’ve met a woman with pink hair, who is writing a book. I met a man who works at the top of the world… literally. And of course I’ve now met the Wild Rider… she’s writing a book too.

    Looking forward to meeting many more… by the way, when’s your next Party? Always a good place to find new writers and meet hot women.

    Like

    1. Those are great reasons Ted!!! I just got back to town and I’m at the airport again!!! I couldn’t squeeze in a UMAAM day this month. It’s on the top of my list for June!!!!

      Like

  5. I love the community that your blog encourages. Being a commenter and a party goer makes me feel like part of the writers crowd. Fun to see the photos of you and fellow bloggers. To answer your question of why I blog, I’ve always written as a way to process my “stuff.” Over the past few years, I’ve shared my healing journey and journey raising a very special boy in hopes that it might help someone out there.

    Like

    1. That is such a great reason for writing. I feel the same way about my Boob Reports. Here I wrote about commenting, but I’m traveling again and am commenting on my phone from the cab!!!!
      It has been a blast to meet other bloggers! I plan to meet a lot more. The cool part is already knowing each other!

      Like

  6. My reason for blogging (I’m pretty much still a newbie) is just that I enjoy writing. Always have, and people tell me I write letters that they find enjoyable to read. I really have no aspirations about becoming a “writer.” I just like to put my thoughts about my life and experiences into story form. I like to pepper them with images and photos to make the blog a little more interesting. My interests are varied, and I’m a little bit of an activist and an advocate.

    Like

    1. This is my fifth attempt at leaving a comment!! I’m on vacation and the internet is terrible.
      That is a very cool reason for blogging. I think many people use it for journaling. WP has made
      It so easy to connect. I’m so glad you blog!

      Like

  7. It’s amazing that you have met so many of our fellow bloggers. Wonderful and amazing.
    Blogging, for me, was a way of saying, “I was here”. I thought if I wrote down some of my stories they would remain there as proof.

    Like

    1. That is so true and we are published authors after writing blog posts!!!
      Meeting others is surreal in that I already know everyone!!!
      Thanks for being a part of my community!

      Like

  8. The Lyceum Pub on The Strand! – CW et al! Great post Susie – I think the most important part you mention is being yourself and enjoy posting rather than seeing it purely as a career move.

    Like

    1. It’s really true! I would blog just to keep in contact with all of you!
      I told Chuck the story behind CW. He got a pretty big kick out of it!
      I am so glad we met last summer! You were every bit as funny as I expected. Let me know if you ever come our way!!
      CW

      Like

  9. In my case it was the platform where I caught the train to having published novels rather than manuscripts!
    Even my sideline as freelance editor has arisen from it.

    Like

  10. I blog because I want to help keep the art of narrative strong and principled.
    It seems we’re in a slump right now with a lot of dreck in the pop media, and if people see it there, they start to think it’s OK be lazy. And then the lazy writing, plot-holes, and flat characters ooze into their own work.
    So anyway, I guess I’m the Morality Committee–no one asked for me, but I’m gonna tell you just what I think about everything!

    Like

    1. I love it! We’re kindred spirits! I’m opinionated as well. Did you read Dan Brown’s inferno? It really needs editing!!!! It’s a great story, but 50-75 pages too long. There are so many repeated words and even in the same sentence! Okay. I’m calming myself now… Glad you’re a Wild Rider Ensis!

      Like

      1. I couldn’t even make it through Inferno!
        It’s like they knew the book was going to be a bestseller, so they just shoved it out the door with a spell check.

        I kind of liked Langdon having amnesia, but there was too much “action,” POV switches, and silliness for me to take it seriously.

        It inspired me to write a Mad-Lib so EVERYONE can write a Dan Brown Novel! http://ensisreads.com/2013/05/16/contest-who-will-write-the-next-robert-langdon-adventure-you/

        I’m glad I’m a Wild Rider as well–your blog is an inspiration to me!

        Like

  11. That is so cool that you have met so many fellow bloggers! It does open up a whole new world and a chance to meet many different people.
    I use blogging as a way to reach out, talk about a variety of subjects, to entertain, to have a voice and share my life experiences.

    It is all one great big community and I love being a part of it now.

    Like

    1. Next time I’m in NYC, we’ll have to meet up. You’ll know all the greatest restaurants! It has been fun to meet up with other bloggers. We are a very cool breed!!!
      Thanks for being a part of my community, Phil!

      Like

  12. Clicking in with others who get the style, the storytelling and forge a connection makes blogging so worthwhile. It is certainly a great way to meet others, and a wonderful outlet. I can see how it naturally translates into a writer platform, too. On our page, the blogs are often raw and emotion-powered stories. Hopefully when others read them they can relate, and know they are not alone.

    Like

  13. Love all your pictures! Great post, Susie. I saw this in my inbox a few days ago and was looking forward to reading it.

    I started blogging to build a writer platform. I don’t think it worked! But I continue to blog because of the friendships, the world it has opened up to me and because I discovered I like photography. I also think romance readers who become my romance readers, can find out tons about me by looking at my blog. Then the cart will be firmly before the horse, where it belongs. Also, I started a new genre and have received interest in that from my blogging world. So I think it’s kind of a case of having built a blogging world that includes people more interested in a different genre than romance. I’m excited people are interested in my Antonia Moran books.

    I have traveled to meet two people in person I met through blogging. You’ve inspired me to meet more!

    If I do become successful as an author, I will still blog. I keep my posts very low on word count, so they don’t take as much time.

    Like

    1. That is so great, Nia! It sounds like you have accomplished a lot through your blog. It is a place to experiment and play. I really got into photography too!
      I love how I already know the person before meeting up in real life. This is a place where I think most open themselves up and are honest. I know I am!!!
      Thanks for stopping by!

      Like

  14. Hey Susie, I think you hit the success ratio of building brand and followers correctly. Your recipe: mutual respect, honesty and reciprocating sum up much of what I’ve seen on successful bloggers sites.
    I’ve always wondered how you manage to immediately (or it seems that way to me) recognize someone when they leave a comment on one of your posts.
    As I’ve become more and more a full-time caregiver, my blogging friends have become real and honest. They don’t seem like virtual friends. We often talk on the phone or exchange books.
    When I took Kristin Lamb’s class on blogging and branding, I remember her talking about using your own name to brand and I took her to heart. For me, it’s far easier to remember someone if I’m following a name and then marry it with a brand than if I have to remember the name of the blog, the name of the individual plus their brand.
    Great post and lots to think about.
    Sheri

    Like

    1. Thanks Sheri! I was in between vacations when I wrote this and have very sketchy internet! I’ve given up commenting the last two days…
      Since I am a visual learner, I always recognize gravatars after I see them. I agree about names. I remember the name that comes up with the comment, but rarely remember the name of the blog if it’s totally different or doesn’t have their name included in it. That can be a problem if I check out blogs from email and don’t recognize the name. I am more likely to skip them.
      I’ve gotten to know hundreds of people through writing. I would love to take an afternoon, make a list and include where they are from and something about them. I bet it’s a huge number!
      I wish bloggers would be more trusting. I would love to know generally where everyone is blogging from, then I could initiate more meet-ups!!!

      Like

  15. Intriguing post. I started blogging for many of the same reasons you did — to build a writer’s platform (per suggestion of a friend in the know), try out drafts, etc. The insight I gained from your post is that the content of the blog doesn’t have to be directly related to the content of whatever longer projects I am working on; it’s all about building up a community of readers who are likely to be interested in your work because they are interested in you, the writer, as a person.

    I feel like I’ve been a bit off-track, trying to build interest in content rather than interest in getting to know me, and have held back on more personal content in favor of information-ish content. I guess it’s time to “face the dragon” and take more risks with personal content! Thanks for the insight.

    Like

    1. I LOVE your comment and read it to Danny. I’m so glad you got that from this article! Getting to know the writer is the fun part for me. Several times, I have sat down and thought about my brand and questioned if I am writing the correct subject matter for my books. Then it struck me how so much of what I write about in my life is a Wild Ride, so that’s good enough. I am writing a paranormal suspense, but if I only wrote about ghosts and the crazy stuff that has happened to me, I think I’d lose readers. A small part of my book is a ghost story. I also am working on a romantic comedy and I hope to publish my rewritten Boob Reports in a year. That’s a broad range of subject matter!
      I am on vacation. (That’s why it is taking me so long to get to all of these fabulous comments!!!) I’ve met several people who were very excited to hear I was a writer. One lady said, “Wow! I’ve never met a writer before!” This group all wanted my card, even though one of them was blind and would have to wait for the audiobook to come out. Those are fans!
      Support comes in all forms. We just have to put yourself out there!
      Thanks Dianne!

      Like

  16. Susie…..good question… it certainly has helped me as a writing teacher… it has also probably helped my mental state, too….. I’ve been at it for your years – my anniversary is 5/28/10 and I can;t imagine stopping… I am no where near a book or an idea for one… I just keep blogging and thinking. Have a great week….

    Like

    1. Thanks Clay!
      Blogging is great therapy. When I’ve been worried or down, it has swept me into another world! It is a great place to work on the craft. I keep on learning!
      Congrats on your blogiversary!!!

      Like

  17. Hi Wild Thing! I feel like I haven’t “talked” to you in years! I have been crazy busy with my daughter’s prom (last night), last day of school, graduation party planning, etc! I posted some pics of her on my latest post in her prom dress. I was quite proud! 🙂 My body is not cooperating with me so I have to take naps in between trying to get everything done.

    How fun to have met all these lovely people in real life. You are on the top of the list I have for people I have to meet! Thanks for all the tid bits about blogging, too. I am sure your book will be fab!

    Like

    1. Congrats to you and your daughter! Woohoo!
      I was out of town for a week, came back, packed, and flew out again! This will be the Wildest summer ever. That’s why it has taken so long to comment on wonderful comments like yours! I think the reason I don’t have sketchy internet today is Danny is reading a magazine instead of emails on his computer. Yesterday, I tried to post a comment 4 times! I finally resorted to my phone for a few.
      Thanks so much Maria! My book is due back from the editor today. I plan to read through and correct it for the 378th (final) time. Hopefully, it will get picked up by an agent. This is such a loooooong process. I think once this one is out, the next will be a breeze!
      I would LOVE to meet you! I don’t have plans to head east this year, but you never know!

      Like

  18. What an awesome 3 year ride! I guess I’ve started out for the same reasons. Though I find I’m not able to keep up with the level of activity that some of you do (still in awe!) it has been enormously rewarding, and it’s hard to imagine life before blogging. The good side of the ‘digital revolution’! 🙂

    Like

    1. Thanks Alarna! It has been a WILD three years. It is such a great place to connect! Who knew I’d make friends all over the world, like you! 🙂
      It’s hard to imagine life without writing now. It is one of my favorite things!

      Like

  19. I’m new to blogging (my blog is merely a month old this week, but took it up as a creative outlet. I am a “word person” who somehow found myself analyzing data for a living. After two decades of nothing but numbers, I have started blogging as an attempt to rediscover my creative side. Wish me luck.

    Like

    1. GOOD LUCK!!!!!
      I love blogging and making connections with other writers. You will meet people from all over the world. I have learned so much from and about others and a ton about myself! The cool thing is how much everyone shares. If you have a question, you can put it out there and someone will answer. I love created worlds with words.I was an artist, so it’s my new medium! Blogging allows me to practice for my book.
      I’m on a second vacation in as many weeks. When I get back home, I’ll have a Use Me and Abuse Me Day where you can meet my friends! You can find the last one on the left side of links. It’s never too late to click on a few and introduce yourself!

      Like

  20. My publishers said ‘you gotta have an author platform’. I had my own website, which I’d had custom-built, and was already blogging in WordPress, so I joined Twitter – which built the blog audience. Has any of this translated to book sales? Not really. But blogging HAS got me in contact with some amazing people from NZ and from all over the world who I’d never have met any other way. Just the other week I was almost able to meet one of my US contacts-of-blog-contacts in person – our schedules didn’t quite gel. But the intent was there. To me, this interchange is what blogging is really about.

    Like

    1. Who did you miss meeting????? I missed Colin Falconer by two hours in Barcelona. He was flying out when we were flying in! I tried to get together with a bunch from London, but the timing was off for everyone, but Gingerfightback. He made up for the rest!
      I think blogging is a great support system for writers. The connections made in comments is what it’s all about for me! And to think I could barely type back when I started. I hated to delete a word since it took me so long to type. Now I am the slash and burn Queen! I have no problem taking out whole chapters from my book! Anything to improve the flow….
      Thanks Matt!

      Like

      1. It was a colleague of Caitlin Kelly. Someone who doesn’t blog but was in the direct circles of someone who did. Which to me underscores the dimensionality of the experience. Blogging isn’t just cyber – it intersects with the real world in pragmatic and positive ways.

        Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: