Most articles about blogging mention that you need to pick a topic for your blog and all your posts need to center on that topic. Is this really necessary? I suppose if you are a literary agent who sets himself up as an interpreter of the publication industry (explaining what one needs to do get published, for example), you’d need to stick to your topic, otherwise you’d lose your readers. Or if you are a marketing coach who is trolling for clients, it would be a good idea to stick to the topic at hand. But what about the rest of us? Specifically, what about us authors? Is it necessary for us to stick to a single topic? And if so, what should that topic be?
I have two fairly well-received blogs that are topic-oriented — Book Marketing Floozy, which is an indexed blog of book marketing tips and hints written by various authors, and Pat Bertram Introduces . . ., which is a blog for interviews with authors and their characters. (Ahem! You know this because, of course, you have already submitted an interview, right?! If you haven’t yet submitted your interview, you can find the instructions and questions here: Author Questionnaire. I’ll be waiting for it!!)
I also have a third blog that isn’t as highly rated as those two, but it is rated (if an Alexa rating of 21,000,000 passes for a rating.) That third blog, Dragon My Feet, went through several metamorphoses from a blog to talk about all the things I did while procrastinating from writing (which I never used because when I was procrastinating from writing, I wasn’t even writing blog posts) to a blog highlighting excerpts from books as part of my ongoing effort to promote others while I learn to promote myself. You can find submission requirements for that blog here: Let me post your excerpt!
Which brings me to the blog at hand, the one you are reading, the point of the discussion. This blog started out as a place to talk about my efforts to get published, my efforts to get noticed once I was published, and what I learned along the way. I’d talk about reading and writing, and over the years I ended up with some pretty impressive views on some of my articles about writing. “Describing a Winter Scene,” for example, has almost reached 10,000 views for that article alone, and it spawned a couple of other posts with good ratings: “Describing a Winter Scene — Again” and “Describing a Winter Scene — Again. And Yet Again.” And all of those winter scene articles descended from the grandmommy of them all: “Describing a Scene in an Interesting Way.” But continuing to write such articles would get boring after a while, both for me and my poor readers, most of whom know more about writing than I do!
Before boredom set in, Death intervened. Not my death, of course, but it was a significant event in my life nontheless, and so I started writing about grieving. Partly, I couldn’t think of anything else but my sorrow, and partly I got so furious at novelists who didn’t seem to understand the first thing about grief that I wanted to set the record straight. Well, I accomplished that to a certain extent, and now I have a book about my grief that will be published next year. So, in a way, all that talk about grief was still within the parameters of this blog — all part of writing.
But now I’m coming out of the worst of the fog. I’ve said most of what I wanted to say about grief and most of what I wanted to say about writing (I mean, how many articles about describing winter can one person write?) and now I’m at a crossroads. I’ve been talking about the various things I’ve been doing to put my life back together, such as “Halt and I’ll Shoot! (Adventures With Firearms)” and “Proving to Myself That I’m Real,” but eventually I’ll move beyond that, and then what? I’ll have to decide on a topic for this blog. Or do I? Is “life, writing, and the writing life” a specific enough topic? Is it better for an author to write about whatever catches his or her interest so readers (hypothetical though they may be) can better get to know you? Is it enough simply to blog?
November 6, 2011 at 7:01 pm
I definitely think that whether you have one topic or not depends on your goals, and that a blog can change over time. Your goals have changed and thus your blog has change. No shame or harm in that at all!
November 6, 2011 at 7:13 pm
That’s true — looking for a topic for a blog is like looking for a goal. That sure fits my current predicament.
November 6, 2011 at 7:57 pm
Single-focus blogs probably get a lot of readers if you have enough stuff to say to keep adding to it. My blogs tend to have wide parameters. One is more successful than the others, and I’m never sure whether it’s the provider, the name, the random luck of the draw when it comes to the topics that ended up being posted on one rather than the other, or what?
My preference, I suppose, is having a blog that represents my dreams, ideas and reflections about a wide variety of material that impacts my life as a writer. In some ways, that’s what you’ve been doing here, I think. It’s fun and it’s flexible.
November 6, 2011 at 8:32 pm
a blog that represents my dreams, ideas and reflections about a wide variety of material that impacts my life as a writer
Yep! that says it. I have a hunch that’s what readers want, too. We writers write about writing because that is what we know, but by doing so we’re gearing our blogs to a group that might not be the ones who would be most interested in reading our books and our articles.
I never know why some blogs are so popular. I’ve check on some of the highest rated blogs, and they are boooooring. I guess they have to be to appeal to the hundreds of thousands who read them.
November 7, 2011 at 9:24 am
Honestly, Pat. I don’t know how you manage all of this. I do a little blog and that pretty well takes up all my time. I need some of your energy.
November 7, 2011 at 1:10 pm
Joylene, I do all this because I have no energy to do any real writing. The hard part is coming up with topics for this blog — I’ve been trying to blog every day for the discipline of writing, hoping it will get me back to writing fiction, but it hasn’t helped yet. The only reason I have time to do this is that I’m not doing any other writing. If ever I get caught up in writing another novel, I’ll be scarce around here!
November 9, 2011 at 2:21 pm
My blog is fairly focused – I blog about writing & reading. But at the same time they are the only topics I feel passionate enough to actually come with posts. I go off topic sometimes – who doesn’t? – but there isn’t a whole lot of other things I want to blog about.
So even though it works that way for me, I don’t think you need a topic. It’s not a rule.
November 9, 2011 at 8:45 pm
For the first two and a half years of my blogging life, all I wanted to blog about was reading and writing, and I never expected to write about anything else. The written word was always my life. Now, not so much, but who knows what the future will bring.