5 Basic Things Every Writer’s Blog Should Have

First of all, you don’t have to do these things on your blog. It’s your blog, and I’m no expert. But I’ve started to notice things around the blogosphere – things lots of writers are missing on their blogs.

1- Your Name. Make yourself findable. Please, oh, please.

This means you should either have your writing name in your blog address, or your blog address should pop up first or close to first in the major search engines if someone types in your name. Is your name common? Tie it with something uncommon. For example, if if someone types in your name and the word “author”, you or your blog or both pop up.

I follow hundreds of blogs. Sometimes (well, most of the time) I don’t remember the name of your specific blog. This means that if I want to look up your blog for some reason, it can get really hard to find you if (a) you don’t have your name in your blog address, (b) when I type in your name, you don’t pop up anywhere in the search engines unless I go 40 pages in, (c) even if I go into my RSS feed reader and type in your name, you still don’t pop up. For heaven’s sake, tie your name to your blog.

Unless, of course, you wish to remain anonymous and never found or easily searchable. Then you’re doing well. Keep on it.

2- Your Credits. Are you published? What are you working on?

That’s right. I get really frustrated going to a blog and trying to figure out if you’re published or not. Some writers don’t announce it anywhere. I’ve read a few author blogs before, completely clueless that they even had a published book until they mentioned it in some random post and I went to Amazon and saw that they had a book for sale. A good book I’m interested in reading. Imagine that. If you’re published and you want to sell books, you probably shouldn’t be shy about it.

If you’re working on a novel, put up an easy-to-find link about the book. Tell us what your genre is. Lots of writers and readers like to follow blogs based on what they like to read and write about. I happen to write in several genres, and I make that clear in my blog header.

3- About Me Blurb (or page). I’d like to know who you are.

Maybe this isn’t completely necessary, but it sure is nice to know a little bit about the writer I’m investing my time in reading. You don’t have to give a complete biography, but it’s nice to know just a bit about what you’re doing here in the blogosphere. A picture is nice, too. I really, really like pictures.

4- Contact Information. Once again, please, oh, please.

I am absolutely appalled by the amount of bloggers I’ve seen who don’t make this easily accessible.

Again, if you wish to remain completely obscure and anonymous, don’t include this. However, if you’d like to actually network, you might want to include a way for people to contact you. An email, a facebook profile, even twitter where someone can send you a short message. Something.

5- A Way To Follow You. I personally like it simple.

First of all, I get a lot of email. I think many people get a lot of email. The last thing I want is to subscribe to hundreds of blogs and get all those posts in my inbox. No, thanks. This is why I use a RSS feed to subscribe to blogs. Include a subscribe button for your blog, whether that be a link to your RSS feed or a way to subscribe by email. And as above, please include the networks you belong to and links to your profiles so we can actually network and follow you.
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All of these things should be easily accessible from the moment someone hops onto your blog – especially an agent, editor, or publisher. Again, you don’t have to do these things. You can tell me where to stick it, if you want, but more than likely I (or a lot of people) don’t visit your blog much if they can’t find, follow, or contact you.

Does your blog have these things? Would you add anything to this list?

Posted by Michelle D. Argyle

48 comments

Krista D. Ball

I'd like to add: if you aren't published, stop acting like you are.Yes, that's a bitter statement but as a reviewer as well as an author, I'm sick of looking at sites and it's only until I have done an amazon search that I'm able to determine your novel isn't published. It's really hard these days to tell, with new writers designing their book covers, book marks, and blog tours…and don't even have a finished manuscript!grumble

Great advice! I'm going to double check my own blog and see what I'm missing and/or need to fix.

I've just checked thru my blog to make sure I have all the things listed and, yep, I do. @Krista – I even say in the blurb about me at the top that I'm not published! 🙂

whatnottodoasawriter.com

I'd love to be able to have a follow box, but with my WordPress theme, this isn't possible. (If it is possible, someone tell me, please!) So I have no idea how many readers are out there … but I kind of like it that way. Everything else, though — covered. Thanks for the post!Lisa Kilian

Mary Campbell

Great advice Michelle – there's a few things I need to work on. I did just do and "About Me' page though. Come check it out and let me know what you think.

Jessica Bell

I think you've pretty much summed it up and I agree with EVERY word!

Michelle Davidson Argyle

Krista: That's interesting! I haven't run across any authors doing that, but I can see how it would be frustrating. Sonia: Don't think of it as fixing, just enhancing. If that's what you want to do. Again, I don't want to make it seem like someone's blog sucks if they don't have these things. It just makes it harder to navigate and find out about you. Pippa: Yay that you've got them! Hope one day you can put "published" in your blurb. 🙂What: Um, I think you can add that to your WordPress site. I've seen them added to those sites before. Try this link: http://www.expand2web.com/blog/friend-connect-wordpress/Mary: Yay! I will definitely check out your About Me page!Jessica: Glad you agree! I keep waiting for someone to chew me out. Haha.

You want us to make it easy for you? Dang! I've been doing it all wrong. ;)Seriously, there are a lot of great things in here that I'm not doing. Time for a redesign.

Those are some features to think about. Thanks!

Michael Offutt

Michelle, thank you for posting these five basic things. This was very helpful and I appreciate your hard work in letting those of us out here that don't have as much experience as you in keeping a blog in knowing what works and what doesn't.

Mariah Irvin

I agree with your entire list. I'm in a Web Publishing class right now, and I've learned that, in terms of usability, if a user can't find basic information or the website is hard to navigate they'll just leave. We definitely don't want that!

I need to add a few of these to my blog. I just wanted to tell you that I noticed one of my friends from Ohio has Monarch on her "to read" shelf in Goodreads. Word is getting out. 🙂

Good post! You can only add Google Friend Connect to a standalone WordPress blog — that's WordPress.org not WordPress.com.

Lucky Press, LLC

I agree with every word, also…including Krista's comments. I can't tell you how many times I have gone to a writer's blog to learn about them or their work and had trouble finding out if they were published, what they published, or what they were working on, or what their entire name is, or how to contact them, or what their goals/mission statement was. I hope lots of writers find their way to your wonderful, informative blog!

Lucky Press, LLC

Oops: bad grammar alert in my comment — this editor was feeling passionate about the subject!Janice

Jacqueline Howett

Good reminders!

Michelle Davidson Argyle

Nisa: YES! It's all about ME! (not really)Taryn: You're welcome!Michael: I'm glad it was helpful for you. I usually hesitate to put these things up because I'm really not an expert and I don't like myself sounding like I'm telling people what to do because I'm not, but people keep saying it's helpful, so that gives me courage.Mariah: That's so true! I think putting these things up on your blog can help people stay longer, for sure.Candice: Oh! Thanks for letting me know that! It excites me! September is so far away.Linda: Ah, I didn't know that. Thanks!Janice: Thank you for stopping by! Straight from the horse's mouth that these things DO matter! Yay! Spread the word about this post if you can. I'd appreciate that. 🙂Jacqueline: Thanks!

Neurotic Workaholic

I especially liked your point about Google Reader and e-mail, because I follow several wordpress blogs. They usually just have the e-mail as an option for following the blog, but like you said, I don't want to get a bunch of e-mails, especially since I don't always read all my e-mails right away; it's easier to get new posts through Google Reader since it's more organized.

coffeelvnmom

Great advice! Thanks for sharing! (Off to tweet it now!)Jessica

Oh, GOOD! For once I feel as if I got most of it right! I should do an About Me page on my writing blog, though…have it on my art blog–wonder why I didn't on both…hmmm…Thanks for that reminder…must go take care of that, pronto!

The Golden Eagle

Great advice!I'm anonymous so it's harder for me to follow #1–my blog's the second page back on a Google Search at the moment, but that's not the first result or anything where it's easy to find.

Michelle Davidson Argyle

Neurotic: Yeah, exactly. When that happens I just copy their address into my subscribe feed on Reader. It works. Jessica: Aww, thank you! Bridget: Yay! I'll have to go check it out when you get it up.Golden Eagle: I'm curious – is there a reason you stay anonymous? I've always wondered why writers might do that if they are aspiring to be published. Maybe you aren't. I'll have to go look!

I thought most of these were common sense. Yes to all of them! :O)

Very good advice to think about … thank you!

Krista D. Ball

re: me noticing the "not published"Here's the confession period. Along with being a world-known and popular author (cough BS cough), I also run a tiny review site called Sleepless eReader, where I do reviews of books available in ebook format.UNPUBLISHED writers would request reviews from me. That's right. UNPUBLISHED. I'd go to their websites, see all these glossy covers and stuff, see who to get free bookmarks, etc etc. I'd email them back and say send it over.I'd get the file and from paragraph 1 I knew it was first draft dribble. (I slush read for a micro pub…would see it all of the time).I've since "closed" to reviews (though I'm nice and will do when asked if I'm not too busy). It became too much to weed through all this investigation.On the flip side, I sent Harvest Moon out to about 50 reviewers. I got feedback thanking me for giving my "request" email in such a way that they knew I was published./end rant

Chantele Sedgwick

I realized I don't have any contact information on my blog. Thanks for pointing that out! Even though I have no idea why people would want to contact me… 😉

Krista D. Ball

Lots of reasons!1. I might get a lot of traffic from your blog and I want to drop you a line to say thanks for a shout out2. I might like the theme of your blog and want to ask if I can do a guest post there3. I might want to send a non-public comment to you regarding your latest blog postetc 🙂

Michelle Davidson Argyle

Diane: Yay!Kelly: You're welcome! Thanks for stopping by.Krista: That is really interesting! I guess people are trying to get a free professional review on something not even published? Were they self-published, maybe? I think that would be fine, of course.Chantele: Yeah, what Krista says in response to you! There are lots of reasons someone might like to contact you. 🙂

I'm not published, and don't pretend to be. I originally created my blog as a way to just talk about writing with other people who are in the same "wanna be" boat, not promote myself. I also stayed unlinked and anonymous because I was a teacher and didn't want students looking me up and mocking/stalking me.So, no, my email, full name, Facebook page, etc. are not currently on my blog. But as I get closer to trying to get published, I do plan to add those things.

PS I don't have an email address posted because of the unBELIEVEable amount of spam that putting it up in the past has generated. I had to change my email address.

I need to update the information about me. Things change over time. All the other is as you say but not a picture of me. I'm trying to overcome that hesitance. Great post.

I thought your comment about "credits" was interesting. I haven't thought about putting information about my work in progress on my blog because it's just that-a work in progress. At what point would you recommend bloggers include that info? At the beginning of their career? When they're subbing?Food for thought.

Yvonne Osborne

Good post, Michelle. I can't believe the number of people who don't give you a way to contact them and I, too, prefer Google Connect over more email clutter. I think I better go now and google myself. Yeah, and a picture. Gotta get me a real picture.

Matthew Rush

Excellent points. Just a personal preference, but I have about three blogs I read that don't have Google Friend Connect. I only go back because they are THAT awesome. If they weren't, I wouldn't, because it is way too damn inconvenient.I want to come back, I really do. Please make it easy.And I need to think seriously about the name thing. My name on my blog and my comments and such is my real name. But he is also a famous gay porn star, so I publish short stories under the pen name Matthew MacNish. I should probably associate THAT name with my blog.I'll get on it soon.

Matthew Rush

And I just have to say @Krista: that's weird. I read hundreds of blogs, and have never once come across one like that. But, I'm sure you're not making it up, and I imagine that would be frustrating.

Matthew Rush

Okay. So I now actually read the rest of Krista's comments and I'm still curious. I have a blog, I'd like to think it's relatively … what would you call it? Useful? I don't know. But I don't really make it explicitly clear that I'm not published.I mean the query page would probably imply that, but who knows if I have other work published?I'm only wondering because I suppose if I did have a novel published I would want to make that crystal clear, but NOT being published isn't really the kind of thing I want to make like the front page banner on my blog.Obviously that's not what you're saying, because the scenario you describe with self-pubbed or non-pubbed writers asking for reviews is really different, but I am curious to know what others think.Thanks Michelle, and sorry for hijacking the topic!

Yvonne Osborne

A follow-up….I thought you'd be interested to know, Michelle, that when I googled my name, my blog came right up but also, 4 or 5 listings down, was NOTES FROM UNDERGROUND, Literary Lab, and little ol' me. So very proud to be associated.

Stephanie McGee

Covered! Just googled myself. I'm at least 2 of the results on the first page. Including my blog being the first one that came up. Whew.My writing page on my blog tells the status of each project, whether it's me trying to finish a first draft, getting ready to query, revising, or whatnot.The contact page has all the links to friend me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, and e-mail me.And there's an about me page. So, yeah, I'm covered. Thanks for the reminder though of all the important stuff. (And the trip down memory lane from when I was so obsessed with remaining anonymous online.)

Michelle Davidson Argyle

Christine: I think your reasons are very good ones for not putting up more information. Also, you don't have to put up your email directly in order to share it with others you'd like to actually get a hold of you. You can add it as I add mine: ladyglamis (at) gmail (dot) com and that way automated systems can't use it as easily. Or, you can use Google Docs to create an email form that doesn't even go to your email, but a separate spreadsheet. I've done that on my contact page as well as my email. I don't get much spam that I see anyway. Gmail is really good at filtering all that crap out.At the same time, I can understand why you wouldn't want to put it up at all, either.Mary: Aww, you don't have to put up a picture. I'm glad I got to be ok with my picture up, though, because my publisher certainly wanted one to go with my book. I wonder if they'd ever be ok with someone wanting to remain truly anonymous! I'd have to ask.Anna: I'd recommend that once you're actively querying or seeking representation from a publisher that you put up as much information as possible, and make it easily accessible. Publishers and agents and editors will almost always look you up if they're interested in you. Making the journey for them to find out what they need to know about you and your writing will only make it nicer for them. That's always a good thing!Yvonne: Hehe, looks like down below you did Google yourself! I'd love to see a picture of you. Honestly, I tend to forget writers without actual pictures of themselves. I'm more likely to remember a face than something random. Not that I have forgotten about you, but just saying it might be the case for others as well. That's cool that Notes came up, too!Matthew: Whoa! What a name to share! I won't go look him up, hahaha. Also, about the unpublished status…I don't think it's necessary to shout loudly that you are NOT published, but if you're querying a novel and publishing people will be looking you up, it's probably good that you have a link somewhere to any credits you have. Short stories, for instance. It always looks good that you've published some other places, or if you haven't, that you are possibly working on other novels as well. If I were a publisher, I'd be more likely to look at an author who appears to have many works going on, meaning that if I did publish their one debut novel, that other novels wouldn't be far behind. 🙂Stephanie: Awesome! You've come a long way from being anonymous. I remember wondering who you were for so long! 🙂

Great post!! Thanks so much!

Krista D. Ball

Mat said: "I'm only wondering …Obviously that's not what you're saying, because the scenario you describe with self-pubbed or non-pubbed writers asking for reviews is really different, but I am curious to know what others think."Michelle answered it well, but in addition it's the "extra" stuff i.e. the ability to order swag from you (again, why on earth do swag for an unpublished book…I'm not talking self-pub, I'm talking not pub)If you look at my blog's "In the works" section, I actually state if things are in submissions, being written, or accepted.A number of folks have "I'm nearly finished my book" in their bios, or "I've written 16 books…all of which are under my bed at the moment." Michelle is right – I do want to know (using reviewer hat, as well as when I was a slush reader), your credits. It's ok if you don't have any, but if you are a big short story writer and I like your blog, I might hunt around for some of your shorts to see if I like them. I might even review them (I've done that before).I should note that I'm mostly coming across these "challenge" issue because I have been a slush reader and I do reviews these days. So, I'm seeing some, err, interesting things.

Good points, Michelle. For me, I'm not currently trying to promote myself, just connect with other writers while releasing some frustrations. I'm actually a little leery of stating my name because I'm fresh out of a bad writing partnership, which grew bigger than just the two of us. I may give it a couple months to let things cool off then put my name out there again. 😉 Not that I'm a celebrity or anything. LOL

Michelle Davidson Argyle

asabourova: You're welcome!Krista: Thanks for your input on this! It's been really helpful.Butterfly: I can totally understand why you would want to remain anonymous. It's just like why some writers use a pen name. Certain circumstances just call for that, and everyone is different. This is why I said at the beginning that nobody has to do all these these things. It's your blog and I'd think if you're using it mainly for "personal" use and not necessarily as a networking tool, then you definitely don't need to do this stuff. 🙂

As I read this post, I had to go to my personal blog and make check-offs. lol. Thanks for the guide!

Stephanie McGee

I look back at that phase and just laugh. It was pretty ridiculous in hindsight.

Michelle Davidson Argyle

Tiffany: Yay! I'm sure you have it all.Stephanie: It was a phase, and there's nothing wrong with that. It's what you needed at the time.

Margo Berendsen

I was wondering if you could share how you got those itty bitty little twitter, facebook, etc buttons at the bottom of your post. I LOVE them because they are small and unobstrusive but they are there to use if desired. Most blogs that have these buttons are too large for my taste. Thanks!

Michelle Davidson Argyle

Margo: Yeah, they're great buttons, huh? It took me forever to find them! Here's the link: http://sedatkurtulus.blogspot.com/2010/01/simple-share-buttons-for-blogger.html

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