The Craft of Blogging #8 Blogging for Writers by Robin Houghton

If you are a writer who blogs you might want to consider looking at this book. Robin Houghton published Blogging for Creatives in 2012. I referred to it a few times in earlier posts about blogging. Now we have a version specially for writers: Blogging for Writers: how authors and writers build successful blogs.

154 BFW

What’s it about?

It covers some of the same ground as the earlier edition, including retaining some of the important considerations about blogging. For example, Robin Houghton asks writers why they might want to blog. What’s in it for the writer? She notes that before the internet most writers found it hard to get any kind of readership. They had to get through the almost impermeable barriers created by the complications and demands of publishers. Today it is different, Robin Houghton observes.

On your blog, you are the publisher – you are in total control of what you put on it and how you present it. You could use your blog to try out new ideas for writing projects, asking for comments, or calling for contributors. Or perhaps you will post sample chapters, or work-in-progress, or write about the writing process, or about what you are reading and what is influencing your writing. Blogging gives you the potential to reach out to a worldwide audience. (8)

She may exaggerate the group function of a blog when she suggests that yours could become a kind of online writers’ group, ‘a place where you can draw support and inspiration throughout the ups and downs of what can essentially be quite a lonely occupation’. It’s an ideal, and I expect there are places where this happens. But it is not guaranteed.

What are the qualities of this book?

Blogging for Writers shares many of the qualities of its predecessor. It is updated and is more specifically aimed at writers and their blogging needs.

145 old handsIt is very good on the step-by-step processes of setting up a blog, especially for people who don’t warm to technical stuff. It’s not that technical in Robin Houghton’s account, and it’s well illustrated so you can see what should be happening and what other writers have done on their blogs. It is as attractive as many handicraft books, good colour photos and no assumption that you know what is meant by a widget or a plug-in.

It’s also good on the craft of blogging – what makes a brilliant post (headline, topic, photo, length, readability, etc); types of post (lists, interviews, reviews, stories, polemics, etc). And it is realistic about how to manage the practicalities of planning and maintaining a blog. On frequency and length of posts, for example, she has some useful things to say, but is not prescriptive. Instead she suggests the advantages and disadvantages of different pratices.

She’s helpful about how to get your blog noticed, and to keep things going. One of the traps for bloggers is addiction to statistics. She suggests thinking of them ‘as indicators rather than absolute measures’, helpful in setting goals – if you like that sort of thing. And she suggests the tools that can help.

I make no money out of my blog, but I expect that the advice on this is good too.

Throughout the book there are screen grabs of lots of writers’ blogs, and also short quotations about some aspect of their blog.

Do you need copies of both Blogging for Writers and Blogging for Creatives?

154 BFCWriters starting from here would not need the earlier volume. Blogging for Writers is both more up-to-date and more targeted. The examples are especially helpful. I responded to the sidebar that featured Molly Wizenberg and her food and writing blog orangette.

What my blog does is force me to show up. That’s huge. A lot of writers and creative people have said things along the lines of “showing up is 90% of the work,” and that’s certainly true for me. Sometimes, the last thing I want to do is sit down and write. Blogs help us show up, and that’s priceless.

I want my blog to keep me excited about writing. I want it to be a place that forces me to keep writing and practicing, and to be a cattle-prod to me to keep cooking and working. I want my site to reflect what I’m excited about. (161)

I understand this as turning up and writing interesting posts has contributed to my learning as a writer and as a blogger.

Some previous posts in the Craft of Blogging series

#3 My checklist for blogposts

#5 How I write my blog slowly

#7 Finding readers

Blogging for Writers: How authors and writers build successful blogs, by Robin Houghton (2014) published by ilex press. 176 pp

Do you have any ‘how to blog’ books you recommend?

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Filed under Books, Reviews, The Craft of Blogging, Writing

9 Responses to The Craft of Blogging #8 Blogging for Writers by Robin Houghton

  1. Do you know if this book is available as an ebook? I’d be tempted to get a copy if the price was right.

    • Caroline

      Hi Rosie,
      I can’t find it on Amazon, which seems kinda peculiar for a book that is so comfortable with the internet. I’d get a copy anyway, myself. I did!

  2. Helen Ashley

    I just searched by author and book title and it came up on Amazon – paperback, £14.99.
    Interesting to read the reference to ‘showing up’. I’m one of the world’s worst procrastinators and while I’m tempted by the idea of blogging, I’d be afraid it would be another thing to stop me actually writing.

  3. useful review – thank you Caroline. I’m not sure though I could justify starting on yet another ‘how to’ book! I think the encouragement we give one another as writers by taking time to read and respond is the greatest service we can perform. Thank you for your ongoing inspiration. (PS if you want an update from this ‘Author in Andalucia’, just let me know!)

    • Caroline

      Hi Jon,
      I have it more as a reference book now. But I can see your reasoning.
      And yes it’s about tiem you did me another blogpost update. I’ll email you.

  4. Eileen

    Very useful Caroline – if I were ever to run another writing course I’d be sure to recommend it.

  5. Hi Caroline.
    I have the book “Blogging for Creatives” and referred to it a lot before, and when, I started blogging. There is a lot of useful advice in it. Thank you for reminding me of it. I should go back and see how my practices stack up now. The new book “Blogging for Writers” also sounds good. Perhaps I should have a look at the more targeted information in it.
    Just this evening I read a post on Sacha Black’s blog with recommendations for bloggers In it she shared an infographic that recommended blogging every day. As a reader and a writer that is too often for me. I would be interested to hear what is recommended in Houghton’s book, though you do say he presents the advantages and disadvantages of different approaches.
    I think turning up is a very important part of the process. Some days doing that is easier than others!
    Thanks for sharing. 🙂

    • Caroline

      Hi Norah,
      I read that post by Sasha Black as well, and wondered about posting more frequently. But I decided that it was more important to me to feel I was writing what I wanted and with my own frequency. Robin Houghton suggests a post should be about 250 words long. I notice you post more frequent and shorter posts than I do. Each to their own.
      Robin Houghton doesnt recommend a frequency but does suggest it shouldnt be less than once a week or readers lose interest.
      I did a post defending slow blogging not long ago.
      Thanks for your comments (as always).

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