3 Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Start a Blog

Are you a writer who has heard an awful lot about this “author platform” thing and you’re not quite sure how to go about building it? Yet, you’ve read from what you consider to be very reliable sources that it’s more difficult than ever to sell books independently or get a publisher to notice you traditionally unless you have this mythical piece of digital real estate. 

Credit: meddygarnet, flickr.com
Credit: meddygarnet, flickr.com

So you start a blog. You’re not quite sure what it’s about—you? Your writing process? Links you like? Sneak preview bits of stories you’re writing?

Suddenly, this amorphous entity know as Your Blog begins to grow.

Whether it grows in traffic or in Twitter followers is immaterial; it grows in your mind like a mushroom in springtime. Pretty soon, you find yourself jostling not just for writing time, but for blogging time. You’re networking on social media, posting blog previews on Google+, trying desperately to be witty and get noticed on Twitter, and you’ve even set up a Facebook presence for your blog, and made sure everyone in your immediate circles followed and shared it.

It all seems like so much work. And for what?

If you’re in this position, or are a writer considering getting a blog of your very own, here are some questions to ask yourself before you take the big plunge.

1. Do I have 8-10 hours a week to devote exclusively to blogging?

Credit: numb3r, flickr.com
Credit: numb3r, flickr.com

Lots of bloggers out there only post once a week, or are so efficient that they only devote 2 hours per week to their online presence; starting out, your blog will not be like that. You’ll tinker with the design almost as much as you’ll write posts, and unless you develop a formula for cranking out posts in an assembly-line fashion (I don’t recommend that; your readers will notice), blogging will take a significant amount of your time.

Promoting your blog on social media will also take time, and, like the beginning stages of a diet, or a marathon, will seem thankless and exhausting.

On the other hand, if you have the extra time, your blog can be the vehicle through which you meet some of the most amazing writers and creative people imaginable. People who like your work and encourage you, people who challenge you, and even those who go on to become real-life friends.

If you have the time, the rewards can be huge. But you have to have the time; if you don’t, you won’t be a writer with a blog so much as you’ll be a blogger who happens to write sometimes.

2. Will things like traffic numbers, gaining or losing Twitter followers, or getting indexed on Google’s front page fulfill my blogging goals, or will they make or break my entire day?

The first day I broke into the double digits on my blog traffic counter, I felt like I’d won the lottery.

With hindsight, I can tell you that this was not a good feeling.

When you begin to experience some early “success” (however you define it), you begin to take it for granted, or as some sign from the universe that Yes, You Should Blog ALL the Things. You are the Greatest Blogger Who Ever Did Blog. And on, and on, and on.

The first day your traffic slips back down, what will happen? Will you be the type of person to let it roll off and just try again tomorrow, or will you obsess, analyzing everything about your blog, from your page load time to the quality of your last post to questioning the efficacy of your entire blogging strategy?

Now, I’m not saying these aren’t good to analyze. I’m saying that it’s less than beneficial to obsess about them.

Are you the obsessive type, or are you secure enough to roll with the punches, letting Down-Traffic Decembers and mid-July Byes go on by without having your entire day ruined because of it?

(Aside: I was NOT one of those people. I had to grow a thicker skin, which is a useful quality for almost all writers.)

3. Will I be able to deal with the temptation to plan blog posts far ahead of time in order to “carve out” more writing time in the present?

Blogging, because it so closely resembles actual capital-W Writing, has a way of demanding more and more and more of your writing time. If you decide to start a blog, it’s a good idea to devote a set amount of time per week (or per day) exclusively to blogging, and then put up walls around the rest of your writing time, so the temptation to get some posts done “ahead of time” doesn’t creep in, and take over.

I guess the real question is: Do you have the discipline to start a blog without letting it moulder, or worse, take over your writing life?

If you do, that’s awesome! Blogging has been the single most rewarding part of my writing journey so far. I’ve met great people, learned a ton about Web design, about analytics, about writing, meeting deadlines and getting to know my own personal voice, all thanks to The Procrastiwriter.

So what are you waiting for? Are you going to start that blog? Share (and feel free to post a link) in the comments!