I just returned from teaching at the Speak Up Conference in Grand Rapids. It was a wonderful event, and I hope to be back next year. This conference started as one for speakers, but because speakers often need to write and writers often need to speak, they’ve added a writing track to the conference. I was invited to teach Editing Nonfiction, and I think it went very well. I had some clever and engaged folks there who asked plenty of insightful questions. I’ll continue my series of blog posts based on that class next time.
Today, I wanted to address a question I was asked by one of the writers who came to see me during a one-on-one appointment, because I hear this one a lot.
Q: Do I need to have both a website and a blog?
That sounds like a simple answer, but there’s more to it than that.
The first thing to understand is that a blog is just a type of website. In other words, the set “blogs” is a subset of the set “websites.”
Agents, editors, and social media experts often say writers must blog. But blogging doesn’t suit everyone. If you’re not going to be able to keep it up on a fairly regular basis, don’t bother.
I will say that if you are a writer trying to sell a book, even if you are only at the stage of pitching your book to editors and agents, you must have a website. When editors and agents Google your name, they should be able to find you online. But that website doesn’t have to be a blog.
There are three main ways to set up a website.
- Just a blog
When you are just starting out, you can get a blog at Blogger or WordPress.com and have only a blog, if you can commit to posting on a regular basis. This is a good option to get you started. Fantasy novelist John Otte began this way at his Least Read Blog on the Web. You’ll notice that it hasn’t been updated in over a year. That’s because now that Otte is a multipublished author, he’s upgraded to a website with a blog (see No. 3 below).
- Website with no blog
Many business websites use this model, including the conference linked above. Since authors are also businesspeople, this can work for you, too. CJ Lyons bucks the “you must blog” advice, and yet gets best-seller results. Lyons produces a newsletter that goes out to her subscribers on a regular basis. So she’s doing a newsletter instead of a blog. Notice that she has newsletter sign-up links at the top, middle and bottom of her home page.
- Website with a blog
That’s what you see right here, as well as at John Otte’s new site. My blog posts appear on the home page, and then the sidebar menu gives you links to the other pages of my site. On Otte’s site, his home page has photos and links and a newsletter sign-up, similar to Lyons’s site, with the addition that Otte’s top-line menu includes a link to his blog page.
And a Fourth
You can use a site at Blogger or WordPress to host a website with no blog, but then you need to change the site setup so it looks like a website with no blog instead of a neglected blog. Jane Friedman describes that procedure on her site, which is also a website with a blog.