One of the reasons I started a blog was that the protagonist in my novel was a blogger, so I needed first-hand experience. Eight months in, what have I learnt? Did I describe her experience accurately? What will I change as a result?
- Followers. I made my fictional blogger an overnight sensation, but in real life, I often feel as though I’m talking to myself. It takes time and persistence to build a following, not to mention a good understanding of social media. Facebook filtering, hashtags and search engine optimization all influence how much traffic reaches your site. I need to work on this.
- Content. In fiction, blogs must progress the storyline, or they break the flow of the novel. In real life, individual blogs can stand alone, although to build a brand, there must be a consistent theme. I’ve experimented with several ideas—writing tips, expat life and interviews—but I try to link them all back to the title The Winding Narrative.
- Length. Shorter is better. Social media bombards the public with information. To have any chance of grabbing airtime, I try to be sharp and punchy.
- Format. I am more likely to open other people’s articles if they are written in lists, as I can quickly scan for salient points. I’m trying to do more of this, although it may not be as important within a novel, where the reader is already committed to the story.
- Titles. A punchy title is critical for a real blog—it’s the only chance to entice readers to click and read on. I am yet to master this art.
Since I completed my first draft of Following Betsy Sharpe two years ago, I’ve changed a lot. I’ve deleted many of them and condensed all of them. In my real blog, I’m still learning and developing my approach. I’m aiming for better titles, more numbered lists and keeping things tight. Stay tuned.