Friday, September 23, 2011

Doing it right

On Monday, I wrote about Livia Blackburne's thoughts about blogging to reach your audience. Her post dovetailed with a brief social media session Mitali Perkins held at Chautauqua. Mitali's had me thinking ever since. Specifically, I've been wondering about this:

How can you contribute to children's writing in a way that sets you apart? 

Lots of writers blog about writing. It helps us to connect with other writers, and perhaps to the intended audience. But if someone has the option to follow what a well-known, established author writes versus someone just starting out, which would they choose? As writers, we need to create our niche in the blogosphere.

Mitali suggests brainstorming (free write in a journal) what you want to contribute. Ideally, you do this before you even begin your blog, but you can always modify your content as you go.

Blog about things that serve kids and parents. What are you passionate about? Are there topics that come up again and again in your writing? Themes that weave through your work? Blog about those kinds of topics. Discuss related children's books or activities; provide them with resources.

Mitali does this at Mitali's Fire Escape: a safe place to chat about books between cultures. She blogs about writing, but she also writes posts about the issues that appear in her books. She provides resources for readers, so they can find out more about a topic or even find a way to help. These posts are for kids, parents, and teachers - the audience.

Me? I'm passionate about science, nature, and grappling with complex problems that don't have a black and white solution. It's important to me that everyone see both sides of an issue (which happens all too seldom these days). All of those things come up in my writing. To reach my intended audience, Mitali said I should blog about other nonfiction books, fiction books that cover similar kinds of topics, and science-y activities that kids and parents can do together; things they can do to make a difference.

How do you let your intended audience know about your posts? Send out provocative twitter posts that link to the blog post, and reach out to the audience you want to reach. Mitali has lists of people involved in the issues she writes about. Find your audience. Let them know you're there. Give them a reason to stop by.

For me, that means you will be seeing new kinds of posts. Posts about terrific books, posts about important subjects, posts about things kids (and teachers and parents) can do to get involved. I will also write a bit about writing (there's still lots to share from Chautauqua), but that won't be all I blog about.

How will you change the way you blog?


  1. Funny, I'm an author, and yet I rarely blog about writing. Seems to be working so far though...

  2. Sage advice. I think most of the blogosphere is looking for someone who entertains or enlightens. There are writing blogs I always visit and non-writing ones. We can't limit ourselves.

  3. Wow, great post! I've been mulling this question over quite a bit myself. I'm struggling with the fact that I want to write both for children and adults (travel and personal essays). So I'm still not sure how I should handle that in the blog.

    I'm taking Kristen Lamb's blogging course in October & November. It's only $40 for the two months, and I expect I'll have better answers at the end of it (I hope!)

  4. This is the endless struggle for me -- who am I blogging for? What is my blog all about? What is my purpose in blogging? And I don't have any answers yet, even though I took a blog break to figure it out. I think Mitali's idea to focus on a theme and explore it in a variety of ways, such as book reviews and related activities, is an excellent approach. I look forward to seeing your blog evolve!

  5. Alex: I think it's easier for writers with an adult audience. Your blog readers are also your audience, and since you write nonfiction, it can be all about fun. It works. :)

    Pk: Very good point!

    Julie: Thanks! I've got the joint issues of nonfiction PBs and fiction, but after Mitali's session, I realized the core themes in my work. Please share what you learn in the blogging course!

    Toby: It's been an issue for me, as well. It was a large part of why it took me so long to get back to blogging after the move this summer. I'm still struggling, but I hope to figure it out.

  6. Er, I mean, Alex writes fiction. I need more coffee.

  7. I've been seeing a lot about blogging with a goal to finding your true readers. I've been kind of sticking my head in the sand about the whole topic, but I think it's time I start to think about it more. There's some very good points to consider here. Nice post.