The Biggest Mistake Most Writers Make

    A guest post by Sean Platt of GhostWriterDad.com.

    Not having a website or blog to call their own is one of the biggest mistakes a modern writer can make.

    It’s shocking how many writers make it anyway.

    Perhaps it’s the abundance of free solutions that lull writers into the false belief that they’re building something with long term, sustainable value, when the truth is they own nothing at all.

    From social media hot spots such as Twitter and Facebook, to Web 2.0 properties like Tumblr and Posterous, writers can easily find free solutions that will allow them to easily hop online and get noticed. Unfortunately, those “free “ solutions carry the ridiculously high cost of holding those writers back.

    Any writer who says they don’t need a website is wrong.

    You don’t need a website to succeed at a baseline level, but if you expect to mine the maximum potential from the time you spend online, and nurture the writing career that’s in your head, then a website is non-negotiable.

    A website is a MUST, but that website must also be built on a quality framework that is easy to install, simple to manage, and will help you get your work noticed by the greatest number of possible readers.

    That makes the WordPress CMS the best possible choice for your website’s underlying structure.

    You may think of WordPress as blogging software, since that’s precisely what it is. Yet WordPress also has everything needed to build a robust website that offers everything a modern writer needs to grow a healthy business and a lucrative writing career.

    Best of all, WordPress is 100% free.

    Here are 5 reasons why every modern writer MUST have a blog:

    Blogs Are Prime Real Estate For Audience Bonding

    You need readers.

    Visitors mean nothing. It’s readers who will help you grow by buying or spreading your work, opting into your lists, telling their friends about who you are and what you do, leaving reviews of your work, and doing much of your marketing for you.

    But you must turn your visitors into readers first.

    Blogs simplify the process.

    The most powerful element to blogging isn’t the ease of the software; it’s the human element that allows you to grow closer to your readers, and them to you.

    Your blog is a place for your readers to get to know and like you. Since people like to do business with people they like, a blog makes that easier, whether your business is selling books or selling services.

    Your Blog Makes List Building Easy

    No matter what your business model, or your personal reasons for blogging, the key to maximizing the effectiveness of your time spent online is to concentrate on gaining and retaining subscribers.

    If list building sounds too clinical or markety, think of building a list as building your fan club. This is a massively rewarding strategy, both because of the tangible direct response nature of having a list with fans who will respond to your emails, and with what you can learn from your market by paying attention to your list.

    List, or “fan” building can work with any market.

    My list at Ghostwriter Dad offers a free eCourse that teaches people how to make more money writing in less time. There is never anything to buy and there is about 75,000 words worth of free information. Whenever I have a new book about writing or social media, those subscribers are the first to know.

    I have another list for my serialized fiction series, Yesterday’s Gone. This list is filled with “Goners,” or fans of the book. They get special chapters and exclusive content not available on Kindle. Whenever I have a new fiction book or short story, those readers are the first to know.

    Two very different lists, both extremely helpful in nurturing my writing career.

    Either list would be extremely difficult to build without a blog.

    Your Website Will Give You a Place to Build and Store Your Written Assets

    You’re a writer, with magic to be envied. You possess the rare skill of being able to create something from the depths of nothing. You can alter thinking, sway emotions, and paint pictures in your readers’ minds.

    You can manufacture money from thin air and the assets you build, simply by moving your fingers across the keyboard.

    But you must create your content first, then make sure you dock it in a safe harbor.

    A blog gives you reason to create great content. Blog posts, newsletters, special reports, landing pages, viral videos, interviews, sample chapters for your books — you have no limit to what you can create.

    A blog, more than any other tool, free or paid, will give you a reason to create content, and a place to keep it safe, visible, and easy to share.

    Create enough content over a consistent period, and you will be able to repurpose and package those assets to establish streams of steady passive income.

    Your Website Makes it Easy For Publishers, Readers and Clients to Find You

    While there are some people who get bitten by the blogging bug and get a burning desire to start sharing every element of their lives, that’s not you.

    You started out online because you wanted to build a writing career, and were smart enough to see that the digital trends were undeniable.

    Mostly, you wanted to get noticed.

    Whether you’re looking to get discovered so you can land a traditional publishing contract, establish an audience of readers who will be eager to buy whatever you write, or establish a stable of steady clients for your growing freelance business, a website makes it much easier for publishers, readers and clients to find you.

    More importantly, an increasing number of publishers, readers and clients now expect writers to have a website or blog. If you don’t, you risk being seen as out of touch from word one.

    Your Website Provides a Central Hub For Your Writing Career

    Whatever else you do, or wherever else you might spend your time online, a website offers a central hub to your writing career.

    Your Facebook is important, as is your time on Twitter. And of course, that author’s profile on Amazon has tremendous weight, but you’re only a digital sharecropper if you don’t own your own domain.

    The common denominator for an overwhelming number of successful writers is this simple formula: they own their own domain and have established a blog.

    Your blog is the sun; everything else in your online world should orbit around it.

    You don’t have to be great to get going, but you must get going if you expect to be great. Without a website, you’re only cheating yourself, and your career potential. If the thought of managing your own domain seems overwhelming, you can start with a free solution at WordPress.Com. It isn’t what’s best, but you can do it today with a few clicks, so you have no reason not to dip your toe.

    Read more by Sean Platt at GhostWriterDad.com. Get his free report 9 Website Building Mistakes You Should Avoid.”
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    About the author

      Sean Platt

      Johnny B. Truant and Sean Platt published 1.5 million words through their company Realm & Sands, and built full-time self-publishing careers from scratch in 2013. In their comprehensive self-publishing guide Write. Publish. Repeat, they tell you everything you need to know about how to do the same. 

    • Great post, Sean! I particularly liked the tip about having a special list for your serialized fiction. I also serialize my books on my blog, but I hadn’t thought of rewarding readers’ loyalty that way. Thanks!

    • Thanks for your comment, Jared. I think the most important thing is that we get immediate feedback about our writing. That’s priceless!

    • jared says:

      Great post, thanks for sharing that from Sean.

      I’m consistently amazed at the connections I make via my website, mainly my list. People from all over the world, it’s simply awesome. Connecting with people, sharing our hopes, dreams, successes and learning from each other. I’ve also gotten my wife involved, I forward emails from women to her (with the users permission of course) and she helps them in areas from that perspective, that she has experience in as a women. It’s really quite amazing. We’ve even started a podcast together which is a blast.

      I think having a website/blog is just another great way to express ourselves, connect with others, and practice writing.

    • Chris Lema says:

      There’s one additional reason to have a web site if you’re a writer, and while your five are clearly the most important five, I’d quickly add this as part of the most important six. 🙂

      Collecting feedback via your blog/website is really easy. Collect feedback via surveys, forms, and comments. Developing and connecting with an audience (stated above) is critical. No doubt. But it goes further than that. Want to know if your introduction grabs people? Test is on your blog. Want to know how to enhance your topic and what topics people think are missing? Post part of an outline on your blog. The ways to collect feedback are endless.

      Lastly, Sean is 100% correct that WordPress is the easiest way to go. Having helped hundreds of folks launch their projects (including writing projects) over the last few years, I know of no better platform than WordPress (which is why I post free video tutorials on using WordPress online – http://youtube.com/mrchrislema).

      • Thanks, Chris – yes, as a blogger you can really be in touch with your readers.

    • Gail says:

      Hi Sean,

      These are good insights to encourage us all to start blogging or to remind us of why we did start! 🙂

      As a new blogger, WordPress is working really well for me as a platform. I like how it easily links to other social media platforms (so that when I post a blog, it also lands in my Twitter feed); plus it’s many other friendly features.

      I like the image of my blog as the sun around which “everything else in (my) online world should orbit”.

      Thanks!
      Gail

      • Yes, it’s very important to start with a self-hosted blog. I work with so many bloggers who come to us and have started a free blog on WordPress.com or Blogger. It’s a deadend because you never get to own the ‘virtual real estate’ and can’t create an online income – or have the freedom to choose whether to have ads on your site.

    • Excellent insight even for those of us who have both. I know it’s time to revamp the website. I keep thinking about the WordPress ME package too. $24 and it’s all ME 🙂

      Thanks for sharing this–great stuff!

      • It’s really about the single reader, and not about the thousands of subscribers you may get. What I’m saying is that the focus on the pleasure, inspiration, and nourishment of each single reader is what makes blogging a wonderful thing. In contrast, a focus on growing big and bigger, i.e. on the big picture, seems to kill the blogger’s joy.

    • Thanks for stating the obvious and backing it up so well. I especially love the idea I need readers, not visitors. This emerging writer appreciates the affirmation that I’m on the right track!

    • Eyvonne Black says:

      This is so refreshing and I can’t wait to get on the ladder of becoming the writer that is busting to come out!

      I want to start from the best place possible and blogging appears to be where I need to start.

      So thank you for the advice!

      • Hey Eyvonne, it’s great to see that you’re motivated to blog. It’s a shortcut to being seen as an authority in a short time.

    • Having a blog is like rearing a child–you have to be there, tend to it, keep it updated, give it love. Blogging is a great way to get your seat in the chair, then after the blog post is done, I like to turn to my novels which delight and hold me even more than the blog. But it’s getting there, it’s putting fingers to the keys that works. Would-be writers beware–you won’t be a writer unless you make a commitment to something and blogging is a great way to start.

      • Yes, a blog doesn’t write itself. Having said that, you don’t need to create a hectic posting schedule either.
        Starting a blog was my best decision ever 🙂


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