Blogging on Books on Blogging by Catharine Bramkamp
Let’s welcome back monthly columnist Catharine Bramkamp as she shares with us about “Blogging on Books on Blogging.”
I bought a book on blogging. I’ve been blogging and talking into the Ethernet for years now and have not yet gathered the rabid base of fans that a good blogger should have.
So, in an unexamined fit of self- improvement, I Googled blogging and yes, found a self-described expert. He offered membership in the master mind program, I could subscribe to his newsletter, I could sign up for a free online class, I could download white papers, I could buy his book.
I bought his book
In the introduction the author cheerfully assured the reader that yes, you made the right investment! Blogging will bring happiness, wealth and fame. It will deliver thousands of dollars a month to your bank account, some bloggers (it’s true, he heard it himself), earn up to $10,000 a month on their blog. The best claim in the introduction was “make tons of money with your self-published books!” The enthusiastic introduction was one paragraph short of announcing that blogging will make you younger and thinner.
That said, the book was helpfully specific on the logistics of Google AdSense and running webinars. For that information alone I was happy with the price I paid for the book.
However, the most pressing question new bloggers have isn’t, how to promote the blog, because promotion is a planned, even mechanical activity, the big question about starting and maintaining a blog is content.
What should we write? What should the blog be about?
According to this book, the most successful blog categories are:
- Relationships/Personal Development
- Lifestyle – Travel
Choose a category, write up a listical, post it on Pinterest, and you have created a successful blog with all the depth and gravitas of a Facebook like.
In the defense of how-to books like this, the thesis of the book is how to monetize your words and ideas, but the suggested process gives the impression that all it takes is slapping down a couple of key words, 160 characters guaranteed to make Google algorithms sit up and take notice, and advertisers will fight for space on your blog.
The writing, the creating, is reduced to mere content
Content that is useful only when applied to an adorable photo, or to explain the background to a potentially viral image. Content is king as long as the king is aggressive, war-like and prone to bullet lists.
For the most part, typically successful blogs solve a problem. Successful blogs draw advertisers because they give people/readers/customers, what they want.
And what they want, and the questions the blog answers, are specific and identified: women between the ages of 35 – 65 who bake cakes and are tired of reading lists of bullet points.
But if we believe that our reader wants less and less, she will begin to believe she wants less and less because that’s all she can find. We’ve created a false choice.
Each time authors dumb down or reduce their content, a little bit of their integrity is chipped away.
Each time writers create work only because it sells, a little of their soul is diminished.
This book assures you, the writer, not to worry about that. As soon as you make money, that will be reason (and passion) enough to keep blogging on that subject. That popular theme of your blog – fashion food tips for a romantic evening, swimsuits for the mature, will, by default become your passion.
After a few original lists and ideas, you will quickly run out of content. To sustain, you’ll need to gather a team for input, you’ll need to reach out for interviews (admittedly, the book author suggests interviews) and like appearing in an anthology with a bestselling author, that, by association, makes you a bestselling author, so too will capturing a famous-in-your-field guest will deliver success by association. In other words, it’s a lot of work. But it will work, no mistake.
An important element to any successful blog that is never deconstructed or well explained, is how to tap into the gestalt, or better, get ahead of a trend, become a popular voice.
Success as well as fame owes an enormous debt to serendipity, timing and luck. When an author gets lucky, and it’s only that – luck – they will be successful, and because they are successful, they are viewed as an expert. They are famous for being famous.
The writing and even the advice isn’t necessarily good, the blog isn’t necessarily better than yours or mine, it’s just that the blogger got lucky. Luck attracts the ads and one thing leads to the next. The media buyers for large companies are not very imaginative, so if Company A is advertising on Blog A, they will too.
The challenge with advice is it never circles around to how a passionate blogger can START, how to you get into the pool? How do you become popular? How do you predict trends? Key words, popular themes and categories sure, but no one has been able to spell out success. It may not even be possible.
Passion versus popularity wasn’t necessarily the theme of the book
But the take away was: write what people want to read. write up a bunch of blogs and market them. Relentlessly. You will be thinner and younger. Well, you’ll be thinner and younger as soon as you sign up for the Master Mind Group.
We so want to learn the formula for success that hope triumphs over experience every time. We do join the Master Mind Group, we do take the next class, we do buy the book. But as we’ve pointed out before, success is creating. Success is time spent in the zone. Success is staying true to your passion. Writing success may not look like money. Maybe that is okay.
I am purposefully not naming the title of the book because I don’t believe in insulting well-meaning authors. The reviewed book is not unusual, there are many books, webinars and blogs focused on how to make money by writing books, delivering webinars and posting blogs. It’s a closed ecosystem that you may want to become a part of, or you may just feel superior that you haven’t.
I support your choice either way. Good luck.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
When she’s not pulling her mother out of traffic, Catharine coaches and teaches fiction, non-fiction, and journal writing.
Catharine Bramkamp is a successful writing coach bringing her clients from idea to published book and beyond. She has written 17 novels and 3 books on writing. Her poetry appears in over a dozen anthologies including And The Beats Go On (she was editor as well) and the chapbook Ammonia Sunrise (Finishing Line Press). Her current book, Don’t Write Like We Talk, is based on her co-producer experience creating 200-plus episodes of the Newbie Writers Podcast. She is the Chief Storytelling Officer for technical companies because everyone has a story.