Beanery Online Literary Magazine

March 25, 2008

ARE WEBSITES (BLOGSITES) BENEFICIAL TO WRITERS?

Controversy surrounds the question of writers needing a website or blog. This topic has been discussed among Beanery Writers Group (a Southwestern, Pennsylvania group) members, half of whom see no use for using the Internet this way, and half who support personal Internet sites.

As facilitator of the group, I’ve attended writing conferences, workshops, and read much material, and everywhere the idea of personal Internet sites for writers isn’t offered as a suggestion—it is put forth as an essential aspect of a writer’s career.

When I first mentioned that the Beanery Writers create an Internet site, some members were supportive, although we didn’t expect much from our site. We thought it would be a resource used mainly by our members, and shared with our friends. To my surprise, we ended our first year with over 50,000 hits. Contributors to the Beanery Online Literary Magazine were being read—which is what writers seek.

I had volunteered to set up a site, and, being computer challenged, found a blog site I felt I could handle. I became comfortable with it, and had our members come to my home to teach them how to use it. Some were interested, others not.

During the year, I decided to venture forth and create a blog in my own name, and followed that with a newsletter for our small community.

The sites went smoothly until our blog host site was sold at the end of our first year. The new owner rearranged it in such a way that I felt we needed to relocate. He eliminated the categories. The categories allowed visitors to choose a writer to read, and allowed writers to use the site as a portfolio. Without these categories, readers has to scroll through fifteen pages of material to find a post, sometimes an impossible task, the type which causes most visitors to click away from the site.

Being computer chicken, it took me a while to find a new host site. Now, the three sites—The Beanery Online Literary Magazine (www.beanerywriters.wordpress.com ), my personal site (www.carolyncholland.wordpress.com ) and the community newsletter (www.laurelmountainboro ) are up and running.

Which brings me to the evidence that yes, writers should have, and can benefit from, an Internet site.

(To receive a sample copy of the Beanery Writers Newsletter, E-mail beaneryblog@yahoo.com with the words “NEWSLETTER SAMPLE” typed in the subject line. The Newsletter will give directions for subscribing to the monthly newsletter.)

In early March, I had an E-mail from the Ellsworth American newspaper in Hancock County, Maine. They had spotted my post OH, TO CLIMB SCHOODIC MOUNTAIN (Maine)
(located in the New England category at www.carolyncholland.wordpress.com ). The post mentioned that I am writing a historic romance novel, which is, in a large part, set in Lamoine, Maine—down the road a bit from Ellsworth.

I contacted the author of the E-mail and learned that that newspaper has a blog that I was being invited to join.

Hmmm. Just what I needed. Another blog to manage.

However, I soon realized I was being handed a gift. Where else can I engender pre-publicity for my novel, but in a community of persons vitally interested in the area that is the setting of the novel, Hancock County, Maine?

On further thought, I realized that within the bloggers would be persons who might have information I am researching—not only for my novel, but for my genealogy, with its French connection that started in Lamoine in 1790.

There was a further benefit—I can link to the Internet sites that I already manage. I’ve discovered linking back and forth between sites increases readership on all sites. As I stated before, writers want, and need, readers.

Thinking about the possibilities, I realized I could manage the site putting little effort into it. During my travels through New England I write journal articles and E-mail them to friends—the post on Schoodic Mountain had been one of them. Posting one item a week would be easy with my stockpile of already-written pieces.

The final benefit is developing my relationship with the Ellsworth American newspaper. When the time is right, this relationship should produce articles in the circulating hardcopy newspaper.

It took two years for this rich opportunity to appear through the blogs I was managing. However, the independent blogs were already working, since I—and others—have our writing “out there” where it can be seen and read, familiarizing our names as writers.

Perhaps further benefits will be reaped for other writers, or myself, as we continue our task of writing and posting.

If anyone reading this post has other ideas on the usefulness—or the lack thereof—of the Internet to writers, please post a comment. We would love to hear from you! What has your experience been?

Click on DRUNK DRIVER—OR NOT? Passing a Sobriety Test
to read a humorous article.

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