Posted On November 30, 2012 by Print This Post

The Slow Blog Manifesto and 8 Reasons for New Authors to Slow Blog by Anne R. Allen

Has finding time to write and maintain your blog become a juggling act? Have you neglected your manuscript because you’re busy pounding out daily blogposts and commenting on other people’s blogs? 

Today, we welcome back author and blogger extraordinaire Anne R. Allen who enlightens us on the advantages of slow blogging and explains why it’s important to put your writing first.

Welcome back, Anne!

I didn’t start out to be a Slow Blogger. When I started my blog three years ago, I was simply too busy bloodying my knuckles on the doors of the publishing industry to have time to post more than once a week.  I hadn’t even heard of the Slow Blog Manifesto.

But it was pointed out to me by one of my readers after I blogged a complaint about the pressure to blog daily. It’s given me permission to continue my “slacker” ways and concentrate on writing books instead of thousands of blogposts.

Thanks to that decision, I’m about to launch my seventh book in fourteen months—eleventh if you count anthologies and singles. (And no. I don’t intend to keep up that pace. I’m about to take a well-earned vacation.)

My blog has also won dozens of awards. It made the list of finalists for Best Publishing Industry Blog in the Association of American Publishers/Goodreads IBBA contest, and was named one of the Top 50 Blogs for Authors by Tribal Nation Daily.

And I’ve never blogged more than once a week. In fact, thanks to a wonderful blog partner (the spectacular Ruth Harris, who also contributes here at RU) plus some fabulous guest bloggers, I usually now blog only twice a month.

Which is why I get really annoyed when I see new authors getting hammered with advice to blog every day.

I couldn’t disagree more. Yes, a blog can help a new author establish a Web presence and is an important part of an author “platform”. But a Slow Blog can do all that and leave you time to actually, um, write books.

Okay, so what is the Slow Blog Manifesto?

It’s an essay written in 2006 by Canadian software designer Todd Sieling at the height of the everybody-must-get-a-blog frenzy. Slow Blogging is modeled on Alice Walker’s “slow food” movement (the opposite of McBurgerish “fast food.”) The point is quality over quantity.

Todd wrote:

“Slow Blogging is the re-establishment of the machine as the agent of human expression, rather than its whip and container. It’s the voluntary halting of the light-speed hamster wheel dictated in rules of highly effective blogging.”

He urged people to write a few thoughtful posts per month rather than daily blabber. A number of influential journalists, technicians, and academics joined his movement. It built steam until mid-2008, when it merited an article in the New York Times

It’s a principle that’s caught on. I see a lot of publishing industry bloggers cutting back on their number of posts—even uberbloggers like Nathan Bransford and Jane Friedman.

But unfortunately, not everybody has got the message. The standard advice to new authors still tells them to blog at least three days a week.

This is because the search engines pick you up faster if you blog more often.

But here’s the thing: Search engines aren’t the biggest factor in driving most writers’ blog traffic.  Out of the nearly 25,000 hits our blog got last month, less than 1400 came from Google searches. Most of our traffic comes from “word of mouth” on Twitter, Facebook, the Kindleboards and other blogs. So why put in all that time just to please the Google spiders?

I think new authors, especially, need to limit their distractions. Yes, an author benefits from a blog—it’s more dynamic than a static website (and free) and it’s a great way to interact with readers and fellow writers. But it’s not your best sales tool, especially when you’re starting out—it’s more like your Internet home where people can come and visit. Most people are too busy to come calling every day.

And, in order to get a readership in this saturated blogosphere, it seems to me we should be stressing quality over quantity. Nobody I know is starved for blogposts to read.

Of course there are people can blog brilliantly every day and my hat’s off to them. But I don’t know a lot who can sustain that pace for the long term while writing several books a year, which is now what publishers and readers expect.

(If you aren’t quite sure what to blog about, I’ve written some suggestions in my blogpost on HOW TO BLOG PART 3: WHAT SHOULD I BLOG ABOUT . You’ll find all of my “how to blog” advice—plus a huge amount of helpful, positive information in the book I’ve written with Catherine Ryan Hyde: HOW TO BE A WRITER IN THE E-AGE—And Keep Your E-Sanity!)

So yes, if you don’t have a blog yet, it’s a good idea to start one, but resist the know-it-alls who tell you to blog more than once a week

Here are some reasons for resistance:

1) A slow blog has a longer life-span.

The average life span of a blog is three years. But you want your writing career to last longer than three years, don’t you? A neglected blog hanging in cyberspace is worse than none.

So you’ve got to plan a blog that’s going to beat the odds. A slow blog is more likely to do that.

2) You reach more people by commenting on other people’s blogs than by madly posting on a new blog nobody reads.

Author/publisher/social media guru Bob Mayer pointed out on his blog recently:

 “One of the best networking tools is to go to people’s blogs and leave cogent comments.”

Think of it this way: would you reach more people by sitting in your basement making a thousand signs, or by making one sign and taking it to a place where tons of people hang out?

Use your blogging time to visit other blogs, and only post on your own blog when you have something to say that you can tell people about on other blogs. Then they’ll seek you out. See how that works?

3) Busy people are less likely to subscribe/follow a blog that’s going to clutter their email inbox/rss feed every day.  I sure won’t. I don’t read ANYBODY’S blog every day. I’d be so glad if they’d only send notifications of the good ones. Or—even better—only write the good ones. (Which, um, is called “slow blogging.”)

When you write mostly good posts, people will know a visit to your blog is a valuable use of their time and they’ll spread the word. Then maybe an agent or publisher will visit and like it so much they’ll ask you to send them a novel and you’ll end up published. That’s what happened to me—twice.

Seriously. Both my publishers contacted ME because they liked my blog.

4) Everybody has bad days. When you have to think of something to say on the day you got that nasty/clueless review/rejection, your emotions could leak out. 

On the day you vent about how all agents are spawns of Satan, you might have a visit from a wonderful agent who loved your query and was about to ask for pages. Oops.

5) Nobody can come up with that many interesting posts.

When you slow blog, and you don’t have anything to say, you don’t have to say it.

But if you succumb to pressure to blog every day, you’re in danger of blather-blogging. You might talk about your stupid boss who’s been acting like b**** in heat since the hot new guy joined the department. But what if your boss’s husband is an aspiring writer who subscribes to your blog?

Can we say “pink slip”?

6) Writing nonfiction—which is what you should be writing on your blog—uses a different part of your brain from fiction.

When you’re on a roll with a novel, and have to stop to write something perspicacious on the subject of sentence structure, you can stop that flow dead. It can take weeks to get back into the novel—as your left brain takes over and you start organizing all the paper clips in your drawer by color and alphabetizing your collection of floaty pens.

Writers’ Block time.

7) You write fiction–remember? The blog is supposed to be about getting your name out there as a creative writer. It’s an aid to your serious writing, not a substitute for it.

If you spend every day working on your blog, you’re going to neglect your novel. When you neglect your novel, you’ll forget why you wanted to be a writer.

Slow blogging helps you hang on to your dreams.

8) Trying to blog every day is impossible to keep up, so you’ll constantly feel guilty. When you feel guilty you eat/drink/smoke too much and then feel guilty about that too.

See where this is going…?

Yes, I am aware there are always the superpersons who can do it all—and I’m in awe of them. But if you’re not one of them, don’t succumb to the pressure.

And the late, great pseudonyminous agent, Miss Snark was a fan of slow blogging, too. In spite of all the pressure to “build platform,” she advised new writers to always put their writing first:

“Your job is to write…
…There’s a lot to be said for sitting down with your ownself and writing. Nothing, literally NOTHING replaces that. Focus. You’re wasting time.”

 ***

Okay, RU Crew, parking yourself in a chair on a daily basis to write is difficult enough, so how do you find the time to work on your manuscript, read blogs and comment, and keep your blog updated? Have you sacrificed writing time to maintain your social media presence? Share your tips, your gripes, and your stories of  woe. We’re here to listen!

***

Anne R. Allen is the author of six romantic-comedy mysteries published by Mark Williams international Digital Publishing.FOOD OF LOVE , THE GATSBY GAME, and the Camilla Randall Mysteries:  GHOSTWRITERS IN THE SKY , SHERWOOD, LTD, THE BEST REVENGE and NO PLACE LIKE HOME (debuting in December 2012)

Right now, the ebook of SHERWOOD, LTD is FREE!! on KOBO and Smashwords. It is also available in paperback from Amazon.

Anne blogs with NYT bestselling author—and RU regular—Ruth Harris at Anne R. Allen’s Blog…with Ruth Harris  

Anne has also written a guidebook for authors with Catherine Ryan Hyde (author of the iconic novel Pay it Forward.) HOW TO BE A WRITER IN THE E-AGE…AND KEEP YOUR E-SANITY! is full of practical info about what you need to be a professional writer today, plus advice about how to take care of yourself as you navigate the wildly changing landscape that is today’s publishing world. To learn more about Anne, please check out her website and Amazon author page.

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42 Responses to “The Slow Blog Manifesto and 8 Reasons for New Authors to Slow Blog by Anne R. Allen”

  1. Anne—As you and I know, everyone should pay attention to you because you know what you’re talking about!
    Slow blogging. Slow food. Slow sex. (Ooops, did I say that?). It all makes sense.

    Because I have such respect for Anne, when I started a blog, I took a radically different approach. I post links—links I think will engage readers—and writers. On days I find fun/provocative stuff, I post. On days I don’t, I don’t.

    After all, a writer’s first job is writing. The second job is reading—to trigger an idea, to blast through a block, to take the quick & oh-so-necessary break.

    Posted by Ruth Harris | November 30, 2012, 6:30 am
    • Thanks, Ruth! I love what you’ve done with your new blog–the idea is fresh and fun. I never miss it. You always have a link to something fascinating that gets me thinking in a new direction. The only problem–it’s totally addictive!

      Posted by Anne R. Allen | November 30, 2012, 2:01 pm
  2. Hi Anne,

    I’ve heard the blog advice and agree with your points. Coming up with something new every day is real work. I leave the heavy lifting to the RU crew. Thanks, ladies!

    Mary Jo

    Posted by Mary Jo Burke | November 30, 2012, 7:06 am
  3. Morning Anne!

    Lovely having you back with us again! =) And a great post! I tried the blog every day approach for a few weeks, but discovered once or twice a week is my best. Even at that, my blog has now sat for a few months, because I simply got buried and something (several things) had to be set aside for awhile.

    And as you say, if you’re in a bad mood, don’t blog! And I’ve been in a bad mood……..=)

    After nano, I’ll start my blog back up again…but for now….I’m blogging EXTRA slow. =)

    carrie

    Posted by Carrie Spencer | November 30, 2012, 8:46 am
  4. Thanks, Anne, for your voice of sanity amidst the endless calls for more, more, more. When I began my blog earlier this fall, I committed myself to blogging twice a week, which right now feels just the right amount to give me time to refresh my brain by writing analytically rather than imaginatively. But maybe once a week would be even better…

    Posted by Jackie Horne | November 30, 2012, 8:57 am
  5. I love this. I’m glad that some of my favorite bloggers are blogging less. Makes it easier for me to keep up with blog reading! I think every day is too excessive. I tried the 3x a week thing for a while, and quickly burned out.

    Posted by Laurie Evans | November 30, 2012, 10:51 am
    • Laurie–That’s how I feel. When my favorite bloggers post too often, I miss stuff, and then I feel like I’m out of the loop when I do stop by. Eventually I don’t read it any more because I don’t know what’s going on.

      Posted by Anne R. Allen | November 30, 2012, 2:06 pm
  6. Advice I sure could have used years ago. My blog is now a “slow blog” because I’ve gained some wisdom and because I’m simply running out of things to say. I’ll be looking for guest bloggers and blogging maybe twice a week going forward. New writers are so often bombarded with “shoulds” and “musts”. Gotta be savvy to make it out of that jungle alive and writing!

    Posted by PatriciaW | November 30, 2012, 12:06 pm
  7. Anne, I completely agree with you! I always tell new bloggers you don’t have to post daily. Once a week is fine, but you’d be amazed at how many people tell me, “No! You have to post at least 3-5 times a week!” Umm, no, you don’t.

    I think quality over quantity is key (and that’s why I like Twitter over FaceBook.) ;)

    I also agree that the Google search engine isn’t the end-all-be-all. You’d be surprised at how many sites Google filters *out* of your results depending upon your previous search history, illogically, I might add too.

    For example, we found my son’s college not through my extensive Internet searches but by a friend of mine’s. The college didn’t come up in my many, many Google searches but it did come up in my friend’s results (using the exact phrase and words that I did). It is the perfect college for him and we almost didn’t discover it because of Google’s filters. Valuable lesson learned.

    Your blog is far more likely to be discovered through word-of-mouth and/or social media than anything else so don’t worry about SEO and Google searches.

    P.S. After a brief hiatus on my own blog, I’m now going back to posting once a week or once every other week. :) Great post, Anne!

    Posted by Lisa | November 30, 2012, 1:24 pm
    • Lisa–welcome to the Slow Blog world! Even every other week is fine. And I totally agree about Google. Once a friend emailed me that she’d Googled the word “news” and my blog came up in the #4 spot. My Slow Blog. Go figure. But today I’ve been trying to find a statistic about Amazon sales and Google is useless. They keep coming up with stats from 2010.

      Very interesting about your son’s college. I hope he’s continuing to be happy there.

      Posted by Anne R. Allen | November 30, 2012, 2:13 pm
  8. Hi, Anne. Great post! I completely agree. When I’m writing a blog post I always ask myself “Who cares?” If I can’t come up with one good reason why someone would want to read the post, I scrap it. It’s a little brutal sometimes, but if I don’t care about my topic why would someone else? LOL.

    I think as writer’s we always have wisdom to share because somewhere out there is a newer writer who hasn’t experienced some of what we have.

    Posted by Adrienne Giordano | November 30, 2012, 1:36 pm
    • Adrienne–I love the idea of asking ourselves “who cares?” before we post. If nobody does, we can save ourselves the effort and get back to the WIP!

      Posted by Anne R. Allen | November 30, 2012, 2:14 pm
      • Who cares? LOL! I do sometimes refrain from posting because I think, who cares? But then it never fails that someone will email and say they learned something or enjoyed a particular post. So, there’s always value for someone. But that value likely can be had from a number of places. So, the real question is whether we attach value to our posts and how that value compares to that from other things we could be doing.

        Posted by PatriciaW | November 30, 2012, 2:31 pm
  9. Thank you, thank you, thank you for the permission to blog only once a week. As a new writer I have been under that horrible cloud of guilt not blogging every day or even twice a week in an effort to get a book finished. I now accept the fact that once a week blogging truely is OK.

    Posted by Nena Clements | November 30, 2012, 3:08 pm
  10. Anne, I think this is great advice. I belong to a group blog, so I post once a month and sometimes sponsor a guest or two, which involves putting the post up and responding to comments. I started out with a blog on my personal site, but keeping it up became very difficult. Now I only do the group site, and I feel as though that works better for me.

    Posted by Nancy Northcott | November 30, 2012, 3:43 pm
  11. Hello Anne!

    I haven’t been consistent on keeping my blog updated mostly because of time constraints. It’s also hard at times to come up with content. And now that the holidays are here, I’m even more stretched for time. I’ve been working on my ms every day, so I guess that’s better than nothing! I admire those, like you, who come up with great content week afer week!

    Thanks for being with us today!

    Posted by Jennifer Tanner | November 30, 2012, 4:02 pm
    • Jen–Thanks for inviting me. I love visiting RU. I think there’s nothing wrong with announcing a hiatus on your blog. It’s best if you can post a notice and let people know when you’ll be back. Then only post once a month if you want.

      Posted by Anne R. Allen | November 30, 2012, 6:56 pm
  12. Hi Anne – This is such a timely post! With the holidays approaching, most of us have more demands than ever on our time. I know my own blogs have been sadly neglected lately. I fully intend to bring them up to date – eventually. You made a very good point about giving ourselves permission to slack off once in awhile.

    Of course, the key here is to use the time spent not-blogging in writing, and I’ve been slacking off there, too. I’m beating myself up some lately, but I know this is a temporary situation.

    Blogging is fun and it’s a great way to connect with people, but unless you have a million followers, I think there’s some wiggle room in the posting schedule. (I’m talking about personal blogs now, not RU!!)

    Thanks for helping take some of the pressure off!

    Posted by Becke Martin Davis | November 30, 2012, 5:31 pm
    • Becke–When you say “blogs” I see something of a red flag. I think an author needs only one blog. (Besides a group blog, if you do one.) It might be that you could consolidate them. Blogs usually have about 20 pages, so there’s plenty of room for all your books, even if you write in different genres. (Unless one is erotica–then you need to keep that separate.) But one blog is easier for your readers as well as for you.

      Posted by Anne R. Allen | November 30, 2012, 6:59 pm
      • I have one blog that I use mainly to promote the schedule for Barnes & Noble’s Mystery Forum. It started out as a “real” blog but now it’s more of a bulletin board. The other blog is one I set up for family or personal-type blog posts. It’s turned into a kind of random, anything goes type of blog. Because neither are intended specifically to promote books, I’m not worried about keeping them as current as I would otherwise.

        Posted by Becke Martin Davis | November 30, 2012, 8:33 pm
        • Becke–Personal blogs are something else–those are to use as they’re needed–and on your own time. It sounds as if the other blog is a service to a bunch of people, and that’s a good thing. What I worry about is people who start a blog for each book and each genre they’re writing in–not an effective use of your time. The important thing is to keep your eyes on the prize–your WIP.

          Posted by Anne R. Allen | November 30, 2012, 9:44 pm
  13. Anne,

    Thanks again for another wonderful post. We always enjoy having you! Also, thanks to everyone who stopped in today.

    Posted by Jennifer Tanner | November 30, 2012, 11:58 pm
  14. In addition to a manifesto for slow blogging, how about a manifesto for slow blog reading?

    Just as I am not committed to blogging every day, I am not committed to reading anyone else’s blog every single day.

    Job number 1 is our own writing!

    -Diana

    Posted by Diana Schneidman | December 1, 2012, 12:17 am
  15. Yes, yes, yes. I especially love how you stated #2 and #3.

    Posted by Nina | December 2, 2012, 3:59 pm
  16. Great post! I am just starting out in the world of blogging and I’m also finding it difficult to find time to concentrate and write, what with social media distractions and the added pressure to write quality posts every week. Your guidelines are great and I will keep them in mind as I continue down the blogging/writing path. Thanks!

    Posted by Chloe Okoli | December 8, 2012, 1:19 am
    • Chloe–So glad my advice helps. It’s so hard for new writers to keep their eyes on the prize–writing great books–when we’re told we must succumb to all these distractions. Slow blogging has made it possible for me to have a successful career.

      Posted by Anne R. Allen | December 8, 2012, 10:45 am
  17. I think a lot of people subscribe to the myth that google loves blogs that are updated frequently. The more frequently the better. I too have been caught up in this belief that in order to please google you need to update your site allot. Thanks for the great post.

    Steve

    Posted by Steve Vox | December 22, 2012, 7:45 am
  18. I so much agree.

    I find that most daily bloggers, while they write beautifully, do not have anything to say. They are just marking their time, committing to some self-imposed magic goal.

    I give them a good shot, maybe a month or two, then unsubscribe.

    Posted by cle001 | December 31, 2012, 9:44 am
  19. CLE–I like your phrase “self-imposed magic goal”. I think a lot of writers buy into the “rules” of Tweeting, FB-ing, Pin-ing and blogging daily without thinking it through. They think if they commit to all this frenzied activity it will magically translate into a writing career. Often all it does is take so much time that their career can never happen.

    Posted by Anne R. Allen | December 31, 2012, 11:42 am
  20. Quite possibly the most succinct and current info I came across about this subject. Sure pleased that I discovered that site by accident. I’ll probably be subscribing for your feed so that I will get the most current updates. Like the information here.

    Posted by Term Papers | July 20, 2013, 4:02 am

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