Monday, September 10, 2012

Blogging With Brandon and Bryan Write Brain by Shannon Lawrence

Before getting to the notes on our August Write Brain, "Blogging with Brandon and Bryan," let's meet the guys who presented it:

Brandon and Bryan are a pair of fraternal, mostly unrelated twins. Bryan is from just outside of Denver, Colorado and has never left because of a fear of the unknown. And Brandon was once from Denver, Colorado but moved to Chicago, Illinois to pursue his lifelong dream of dodging urban gunfire. He's since returned.

Both brothers are writers, and between the two they've completed 46 short stories (40 from Brandon, 1 from Bryan, 5 collaborative) and seven novels, a good half of which are readable. They co-author the moderately popular blog/web-comic A Beer for the Shower. When they aren't penning collaborative novels together, you can find them throttling their livers at the local bar, posting politically incorrect web-comics, or indulging in one of life's greatest victories: a beer in the shower (separately, we assure you--get your mind out of the gutter).

Read Bryan and Brandon’s blog,

Blogging with Brandon and Bryan
Written up by Shannon Lawrence

Why Blog?
1. Self-promotion - you're putting yourself out there and reaching out to others
2. It's free!
3. Guaranteed writing time - all writing helps you grow in your abilities
4. You'll have a leg up on everyone else

Blog vs. Static Website
A blog is constantly changing, versus a static website, which typically remains very much the same except for the occasional updates/changes. People won't visit a website as much as they will a blog that has new content on a regular basis, and they'll be much more likely to stick around and hear about new releases and projects.

How to Blog
Blogging does not have to be hard. If you use an easy-to-use blog site, such as Google Blogger or WordPress, you don't have to know html coding. Blogger is a bit easier to use, while WordPress tends to be a bit more technical and require a little more know-how.

Your main focus in blogging should be marketing, not monetizing, but you can use Google Ad Sense if you hope to make money from your blog, as well. Google Ad Sense allows you to make money per-click by placing their ads on your blog. Be cautious about this; reviews are mixed.

Another way to monetize your blog is to receive payment from companies for doing reviews or placing their sponsored ads.

Be warned, though, that a blog slathered in ads may be a turn-off, sending people away from your blog.

Do's & Don'ts
Don't over-promote - there should be content on your blog that isn't just about selling yourself.
Don't over-post - holding yourself to a schedule of posting too often will wear you out, as well as waste content that you could be spreading out.
Don't be a disengenuous sycophant - don't go around to blogs posting "nice post" with nothing useful to say; put some effort into it.
Don't info-dump - break it up if you have a lot to say; blog readers aren't looking for long posts.
Don't be boring - try to keep it interesting or people won't want to read.

Do set up a schedule - people are more likely to come by and visit if they know you post on specific dates; it's also easier on you.
Do be honest - be yourself; not everyone will like what you put out, but that is okay.
Do socialize - have a web presence/multiple forms of social media so you can be found or are searchable. On top of that, don't be afraid to make friends and care about others; this is meant to be social networking.
Do display your writing (occasionally) - you're marketing for yourself, so put out tastes of your work so people can see how desperately they need to buy your books.
Do be patient - growth takes time; you will not have five billion followers in the first week.
Do create good tags - this goes back to being searchable; create tags that will bring a lot of people to your blog.
Do monitor your stats - find your stats in your dashboard and watch what brings the traffic into your blog. Know your bounce rate, which is how many people pop up and leave quickly, therefore probably not actually reading your content.
Do use pictures/images - blocks of text make people tune out; be sure to find legal free stock images or your own artwork/photos.
Do integrate social networking - post a link to your blog posts on your Facebook, Twitter, Google +, etc.

About the Writer:  Shannon Lawrence is a mom of two, a freelance writer and aspiring novelist.  She lives in Colorado Springs and is inspired by the beauty of Pikes Peak and the Rockies.  After years of letting her writing fall by the wayside, she has recently thrown herself back into it.  Her main focus is fantasy and horror and she has just finished a Young Adult Fantasy novel.  She has also recently discovered a love of photography and enjoys photographing the breathtaking Colorado scenery and wildlife, as well as her children.  She blogs about writing at