13 Types of Writers’ Blogs – Pros and Cons

There are a great many different types of author blogs out there, some of them absolutely awesome (like John Scalzi’s Whatever, Chuck Wendig’s Terribleminds, Larry Brooks’ Storyfix, Janice Hardy’s The Other Side Of The Story and Jody Hedlund‘s blog, and dozens more) and some of them rather peculiar and all over the place (won’t give examples, I’m sure you know a few).

I’ve been spying around with my little digital eye, sifting through the many authors’ blogs that stand out and a few that don’t, trying to understand the pattern and the basic categories. I’ve only taken single-person blogs into consideration, not group blogs or multiple-column websites, and here’s the resulting list of my findings. It’s a multiple-choice list really, since most great blogs are a mix of at least two types, and it’s also got the distinct selfish purpose of clarifying my own direction for the future.

 

1. General Writing Advice

Writers that have dedicated their online existence to teaching other writers about the writing craft. The posts cover all the basic elements of the writing craft, specific techniques and countless examples, interactive critique and case studies, and are not directed at specific genres. These blogs are popular watering holes for the big and small scribblers scurrying through the internet.
Pro
: They offer an enormous amount of useful tips and tricks, and attract a large audience of aspiring writers who form a loyal community around the blog’s author.
Con: Such blogs rarely win over new customers who buy books, except if the books are about writing fiction. They also tend to lack more depth the wider they spread in their struggle to cover all relevant topics.

2. Writing Industry 

Not just authors, but also agents, editors and publishers who blog about industry inside information and related advice. Particularly loved by writers who are dealing with the industry for the first time, either querying agents or self-publishing their debut novels.
Pro
:
These blogs offer a degree of transparency to the publishing process, and offer much needed guidance to beginners.
Con: They don’t do much in terms of establishing their author as a creator of fiction. But that’s fine, most blog authors of this type aren’t primarily writing fiction anyway.

3. Writing Pop Culture

Writers who blog about the latest developments in the literary community, such as current best sellers, awards and prestigious contests, conventions and lectures by famous authors. They focus on what’s hot and why, and act like a search light running over the entire literary landscape, highlighting things of general interest to writers.
Pro
:
They are an awesome source to keep up with the speeding industry and community.
Con: They are mainly literary newsreels.

4. Genre Specific 

Writers who only blog about topics and advice related to their specific genre. Most often encountered with writers of sciene-fiction, fantasy, romance, historical, horror and crime. They can be about the writing craft and research, or industry developments and awards, as long as they’re related to the genre.
Pro
:
Ideal for other writers of the genre, and for ones curious about dipping in. Also great for readers who are curious about the nuts and bolts of how books of their favorite genre come to be.
Con: This type of blog is tough to pull off for writers who have a very unique perspective on their genre, and might not find a great many other writers who share that approach. But I doubt that’s the point of genre related blogs.

5. Polemic and Satire

Writers whose main focus is criticism of current social developments, of writing industry developments, other writers, politics, religion, and general online community developments. These blogs are strongly colored by the author’s opinions, but not necessarily in a negative way. If the author is well informed and has a strong grip on reality, such a blog can be phenomenal.
Pro
:
Readers of all kinds can get a good inside scoop, get to understand the author’s perspective while also becoming informed about critical issues.
Con: Strong opinions often find strong opposition. It’s not uncommon for such blogs to cause comment-riots and segregation.

6. Research and Sciences

Writers who mainly blog about facts they discover during book research, or about the latest scientific and technological developments. Also, writers who blog about uncovered historical facts, details of a real political situation they are writing about, details about a true crime they are writing about, and so on.
Pro: Facts are awesome! Weird facts and uncommon discoveries are even awesomer. A great many people are curious about facts, even if they don’t have any other tangents with that particular science, genre or topic.
Con: It’s not easy to present facts in an entertaining and personal way, and not become a Wikipedia subsidiary.

7. Speculation and Contemplation

This type of blog spans the entire fiction genre spectrum. It consists of writers who blog about potential future developments of our current sciences or industries, about the evolution of individual or global consciousness, about technological advancements looming just over the horizon, or about political developments in the far future. It also consists of writers who blog about the meaning of the human condition as we know it now, about the effects of certain historical events on our present priorities, and so on. Not to mention general ruminations about the life, the universe and everything.
Pro: Fascinating blogs to follow if their authors have a way of making things expand and grow, stimulating the readers’ imagination.
Con: There’s a thin line between speculation and aberration; also some blogs lean perilously toward preaching and doomsday-saying.

8. Personal Diary

Writers who blog about anything that strikes their fancy, held together by the fact that it’s mainly about things that affect them personally, not a wider group of people. Trips with the family, memory lane strolls and personal qualms and hopes are included.
Pro: These blogs often create a cozy atmosphere, like an afternoon conversation with a friend, and can be really valuable in today’s accelerating day-to-day hustle.
Con: Keeping private things private is often a problem, as is the tendency toward digression.

9. Fiction Samples and Contests

Writers who mainly post samples of their fiction, either from a work in progress or as entries into various online writing contests.
Pro: A very good way to show skill and attract readers, to promote one’s book or to gain visibility among peers.
Con: Not well suited for novelists, and sometimes even counterproductive. They also feel episodic, lacking cohesion.

10. Guest Posts, Interviews, Reviews and Promotion

Writers whose blogs are comprised of posts written by, or centered on other people — interviews, guest posts, reblogged posts from famous bloggers, and even complimentary reviews specifically intended to promote other writers (often on a quid-pro-quo basis).
Pro: Great page-view statistics and a glorious aura of selfless generosity.
Con: A glorious lack of personality & meaning.

11. Personal Ramblings, Rants and General Gibberish

The blog that just won’t get to the point. This category holds blogs by writers who have no idea what to blog about and end up sighing or thinking in 500 words spurts, or bitching about things they don’t like or can’t be bothered to understand. Not to be confused with the diary blogs, in which posts treat coherent episodes of their writer’s lives, or with the polemic and satire blogs that discuss things of general importance in an intelligent, sarcastic manner.
Pro: A good way to vent frustrations, and to establish oneself as a human being (as opposed to, say, a three-legged chair).
Con: They give people that eerie feeling of intruding on someone’s tantrum. They have a troubling tendency toward woe-is-me-ism and toward censoring comments that disagree or chastise the writer for their bitching.

12. Social Media Paraphenalia

Writers who don’t seem to have anything else in common with the writing community other than the social media tools they use. Their blogs focus primarily on how to promote books via social media, how to gain followers or use hashtags correctly, how to create FB pages or author blogs, and how to get people to interact with their automation bots. Not offering much else than mainstream blogging blogs, these types of “writers” blogs are pretty much just a travesty for various tutorials.
Pro: Temporarily useful to writers who are starting out with a specific online tool.
Con: Indistinguishable from general tutorials dedicated to social media tools, most of which are much more detailed and professional than their “writer dedicated” counterparts.

13. All-Over-The-Spacetime-Continuum Disasters

Writer blogs that are updated only when the right stars are aligned, that have never seen a coherent topic thread or a distinct author voice, and are basically reduced to being washed-out tags hanging from their author’s name in various search engines.
Pro: Useful as space-fillers for those nasty rows that say “website” on various social media profiles.
Con: Complete and utter waste of bytes, with less genuine followers than letters in their domain names.

 

Most successful author blogs are a combination of at least two such categories (typically those before #10), but despite their great variety, all of them share the presence of a strong, authoritarian voice that readers trust and enjoy to read. Most of that strength comes from dedication and conviction, from passion and openness, not from a secret formula of success or the current fad in modern bloggery.

After almost a year in the blogosphere (yeah yeah, I know, whatta greenhorn), I think I want my blog to be more (4) Genre Specific (maybe with some research and speculation thrown in), so I will slowly veer away from general writing advice. I have nothing against writing blogs, in fact I love reading posts about the craft, but I find it increasingly tedious to write them myself. I’d much rather spend my online time chatting about the awesomely diverse science-fiction universe that makes my cogs spin and my lights burn brighter every single day. Blogging about the sciences and the resulting fictions is both exciting and daunting, but you know what, it feels pretty damn good! I hope most of you guys will stick around with me, and there will still be occasional how-to and what’s-this posts, but I gladly yield the writing advice floor to professional coaches who are much better at teaching things than me.

So whatta ya think? Which types do you enjoy reading most?

Also which type of blog is yours? How did you realize it’s what you really wanted?

 

About Vero

Writer of dark science-fiction, blogger of practical things. Destroyer of keyboards and worlds.
-- @VeronicaSicoe

Comments

  1. Peter says:

    Looking forward to your #4

    I’m sure it will be insightful

  2. Mike Keyton says:

    I guess mine falls into catagory 8 with the occasional 7 and 6 if you count history as research. My internal censor, I hope, eliminates catagory 11. I enjoy reading ‘writing’ blogs but only in small doses because too much ‘advice’ can cause confusion and overload, or sometimes boredom if you’ve read all this before. And I confess, though I am a writer, I wouldn’t dare give advice or write a ‘writerly blog’ because I don’t have that gift. For me it would be a bit like a centipede thinking which leg to use first. Confusion and chaos.

    • Vero says:

      Oh, I was definitely thinking of your blog when I wrote “…often create a cozy atmosphere, like an afternoon conversation with a friend.” :)
      I agree that too much advice is like too many cooks in the kitchen. It’s incredible how much invaluable advice there is out there, and I wouldn’t miss it for the world, but I’m not so sure everyone’s cut out for giving it. Although attempting it does seem to be a rite of passage for fresh writers/bloggers, doesn’t it? :)

  3. Patrick Ross says:

    What an interesting discussion you’ve queued up here! When I started The Artist’s Road two years ago, it was not to create another writing blog, but to document my return to an art-committed life, and to invite other creatives to join me (and help keep me on the path). It was also to pass along lessons I learned from creatives who inspired me to return to that life, and I now pass on wisdom I’m learning through my MFA and other creative explorations, so I guess that makes me a #1 blog at times. But I don’t pretend to be an expert, and I am not pedantic. Much of the “learning” one can do on my blog comes from reader comments.

    The Artist’s Road also is #7, contemplation, because I like to ask tough questions about the nature of art, creativity, and the human spirit, knowing full well I don’t have the answers. I invite readers to share their thoughts, and they do, and they’re amazing.

    I will confess to being surprised last December when I was named a Top Ten Blog for Writers by Write to Done. I hadn’t thought of The Artist’s Road as a “writer’s blog.” But I recognize now that it is, that as I document my return to an art-committed life as a creative writer, that is going to speak most directly to other creative writers, particularly most of my #1 posts. Ultimately, however, I choose to focus more on what value-add I bring to the online world, and less on how it conforms to any particular label.

    • Vero says:

      The Artist’s Road certainly feels like a journey you’re sharing with others, and it’s what makes your blog such an inviting place for writers who are conscious of their journey as they go through it. It’s like an ongoing conversation, not a set of sermons on the tricks of fiction writing, which is why it works so well and doesn’t necessarily feel like a #1. It’s personal and unpretentious. You can tell I like your blog, dontcha? ;)

      Thanks for commenting, Patrick!

  4. Cindy Dwyer says:

    Very insightful post! I’m a definite 8, Personal Diary, which is no surprise since 8 is my favorite number. Oh, wait. Did I just get too personal there? ;)

    I do try to walk the line between sharing enough and not sharing too much. I also let family pre-approve (or veto) pieces about themselves.

    • Vero says:

      Master of the diary blog! :D Seriously, I think the way you’re handling the amount of personal is quite fine, Cindy. Your blog gives just enough detail to feel real, but it’s not like you’re washing dirty laundry on the street all day. ;) Thanks for stopping by!

  5. Guilie says:

    Nice list, Vero! I think you hit it on the nose. All the blogs I follow fall into one category or other, or a mix of them. Mine, if we’re feeling positive, would have to be the Personal Diary one, perhaps the Polemic and Satire in some instances. If we’re feeling a tad more negative, it definitely has elements of all-over-the-place Rants and Disasters :D

    Thanks for this! Excellent list (again)!

  6. Jelena says:

    My blog is defo #6, tho quite in a personal #4 way. Occasionally I might get into #10, writing reviews, but I’m not interested in reviewing fiction. I prefer “adventure narrative” books. I know, I’m weird.

    I tried writing other stuff. It was meh.

    As for reading, I read everything I find interesting along the blogosphere spectrum and anything that doesn’t make my eyes hurt (like does the entangled prose.)

    • Vero says:

      Jelena, you sure have a knack for scientific articles and essays. :)

      I totally understand what you mean with trying to write about other stuff, and feeling meh about them. I’ve been trying out all sort of topics and approaches, all of them honest despite very different, and must say nothing felt as right as talking about science-fiction. Kinda duh, but it’s still something that I had to discover by trying.

      Thanks for commenting!

  7. J.W. Alden says:

    I’m hovering somewhere between number one and number four, with the needle pointing a little closer to number one. But, you know, I’ve been getting that same feeling that you have in regards to the increasing tedium of writing entries focused on writing advice. I still enjoy them for the most part, but more and more I’m beginning to get that feeling that it’s pulling me away from something I’d rather be doing. And when I started blogging, I told myself I would never let that happen.

    So, like you, I think I’m going to slowly start moving the needle over toward the other side. The entries on my blog that focus on speculative fiction in general (like my tropes series) are much more entertaining to write. Next week, I’m introducing another new monthly feature in which I get to do some musing on works of speculative fiction that I admire, and I think entries like that one will slowly become the norm on my blog.

    Anyway, awesome post! You’ve pretty much nailed it. I think I can fit just about every blog I follow somewhere on this list.

    • Vero says:

      Your speculative fiction tropes series is great to read, James. Can’t wait for the new series of posts too!

      I think for writers of science-fiction, fantasy and crime — genres with large, committed audiences and fans — can definitely benefit more (both personally, and as a way to mingle) from writing about genre-relevant topics, rather than about general ones which are covered, like, everywhere. Occasionally, sure. Constantly… meh. Starting to feel like castration to me. :)

  8. Tim Huntley says:

    Thank you Veronica. This was EXACTLY the post I needed to read today.

    I have blogged for the past two years in several non-fiction niches, but have struggled with how to make a transition to an author site for my interest in writing fiction. My goal is to attract a blog audience that would be the most likely readers for my fiction. Using your categories, I believe some combination of #4, #6, and #7 might serve me well.

    If you have a different opinion, please advise.

    …Tim

    • Vero says:

      Thanks for stopping by to comment, Tim! Nice meeting you.

      I think your choice of topics is sound. You’re probably not gonna get around experimenting and trying things out (theory is always leaner and cleaner than practice), but starting out with posts on your genre, corresponding research and extrapolations is an awesome way to go.

      Wish you and your new blog success and patience! :D

  9. Have you thought of running two blogs? You’re writing commentary is really good, much appreciated, and will be sorely missed. Or perhaps splitting the blog in two halves?

    • Vero says:

      Thanks for the appreciation, Peter! :) I’m most likely still gonna write the occasional writing article, but tailored to science-fiction. It’s becoming increasingly hard to take other types of novels into consideration, because whatever I learn and try out, I specifically fine-tune to sci-fi. I’ll go for depth, rather than breadth, y’know? ;)

  10. Maureen says:

    Hi,
    Nice list which got me thinking. I have been writing my weekly blog for over four years and it is a number two. Mainly because I wanted to learn about the industry myself and so…i shared what i found out. I write fiction for children so the blog is very much in the opposite direction being an aggregator of current news, tips and trends in the wider publishing industry. However it has been an interesting journey, as I have found myself becoming a go to person here in my country when people want advice or information…I put up excerpts of my children’s books in dedicated blog websites linked from my main blog. I probably need to reshape the whole thing eventually. Thanks for the thought provoking blog post.

    • Vero says:

      Hi Maureen, thanks for stopping by to comment!

      Blogs with relevant information on the industry are always welcome, since even though there are a lot of writers out there, only few really know how the industry works and what they need to keep their eyes out for.

  11. Adam Gaylord says:

    I made the list! Hooray for number 13!

    • Vero says:

      LOL You crack me up! :D

      You’re still a good stretch away from #13, Adam, and yours is definitely not a muddled blog, it’s immediately apparent you’re a writer. But yeah, consistency and general social media activity does increase visibility. Without it, even the most phenomenal content remains obscure.

  12. Dan Thompson says:

    An excellent taxonomy. Mine is mostly a #4 (for the SF & F genres) with regular visits by 1&2 (writing and news) and 10 (book and movie reviews).

    I came here via the Passive Guy, but I liked what you said about your mission in making SF up close and personal. I’ll be adding you to my feed manager and looking for to more genre posts.

    • Vero says:

      Thanks, Dan! I’m glad you found the post useful and that you like it here.

      Also thank you for the subscription — I won’t be doing much for the rest of this year (holidays and travel and all), but next year will be a blast! I’m glad you’ll be around.

  13. Becca Mills says:

    Great run-down, Veronica, thank you! I’ve realized in the last month or so that I should reorient my blog (currently a 1/2) more toward a 4/6. What I started out trying to do just wasn’t the best approach. Not only was it not interesting to readers, but it wasn’t, in the long run, all that interesting to me, so it’s been hard to keep motivated as a blogger. I think a 4/6 combination will be more interesting to readers and, just as importantly, more interesting to me. Thanks for giving me these categories — reading this is helping me think more specifically about what I need to do. Great post!

    • Vero says:

      Thanks, Becca! :) Nice meeting you.

      I’ve had a very similar experience with yours. When I started blogging, I went for a typical writing blog with writing advice, techniques and questions, some humor thrown in, but not much of a personal blog, one that I felt was me in online form. The moment I started blogging more about my genre, and my other passions that flow into writing, it started feeling much more personal to me. Instead of worrying what to blog about (I mean, let’s be serious, everyone and their aunt have already covered all general aspects of the writing craft), I became more and more excited to blog about these small, unique things that I love about writing in my genre.
      You’ve reached a very natural and liberating conclusion—that it’s very important for us to be eager and passionate about our blog topics, otherwise even our most chiseled posts will be shallow.

      Thank you very much for stopping by to comment!

  14. j. johnson says:

    Steered here by cosmic winds backing my productivity sail, coming to a brief pause while directions change you gave me a question I had not asked. I write a blog for writing and what results may be 1 ~ 10, I’m surely least qualified to say. Some posting are from letters to the editor of my local paper rag. Some are from work I’m developing, some rants, some musings, some regrets but I expect overall that would result if you stopped by the back porch on a sunny day while we shared a glass of tea, beads of water leaving a ring with each cooling sip and the combination of those rings as significant as what was say, who said it, and any conclusions reached. I’m sorry did I fall off topic, dear me?

    • Vero says:

      Sounds like a conversational blog, with all kinds of things thrown in, just like life comes with a bunch of things at times. :) Wish you good luck!

  15. Interesting. I like reading blogs on research and science, speculation and contemplation, and personal diaries. I adore The Passive Voice, which is an industry blog, but I don’t think I like industry blogs in general. I need to stay informed, of course, and PV (plus 2 others) does that in an entertaining way.

    I suppose my own blog is a variant on the personal diary. I do include anecdotes, but my focus is on topics that interest me and that I believe will interest others: science, green living, healthy living, nutrition, and lore from the fantasy world in which I set my stories.

    • Vero says:

      – And you give great writing advice, J.M.! I loved your post on cover blurbs.

      Blogging about what interests you, while also making it useful for others, is the absolute best way to go. I think you’re in a very good place with that.

      Thank you for stopping by to comment, and nice meeting you, J.M.! :)

  16. Personally, I have bought some of Joe Konrath’s books because I read his blog, but he says that’s not generally true.

    So I believe the most practical use of a blog for a writer is to write one that will attract and impress potential readers.

    This is a challenge for fiction writers. A blend of the personal (because many readers do like to know more about authors as people even if it’s not relevant to their books) and facts and opinions related to the genre seem most logical.

    • Vero says:

      That’s definitely true, that a good blog has to be practical and attract readers (both blog-readers, and fiction readers aka potential buyers). First of all it has to feel natural, to both writer and readers.

      Thanks for stopping by to comment, Richard! :)

  17. Diana Hunter says:

    I just blogged about finally, after several fits and starts, finding my writer’s voice when it comes to blogging. While I have a weekly column/set of posts/thread dedicated to the writing craft, I also have the same for personal thoughts, articles about professionalism, and books I’ve been reading. The tags in the sidebar help readers find posts that have similar themes.

    (sidenote: I’m in the process of going back through and labeling all back-posts that were put up before Blogger had tagging capability. I’m also narrowing the focus of the tag list as there are some that can be rolled together)

    As a result of six years of posts and experiementation, the blog is more a catch-all and has elements of your # 1, 4, 6, 7, 8 — and a bit of 11 for spice :). In fact, I owe it a post soon…

    Good discussion!
    Diana

    • Vero says:

      Thanks, Diana, your blog looks like a fun & useful place. It’s not easy to have so many things going on, but separating them with tags or categories, and gathering links together on a single page like you did is very helpful. I wish you the best of luck with it for the future! :)

      • Diana Hunter says:

        Thanks, Vero. I used to have both a static webpage and a blog, but getting the webpage updated in a timely fashion wasn’t easy and I eventually gave it up. I’ll stick with a single site where I can control the message. :)

  18. Elisa Nuckle says:

    I guess I’m nervous about this because my blog falls under #10 and I would rather like my blog to have some personality, haha. I don’t know, blogging is hard. I’m not entirely sure what is right or wrong, what I’m supposed to talk about or what people find interesting. This helps though. Thanks for posting it.

    • Vero says:

      Your blog is not a #10 by my definition, Elisa. ;) It’s an 8 + 9 + 10, not a fully regurgitating blog like the ones I’ve described in 10. You have personal diary type of posts, thoughtful posts about universal matters (like your “astronomy” posts), motivational and writing related posts from a personal perspective, and and and. It’s not a one sided blog, and definitely not one lacking personality.

      I’m glad you found my post useful. Thanks for stopping by to comment! Wish you good luck with your blog and your awesome looking books! ;)

      • Elisa Nuckle says:

        I found this post incredibly useful! You really helped me define what I want out of my blog, and I appreciate that, as I’ve never been able to really, really put a finger on what I wanted out of it, you know?

        Also thanks! I hope things go great for you in 2013. :)

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