I interviewed Shannon A. Thompson, an author, poet, and blogger who writes about writing and publishing. She is the author of the YA series The Timely Death Trilogy. She helped me out with a journalism class project, and I thought her answers and advice were so good that I decided to post them here. Enjoy!
1. What prompted you to start blogging? Why blog on that topic?
I began blogging in 2012 when I decided I wanted to get re-involved with the publishing community. I’d been involved before—back in 2007—but that was a different time. There were no eBooks, for instance. The first thing I noticed was how much bigger (and better) things had become after everyone (writers, cover artists, editors, readers, etc.) found one another, mainly through blogging. So, I started my own blog. Granted, I had no idea what I would blog about. At first, I started blogging about books, music, and movies, but I quickly noticed that my followers responded to my writing tips the most, so I continued to focus on that.
2. What are the goals and intent of the blog? What types of subjects are featured in the blog?
I didn’t necessarily have any goals when it came to blogging. I simply wanted to find my people, and I loved writing anyway, so blogging was a way to combine those two aspects of my life. The topics changed over time, but I mainly focus on what my followers want me to discuss the most.
3. How do you communicate with your followers? What types of responses have followers given to postings?
I respond to every comment on every article. I often read other blogs, too. Communicating goes both ways; so does blogging. Thankfully, I mainly receive positive responses. I have received a few negative ones in the past, but as long as they are constructive (and not trolling), I don’t mind. We can all debate a topic. But trolls aren’t allowed. I delete anything that doesn’t add to the conversation in a mindful way, because I want my website to be a fun and safe place for readers and writers alike. It creates extra work, but I believe it’s worth it.
4. How do you promote the blog? What works best and worst?
I don’t really promote my blog, to be honest. In fact, I’ve had to slow down over the years. When I first started, I blogged every other day for two years straight. It was a lot of work, and I eventually realized that my time could be better spent elsewhere. Also, followers tend to enjoy less updates than more, so I cut down overtime. I’m currently blogging once a week now, and I love it just as much. In fact, I think it’s more productive with fewer postings. But I share my weekly posts across my author platform, mainly Facebook and Twitter.
5. What new things have you learned about the world and your field of interest because of the blog? What would you do differently if starting a blog today?
As stated above, I’d probably blog less than I originally blogged, because that time can be spent working on your craft. (Then again, maybe that’s why it grew so fast. It’s hard to say.) In my case, once I had an audience, I was able to spend more time writing books by cutting down on blogging. But I will always have a blog. My blog has connected me with some amazing people, and those amazing people changed my life. In fact, my current publisher and I shared a connection through my blog, and I think that helped when we decided to work together. Blogging can open amazing doors. (Even if those doors are invisible and on the Internet.)
6. What suggestions do you have for students and others who want to blog?
Start! The best part of blogging is that it is easy, simple, and free. You don’t have to own a URL or get a custom-made website right up front. Just start, and see where it goes. You’ll find your way.