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Do You Need a Blog Mentor?

Yesterday I was talking to one of my clients, the uber-talented Patricia Raybon, about building an online presence and using blogging and social networking to build a platform (all the things we’ve been discussing on the blog lately). She said she’d been reading all the recommended websites about blogging, and even got the book Blogging for Dummies. But it all still seemed so overwhelming. Can you relate? I think many people feel this way.

Patricia said, “I’d love to be able to work closely with a cyber counselor – that’s what I call it, anyway. Someone who could work with me, step by step, as I’m starting my blog and trying other social networking. Someone to talk me through designing my blog – not just the look of it, but the concept behind it – then help me get it up and running.”.”

I said, “You mean like a blogging mentor?”

We talked about it for awhile and I realized, a cyber-counselor is a GREAT idea (not to mention that I think we coined a couple of great terms, blog mentor and cyber counselor). People who’d be perfect at this are those who are already published authors, are successful bloggers, and already run some kind of editorial or consulting service where they work with authors. They could expand their businesses to include counseling authors in building an online platform.

Of course, the downside for authors needing this kind of service is that it will cost. Many writers won’t be able to afford a service like this. But… many people can afford it, especially those who work full time, plus write books, and don’t have the extra time needed to teach themselves all the ins and outs of blogging and social networking. This kind of person may have more money than time available, and might well benefit from working with a blogging mentor.

I put out a call on Twitter for blogging mentors and got a few responses. Here are some you might look into:

Camy Tang

Blogging with Beth

Kelly McCausey

Blogging Bistro

Anne Wayman

Lori Widmer

Kristen King

Thomas Umstattd Jr.

In addition, you could click on the websites of the editors listed on my Freelance Editors page. Many of them are published authors and successful bloggers as well as writing consultants, so they’re used to working with authors and could probably expand into blog-mentoring.

If YOU are (1) a published author, (2) a successful blogger, (3) already running a consulting business, and (4) would be willing to be a cyber counselor for authors, here’s your chance to leave your name and contact information in the comments.

Hope this helps!

Rachelle Gardner, Christian Literary Agent, Colorado

Rachelle Gardner

Literary agent at Books & Such Literary Agency. Coffee & wine enthusiast (not at the same time) and dark chocolate connoisseur. I've worked in publishing since 1995 and I love talking about books!

25 Comments

  1. Paula on April 20, 2013 at 9:36 PM

    Have you check niche blogger ? I haven’t try her yet. But it seems very affordable and effective



  2. Britt26Kimberley on February 12, 2012 at 6:23 PM

    I had got a desire to start my own organization, nevertheless I didn’t have enough of cash to do this. Thank heaven my dude proposed to utilize the personal loans. Thence I took the collateral loan and made real my dream.



  3. Joanna Penn on June 29, 2009 at 6:32 PM

    >Hi Rachelle,

    Thanks for bringing this up – I get many emails on this because many creatives are not very technical, but are being forced into it now.

    I have started consulting with people on their blogs. I am an IT consultant and author so blend both worlds! I love all the techy stuff and also love the creativity of it.
    My blog, The Creative Penn, is one of the top 10 Australian writing blogs: if people are interested, they can check it out here
    http://www.thecreativepenn.com/

    Thanks, Joanna



  4. Laura Christianson on June 19, 2009 at 1:48 PM

    >Thanks so much, Rachelle, for the shoutout about my blog mentoring (or should I say, CONSULTING) services.

    I appreciate you pointing out to your readers who don't think mentors should get paid for their services that those of us who do get paid started out as authors, bloggers, and unpaid mentors (and we still do a great deal of pro bono mentoring).

    It took me many years to get to a place where I felt comfortable saying, "I am a writer. This is my profession. I've spent my career preparing for it, doing it, and I deserve to get paid a fair wage for it."

    I didn't get paid for my blog mentoring services until I'd worked with a lot of people and they kept telling me, "You should charge for this."

    Although I now mentor/consult with companies, large and small, my heart and passion is with authors.

    One of the things we writers neglect — either out of fear or from lack of information — is information about how to build our platform or our brand. The Internet is one of the most effective and least expensive ways to begin building that platform. I think it's well worth an investment of $50 or $100 or even $1,000 to seek expert help, so you don't waste hours of your time re-inventing the wheel.

    I also like what Camy Tang said about how promoting fiction is different than promoting non-fiction. If you're looking for a blogging or social media mentor, try to find someone who specializes in your genre (I focus more on non-fiction and niche topics).

    Happy blogging!

    Laura Christianson
    Author, speaker, and owner of http://www.BloggingBistro.com



  5. Jen on June 19, 2009 at 11:08 AM

    >This has been a fascinating discussion. I have to agree with Jenny that Christina Katz (http://christinakatz.com) has been a wonderful blogging mentor.

    While reading reviews of her book, Get Known Before the Book Deal, I read that Christina's chapter on blogging was the most detailed and helpful around, and that it was clear she knew her stuff, esp. when it came to blogging.

    I bought the book and took one of her classes on platform development. I continue to draw from each to keep my blog fresh and interesting for those interested in my specific topic (commercial fishing families).



  6. Susan J. Elliott on June 19, 2009 at 8:23 AM

    >My blog became a book (well the book is based on the blog with lots of participation from my readers!) and I'm working on a second book so I just started another blog.

    The blog is at
    http://GettingPastYourPast.wordpress.com

    and the book website is
    http://www.GettingPastYourBreakup.com

    I have left some advice over on AbsoluteWrite but would welcome email questions about blogging.

    Susan



  7. thoughtthinkers on June 19, 2009 at 7:33 AM

    >Bogging really is easy and fun once you find your audience. My blog, The Thoughts I Think, is a funny look inside my life as a Christian mom. It isn’t always about kids but it is relatable to moms in some way; and because it has a humorous slant it is both fun and encouraging. I also update my Facebook and Twitter status whenever I have a new post; I get most of my traffic that way.

    I hope that helps.

    Ginny Martyn
    http://thoughtthinkers.wordpress.com
    ginnymartyn@yahoo.com



  8. Camy Tang on June 19, 2009 at 4:38 AM

    >Thanks for listing my service, Rachelle! I want to let people know that one thing I've learned is that blogging in order to promote fiction is a very different ballgame from blogging to promote a nonfiction topic like writing (think about it–it's a non fiction topic, even if you're teaching how to write fiction) or adoption or whatever. My expertise is in helping novelists blog and do online marketing in order to market their fiction, not their nonfiction.

    Mary DeMuth is a good example of someone who does both fiction and non fiction, and she will also tell you that there are differences. She has managed to combine the issues in her fiction with her non fiction topics, but for another writer who only writes fiction, it can be more challenging to market your fiction via blogging or online marketing.

    Camy



  9. Stina Lindenblatt on June 18, 2009 at 11:02 PM

    >Ooops! That didn't quite sound right. Teenage girls are my target audience, not the topic of my blog. That's what happens with not enough sleep.



  10. Stina Lindenblatt on June 18, 2009 at 6:06 PM

    >Hmmm. I think I'll stick with Blogging for Dummies. It taught me everything I wanted to know about blogging. And because of it, I decided not to blog about my adventure in writing land (there's already so many great blogs on that subject already out there). Instead, I picked a topic that might be of interest to my target audience: teenage girls.



  11. Derek Burress on June 18, 2009 at 3:57 PM

    >I left you a message on twitter (you're not a follower, so I do not know if you saw it or not). I used to blog about real estate before I decided to try my hand at books. I have a ton of blog mentoring friends who could assist you. Several specialize in real estate, but there is two who works with other clients outside of real estate as well. They are kind of like me with my book, they just started with the real estate bloggers and moved on.

    Let me know if you want some names and I will tweet them your way.

    derek_burress (twitter)



  12. Rebecca LuElla Miller on June 18, 2009 at 3:06 PM

    >Rachelle,

    I've edited published books, and meet the other three qualifications you list. You can find my current list of services at Rewrite, Reword, Rework. Thanks for the blogging mentor idea.

    Becky



  13. Yat-Yee on June 18, 2009 at 2:46 PM

    >I wish the mentor/apprentice system is much more common, not just in the writing field, but in everything else. I learned about teaching piano that way, and wouldn't trade my three years with my mentors for anything.

    On an aside, I was just thinking Twitter can be overwhelming, yet in this instance, it worked.



  14. Timothy Fish on June 18, 2009 at 11:43 AM

    >Rachelle (and everyone else), don’t get me wrong. I’m all for people paying for consulting services. Somewhere between $50 and $100 per hour is probably a fair rate for something like this. My issue is with calling it mentoring when we actually mean consulting. Consultants should be paid. Mentors should not be paid (at least not by the protégé). Some of you are already saying I’m splitting hairs here, but allow me to explain. It raises real ethical issues when a mentor is placed in a position of being the employee of the protégé. By definition, the mentor is a person worthy of respect, either because of a higher position in an organization, because of more training or because of more experience. When the protégé is the employer, the roles are reversed. A good mentor needs freedom to say what needs to be said, without fear that it will impact his income. The only time it is realistic to expect this freedom is when the protégé has no control of the purse strings.



  15. Jenny on June 18, 2009 at 10:27 AM

    >I've got a great blogging mentor for you: Christina Katz author of Writer Mama and Getting Known Before the Book Deal. Her site is http://christinakatz.com. She also has several successful blogs and an e-zine called Writers on the Rise. She teaches amazing online writing courses that instruct writers on building a blog and a social networking presence. I'm a freelance writer who would probably not have thought of doing a blog until Christina's classes and now, check it out: in less than a year, my blog The Nut-Free Mom (www.nut-freemom.blogspot.com) has been mentioned on NPR, the L.A. Times and the Chicago Tribune. Plus, my local paper profiled me after reading my blog. I'm now in the process of writing a book proposal and I already have a platform, thanks to the advice of this writing expert who is also super-savvy when it comes to platform building on the Internet. Anyone who wants to take a course on platform building, check out her course selection. You'll be glad you did!



  16. Angela on June 18, 2009 at 9:51 AM

    >I was a total newb when I began blogging a little over a year ago. Now I have a successful, well established blog geared toward helping writers. I was able to get a lot of help just from other bloggers on forums that I visit, learning what makes a good blog and how to cater to my target audience.

    So, if money is an issue, I would recommend checking out writers forums for free advice on blogging and establishing an online presence. The most notable for free help in this regard is Absolute Write, where not only is there a large career-blogging membership, but also places where you can 'ask' these helpful users for blog reviews.

    Here's the link:

    http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/

    Happy Blogging!



  17. Kristina on June 18, 2009 at 9:49 AM

    >Interesting idea and, I'm sure, useful to some writers.

    For those of us who barely pay the bills as it is, though…kinda depressing. I'm beginning to think all the "extracurricular" requirements put upon writers these days means more and more will need to be well-off (or have a spouse who earns a lot). Sigh.



  18. Mary DeMuth on June 18, 2009 at 9:15 AM

    >As a mentor for writers, I do both: charge and give away. I'm sure that many blogging mentors do the same.

    Here's an interesting site I've been gleaning from as I've studied blogs that actually earn money. She's a terrific writer, has an unusual way with words, and seems to have created a warm, friendly, funny community:

    http://www.fluentself.com/blog/



  19. Jordan McCollum on June 18, 2009 at 8:58 AM

    >As a professional blogger (and aspiring author), I used to offer blog consulting services for mom bloggers, but I'd love to help authors set up their blogs!

    I also have a lot of free information, tutorials and articles on my site, http://www.MamaBlogga.com . (My writing blog is at http://JordanMcCollum.com .)

    This is a great idea, Rachelle, and thanks for the idea and opportunity!



  20. Matilda McCloud on June 18, 2009 at 8:55 AM

    >I started a blog in connection with my undersea books. I'm not particularly computer savvy, just average, but I used wordpress. It's free and within 10 minutes I had a blog. You pick one of their templates and boom–you're off and writing.

    I enjoy writing a blog, but I'm not sure I could be a mentor. My blog is not particularly successful (one faithful reader), but it's a wonderful outlet for me.

    If you're a blog reader, I don't think you will need any instruction writing one, though my initial entries were fairly boring and longwinded essays–keep 'em short and to the point, generally not more than 300 words a post.

    I highly recommened doing google alerts for the topic you're interested in. Every day it gives you articles from around the world, so it's great when you run out of ideas. Also, I try to include pictures in each post (because of my topic).

    Here's the link to wordpress:

    http://wordpress.com

    and my blog–the picture on the top of the blog is from their file

    http://underseaencounters.wordpress.com



  21. Rachelle on June 18, 2009 at 8:45 AM

    >Timothy, you know I welcome all sorts of opinions here, and you're free to disagree with me.

    However, I just wanted to point out that I've recommended in this post people who would indeed be very good blogging mentors for authors, because they're authors, successful bloggers, and ALSO already mentors/consultants to authors. They have shown skill in all three areas and hence, could be wonderful guides for those who just want some help building an online author presence.

    And also, this would be a valuable service that a talented and knowledgeable person would provide. I'd think it would be insulting to suggest that such a person shouldn't be paid for their services. There's always the chance that you could find a friend who will walk you through it; you also might find someone to barter with. But otherwise, there's no reason to expect this service for free any more than you'd expect a plumber to come to your house and fix your pipes for free.



  22. JStantonChandler on June 18, 2009 at 8:29 AM

    >Great post, Rachelle. I've often wondered how I could build a better blog. What's helped me the most is simply reading well-written blogs. It encourages me and pushes me to try harder and post more often. I was very intimidated when I first tried blogging, but I soon discovered that, as a writer, I had something to say, something that I wanted others to read, and a blog was just another medium to get my voice heard.

    I'm going to have to agree with Timothy in that I don't think all blogging mentors should be someone we are required to pay. I understand the professional aspect of it and if you're a "cyber counselor" by trade, by all means charge! We have to keep a roof over our heads. I think when people, especially writers, read "for a fee", they tend to balk simply because most of us either write full time or keep part time jobs. Paying a professional for their help is wonderful, if you can do it. Finding someone who has "been there, done that", who is more than willing to help you along just because they enjoy helping…that's priceless! (no reference to certain credit card commercials intended 🙂

    There's so much wisdom to be gleaned by just reading the blogs of those you admire and connecting to the blogs they read in turn.

    Thanks for the food for thought as well as the links to the blogs you posted!

    ~Jennifer



  23. Sharon A. Lavy on June 18, 2009 at 8:12 AM

    >Rachelle, you are awesome.



  24. Timothy Fish on June 18, 2009 at 7:43 AM

    >While I agree that a blogging mentor wouldn’t be such a bad idea for some, I disagree with the concept that an author should pay for it. You are welcome to read my thoughts on mentoring to see where I’m coming from. Aside from that, there are many companies out there that focus their attention on helping their customers establish an online presence. Some are very good at what they do.

    One of the problems with looking for a blogging mentor or a company to help you with blogging is that it is difficult to know who can help with your situation. Some of the most successful bloggers would make the worst mentors, because their success was thrust upon them and they are clueless as to take someone from obscurity and get them to their level of success. The best mentor is a person who is a little farther down the path than you—just around the next bend, perhaps.



  25. Gina on June 18, 2009 at 7:15 AM

    >I had the same thought after reading the platform post: that a blog-launching service would be a great idea (although "blog mentor" sounds even better)!



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