We've all read about or heard about the importance of building a platform, long before a writer gets published. And the most effective way to reach an audience seems to be through blogging. But what are agents looking for in a writer's blog?
From what I can tell, most agents just want reassurance that the writer is able to speak to an audience and generate interest since this will be important for marketing once a manuscript does sell to a publisher. And more importantly, a writer's blog is like a test-run and a way to get practice before everything gets too serious. That way, the blog will be a well-oiled machine and the writer will be an effective blogger by the time it's important.
Of course, an established blog with a lot of followers and high traffic is going to be more appealing to an agent than a new blog with a handful of followers, irregular posts, and low traffic, right? So, how important is blog traffic? And can having a poorly-maintained blog or a blog with a low follower/traffic count negatively affect a writer's chances of getting picked up by an agent? Probably. I mean, if I were an agent, a neglected blog would set off warning alarms and I'd likely take that into consideration before signing a new writer.
What is considered "high traffic"? According to Restless Writers, agents won't be particularly impressed by a blog unless it's getting 60,000+ hits per month. That being said, I don't think anyone expects the average writer's blog to hit those kind of numbers. The way I understand it, having a blog with a reasonable following and traffic rate is expected and basically puts the writer onto the playing field. It would take extraordinary blog success (ex. 60,000+ hits a month) for the blog to positively influence the agent's decision regarding whether or not to offer representation, or extraordinary failure (maybe one or two followers and irregular, irrelevant posts with 10 hits or less a month*) to negatively influence the agent's decision.
*I have no idea what the lower limits of blog traffic/followers are actually considered to be.
For more information on the different ways agents measure social media (and how you can check out your social media influence before you start querying), check out this article: 7 Ways Agents Measure Social Media
And if you are a writer who still hasn't started a blog, check out these links on the importance of starting one:
6 Compelling Reasons Why Authors Need to Blog
Why Twitter and Facebook aren't Enough
Why Authors Need a Blog
Why Writers Need Social Media
Are you aware of your social media score? And have you done (or do you plan to do) anything specific to intentionally increase traffic to your blog prior to querying?