|Author:||Nola||Published:||6 months ago|
|Tags:||marketing, blogging, platform, engagement, website development||Category:||Writing tips|
Aspiring authors are often told they should be blogging, but isn’t that counterproductive? Why would you blog when you could be writing your next masterpiece?
1. Build your platform. If you’re a celebrity, or an established expert in your field, you probably won’t have trouble getting a book contract. Think Usain Bolt writing a book on fitness. The rest of us need to develop an author platform. As Jane Friedman notes, this is ‘an ability to sell books because of who you are or who you can reach’. Blogging is one way of establishing a platform, especially for nonfiction authors. Some people have received book deals on the backs of their blogs (e.g. see Julie Powell’s success story here). Few people achieve such success, but if you can show an agent or publisher you have an audience for your work, it certainly won’t hurt.
2. Market your books. A blog can be used to tell people your latest book news (e.g. new releases, author talks, awards, reviews), though it’s important that your blog gives readers something more than just promotional material. You could talk about how you got the idea, how you worked through the writing and editing process, how you landed your book contract or how you indie published. If it’s a nonfiction book, you can blog on topics relevant to the content (e.g. recipes, devotions, health tips, how-to guides). If you’re a novelist, you could interview your characters, discuss themes in the novel, or blog about topics relevant to the time or setting (e.g. the science behind your sci-fi story; 19th century women’s fashions for your historical romance).
3. Spread your message. Do you have a passion for a particular topic related to your book? It could be a religious or political subject, a social justice issue, or some expertise that others need. If you have something worthwhile to say that others want to hear, blogging can be a great way of getting that message across. This will be especially effective if it’s part of a constructive discussion rather than a rant (unless an annoying persona is what you’re aiming for).
4. Engage with readers. A ‘call to action’ at the end of your blog can help readers feel they’re part of the conversation rather than mere observers. You could ask a question, request feedback, ask readers to vote on different book cover options, do a fun survey, or offer a giveaway. If someone comments, be sure to respond individually. This builds connections and helps the author learn more about their readers in the process.
5. ‘Share the love’ with other authors. Blogging is a great way for authors to help each other (e.g. by subscribing to blogs, guest blogging, interviewing other authors, commenting on posts and sharing them on social media). Helping others can help you in ways you never thought possible. For more information, please see my post on the ‘do unto others’ principle of marketing.
6. Develop your craft. Blogging is a discipline. If you commit to writing a regular blog (e.g. weekly or monthly), it helps you to develop skills in working to a deadline regardless of what the muse is doing on any given day. The process of researching, writing, and editing your blog also helps to develop your writing muscles and hone your prose.
7. Showcase your writing. If you don’t have other publications, or only a few publications of low circulation, a blog can showcase your writing to potential readers, agents and publishers. It can also give readers a taste of your personality, depending on whether the tone is serious, funny, contemplative, gracious, or hard-hitting. Of course your writing must be high-quality or this strategy could backfire.
8. Start, or enhance, a website. Building a whole website can be daunting, especially if you’re not particularly tech-savvy. However, you can use sites like Wordpress to get a blog up and running quickly. Some authors choose to have a blog as their website, others use a blog as an intermediary step before going the whole hog with a more elaborate website, and some have separate blogs they link to their websites. Think about what you want to achieve with your web presence and how blogging can be a part of that.
9. Earn extra income. Yes, you can earn money from blogging (e.g. through advertising or affiliate marketing). However, you have to have a large audience. That topic is beyond the scope of this post, but you can find a plethora of information about it on the web. Try problogger.com for a good summary.
10. Have fun. Some authors love blogging. They might enjoy researching and writing about topics they’re interested in or they may get a buzz through interacting with readers. If that sounds like you, then blog away and don’t worry about the nine points above. Well, maybe worry about them a little.
Over the next few weeks, I’ll also look at the downside of blogging and how to avoid blogger burnout. In the meantime, I’d love to hear about your experiences with your own or other people’s blogs. What do you find helpful or not? I’d love to hear your opinions.
Acknowledgement: Some of the information in this blog grew out of a discussion I initiated in the Christian Writers Downunder Facebook group. Thank you to everyone who contributed to the discussion. You gave me lots of great ideas and food for thought, and I really appreciate you sharing your experiences with me.