Note from Leora: We don’t usually think of authors as small business owners. But when you write a book, you need to make sales to make money. Authors are just that: small business owners. Learn from Jeri Walker-Bickett about how to engage your potential readers via a blog. If you want to learn the technical aspects of setting up a blog, visit this post on how to build a WordPress site. For those of you who are not authors, as you read this post, maybe you can ask: does this apply to small business owners in general? And now, without further ado, here’s Jeri.
What Should an Author Blog About?
The need for an author blog often creates much debate, but there is no denying a blog can serve as the central hub in an author’s platform when it comes to establishing visibility and authority. The rise of indie publishing has started a revolution in terms of author and reader interaction. Simply put, an author blog serves as a way to connect with readers in an ongoing social media conversation.
Developing an effective author blog can be overwhelming. As an author, your main goal is to connect with potential readers (even if you haven’t published a single title yet).
Rule Number One: Engagement is Key!
No matter how you choose to focus your author blog, always remember that you are making connections and building community. Give each new visitor to your blog a reason to care about your post topics. In turn, they will start to care about you. Such familiarity can then led to that blog reader become curious about your book. So make sure you’re adequately representing yourself.
Five Author Blog Content Possibilities
You are an author, so focus on subjects related to your book and the world of literature. But what is a writer to do when they are just starting out? Part of building an author platform involves providing value-added content for your readers.
Book-Centered Blogs: Share details about your writing progress, events or conferences you’re attending, links to interviews or guest posts you’ve done, post excerpts or cut scenes, profile your characters, publish flash fiction, provide details on story inspiration, or drop hints about new projects.
Real-World Issues: This is especially a no-brainer if you are writing nonfiction. However, fiction authors can write about recurring themes present in their fiction by exploring the ways those messages surface in real life. You can also base posts on information related to the setting, careers, personality traits, illnesses, hobbies, etc. Any way your book world relates to the real world, can inspire a post topic.
Topics with Reader/Writer Appeal: The possibilities are endless! Discuss literature, dissect favorite book covers, evaluate film adaptations, showcase famous authors and poets (past and present), post YouTube videos related to books and authors, or explore issues like literacy and current reading trends.
Promotional: Another way to have an author’s presence is to fade into the background, but work really hard on helping other authors. Highlight their work through blog tours, cover reveals, book announcements, and informative interviews (the sense that nobody really cares what your favorite color is).
The Combo Approach: More than likely, your author blog will end up being a combination of the four other approaches summarized above. Just remember to always aim to give your readers a topic they can relate to, and don’t be afraid to be vulnerable. After all, writer’s job is to describe the human experience.
Most importantly, don’t constantly remind readers about your book or whine about your writing difficulties. Quite simply, such tactics get old really fast and can cause readers to tune-out, when you want them to tune in! Don’t let your insecurities get the best of you! Aim for engagement, not self-pity.
Ten Big Picture Considerations for an Author Blog
Becoming a good blogger means doing your research on the topics below. Experience will be your best teacher. The focus of your author blog will become more refined as your knowledge grows.
- Realize that it can take 18 months or more to find your blogging stride. Don’t give up!
- Follow and comment on a variety of blog to builds a sense of community.
- Know the advantages of your chosen blogging platform, including the perks of self-hosted sites.
- Make your blog visually appealing. Purchase a professional theme if possible. Re-size images and use them responsibly.
- Include social media follow buttons and a way for readers to follow posts via email.
- Decide on a blogging niche related to your passions. Aim for uniqueness in your approach.
- Pick a posting schedule. Google loves new content, but however often you post, be consistent.
- Limit topics to five broad categories or less and feature them prominently in your site’s menu, sidebar, and by using various related posts plug-ins.
- Decide which tags to apply. Repeated post tags act as content clusters that signal a blog’s focus.
- Aim to write one or two guest posts a month as a way to amplify your platform.
While it will not hurt your to learn about web traffic analysis, SEO tactics, and monetizing your blog, be wary of letting learning about web matters overtake much-needed writing time. You need to be an author first, and a blogger second.