Author Blog: Authors as Small Business Owners

Jeri Walker-Bickett

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.

Stupid Hurts jeri wb quote

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.
 Alice Hoffman quote Books may well be the only true magic

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.

  1. Realize that it can take 18 months or more to find your blogging stride. Don’t give up!
  2. Follow and comment on a variety of blog to builds a sense of community.
  3. Know the advantages of your chosen blogging platform, including the perks of self-hosted sites.
  4. Make your blog visually appealing. Purchase a professional theme if possible. Re-size images and use them responsibly.
  5. Include social media follow buttons and a way for readers to follow posts via email.
  6. Decide on a blogging niche related to your passions. Aim for uniqueness in your approach.
  7. Pick a posting schedule. Google loves new content, but however often you post, be consistent.
  8. 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.
  9. Decide which tags to apply. Repeated post tags act as content clusters that signal a blog’s focus.
  10. 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.

jeri wb

Jeri Walker-Bickett (@JeriWB) is an author, editor, and teacher. She primarily writes contemporary literary fiction and psychological suspense. Such is Life, her short story collection, is now available. Her forthcoming novel, Lost Girl Road, is a ghost story set in the woods of northwest Montana. She blogs about literature and writing on her twisted book blog: What do I know? Please connect with her at JeriWB.com.

55 Responses to “Author Blog: Authors as Small Business Owners”

  1. Susan Cooper says:

    Boy is this ever good advice all around. I can os relate the the 18 month rule. I am just there and feel for the first time I know where it is I want o take my blog and what I want to do. :-)

    • Leora Wenger says:

      Susan, I’m planning to use your blog as an example in my next blog workshop. You do such creative things and blog about a variety of topics. Keep going with your blog and showing how variety is possible (as in, several niches, related but different).

    • Jeri says:

      Susan, it’s been fun to watch your blog grow, and your support when it comes to my own blog has been invaluable as well.

  2. Blogging is indeed a more difficult beast than most people realise. Keeping those ideas coming, keeping people interested and….you mentioned most of it. Great help Jeri for new bloggers (especially authors) and nice summary of the important points :>

    • Jeri says:

      Ash, the difficulty of blogging is also its greatest boon. It’s like a puzzle I’m always trying to figure out, though I try not to let it overtake the time needed to work on my book.

  3. Susan Oakes says:

    Good interview Leora and Jeri and your tips are helpful to those getting started and not be overwhelmed. Your point about following and commenting on a variety of blogs is important as it gets you out of the echo chamber and can give you new ideas as well as community building.

    • Jeri says:

      Susan, I’ve learned so much from fellow-bloggers. I love reading outside of my niche… considering I’m still fine-tuning the direction I hope to take my blog.

    • Leora Wenger says:

      “following and commenting on a variety of blogs” – I love how you say this “gets you out of the echo chamber,” Susan. Great way to put it. I can’t emphasis the power of commenting enough to people who are new to blogging.

  4. TheGirl says:

    Yes, authors do have to think as small business owners whether they are traditionally or self published, because in the end they are doing ALL of the work. Including marketing….Good post.

  5. Susan Oakes says:

    Meant to say article Jeri and Leora and not interview. Sorry about that.

  6. Laura Zera says:

    Thanks, Leora and Jeri. I love to blog and have met some fantastic people through doing so, but still struggle with the time it takes me to write one measly little post. Part of the problem is I don’t keep my editorial calendar current. I do it for a couple of months and then let it slide. I think using an editorial calendar is a really helpful tool, however!

    • Leora Wenger says:

      I find it hard to write good posts often as well. What helps me is varying the content between more technical posts, more general posts, and guest posts or interviews like this one. But you will have to figure out what works for you, Laura. Good luck.

    • Jeri says:

      Laura, I’ve struggled with doing three posts a week, and I’m going to cut back to two. And to think, when I first started, I was doing five posts a week. The longer I’ve been blogging, I find it much easier to keep up with bloggers who do one post a week. Besides, your one post is always great quality :)

  7. Smart advice. I’m about 7 months into the process and there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t learn things. I’m pretty sure it’ll be another year before I feel comfortable with my blog (hahahahha, it’ll never happen). This, despite the fact I feel like I started with an advantage because I was familiar with communications. :)

    • Leora Wenger says:

      Debra, perhaps we can think of the discomfort (I feel that too) as a bit of stage fright every time we go on the stage one more time. Will the audience like our latest show? That doesn’t mean we should stop hitting publish.

      Thanks for your perspective.

  8. Mary Slagel says:

    I have found one of the most complicated things for me when it comes to starting a new blog or site is finding the main focus. I agree that it doesn’t come right away, but trying to narrow down a focus at all can be rather complicated. There are the lucky few who have one focus and one passion and thus they have no problem, but for people like me who are all over the board and trying to find their passion through writing, it can be a little more complicated.

    • Leora Wenger says:

      Focus is a big one – I can understand. One can sometimes narrow one’s niche too much, so proceed with caution (as you do).

    • Jeri says:

      Mary, I’m a bit all over the board as well, and at first I also did posts on food and travel, as well as English lesson plans. In the end, I knew it would be best to become more focused on literature, but even then, finding the best focus can be hard. In the end, I just keep trying to aim for unique ways to blog about literature… it’s always a work in progress that’s for sure.

  9. Geek Girl says:

    You certainly have called attention to the important things to consider when blogging. You know that I have 3 blogs. What you may not know is that I am working on finding a nice way to combine them in to just one blog. I am not sure how well it will work, but I think if it is done right everyone should like it. Being an author is a business. There has to be a nice way to put all those things you love in to just one nice blogging space. Whew… that was a little long winded. LOL

    • Leora Wenger says:

      Hm, Cheryl, I can see how combining would be hard. I find it easier to have separate blogs with separate expectations and readers for each.

    • Jeri says:

      Cheryl, it will be interesting to see what direction you take your blogs in. There are benefits and drawbacks to any approach, but I know I’m hesitating to start another blog since I can barely keep up with one ;)

  10. As I am new to the blogging world, I am trying to find my place. I have focused on helping bloggers and small business owners with posts relevant to them. Jeri is one person who has helped me so much. I have been able to refine my work and she is a great teacher with her posts.

  11. Arleen says:

    Very good advice. I took longer than the 18 month rule. My first blog didn’t work, so I have come at it from another angle and for the first time I really think it is working. I am not a writer or author and it takes so much time to come up with what I think is interesting. I admire Jeri as her writing is fantastic. I will never be there but ws all bring something to the table.

    • Leora Wenger says:

      Arleen, I’ve been blogging since 2007. I’m still learning! Glad you keep going. It’s a lot of work but also rewarding, too.

    • Jeri says:

      Arleen, it takes me forever to come up with many of my posts ideas as well. The irony is how some of the posts I wrote on the fly have turned out to be some of the most popular ones.

  12. Glynis Jolly says:

    I just started an author blog.Until I feel comfortable with it, I have it as being private. However, I was wondering about how it will be received once I do open it up to for public viewing. Thank you for the tips, Jeri. I’ll probably go with the combo approach but make it limited.

    • Leora Wenger says:

      Glad Jeri’s post is useful, Glynis.

      • Jeri says:

        Glynis, I found that hosting authors for interviews was a great way to connect with fellow writers, so you might want to try that as well. Now that I’ve wrote this guest post for Leora, I have so many more ideas what I can do with the content of my author blog.

  13. Laura C says:

    Great tips, thank you! I’m also new in blogging and I’ve learned that blogging isn’t about competition but support, involvement and sharing experience and ideas.

    • Leora Wenger says:

      Laura, I’ve seen the competitive side as well. I prefer the supportive and sharing bloggers myself!

    • Jeri says:

      Laura, I couldn’t agree more. Blogging has allowed me to meet so many supportive people as well. There is so much we can learn for each other. I always felt that way as as a teacher, and I still do as a blogger.

  14. Finding your niche is important. When I first started blogging four years ago (which now seems like ancient history) I wrote what I felt like writing. For the first few months it was more a hobby but then over time I found my niche in social media and soon it became a business. I agree with engaging your readers. It’s fun to write for yourself, but you really need to write for your readers

    • Jeri says:

      Jeannette, audience factors so heavily into successful communication. Too often, writers forget to fashion a well-balanced message. From time to time, I try to step back from the process of what I’m doing on my blog and put myself in a reader’s point of view. That’s always been when I have made the biggest changes.

  15. These are excellent pieces of advice for authors. Blogging is an efficient, affordable option for marketing yourself. I like the fact that you include non-fiction authors too; we tend to get lost in the crowd!

    • Jeri says:

      Aleshia, blogs based on non-fiction books lend themselves to exploring so many topics. Sometimes I’m jealous of that since I love nonfiction as well, but I am focusing on writing fiction for now.

  16. What great advice! Blogging can involve a few false starts and stops, but that’s the nature of the game. You do have to take your readers into consideration – what do they care about and want to read about? And I think you’re constantly learning, which is a good thing, because then – you’re always getting smarter!

    • Jeri says:

      Krystyna, I’ve made so many false starts and stops with my blog that I’ve lost track. As I’ve gained focus, it’s getting easier to incorporate audience analysis to help guide the content of my posts.

  17. Tanya says:

    Great article, indeed! Blogging is totally a small business. The only way that others will take it seriously is if you, yourself take it seriously. Treating it like you would normally a business is what it’s all about. Some people think that blogging is an easy thing. Write a few lines about what’s on your mind, and you’re done. It’s nowhere near that simple…and anyone who does it will tell you the same. These are all great tips!

    • Jeri says:

      Tanya, I’m continually amazed just how businesslike I’m slowly becoming as I continue on my author/blogger journey, but business sense is something that does not come naturally to me at all, so it’s safe to say my desire to finally write a novel has been an eye-opening journey in more ways than one.

  18. This whole blogging thing can be so crazy. Seems like only yesterday I had to make a split to help organize all the stuff I write. That was the birth of my second blog.

    This has been part of my learning process, figuring out where all my odd thoughts go.

  19. Leora,
    This is a wonderful post and one that will resonate with many. Jeri is an excellent example of an author who does an amazing job of building a community around her blog. Jeri is so recognizable to many of us and she’s doing a wonderful job of branding herself through blogging.

    • Jeri says:

      Sherryl, the community building aspect of my author blog has definitely been a major factor in keeping me going when it comes to not giving up on my novel. Fellow bloggers, along with a handful of critique partners help keep me motivated in more ways than one.

  20. Becc says:

    This is fabulous advice Jeri.
    I am really lagging on the guest posts and think that should be my next step in the process. Thank you for reminding me :)

    • Jeri says:

      Becc, my goal is to write at least two guest posts a month as well as feature at least two guest posts or interviews each month on my blog. It doesn’t always happen, but most of the time it does ;)

  21. Theresa Wurch says:

    Great article, thanks. I am begginer in blogging, so informations are very useful for me. :-)

    Blog is like small business and brand, I agree.

  22. Jeri says:

    Theresa, so much of blogging and writing does come down to treating it like a small business. At times, it doesn’t seem like there’s much time left to actually get the writing done!

  23. I thought I would not learn much from tips for authors, but you added some nice blog tips there Jeri I needed reminding of. Collecting my former posts and putting them in a menu was one. Nice post, even for non-newbies :>

    • Jeri says:

      Thanks Ash! I made sure to add on the 10 tips for the last half of the post so non-authors and non-newbies could find value in the post too ;)

  24. I’ve been a writer for quite some time but I am relatively new to blogging and also somewhat low tech which means I still have a lot to learn. I didn’t know about the eighteen month rule but it definitely makes sense to me. I have done some guest blogging and have hosted a few featured writers on my blog both of which I enjoyed very much and would like to do more of. I tend to mention my books in most of my posts but that’s because my books and posts are both about personal growth, and spirituality, and relate to one another.

    • Leora Wenger says:

      Michele, I’ve been blogging since 2007, and I’m still learning! It’s all part of the journey. I don’t think there are any hard and fast rules to blogging and blogging by authors in specific.

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