Blogging for Authors 101 – How a Blog Can Help Bring New Readers to your Books
I have a similar conversation with lots of my author website clients — it starts a little something like this: “Do I really need a blog? I have no idea what I’d write about!”
Sound familiar? Lots of authors feel this way — despite choosing to be writers, they don’t see the value in writing for a blog, and don’t know what they might write about that people would care to read.
I think it’s important to reframe the question a little bit, and to do that you first have to understand what a blog can bring to the table for your exposure online:
[dropcap style=dc_squared color=#222222]Y[/dropcap]our site is made up of a bunch of pages — the Home page, your About page, a Press page, a Contact page, etc… and ideally you’ve considered what your keywords might be for those pages so that when people search for things online, and your offering is a good fit, your site comes up in search results. It’s, of course, more complicated by things like how popular your site is, where it’s linked from, and how many people are searching for your phrases & how often, but that’s the gist of it. As an author, one of your key phrases might be about your genre, like “Historical Romance set in WWII”, or it might be about your characters, like “book with strong female protagonist”, or it might be topical, like, “book about learning a new language in retirement”. At the end of the day, those phrases are things that people are likely to search for, and search engines will match up searches with your site if they’re in place. Where blog posts come in is that you’re only going to have a few key phrases that you can use on your site — one for each of your pages. Imagine if you could have lots and lots, though — ones that are a little more specific, or for a subsection of your audience, or on a very particular subject? Well, that’s what blog posts allow you to do. Each blog post, just like the pages on your site, should have a key phrase (or topic) — and that phrase should be in the post’s title (and therefore URL), and in its text as well. Over time, even if you don’t write blog posts that often, you’ll end up with a sizable repository of keyword-rich content that will bring more search traffic to your site.
[dropcap style=dc_squared color=#222222]B[/dropcap]ut what about the 2nd part — the part about, “but what do I write about?!” The answer to this question has more to do with what you LIKE to write about. If you like chatting with other people about the writing process, and your readership is interested in how you come up with your characters and what they’re based on, then write about that. If you like researching your stories and find lots of interesting tidbits online that your readership would value, then write about that. If you write nonfiction and there are interesting developments in your industry, write about that. But no matter what you write about, make sure it’s something you’re interested in. There’s little worse than reading a blog by someone who clearly doesn’t want to be writing it, or doesn’t put any of their personality into it at all. And beyond writing about those topical things, make sure you’re also writing about events that you go to where you did a reading or signed books at a convention or met readers. Share photos of those circumstances — people will be more interested in what you’re doing if they feel like you are including them in what’s happening.
There’s also commonly a follow-up question, which is: “Where does social media fit into this?”
If you think of your website as a repository of information that you can point people to, either directly via your URL or by search, then social media is the way you tell people about it and have conversations about it. For example, let’s say you write about blog post about how you came up with a popular character — maybe you share the inspiration behind the character and some images you found that helped you flesh them out — once that blog post is published you then go to your Facebook page or Twitter profile or Instagram profile and you tell people about that blog post and link back to it. If it’s a visual platform, like Instagram or Pinterest, maybe you share an photo of the inspiration board you created or some notes you took. To encourage engagement (ie: comments) you can ask a question when you post, like, “what’s your favorite thing about this character?”. Once you have enough of a following (because you’re sharing interesting content) then hopefully people are sharing and liking your posts to bring even more people to your books.
Something that often helps me better understand how I might take advice and put it into practice is to see examples — with that in mind, here are some examples of authors with great blogs:
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