In today’s publishing world, traditional publishers expect every aspiring author to have a blog. Blogs have become essential platform—promotion—elements.
Why is this so? Because by posting content related to your book to a blog on a consistent basis, you increase your Google ranking in your subject area. That means that someone searching for information on your topic will find your blog and, subsequently, discover your book and buy it. (For more information on how this works, read my other blog, How to Blog a Book.)
It’s great if you can host your blog on your own website. This means you own all your content because it appears right on your own website. Free blogs are owned by the provider, like WordPress.com. That said, free blogs will serve as a website if you don’t have one, and even technologically challenged people like me can manage them. You can even sell your book from a free blog.
To build author platform with your blog, try these three tips:
- Post regularly. The key to gaining readers—building platform—with a blog involves posting regularly. Some people say posting once a week is enough. To really gain the attention of readers you must post at least five times a week for several months. That’s when you’ll see readers showing up. (Most programs have a statistics program, but you can install Google Analytics pretty easily yourself. If you have a hosted site, your host might have a good program you can purchase.) For a while you’ll blog and be lucky to have one or two hits or visitors. After a while, though, you’ll get more. This will spur you on to keep writing.
- Stay on topic. The point of blogging to build platform involves writing about the subject of your book or product. In this way, you bring in readers who also will be interested in your book or product. Remember, a platform consists of a built-in readership. You develop consistent or returning blog readers by writing about a topic that interests them—the topic of your book. They become a build-in readership for your book. If they are interested in your blog, they should be interested in your book or books on the same or similar topics.
- Comment on other blogs. Read posts written by other bloggers who write on your topic and leave comments. These will link back to your blog, thus creating a trail for their readers to follow to your posts. Hopefully you will gain some of their readers in the process. However, don’t ever be promotional with your comments. Be sincere and complimentary and offer useful tips or information. Add to what they have said. Exert your expert status.
- Provide links to new posts. Use your social networks as a place to “advertise” your newly published posts. Shorten your post url with www.bitly.com or www.tinyurl.com and let your friends, followers and contacts know you’ve written something helpful. Also be sure your posts are “pinged” out to blogging catalogues. (Again, go to How to Blog a Book for more information on how to ping your blog posts.)
By the time you have a hundred people a day (or more if you are lucky) visiting your blog, you have developed a small platform. You can now sell your book, e-book or information product to these readers!
Plus, if you approach a traditional publisher, you can put these blog readership statistics in the platform section of your nonfiction book proposal. You can also mention how you will promote your book to your blog readers in the promotion section of the proposal.
Tomorrow we will take a look at building author platform via visitors to your website, which goes along with your blog readership to some extent.
I think you are confusing something on the free blogs. While blogspot (google) and wordpress.com own the software you blog on, they DO not own the content you publish. I took a look at wordpress.com’s Terms of Service (TOS) and the person who publishes is entirely responsible for the content of the blog WordPress and has ownership of the intellectual property they have developed (unless they developed their content for an employer then the employer may actually own the illectual property rights).
I can and have exported the blogs I started at free blog hosting communities and moved them to paid platforms with little or no problem.
Yes, you are right. I guess I need to clarify. You own your content either way. But the fact that you aren’t hosting the blog itself means it isn’t your own url. It’s a wordpress.com blog; it’s not http://www.writenonfictionnow.com, for example. It would have a wordpress.com url. The blog itself is not owned or hosted by me if I use the free blogging software. It’s owned and hosted by WordPress. The content is owned and copyrighted by me (or you). You can take it and move it wherever you want whenever you want. That is, indeed, true.
The traffic you generate also does not go to your website.