Blogging for Authors—Lesson #1
Many writers are interested in learning about blogging. On the other hand, a sizable number still resist adding this new activity to their full lives and work schedules, and some jump for joy when a publishing expert tells them to focus on craft over promotion. As far as I’m concerned, though, almost all writers who want to become authors—of ebooks, printed books or articles—will benefit from a blog, and those who choose to take up blogging won’t regret the effort and time.
For this reason, I’ve decided to begin a series here on Write Nonfiction NOW! called “Blogging for Authors.” In it you will find posts that discuss:
- how to blog
- why to blog
- how to blog well or better
- what to blog about
- how to further your career with a blog
My blogs—I have 5—helped me build the author platform I needed to transform myself from aspiring to published author. I am a journalist, but these blogs helped give me expert status in several subject areas, which has helped me obtain assignments for top national publications. Plus, blogging has allowed my writing to change lives. This last point is truly why I blog.
I can think of many other reasons why you might want to blog, though. Let’s begin this series with some basic reasons why aspiring or published authors might want to start a blog and a quick way to try blogging so you can see what is entailed.
A Blog Is a Website
First, and foremost, a blog serves as a website. It’s a simple content management system that even the most non-techy writers can usually learn to use. And every writer needs a website to be findable online. A colleague of mine who works as a book reviewer recently shared her frustration when she tried to research the authors of some newly released books. She couldn’t find them online—anywhere. You don’t want that to be you. You want reviewers, journalists and readers to locate you on the internet quickly and easily.
If you already have a website, you can add a blog to it. However, if you don’t, your blog serves as your home in cyberspace. The URL you purchase with www.YourName.com or www.YourBook.com, or whatever name you choose, is how anyone finds you.
A Blog Connects You to Social Networks
Not only that, your blog provides a way for you to connect to your social networks and for others to find you on social networks (if you display those links). If you have been trying to discover an easy way to build a base of fans and followers, you can do so by sharing great content. What great content? Start with your blog posts. Share them on your blog and then on your social networks. Your blog readers will share them as well.
A Blog Makes You Discoverable
And each one of those blog posts helps you become more discoverable. A blog turns a static website into a dynamic one that quickly increases your ability to be found in the search engines. The more content you produce and publish on your blog, the higher up in the search engine results pages your site will move. That means someone can actually find you—and your book—if they conduct a Google search, for instance, on something related to your book or your blog. The reason for this is simple: Each blog post you write contains keywords and keyword phrases that search engines catalog. These are the same words people use to search for topics related to you, your book and your blog.
Five More Reasons to Start Blogging
If you’ve been debating about whether or not to start a blog, consider these five additional reasons to begin:
- If you are an aspiring or published author, blogging remains one of the most effective platform-building and promotional tools in your tool box–and primarily requires that you write.
- If you are a nonfiction author, a blog will help you build expert status on your topic.
- If you write fiction or nonfiction, you can use a blog to build a business around you books.
- You can make money blogging—either from your blog or by blogging for other sites.
- Your blog can help you build a mailing list.
How to Start Blogging
How do you begin? Here’s what I suggest. Go to www.wordpress.com and open a free hosted account. (I suggest WordPress over other blog platforms.) Make your blog “private” rather than public. Just play around with it so you can see what it means to blog.
- Add a theme and a header to your site.
- Add some sidebar elements.
- Add a few blog posts.
- Add some pages, like an “About” page.
See what you think. In this way, you don’t have to actually publish anything for anyone to see or to read. Give blogging a few weeks or a month. Just have fun with it.
If you enjoy that exercise—or at least find it palatable, take a look at this fabulous video by Michael Hyatt that explains how to set up a self-hosted www.wordpress.org blog in 20 minutes or so. I recommend that you have a self-hosted blog, not a hosted one. This means you will either need to install it yourself, as Michael demonstrates, or hire someone to do so for you. Hiring someone can be easier and can provide you with a unique design and professional bells and whistles that will help you blog efficiently.
You also can get support from a blog coach. It’s best to find one who understands the needs of authors. Ask your coach to work with your blog designer to help you create a blog site that brands you and your books. You can also find lots of information in my book, How to Blog a Book.
Photo courtesy of Victor Correia | 123RF Stock Photos
Carolyn Howard-Johnson says
Nina, I’ve attended a couple of seminars recently where fellow authors recommend using others’ blogs to promote their own work. Not a bad idea, but they also say to foregoe starting one of your own. I strongly disagree because there are advantages to having having one of your own that don’t come with guest blogging. There should be a nice balance. Each approach benefits the other when an author cross promotes them both. (-:
Excited about how much the new edition of the Frugal Book Promoter (expanded! updated!) can help writers with the tried and true and the new media, too. Now a USA Book News award-winner in its own right (www.budurl.com/FrugalBkPromo) it the original edition was also a Reader Views winner and an Irwin Award winner.