So, you’ve finished your book (congratulations!) and you’re ready to kick back and let the cash start rolling in. Unfortunately, that part isn’t happening as quickly as you’d hoped. You read somewhere that you should create an author blog and, being the responsible writer that you are, you decide to tackle this technological beast.
Before you get started, you’ll want to decide whether you need an author blog or if a website with your bio will suffice. I have some tips to help you through the process.
- Define Your Goals: Why Are You Creating an Author Blog?
Outline the reasons why you think it is necessary to create a blog. Are you doing it to secure a literary agent or do you want to increase your reader following? Does it enhance your writing to write in a different forum? Do you want to take on a challenge just for the fun of it? Write down your goals for your blog and outline how you think the blog will help you achieve those goals.
- Consider Whether Social Media Could Fulfill Your Goal
If your goal is to get an agent or to increase your visibility, social media may be enough for you to get noticed. If you have 1,000 active followers on Instagram that are cheering you on, that may be more effective than a gorgeous blog with 10 subscribers on your mailing list. In any case, you should start down the social media path first because you’ll want a place to promote your blog once it’s up and running.
- Plot Your Time Commitment: How Will This Impact Your Other Writing?
Blogging takes time. A lot of time. You’ll spend time thinking about what to write, writing, adding pictures, troubleshooting technological issues, sending out newsletters, conducting interviews, reading books to review, and then promoting your articles. It can take on a life of its own. You will gain skills in technology, self-promotion and deadline-driven writing, but is it worth it to you? Would you rather spend your time on your blog or on your book? How will you choose to divide up the time?
- Keep It Clean and Simple
Once you’ve decided you’re ready to jump into the blogosphere, outline what you want to share with the world. Keep it simple and think top level here. When I started my blog, The Art of Happy Moving, I knew I wanted to talk about three main categories: moving logistics, how to create a new social network, and how to find happiness wherever you live. My blog looked too busy at first because I was trying to cram it all in. Now I have everything under “Moving Tips” or “Stories.” I then sub-divide under the “Moving Tips” menu. Blogs are a visual medium for your writing, so keep it clean and simple.
- Don’t Be Afraid to Make Mistakes
Launching a blog is one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done because I had no idea what I was doing. You’re going to make mistakes. It will be frustrating if you’re not technologically inclined, but you will feel so proud of yourself when things go right. When you first get started, experiment with your blog – your writing, you content, your layout. I spent several months writing and experimenting on my “live” blog before I told anyone about it.
- Get a Professional Logo for your Author Blog
This may seem like an unnecessary expense at first. However, your blog is your brand and you want it to look professional. When I made my own logo, the image looked pixelated but I figured it was decent enough. It was the best I could do with my non-existent expertise in creating a logo. I received some honest feedback that it could look better. So, I hired someone who knew what they were doing. Making that change was worth every penny, especially because it wasn’t expensive.
- Use Beautiful Photos on Your Blog
Yes, Bill Gates is right that “Content is King”, but how your blog looks is important, too. Spend time perusing websites that offer free photographs for your blog. Make sure that no attribution is required for the photos and that you are not infringing on any copyrights.
- Be Consistent With Your Postings
Many bloggers say that you should post on the same day each week or at the same time each day so that your readers know when to expect your newest post. I find that this is also important for setting deadlines for yourself. If you know you need to post by 10 A.M. every Thursday, you will find a way to get it done.
- Sign Up for a Mailing List Challenge to Increase Your Readership
It’s hard to ask friends to sign up for your newsletter. To make it easier, sign yourself up for a mailing list challenge. The main message of these challenges: ask people to help you out. It starts off with asking ten people and then asking ten more people and so on. One friend told her family about my mailing list challenge and this self-admitted competitive family couldn’t resist when they heard the word “challenge”. The entire family signed up for my blog because they wanted to help me win. It doesn’t hurt to ask everyone you know to sign up for your blog. Start with your competitive friends first.
- Form Relationships with Other Writers, Bloggers, and People In Your Industry
In order to create a successful blog, you can’t do it alone. You need readers and you need friends. Other writers and bloggers can become some of your closest friends because you’re all going through this journey together. You’ve got each other’s backs. You sign up for your friends’ weekly newsletters. You comment on their photos on Instagram or congratulate them on their book release on Twitter. It makes the writing process much more fun.
Whether you’re focused on moving like I am or on anti-bullying like Nadia, look for other people who are passionate about the same issues. Twitter is a good place to start. Search hashtags that relate to your field and follow and retweet individuals or companies that you respect.
- Don’t Be Shy About Self-Promotion
You need to promote yourself if you want people to come to your blog or buy your book. Look at your Instagram feed. If you looked at the last nine pictures you posted, would it be clear what you’re all about in a professional sense? Would a reader know the name of your blog or about your most recent blog post? With Twitter, you’ll want to look at your last three tweets and see if it relates to your writing. If someone googles you, these three tweets will be what they’ll see. Add a signature to your personal emails because every click helps spread your message.
- Share Your Expertise through Local Events or Media
What drives you to write? What do you want to leave behind? Once you have your answer, figure out how you can use it to help others. If you want to put an end to bullying, reach out to schools or libraries to see if you can give a talk on the issue. Search out reporters who are looking to write about bullying. Send in queries to magazines or newspapers. If you want to share your passion for flash fiction, contact a library, a community recreation center or a senior center to teach others how you do what you do. Start local, start small, and recognize that you’re making a difference.
A note from Ali
I was honored when Nadia asked me to be a guest author on her blog, especially since Nadia has done such an impressive job with her blog and her brand. If you have any questions about blogging, please feel free to reach out to either of us. More importantly, if you have any other blogging tips, we’d love to hear them because this is a never-ending learning process for all of us.
Ali Wenzke, Moving Expert, moved 10 times in 11 years. Now she’s helping the millions of people who move each year by providing practical tips on how to make moving a happy experience at The Art of Happy Moving. After calling seven U.S. states home, Ali is now happily settled in the Chicago suburbs with her husband and three children. She doesn’t plan on moving anytime soon.
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