Have you ever scrolled through an author's website and noticed that they typically have a blog feature associated with their author name? Perhaps you've followed a few indie authors online and have seen the occasional writing blog post that appears once in a while.
If you've considered blogging as an author in the past but haven't done it yet, it might be fear of putting yourself out there that's holding you back, or trepidation over the amount of work or research you think might go into it. If you've already started a blog but have yet to make use of it, you may have recognized it's value but are still unsure of how to make the most of this specific type of platform.
Blogging for authors presents a unique and creative opportunity you won't find anywhere else. It gives you a chance to build community with your readers, followers, and potential new fans while keeping them connected and updated on your current and upcoming novels. It allows you to extensively communicate and provide value without being overly pushy or too personal. It also allows you to subtly inform your readers when upcoming novels can be purchased and where without feeling like a sales pitch. Mostly the appeal comes from being able to express yourself in the way you express yourself best- through your writing!
Another reason to incorporate a blog into your author website is that it results in great marketing opportunities. It allows you to build a newsletter, email list, and essentially funnel traffic back to your books without having to be tied down to a rigorous posting and maintenance routine, unlike with social media accounts. Blogging can also provide another stream of revenue for those who are in need of more funds to support their novel writing.
Still on the fence about blogging? That's okay. You're probably familiar with the diary style type of over-sharing that gave blogging it's start back in the day. Chances are you cringe at the thought of doing something similar. What you might not be aware of is that blogs have branched out into new territory, becoming as unique as the different people who write them.
The wonderful thing about blogs is that they've evolved. There are many different types and styles out there- one to fit every type of author. Here are a few different types explained:
Diary-style: This is typically the format that people think of when they hear the word blogging. This is a style where the author shares their thoughts in an informal, personal way where it reads like a diary or journal entry. It's more observational than interactive and has no specific topic agenda or formatting guide, just whatever is on the author's mind that day.
Personal/Influencer: Similar to diary style in that it's personal and focused more on the human elements rather than solely writing. An excellent style for outgoing authors, this allows you to tell the story of your life through images, writing about life events and preferences, and personal anecdotes.
Picture-Based: A blog that uses storytelling primarily in photos. This format favors vivid images and might be preferable to an author with a love for photography as well as writing. It's also nice for an author who writes full-time (and doesn't want to write more) or one who prefers to keep their writing strictly to books.
Blogging for Authors
Are you looking for ideas on how to find more readers for your book? Have you considered blogging as a method of connecting with readers? Technical trainer Barb Drozdowich has been blogging for over 10 years. She has grown her blogs to thousands of visitors each day & understands what authors need. Finding readers is the key to success. One of the best ways to connect with these readers is through the establishment of a blog - one that isn’t just a billboard for sales & releases, but a method for establishing long term relationships with readers.
Vlog: A format that relies heavily on storytelling through video, these tend to be informal and personal in nature. These use high quality, edited video clips but are great for reaching audiences who don't have the time to read full blog posts.
Portfolio: A professional, formal format that displays an author's work. Typically used for a specific purpose (like finding a freelancing job). This is great for authors who work within different writing genres or who have extensive writing experience outside of novel writing that they would like to share.
Informative: A style geared towards the teaching or sharing of information. This is more formal in tone and aimed towards a specific topic, whether it's teaching someone how to write a book, how to use social media as an author, or how to publish and market a novel.
How-To: Similar to the informative style, but less formal. A how-to blog teaches other authors how to write or another book-related skill but in a quick, easily-digestible, and friendly way. It keeps posts short and readable whereas informative blog posts may be longer and more in-depth.
Sales: A blog associated with a merchandise sales website. This is used primary to share product information, updates, news or topics relevant to the brand in some way. Posts visible here will always have a sales pitch and option to buy products included within the posts.
Activist: Different from the other blogging styles, this type is specific and geared towards raising awareness for a charitable cause. You might see this format used by authors who champion a charity, illness, disability, or another notable cause. May also be used to draw attention to a struggle that an author has personally experienced in order to help writers/readers in similar situations.
The short answer is anything you want. The long answer depends on your blog's style, what your goals/purpose for blogging are, and ultimately what your readers are interested in reading.
Here we're going to split the advice into two different camps: fiction and nonfiction. The rules are a bit different depending on which of these you're writing for.
Fiction: If you're a fiction author your blog should include things that revolve around your specific genre as well as your book. For instance, if you write fantasy then you can write posts about topics that your fantasy readers are interested in- magic, fantasy novels, tropes that occur within said genre, events like comic con, cosplay inspired by your novel, etc. For romance writers you can use poetry, recipes inspired by your novel, reviews of other romance novels, tips on how to write romantic scenes, relationship advice, etc. For suspense or true crime novelists consider sharing true crime news/cases, writing a post on the latest forensic techniques, discuss how to incorporate facts and research into a novel, etc. Simply put yourself into your reader's shoes and ask yourself what topics you would be interested in reading about if you were them.
Nonfiction: Nonfiction differs from fiction because it's based in reality, meaning there is a specific purpose or topic for your book backed by experiences and facts. Your blog should fall comfortably within your niche, but be kept to topics that are directly supporting or relating to your novel. Take a cookbook for example. Your blog would revolved around recipes both new and similar to those features in your book. If you wrote a self-help book about body image and positivity, then your blog should contain tips and anecdotal support for your techniques. The goal for your blog is to create supplemental information for your readers rather than entertainment.
Both: Regardless of which category you fall into, there are some things you should include. Remembering to use your author bio, give readers the opportunity to subscribe to your email list, and encouraging them to follow you on social media are all techniques that will help you sell your books later on.
Now that you know what type of blog you want to make and how it should be used, it's time to get started. Here are a few things to consider:
Pick Your Platform Based On Your Skill Level
Many authors don't go into creating their websites with a blog in mind, but if you're in the early stages of building your author brand and thinking about adding a blog to it, it's important to know your options. You want to pick the place to host your website/blog based on how strong your computer skills are. If you're comfortable with coding and are better versed in website building, blogging and SEO, WordPress is your ticket to better. This sight is more for those who know how to use it rather than for those who are just learning. Wix provides pre-made templates that are easy to use and provides features that largely cut out the design skills beginners might lack. With built-in marketing and analytics everything is at your fingertips. Squarespace is another option. Similar to Wix, it provides templates and user-friendly features but is geared more towards visuals.
Choose Your Style And Plan Your Content
It's important to know what your style will be before you start blogging. While it's possible to use different elements from the various styles mentioned above, sticking with one will help streamline your blogging experience and clarifies your message to your reader. Based on what you choose, your tone and format for your individual blog posts will be definable. For a vlog, your posts will be a video rather than a written blog post, for a picture-based blog your posts should be a combination of pictures and explanations, for an informative style post your post may be longer with lots of links to other resources, and for an activist approach you'll probably keep your posts shorter with clear calls to action.
Once you've chosen your style, consider creating a content guide. This is essentially a list of plausible topics that you can use to write about on your blog. You want to give yourself plenty to work with before you start writing. Over time, this will save you from writer's block, lack of spontaneous ideas, and keep you on track with your positing schedule. Begin by thinking of five umbrella topics that directly correlate to your readers. From those five, break them down into smaller subjects that answer the following: What supplemental tools or advice go with your topic? What common problems or issues arise when doing said topic? How can you fix said problems? What relating topics come up when discussing the initial topic? Armed with these questions you can create an endless list of things to talk about on your blog.
Choose Useful Features
Remember to think strategically about what features your blog will need. If your blog isn't accessible, then no one will stick around to read it. When you create your blog layout and what you include within it makes a difference. Make sure that your posts have category groupings so that fans of one post can find similar ones. Ensure they come back for more by including a way to join your email list. Last but not least, include your book link! Give them the option to purchase your book, remember, your blog's first purpose is to help you sell your novel. Also provide your fans with ways they can contact and leave you feedback. This will help you know when what you're writing is resonating with your ideal reader.
The Author Blog: Easy Blogging for Busy Authors
An author blog doesn't have to follow the rules that monetized business blogs do. This book teaches the secrets that made Anne R. Allen a multi-award-winning blogger and one of the top author-bloggers in the industry.
And you'll learn why having a successful author blog is easier than you think.
Keep Your Branding Consistent
When creating your blog ask yourself if what you're doing is consistent with your brand as an author. Use the same color scheme, fonts, logos, and tone from your website for your blog. If you choose to include photos or other media ensure that they are high quality and consistent. Whatever posts you write, make sure that they follow the same layout each and every time you share. But most importantly ask yourself whether or not each post you add genuinely reflects who you are as both a person and an author. If it doesn't, tweak it until it matches.
Plan For Creating Media
It's inevitable that when you blog, you will have to create media to go along with your post. Whether this is a cover image, images inside the post, video, or email incentives it's time to consider how you'll go about making them. Canva is a free design tool that you can use to create your digital media. Geared towards content creators, it contains hundreds of copyright free photos, templates, stylistic elements, fonts, and more. You'll also want to invest in a few social media editing apps such as Instasize, Prequel and Collageable. These will help you properly size and tailor your images to fit social media when you make promotional posts to help draw traffic to your website. Keep in mind that creating graphics and visual content takes time so make sure to account for that in your overall plan. A way to ensure that you keep your time well balanced is by using a content planner such as Later, which allows you to schedule social media in advance and automatically posts your content without you directly later.
Decide How Often You'll Post
Once you have your design concept and content plan, it's time to decide how often you'll post. The frequency of your posts, the number of posts, and when you'll share them are all things you need to decide before you begin. Whether you want to release a blog post twice a weak or once a month doesn't matter. What matters is consistency. Keeping to your release schedule and communicating when you post to your audience helps build reader trust and let's people know when to return for more valuable content. Over time staying consistent will help your author reputation and your blog's traffic grow.
Think of your email list as the lifeline of your blog and author website. These are the die-hard fans, the loyal readers, and the demographic most likely to purchase every book you ever publish- and tell others all about them! Newsletters are a friendly way to keep in touch with these readers and to keep them updated on all your latest book news. It's also a great way to link your latest blog post to you audience too. When readers like your blog and join your email list it means that they like what they see, want to support your work, and are more likely to buy your book when asked.
Just Do It!
If you're having doubts, aren't sure how it's all going to come together, or are simply worried that nobody will like what you're writing- just go for it! Most of your worries are just that, worries. Once you begin, you'll realize that starting was the difficult part. The rest you'll learn along the way.
Having an author blog can help raise awareness for your books, help build your author brand, and connect you directly to your readers.
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