As a blogging amateur I decided blogging was for me after reading two or three articles. I thought "Oh, blogging isn't that hard. It'll be a quick way to make money and it'll help me gain readers for my book once I'm published". I thought that since I was a writer who was used to writing, this type of work would be a breeze, right? If this sounds familiar, we may be in the same boat. You may have joined me in this spontaneous endeavor, or got told by your agent or publisher somewhere down the line that you needed to "connect" with your readers to encourage sales. We may have been full of enthusiasm, but we were definitely in for a rude awakening. As it turns out, blogging is a lot more difficult than either of us were led to believe.
You may have noticed that authors seem to be split when it comes to blogging. Some prefer not to have one, sticking to an author website alone, and others are taking it upon themselves to connect with their readership in a more personal way.
The truth is that without a blog you're passing up a prime opportunity. While an author site alone works for well-established and experienced writers, for Indie writers trying to get their name out there it can be vital. Blogging requires a certain amount of social finesse and business sense on top of writing. But, there's an even bigger secret...knowledge. Knowing the steps to creating a blog post makes blogging a thousand times easier! Why? Because you know how to reach out to people in a way that will make them want to read.
Why should I start an author blog?
Blogging can be beneficial to an author in so many ways. In today's literary world, it's not enough to launch your book at your local bookstore and release an announcement in the newspaper. Now is the time for digital bookselling and that bookselling happens all around the world. Did you know that the number one country that reads is India? They're also the second largest population of English speakers followed by Pakistan and Nigeria. Which means that the more you are able to connect with people in these areas, the more likely you'll be able to sell your books.
Blogging as an author can also benefit you in other ways:
You need an author website anyways
It will get you into search engines
Uses skills you already have
It teaches you to write web content
Social media blocks visibility unless you pay
Social media can kick you off your accounts
Control of your brand
It's a place to share ideas and diverse topics
Opportunity to connect with more people
It's free to start!
Okay, so you've decided to start an author blog for all the above reasons. But you've never done it before and may not be the savviest internet user out there. Where do you even start?
How to write a blog post:
1. Understand who you're writing for
The most important thing to remember while blogging is to remember who you write for. Chances are the person who is going to read your books is also going to be the person reading your blog. Thus, it's important to tailor your posts to suit the needs and interests of this particular fan base.
Ask yourself: What do they want to know about? What will resonate with them?
Whatever the answer to this question is, make sure you make a note of it and do your research. Not everything you write about will appeal to people one-hundred percent, but you can certainly get it as close to their interest-range as possible.
How To Find Your Ideal Audience will teach you how to identify who your target audience is and how to use them to your best advantage. The more you know about your ideal reader, the better.
2. Consider your theme
One thing I wish I had done when I first started blogging was considered my theme. Your theme is your color scheme, font, images, and overall tone. Don't make my rookie mistake and have your posts be of all different images, themes, and fonts. Your blog's theme doesn't just belong on your homepage- it should carry it over into everything you do that's blog related be it posts, social media posts, newsletters, freebies, etc. Anything representing your blog needs to carry your theme. Otherwise you run the risk of having to update all your posts later on once you learn that it benefits you to have a consistent brand, and trust me. That's a lot of work!
3. Consider your blog posts, especially your first one
Before you start writing consider your topic carefully. It's generally a good rule of thumb to start of general and avoid "How To" articles as your first official blog post. This is because these types of articles tend to be longer and filled with technical information. While this is fine for a blogger who has built a loyal fan-base, when you're first starting out you have to make an emotional connection with readers and slowly establish yourself as an authority figure within your niche before you bring out the heavier materials.
To learn more about my personal blogging experience and see an example of what a more personal blog post looks like, see Writing Full-Time: What It Has Taught Me.
Here are some other examples to help you get started.
An anecdotal story: How you helped a writer overcome a problem.
A problem/solution: Common problems within your niche and their solutions.
A List (Listicle): A top 10 list of best writing tools
Curated Collection: 20 of the greatest literary words of all time
Slideshare presentation: 5 products to help you break your writer's block
News piece: New study shows that x% of writers spend more than $500 in pens yearly
Need more inspiration? Consider brainstorming how you break down a general topic into several posts.
This can be done by:
Changing the topic scope
Adjusting your time frame
Choosing a new audience
Taking a positive/negative approach
Introducing a new format
Still stuck? Google's key word planner can help you find a niche that people are interested in now. Better yet it's free to use! You can also type generally into Google's search engine and see what pops up in your niche.
4. Let your title evolve
Titles have a phase of evolution. They typically start off generalized such as "Tools For Writing Well" or "Common Causes of Punctuation Errors". These are known as working titles. They're specific and practical so that you know exactly what you're writing about while you're crafting your post. This will help you narrow down what your post is about, rather than having an overwhelming broader topic such as just writing or punctuation errors.
From here you can refine and grow more specific. For example, "Tools For Writing Wells" can evolve into "10 Best Tools For Refining Your Writing" and "Common Causes of Punctuation Errors" can become Mythbusters: Punctuation Errors and Their Causes.
Be creative with your titles but remember their ultimate purpose- they have to tell your readers exactly what they're getting but in a way that grabs their attention.
5. Write a captivating intro
Use a hook that will grab your reader's attention in the first paragraph. How do you do that? By telling a story or joke, by being empathetic, or by griping them with an interesting fact or statistic.Your intro is your reader's first impression of your post. If you lose them in the first paragraph, or the first sentence, the result is they'll stop reading.
Next you'll want to disclose the purpose of your post and how it will solve their problem. It will give your readers an incentive to keep reading as well as bridge the gap between your post and improving their work or life.
6. Organize your outline
Another rookie mistake I've made (and admittedly continue to make) is not outlining my posts ahead of time. Knowing what you want to say and where you want to say it makes the whole process a lot less stressful. There's nothing quite like furiously typing the night before a blog post goes out and feeling frustrated when you hit a mental roadblock. Though I may work well under pressure, I can assure you that it's always a much more enjoyable experience overall when I think ahead.
Another benefit of planning is that you're able to dictate how information is delivered to your readers. You want your posts to be informative, but not overwhelming. Concise, but not too short. Filled with value but not lacking in entertainment quality. Organization can take multiple forms including sections, lists, tips, slideshows, images, quizzes, etc. It's all about what's best for the post and for the audience.
7. Writing your post
Now it's time to put it all together! Follow your outline, evolve your title, write your captivating intro, and see what you come up with. Write what you know and research what you don't. Fact check yourself and use relevant examples. Choose images and graphics that break up the text and make it easier to read. Double-check your attributions and always give credit where credit is due.
Arguably the most important step, and one you're sure to be familiar with as a writer is proofreading and editing. Don't ever forget that as a writer you're being judged by your writing skills. Never skip editing or proofreading your blog posts. Not only can other writers be nit-picky, but writing errors can actually drive them away from reading your blog. Who could blame them? We all spend so much time learning our craft that when we do deviate from writing, we want the resource materials we read to accurately reflect our skill levels or even better, raise the bar.
If you're an author, particularly an indie one, blogging is a great way to connect and keep your readers updated. It can help you be relatable, provide entertainment, and it can help you ultimately sell your book. Should you decide to create a blog, you can't expect overnight results. It takes hard work and creative problem-solving. With this step-by-step guide for how to write a blog post you can learn how to make one that will work for your goals.