Blogging: it’s that thing you’ve been told to do because it’ll help you market your book, although you’re not really sure how or why… or what to do to get started. Marketing’s already confusing enough without adding an entirely new concept to your list of to-dos.
Let’s demystify blogging by starting with the how. How can blogging help? It’s actually quite simple:
Blogging Makes You Discoverable.
The point of marketing is to get your book (and yourself) in front of more people. Blogging is an easy way to do it because blogging involves publishing new content on a regular basis. Unlike static pages on your blog—about you, about your book—that rarely get updated, blog posts are dynamic. Timely. And most importantly, consistently posted.
With more content on your site, you have more chances of a search engine sending someone new to your site. That doesn’t mean you should post anything and everything just to have new content on your blog. Provide some kind of value—once you get people to your blog, you want to give them a reason to come back.
Because once you get people coming back, you can establish a relationship with them, and connecting with people is key to effective marketing. People buy from those they know, like, and trust, and blogging can do that.
And this leads us into the whys. Why blog?
Everyone Has a Different Answer to “Why Blog?”
Marketing your book and being discoverable are both great starts to the why answer, but you need to get more specific. To be successful at blogging and using your blog to market your book, you have to have a strategy and understand who your audience is. You need purpose. And that comes from answering why.
And here’s the reason: the content of your book will influence what you should post.
If you wrote a self-help book to help men find the right kind of woman to date, you probably don’t want to blog about your cats. Writing about your cats won’t help men find the woman of their dreams, and it won’t help sell your book. With a self-help book—or any nonfiction book—your blog posts should support the content of your book.
Nonfiction lends itself perfectly to blogging because it helps to build your reputation as an expert in your topic. If you provide blog readers value with free content (your blog posts!), it’s a no-brainer to pick up your book and learn more. And in many ways, getting people to your blog and interacting with your content could even help you write more books because they’ll ask you questions and get you thinking about subjects within your expertise that you might not have covered in your first book.
Blogging’s a bit more difficult for fiction authors because it’s not about becoming an expert of the genre you write. If you’re a mystery writer, you’re likely not trying to be the “mystery expert.” Instead, you could write about your characters, how you come up with your plots, or research you’ve done. These topics are geared toward readers of your books.
Fiction writers can also blog about writing tips, their process, and other writing craft topics. The audience here is a little different—you’d be blogging for other writers who may or may not pick up your books. There’s nothing wrong with either approach as long as you know who you’re trying to reach. Blogging for readers or writers will both build your author platform.
How You Can Get Started Blogging Today.
Okay, so you know you need a blog. The next step, which is often the hardest, is getting started. Most website platforms come with a blogging option, so you don’t have to set anything up. That means getting started is far more simple than you think. You can do it in three steps. Yes, three!
1. Determine why you’re blogging and who your audience is.
Why you’re blogging and who your audience is are tied so closely together that it’s impossible to separate them. If you can answer one, the other’s been answered. Although you should take some time to consider your answer, you’re never locked into anything, so if you find need to change direction, you totally can.
The truth is, most blogs evolve and change over time as you get better at it and feel more comfortable. Change is good, especially on the Internet, where things move and evolve quickly.
2. Decide what types of posts you’ll write.
Knowing your why can give you some ideas about what to write, but I’ve found that it’s easier to come up with blog post ideas if you have a few overarching categories. “What should I blog about now?” is open-ended and not very helpful, but “What are common marketing struggles authors have?” is much easier to pinpoint an answer to… which then becomes a blog post. (Like, ahem, blogging as an author.)
When you think about who your audience is, brainstorm a few broad topics they might be seeking information about. With your broad topics, you can narrow your focus for individual blog posts. So if one of my topics is common marketing struggles authors have, I could write about blogging, using social media, purchasing advertising, or pitching to media outlets. I could even get more specific about each of those topics!
Writing is, of course, key to the blogging process. Don’t stress too much about it, though. Blogging is a form of social media (it’s just longer content than sites like Twitter or Facebook), so being informal and friendly works to your advantage. No one’s looking for a professional essay. Get out, write your thoughts, don’t forget to polish it, and then hit “publish”!
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