(cartoon by brajeshwar.com)
So, you’ve spent months or even years writing and perfecting your book and you’ve put it out there for all the world to see. Now the real work begins! You need to find your audience.
One part of finding an audience, what we love to call “building a platform,” is becoming an expert in your field and attracting readers. One way you do that is to create a blog to support your work.
Do you need a blog? Yes. When should you begin? Yesterday.
REASONS TO HAVE A BLOG
- You’ll network with 1) other writers, 2) other people interested in your topic, 3) potential book buyers, 4) and believe it or not, you may actually cultivate some great friendships. I’ve never met a blogger who didn’t have a few very dear friends they met while blogging.
- You can link your blog to your Twitter and Facebook to instantly notify people when you’ve posted a blog. That makes one less Tweet and one less Facebook post you have to make!
- If you’re a non-fiction writer, you can’t afford to NOT have a blog. You have to establish your credibility for anyone to take you seriously and buy your book. For fiction authors, you need to find readers interested in your topic.
WHERE SHOULD YOU BLOG?
You can set up a free blog account here at WordPress.com or at Blogger.com. Typically, WordPress is used by bloggers in America and Blogger is used by the Brits, but there are no rules, so choose the one you like best. There is also WordPress.org which has more options available for your page, but requires you to own your own domain name (more on that below). If you plan on growing ridiculously big, WordPress.org may be a better choice for you. Here’s a free step-by-step tutorial at About.com on how to set up a WordPress.com blog.
NOW, STRUT YOUR STUFF!
1. Decide on your content. You can always go left and post about the neighbor’s dog, but you need to mainly focus on one subject. Many writers blog about writing, and those sites are a dime-a-dozen, so pick something you’re passionate about. History? Spaceships? Hot Romances? Whatever it is, you’ll attract many people who are also passionate about it too. And, I HAVE seen blogs written by dogs – quite entertaining posts over at Wiley’s Wisdom.
2. Choose a name. Hmmm. You’ll have to give this one some thought. “John Doe Author”? Sure, that’ll work, but you may be able to come up with something better if you give it some thought. You can use the free name provided by the blog site, such as JohnDoe.wordpress.com or you can purchase a domain name such as JohnDoe.com. Domain names will cost you a yearly fee and often look like websites, but if you have both a website AND a blog, you can double your audience, then again, you must maintain both. Websites tend to be more static, whereas blogs change almost daily.
3. Now, the most important thing about blogging is to post blogs on a regular schedule, so plan your blogging schedule right now. Once per week is okay to start, but you’ll eventually want to increase your postings. One blog per day is great! You can try different topics on different days like Manic Monday, Terrific Tuesday, Sunday Snippets. Personally, I change my schedule as I feel the need. I currently do books I’m reading on Mondays, ancestors on Thursdays, and snippets and characters from my books on Saturdays, but in August, I’m not doing books anymore, I’m concentrating on these “Wednesday Writer’s Corner” blogs. You can always write blogs ahead of time and save them as drafts, then you can post them at a later date. You’ll see that option (on wordpress) on the writing page. You can either “publish now” or “schedule for later.”
4. To make your blog look more inviting, limit your posts to less than 1000 words. 500-700 is perfect. Add a few photos, make your headings in bold, and leave lots of white space. Most people scan, not read, while on the Internet, so give them what they want. Let them scan the photos, the bold headings, and decide if they want to stay and read the post.
5. Now go make friends. Search the site for topics you’re interested in and also ones you’re blogging about. Like posts, follow other bloggers. Bloggers are a friendly bunch and will most often follow you back. Search for a monthly blog challenge and try it. Other people doing the same challenge will drop by and often like your page – another good way to make friends.
If you create a blog here on WordPress, let me know and I’ll be happy to follow you! 🙂
Lori Crane is a bestselling and award-winning author of historical fiction and the occasional thriller. Her books have climbed to the Kindle Top 100 lists many times, including “Elly Hays” which debuted at #1 in Native American stories. She has also enjoyed a place among her peers in the Top 100 historical fiction authors on Amazon, climbing to #23. She resides in greater Nashville and is a professional musician by night – an indie author by day.