How to have an effective blog.I have done several workshops on online promotion, specifically blogging (one at RWA's PRO Retreat last year that seemed to be very well-received), and I thought it might be worthwhile to share some of the highlights and tips that I've learned over my two+ years of blogging and reading blogs.
The way to establish a well-trafficked blog is the same, regardless of whether you're published or not. There are two main things to keep in mind:
1. Know your audience and write for them.
2. Be a good blog-friend.
If you do those two things, you'll begin to build a blog that people keep coming back to--and that's the key.
So, first, you need to decide who your audience is going to be. Some writers blog with an audience of other writers (published or not) in mind. They blog on topics of interest to people who are trying to get published or to find an agent, and about their own writing and publishing experiences. (Diana Peterfreund comes to mind, and so does this very blog.)
Your audience might be a broader one, or a narrower one. For example, the blog VampireRomanceBooks blogs about...you guessed it...vampire romance books. Everything on that blog is related to that genre of books. The Risky Regencies blog about everything Regency. They write about things that readers of Regency romance novels will find interesting.
But what if you're a single author trying to promote yourself and your own work--whether it be published or not?
You still have to know who your audience is, and who you want to attract.
Who would be interested in reading your books? Start with that thought and build on it. When I post on my regular blog, For All the World to See, I keep in mind that my audience is 1) fans and readers of my Gardella Vampire Chronicles but also...and here's the key...women aged 20-50.
I was writing for that audience a year before my first book came out.
Because the point of having a blog is to introduce more people to your work and your site, you have to find a way to bring them there!
If I just waited for readers to find my blog...well, they'd already be readers and know about my books. I have to have some other relevant content that will interest people who haven't heard of my books...and then when they come to the blog, hopefully they find out about them.
So, along with knowing your audience, you have to make sure that you write for them. What do women aged 20-50 find interesting? Well, that's a broad audience, so there are lots of things they find interesting. One easy topic to write about is movies or hot Hollywood stars. Most women in that age group have an opinion on those things. :-)
Another topic is simply: being a woman. I wrote a post recently about wearing thongs--called "I'm a girl and I still don't get it." And it was about the whole thong-wearing thing: they're uncomfortable, but people wear them. Why? Well, I got lots of feedback on that and I still get hits and comments on that post. As well as the post about "The Ten Things I Learned by Slamming My Finger in the Minivan Door."
You might write for an audience of people who love cats. Our own Esri Rose does that. Or only about Science Fiction movies. It depends on how narrow or broad of an audience you want to have.
So, decide on your audience, and then write about something that 1) your market will find interesting, and 2) that can generate a discussion. Always end your blog post with a question, which invites comments.
Another important thing: if you're not going to blog every day, don't bother blogging at all.
Really. It becomes a waste of time. The point of a blog is to get regular readers into the habit of coming by regularly. Every day. If you don't give them something new every day, they're not going to keep coming back.
So by every day I mean, basically, five days a week--Monday through Friday. The highest traffic day is Tuesday, the lowest is Saturday and Sunday. I blog at least 4-6 posts per week, sometimes more.
The other important thing is to be a good blog-friend. Having a blog is not simply building it and they will come.
They won't. Sorry. There are too many other blogs fighting for their attention (whoever "they" are--oh, yeah...your readers).
So you have to spend some time getting to know other bloggers. Making comments on their blogs. (And I don't mean just once or twice.) And if someone does visit your blog and comments on it, you'd best get your little mouse over to their blog and return the favor.
That's how you build an audience. You visit other blogs. Make a comment. When you comment, your name links to your blog, so not only does the blog-owner come to check you out, but also other commenters (or lurkers) will do so too.
Blogging is a time-consuming process...if you want to have a successful site. If you want to generate discussions and regular readers, these are things that you need to keep in mind and put the effort into.
If you find that you can't come up with things to write about, or don't have time to visit other blogs, then blogging might not be for you.
However, that doesn't mean you couldn't have a blog and simply use it for general updates on your books and writing. You can. It just won't become a forum for discussions or for regular readers.
I'd love to hear from you in the comments section about what you do for topics or how to attract visitors, and other blogs that you like to visit...and any other questions you might have about blogging.
visit my blog at For All the World to See.
Labels: Colleen Gleason