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Wet Noodle Posse | Blog

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

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.

Colleen Gleason
visit my blog at For All the World to See.

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19 Comments:

At 12:18 PM, Blogger Theresa Ragan said...

Lots of great tips and info here, Colleen! Great blog on blogging! You hit on why I don't blog...because I know I'm not willing, at this point, to put the time into blogging every single day. Once I'm published that might change. :)

Love the blog about wearing a thong! I can see where people need to get creative with their blog.

Do you shoot for trying to get so many new commenters per week? Do you keep track of that? Do you offer prizes and such for commenters?

Thanks again!

 
At 12:41 PM, Blogger Colleen Gleason said...

Hi Theresa!

I don't so much as watch commenters or track that (although I like to get as many as possible), but I do watch my blog statistics.

I can see how many unique visitors I get per day, and what search terms they used to get there (it's very rarely anything related to my books that brings them to my blog--the searches that are related to my books brings people to my website).

So what I mean is, for example, on Monday, I blogged about Gilles Marini, who was the hot surfer guy in the Sex and the City movie.

Got quite a few hits because after the movie came out, people were searching for him on the internet.

Some of these people come to my blog, and then I can look at my web traffic patterns and see that a few clicked through to go to my website and even a few of those clicked onto more than one page.

That was a successful blog.

But those people didn't comment on the blog post--and while I LOOOVE commenters, I also just like to know that people have come to the site and that my hits keep going up.

Make sense?

 
At 1:02 PM, Blogger Theresa Ragan said...

That makes perfect sense. And what a great idea. This truly is a great tip.

WHAT you blog about can really make a big difference. Of course, I knew that to an extent, but I would have never thought about blogging about current events or "current" movies for this reason. You are very clever with this marketing stuff!

 
At 1:05 PM, Blogger Heather Harper said...

Great post, Colleen! And I think I found you via Diana P if I remember correctly. :)

 
At 1:11 PM, Blogger Mo H said...

Colleen,
You mentioned a couple of blogs that got a lot of traffic. Can you share one or two that bombed? Is there a list of what doesn't work as topics?

 
At 1:17 PM, Blogger Patricia W. said...

Great info. I disagree with one point, however. Although I love daily blogs, it takes a lot of time to keep up with one (or to read every interesting blog every day).

I think now that people are accustomed to blogging, they're also accustomed to people blogging on varied frequencies. The key word is consistency. If a blog is only updated on Mondays, then I know not to expect anything the rest of the week. And that's okay.

If a blog is updated two or three times a week but not on specific days, that's okay too, now that there are easy ways to keep up with blog updates, like Google Reader, Feedblitz, etc. They bring the blog updates to me rather than me having to think about checking every blog.

The problem with when people blog and then don't update with a new post for weeks or even months. In that case, it's near impossible to develop loyal readers.

For someone just starting out, daily might be too much and maybe more of a goal.

 
At 1:43 PM, Anonymous Colleen Gleason said...

Thanks Theresa!

And, yes, Heather, I think that might be how we found each other. And I must admit, I don't get over to Diana's blog all that often any more. *oops*

Mo, I don't know if I've had posts that have bombed so much as just ones that didn't have many comments, because there just wasn't reason to do so.

In fact, today's blog post over at For All the World to See, I simply announce an appearance of mine over in the DC area next week. Not a great post for generating discussion, LOL. You can either make it (or want to) or can't.

So that would be, I guess, an example of a post that wouldn't draw people in or invite them to talk. I always try to end with a question and I did not on that post today.

Patricia, you bring up a good point about being consistent...and also about feeds. You're exactly right--if someone has subscribed to the feed on my blog (and I also have a simple "add your email address to get updates" subscription), then they'll know every time I put up a new post.

The only problem with the feeds is that lots of people don't know how to use them, or simply don't. I think I probably didn't mention it because I am one of those people! LOL. I know about feeds, but I don't use them mainly because I don't know how or don't care to set it up.

But an excellent point about consistency and about using the feeds.

 
At 4:10 PM, Blogger Diane Gaston said...

I don't understand feeds either!

Colleen, this is good blog advice and thank you for mentioning Risky Regencies. We sometimes stray from Regency into things happening in our own lives (like when I attended the Gerard Butler convention), but once you have a relationship with your readers, you can expand your topics. We'd be pretty boring if we stuck only to Regency.

I think the WNP and Risky Regencies are good examples of how to use a group blog. Group blogs make it less time consuming to be in the blog world!

By the way, when you need blog visitors, just mention Gerard Butler!!

I wish I had more time to read blogs. I have to be careful or I'll never get to writing!

 
At 4:18 PM, Blogger doglady said...

Hey, Colleen! LOVE your books and cannot wait for the next one. You left us hanging!! :)

I don't have a blog yet, but I do have a website. Another writing friend and I hope to go in together on a blog. Her husband is a computer geek and he is going to set it up for us. As I work a full-time job AND try to keep up the page count on my WIPs it would be really hard to do a blog on my own. When i start one I want to do a good job on it.

I learn so much on blogs like this one and the Riskies, Romance Bandits, History Hoydens and a couple of others. Like you O Divine One, I have to limit my blog time or I would never get those pages done!

 
At 4:19 PM, Blogger MaryF said...

No kidding on Gerard Butler, Diane! I always post pictures of the models for my heroes, and I would get tons of hits when I posted Gerry. Jeffrey Dean, not so much ;)

 
At 6:02 PM, Blogger Delle Jacobs said...

Great blog, Colleen, and you do a great job. I think you're also pointing out why it's not working for me. I know I have things to say, but just not enough time to say them. And I don't often get to check other people's individual blogs even though I'd like to. But I really like group blogs- as long as they're not huge and just chat to be chatting. It seems to be a way to stay in touch with a larger number of people, and share in more of a discussion.

I wish I could find a way to get going on my own blog, though. It just seems so necessary in today's publishing world. Maybe after the Royal Ascot's put to bed for the year.

 
At 6:28 AM, Blogger Terry Odell said...

I spend my coffee hour blog-hopping. I know as things happen throughout the daily routines, I tend to look at them as blog fodder.

And I recently posted a list of all the key search words people used to find me for the month of May. Some were funny; some were a tad scary.

I'd love to have more traffic, but I know it's a slow process. I don't have the 'chops' to post 'visit my blog' comments on all the loops unless I'm doing something 'special'.

Interesting post. I've been blogging because it's a fun thing to do, and keeps my writer's mind going, but I suppose I ought to work on the promotional side as well.

 
At 7:40 AM, Blogger Diane Gaston said...

Terry,
I blog because it is fun, too. I'm not sure my blog activities drive that many people to buy my books but I know I've made some wonderful friends through it!

But, you know, if you are mentioning your blog here, you should let us know the url

Same to you, O Doggie One, what is the url to your website?

 
At 7:52 AM, Blogger Terry Odell said...

Diane -- I figured clicking on my name would start people down the path to my blog, which is "Terry's Place" (brilliant, right? -- but I was clueless when I started all this).

The URL is http://terryodell.blogspot.com/

I think I've caught on to using enough html to link it ... let's see: myblog

 
At 8:57 AM, Blogger doglady said...

Sorry, O Divine One! I thought I had mentioned my website! The url is

louisacornell.com


Louisa Cornell is the name under which I hope to be published. Let me know what you think. My fabulous critique partner, Erin, set it up for me. We had a ball doing it!

 
At 10:29 AM, Blogger Esri Rose said...

I'm late chiming in. Silly book writing!

I do blog on my cat, Musette a lot. She's a proven quantity. Also, I get more hits when I use the tag "cats," and most of those people seem to be women.

Tags are important. I attach every tag I can think of to my blog posts.

 
At 10:54 AM, Blogger Maggie Toussaint said...

Great post, Colleen. Everything you said was so true. I find it hard to blog every day, so I'm in two group blogs which helps spread the work.
Maggie
www.maggietoussaint.com

 
At 12:35 PM, Anonymous Colleen Gleason said...

Oops! I checked for comments/questions last night and there weren't any new ones...and now here are a bunch more!

Thanks for coming by all of you--and doglady, thanks for loving my books. August is just around the corner and the part where I left you hanging will pick up right away.

But in the mean time...I will be giving away some advance copies of WHEN TWILIGHT BURNS...guess where...my blog! So keep an eye on it and you'll have a chance to enter the contest.

I'm glad the post made sense to all of you. It's definitely a time thing in order to have a good blog. Good luck Terry and Louisa (doglady).

 
At 10:26 AM, Blogger Nathalie said...

I don't have a blog myself... but love to hang out around a lot of them. The most important for me is that the page owner is a present figure and not just posts a text...

 

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