I thought I knew a bit about blogging even though I didn’t come on board with it until my debut novel, The Cruelty of Lambs came out in November 2016. With great enthusiasm I created a blog page as part of my content managed website, tingling with excitement at the idea of all the subjects I could chat about. Three people read the first one and six the second one. The dog didn’t count. It was then I realised this was not going to be easy.
Writing a blog is the easy bit, if you follow a few general guidelines. Sucking folks into your star-spangled sentences is the tough part. Especially for writers who may not have a digital marketing background or an established platform.
Running a business blog is much easier because customers seek you out in search of something they need.
Authors are selling themselves, ‘Brand Me’ and it doesn’t always feel comfortable. These techniques have helped me.
- Don’t make the piece too wordy. 500-750 words is about right unless you’re an expert on something and writing non-fiction.
- Lay out your piece using bullet points with white space in between bite sized sections.
- Visual support – pictures (check copyright), graphs, sketches, cartoons and your own match stick characters help draw the eye to your key points and keep the reader interested. At the moment my blog only takes one image.
- Snappy headline – draw people in without tricking them.
- Write around your book – if it’s romantic fiction then pieces on roses, honeymoon venues, different kinds of love, clothes for a first date… give full rein to your imagination ( within the parameters of decency). Blogging gives you a chance to take the wadding out of your book and put it into a different file for your readers.
- Make it fun, easy to read, accessible, diverse and inclusive. These are the essential ingredients for good blogging. Font, size, style and colour make a piece easy on the eye.
- If you tend to write blogs about writing, ask yourself how is yours different to the zillions of others out there. Break the mould and without getting controversial, include pieces about your life’s lessons, inviting others to contribute theirs. The more eclectic the better because your followers need to be entertained with the unusual, the quirky and something that rings a bell in their world.
- How you solved a problem, made a difficult decision, got through a crisis – stories of resilience are hooks for attracting people to your site.
- Blog regularly. A flurry in one week followed by silence for a month is no way to secure a loyal following. They will have moved on.
- Invite comments (moderated) to help engage opinion. The more feedback you get on your content, the more helpful it is in getting you noticed.
- Controversial writing attracts followers but usually not the sort you want.
- In each blog piece, embed and repeat key words that Google can pick up and shuffle you up through the rankings. My piece, ‘The Silent Treatment’, has had the most views on my website because of key words – abuse, passive-aggression, refusing to engage, being ignored and the title repeated in the text.
- Use hyperlinks where appropriate. My book highlighted in blue takes you to the amazon.co.uk site).
- Social media is a great help to raise awareness that you have a new blog on your site. A big no-no is to tag followers on Twitter without permission in the hope they will RT. I have a few people that are happy to do this for me but I ask them each time and they get the chance to approve the piece first.
- You’ll attract followers if you persist. Make your writing accessible, not filled with jargon or long words requiring a dictionary. Of course, much depends on the audience you want to attract. Vary the sentence length. Short is good.
- Let your personality shine through your writing. Blogging is networking and giving something of your work and yourself for free. It’s not about selling your book(s) nor is it a lecture. Consider the tone and your audience.
- It takes time to build a blog following. Why not add vlogs so people can see the real you or podcasts which are great for commuters. Mix and match. They don’t have to be professionally produced. A smart phone and good microphone is all I use these days.
I’ve learned this stuff along the way but it’s been reinforced and added to, hugely, by the purchase of a brilliant book, ‘The Author Blog’ by Anne R Allen. @annerallen
Get yourself a copy today.