Seven Ways Blogging Can Take You from Author Hopeful to Established Brand
As a creative who wants to turn passion into dollars, it can be tempting to focus more on creating the product than on marketing it. But if you’re an indie author, you’re in business for yourself, and you must wear a lot of hats. You know you should build an author platform, but how can you get traffic to your website once it’s set up? There is one tried-and-true method: the blog. Read on to find out why you need a blog and how to get the most out of it.
#1 A Blog Differentiates You from the Crowd
Just by starting a blog, you’re differentiating yourself from all those indie authors who can’t be bothered. This can help you gain fans, but it will also pay dividends when it’s time to look for an agent, a manager or a publisher. The market is competitive. Standing out is crucial.
Note: It’s not enough to have a blog, you need a good one, and by good, we mean effective. Your blog content should be focused. You should:
- Know ahead of time what your blog is about.
- Know who your blog is for.
- Post consistently and stay on topic.
#2 Blogging Helps You Attract a Focused Reader Base
A blog is an integral component of your author platform. Blogging helps you get your voice out there, and by doing so, you will attract like-minded individuals to your work.
Note: We’re not talking about promoting your products directly in your posts. But if people enjoy reading your blog, there’s a good chance they’ll check out your work anyway.
When you maintain active social media accounts and make insightful posts in which you link back to your site, you will drive traffic. From there, these newcomers can become familiar with your work at their own pace. This is leagues more effective than simply shouting about your books or scripts on social media directly. It’s night and day.
#3 A Blog Encourages Engagement
Maintaining an active blog gives you a sturdy platform from which to engage. You can encourage comments by including a call-to-action at the bottom of your posts, like this:
Have an opinion? Tell me what you think.
You get the idea. Once you get people talking, it’s important that you engage with them. If you don’t, they won’t bother commenting again. You want to demonstrate to your readers that you’re a real, breathing, thinking person. This will give you a leg up over authors who don’t bother. Consumers enjoy purchasing from people and companies who appear, well, human.
Note: One way to foster interaction is to take a stand on a controversial topic and then encourage discussion. However, this can be a bit like dropping a firecracker into a barrel of gasoline.
If you’d rather avoid controversy, it may be best to consider a less direct approach. A tried-and-true method to encourage interaction and give value to your readers is to create tutorials. So, for instance, do you know Scrivener like the back of your hand? Great! Create tutorials for it, because there are plenty of writers who don’t know how to get started with that tool. In the same vein, consider posting any tutorials you create to YouTube-the second most trafficked search engine in the world-and then link back to your blog in the description.
#4 A Blog Lets You Tell Your Story Your Way
Outside of an autobiography or a memoir, there’s no better place to tell your story than a blog and let’s face it: if you’re able to successfully pitch your autobiography to a publisher or an agent, you don’t need a blog.
What’s more, your blog lets potential fans get to know you, and it familiarizes them with your writing style.
A word of caution, though: it’s not a good idea to make every post about yourself. This gets tiresome.
#5 A Blog Helps You Master Your Craft
When asked why they don’t like to blog, writers give a lot of reasons, among them:
- “It will drain my energy.”
- “It will distract me from the novel/screenplay I’m writing.”
- “I only like to write when the muse strikes.”
But it’s worth considering that regularly writing blog posts can help you become a better writer. Consider challenging yourself to write posts using as few words as possible. Or, you could consider crafting posts that don’t use adverbs or other words ending in the letters “ly” such as beautifully, angrily, piggishly. From this vantage point, your blog becomes a tool that you use to hone your craft while building an audience.
One fun way to accomplish this is to subscribe to a subreddit like r/writingprompts. Then, when you want to create a new post for your blog, go there and pick the first writing prompt you see. Write some flash fiction based on it. Include the flash fiction in your post. This is a stellar way to hone your writing skills while engaging your audience in an entertaining way.
Note: The actual topic of your post can be on anything at all and doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with the writing prompt.
#6 A blog helps you showcase your talent
Taking this a step further, you can use your blog to show off new chapters and other excerpts. This is a great way to expose newcomers to your writing style.
Note: This does not mean that every post should be about you and your work. If you make your blog nothing but a showcase for your work, you’ll lose readers.
#7 A Blog drives traffic to your website
Your website is a key component of your author platform. Ideally, your blog will be part of your website. Websites that are updated regularly are crawled more frequently by search engines. This means that websites with active blogs may rank higher than those with blogs that are not updated frequently. Search engine traffic is free advertising.
What’s more, your blog provides material for your social media channels. If you’re regularly creating useful posts on your blog, you’ll always have something meaningful to say on Twitter, Facebook and the like. This, in turn, can translate directly into traffic to your site. It will also build your reputation as someone with something worthwhile to say that is a trait that is somewhat lacking on social media and is therefore highly prized.
A blog can seem like a lot of work, and that’s because it is. But if you post regularly and provide valuable content, a blog will become an indispensable tool that will help you gain new readers and, ultimately, new customers.