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Archive for March 9th, 2012

18 benefits of an author blog

As we noted in our last post – “Should you start an author blog? – people (and companies) blog for many different reasons: personal satisfaction, exposure as an expert, and securing speaking gigs among some of the more prevalent for writers. Presumably, an author also blogs with the ultimate intention of selling more books. Only you know can say for sure why you do it – and your personal reasons are just that. No one else really need know the driving motivation behind your every post.

Regardless of why you do it, blogging can provide some excellent ancillary benefits for authors, beyond the thing you find most personally rewarding.

  1. GIVES YOU A REASON TO WRITE REGULARLY. The most successful bloggers post several times a week or more. Even for the least disciplined of writers, knowing that more posts mean more traffic and better search results can be all the motivation you need to make writing a regular habit.
  2. HONES YOUR WRITING SKILLS. The most successful bloggers post several times a week or more. As with anything, the more you practice, the better you get at it. The more you post, the better a writer – and blogger – you will become.
  3. HELPS YOU GET TO THE POINT. A good blog post focuses on one topic and sticks to it. If you try to cover too much or wander from subject to subject, you run the risk of boring – or worse, losing – your reader. If you find yourself wanting to cover several different subjects in a single post, consider breaking it into a few shorter separate posts.
  4. ALLOWS YOU TO PLAY WITH MANY DIFFERENT WRITING STYLES. We’ll do a post a little later with a list of topic ideas. For the time being, consider that a blog allows you the freedom to write all kinds of different posts. With categories, you can separate distinct post types so they are easy to find. You might schedule regular Whimsical Wednesday or Funny Friday posts. If you’re a fiction author, perhaps you write in the voices of several different characters. Just remember to have fun and be creative.
  5. BOLSTERS YOUR RESEARCH SKILLS. There’s only so much any author can know or create from his/her own mind – even a fiction author. And real-world topics are great fodder for blog posts. Romance novelists can use their blogs to chime in on the latest celebrity split. Spiritual authors have almost limitless subject matter. How-to or self-help gurus can strengthen their posts with research or interviews with other experts. Make your blog posts juicy by doing some work to unearth useful, interesting information.
  6. ENABLES YOU TO SEE THE WORLD THROUGH NEW EYES. Once you’ve begun blogging regularly, you’ll be amazed at how many previously ordinary episodes in your life can become blog posts. Standing in line at the DMV, taking your dog to the groomer, or doing the laundry no longer need be pedestrian events if you can find the interesting aspects that other folks – your readers – can relate to.
  7. GIVES YOU FREEDOM TO EXPLORE MANY DIFFERENT TOPICS. As mentioned above, you want to stay on topic. But you also want to be interesting. A life coach author, for example, probably has a much wider range of topics at their disposal than someone who’s written a DIY book about carpentry. But even the carpenter can find many ancillary topics: trips to the hardware store, visits to the playground, or even watching a group of ants trekking back and forth from their hill. Watch HG TV and comment on the reality/unreality of an advice show or relate your customer service experience at a restaurant to how you’d handle things in your business.
  8. EXPANDS YOUR WEALTH OF KNOWLEDGE. The successful blogger does not live in a vacuum. They venture out and read lots of other blogs, both on their specific subject and on other topics as well. Regularly reading other blogs is beneficial because it both introduces you to other bloggers and writing styles, but it also expands your own knowledge base.
  9. EXPANDS YOUR HORIZONS. Not everyone who reads your blog is going to like it or agree with you. Sometimes, people who disagree voice their disagreement in your comment section. While you reserve the right to enable or disable comments, I highly recommend that you enable them. And if someone disagrees with a post, you have a few options: politely respond, post the comment but do not respond, or delete the comment. Conflict can actually be a good thing and – if handled appropriately – generate interest.
  10. TEACHES YOU TO BECOME KEYWORD SAVVY. Every blog platform gives you a place to enter keywords. Most experts advise you to keep the keywords down to between six and 10 per blog post. Done properly, these keywords can mean a significant boost to your traffic and success in the search engines. Remember to consider the words you didn’t specifically use in your post but that people might search for on Google.
  11. ENABLES YOU TO CONNECT WITH YOUR AUDIENCE. Blogging is the opportunity for you to have a personal interaction with your audience. One of the nicest descriptions I ever heard is that it’s like sharing a cup of coffee with someone. In our blog, Marcie’s posts tend to be more instructive, while Laura’s are more personal. You have the flexibility to do whatever you want with your blog – but whatever you do, connect with your readers in the way that most appeals to them.
  12. HELPS YOU BUILD EXPERT CREDIBILITY. Presumably, you will blog about a subject in which you have some expertise. Your research will enhance that expertise, and regular posting will demonstrate it. To be sure, it takes some nerve to put your name on posts that call attention to yourself and your subject matter. But recognize how much you really know – then go for it! Through blogging, you may find you know more than you ever gave yourself credit for; likewise, you may learn where your weak spots are and have a chance to go plug the gaps.
  13. HELPS YOU STAY CURRENT ON YOUR TOPIC. In order to be perceived as the expert, you must both play the part and actually have the knowledge. In order to blog regularly with any credibility, you will have to make sure your information, knowledge, and skills are ahead of the curve. You want to be the one breaking and sharing the news about your industry, not following along after the fact.
  14. CONNECTS YOU TO OTHERS IN YOUR INDUSTRY. Smart bloggers read other blogs on their subject matter. This means that you will get to know who else is out there. Avoid pitting yourself against them as competitors; rather, view them as collaborators. You may find common ground for a writing project, a home study program, or another joint venture. Compliment when it’s deserved; challenge where appropriate; and always, always give credit if you borrow information from another blogger.
  15. HELPS YOU STAND OUT FROM OTHERS SIMILAR AUTHORS. While I encourage you to view other authors of similar books as colleagues, rather than competitors, there’s no reason you should not stand out among them. One of the fastest, easiest ways to do so is with a thorough, well-constructed blog. This means frequent, well-researched posts that are interesting, informative, and useful, as well as having good grammar, syntax, and spelling. Apply the same standards to your posts as you did to your book.
  16. MAKES YOU INVITING TO MEMBERS OF BOTH TRADITIONAL AND SOCIAL MEDIA OUTLETS. A well-written blog that is updated frequently tends to do very well in the search engines, making you – the expert – easy to find. As a result, people who need experts to interview on your subject matter area will likely call on you first.
  17. MAKES YOU INVITING AS A SPEAKER. Although video is more challenging than simply writing text, it’s good to throw the occasional video of yourself speaking at a reading or event onto your blog. Nothing is worse than finding an expert who presents well in writing but can’t speak to save their life. Even the occasional short video can offer ample evidence of your speaking style and capability.
  18. COSTS LITTLE TO NO MONEY. For the money, blogging is one of the easiest ways to get yourself ranked on the major search engines. Of course, the tradeoff is time. I once heard someone in the film industry say, “You can do it well and inexpensively or do it well and quickly. Time or money. Either way, you pay.” The same is true of blogging. If you’re going to manage your own blog (which I highly recommend), you won’t see results overnight. But diligence pays off sooner than later in great search rankings, which can be more valuable than gold.

As with all social media, the first goal of your blog should be to create relationships with your readers. Sure, you’re an author, so of course you want to sell more books. As long as you are diligent about posting quality content, you will see the above-mentioned benefits as well as increased book sales.

Happy blogging!

MARCIE

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