You might be a GREAT author blogger if…
Why settle for being just a blogger when you can be a great blogger? As we’ve discussed over the past few posts, it’s not all that difficult to start blogging, but doing it well takes some skill and commitment. There are a few other things that go into becoming a successful blogger. If you’ve got all the qualities listed below, you just might have the makings of a GREAT author blogger.
1. SUBJECT MATTER EXPERTISE. OK, you’ve written a book, so chances are good that you’ve already got a decent handle on this one. However, make sure you don’t get complacent with your current level of knowledge. If you plan to be in the blogging game for a while, you’ll have plenty of opportunity to share what you already know, but an even greater opportunity to stay current and provide cutting-edge information on your topic. Writing a blog is a great motivator for keeping your subject matter expertise always up to date.
2. PASSION. Again, you’ve written a book, so you probably have more than a passing interest in your subject. Here’s the thing, though: how well do you communicate your passion on a daily basis? Are you able to find fresh, new ways to present your material? The only way to grow your blog is by attracting regular readers – people who subscribe or come back for more every day. You especially want the ones who are willing to tell others how excited they are about finding your blog. So make sure you give them something to be excited about!
3. COMMITMENT. OK, you may have noticed that we keep hammering this one, but that’s because it takes a boatload of commitment to be a successful blogger. According to Virgin Blogger Notes, up to 80 percent of new blogs are abandoned within the first month. Then on the other end of the spectrum, 20 percent of bloggers update their blogs every day. You cannot go into it half-heartedly. Plan 40 to 50 posts for your blog launch, and then schedule time to write and post once, twice, or three times a week thereafter.
4. STRONG WRITING SKILLS. As a professional editor, I am both a fan of great writing and empathetic with those for whom writing is difficult. If you’ve got a good editor behind you, you don’t have to be a great writer to publish a book. A blog may be a different story, unless you’re going to pay someone to read every post. And blogging is so much more public than authoring a book. Sure, your goal is to sell those books, but your whole book isn’t up online for all the world to see. People have to find your book, decide they’re willing to pay money for it, and buy it before they can read it. Your blog, on the other hand, is right there for the viewing. If you don’t have the greatest writing skills, you might think about brushing up before you make the commitment to begin your blog.
5. EXCEPTIONAL RESEARCH & ORGANIZATION SKILLS. Going back to #1, remaining current and providing cutting-edge information is going to require regular research. Perhaps that’s simply a matter of subscribing to the right journals, reading the right blogs and websites, or following the right folks on Twitter. Or maybe it means digging deeper to ferret out the most recent facts, stats, and figures about your specialty topic. Either way, you will need to organize and present the information in an interesting way that is useful to your readers.
6. SEO SKILLS. Search engine optimization is a constantly changing enterprise, and it can be difficult to stay ahead of the curve. However, if you want people to find your blog, you’ll have to immerse yourself in SEO to a certain degree. Realize that not only do your posts need good keywords, but your headlines and images also need to be optimized if they’re going to help you win the rankings battles. The more you know about SEO, the better your blog is likely to do.
7. WILLINGNESS TO SHARE. While you needn’t give away every passage in your book for free, you will on occasion want to reward your regular readers with juicy, behind-the-scenes info about your book, your characters, and/or your writing process. I occasionally hear authors express fear that their work will be stolen, or that if they “give away too much,” no one will want to buy their books. That couldn’t be further from reality. How will people know they want to buy your book, book you to speak, or hire you as a consultant if they haven’t first had the opportunity to see your work in action? Dump the lack mentality and embrace giving! If you really want your blog to shine and grow, you’ve got to be willing to share openly.
8. AESTHETIC SENSIBILITY. This is really one of the aspects that sets apart good bloggers from great bloggers. Maybe you can’t define it, but you know it when you see it … a blog that feels good to look at, that welcomes you with enough information without being cluttered or disorganized. Unfortunately, USA Today and cable news shows have begun to inculcate us with the idea that the more stuff on a single page the better. I read the other day, however, that the tide is turning and beautiful packaging is starting to matter more than it ever has in the past. A great blogger knows how to use white space, images, bullets, and color to their best advantage. If graphic design is not your strong suit, you might want to brush up a bit in order to maximize your blogging power.
9. WILLINGNESS TO BUCK THE TREND. If you had a dad like mine, you’re probably familiar with that whole, “If everyone was going to jump off a cliff, would you do it, too?” argument. Your blog is a perfect place for you to be a trendsetter, rather than a trend follower. Of course you want to see what others are doing, but the best way to stand out in a crowd is by standing out in a crowd. You can’t do that if you’re simply mimicking what everyone else is writing, whether that’s with your blog or with your book. Be true to yourself, find out what your readers want, and give it to them.
STRONG WORK ETHIC. This final characteristic of a great blogger is borrowed from Mark Thompson at StayOnSearch.com, who actually inspired this entire post:
Having a strong work ethic turns good bloggers into great bloggers. Someone that is able to stick to a schedule, exceed personal goals and expectations, and push themselves will stand out from the crowd. Usually bloggers are self-motivators, because many of them do not see any type of direct financial impact. Many bloggers are writing for their own blog, so it is not exactly a situation where they are getting paid for each post they write. So it takes a person with a strong work ethic to see the long term benefits and keep pushing themselves to consistently produce great content.
The last thing I want to do is talk you out of blogging. However, you’re most likely to succeed and write a great blog if you can master all of the above skills and talents. If you ever need advice, help, or support, please come find us – we’re here for you!
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