3 Reasons Why You Should Be Blogging

rachelintheocAuthors, writers, bloggers – do you have a dream? You know you do. Every author does. You want to be famous, sitting on the Today Show’s pretty chairs, don’t you? You want everyone in America gushing over your book.

Let’s back up a little. How did you get there? You wrote a damn great book. People are amazed by your turn of phrase, your ability to caress each word into a beautiful sentence unlike anything seen before. And good for you – you’ve been writing since you were in the womb, as your bio clearly states.

Before you get there, to the Today Show chair and glowing bio, there’s one big giant chunk of something missing…what could that be? Marketing!

Books don’t market themselves, no matter how gorgeous the prose, which sits beautifully upon the page, forever. You can wait until someone stumbles upon it, or you can share it in a way that isn’t the annoying, “Buy my book!” linky spam we see populating social media these days (that’s a future column, believe me).

Where’s the happy medium?

Blogging. Let’s deconstruct.

How is Blogging Part of Marketing Your Book?

I work with many authors, traditional and self-published, who see no point to blogging.

I’m too busy writing books. Why would I want to blog? or

What would I talk about? I’m a boring mom. Nobody wants to read about dog hair or my diet.

The answer is really much simpler. You blog for three main reasons:

1)  To build relationships with readers

2)  To increase visibility in Google (and other search engines), increasing SEO (search engine optimization) of your website and

3)  To develop your branding as part of your overall author platform.

All of these elements contribute to marketing your book and ultimately, result in sales. Let’s review each one.

1) Building Relationships with Readers

Your blog is yours – it’s your home, if you will, to discuss topics that you are interested in, your passions, what drives you – that may or may not have anything to do with your book.

This is where many writers stop short. ‘Wait, I write erotica. You mean I don’t have to write about writing erotica?’ Nope. You can write about baking cookies if that’s your passion.

Building relationships with readers (and book bloggers and book reviewers, who are, after all, your audience and readers base, not other authors) is where your focus needs to be. The same can be said of social media. The medium itself may not sell books, but building the relationship with readers will ultimately help you to sell books.

cookiesKnow your demographic! For example, most erotica readers are women (mainly between 35 – 60), so I imagine they are making a lot of cookies and no, that’s not a sexual innuendo, though it totally could be.

2) Increase Your Visibility in Google

Many authors don’t want to blog and decide to use Facebook as their main source of communication with their reader base. I get it. It’s easy and there’s no maintenance, knowledge level, or cost involved.

However, there’s a danger there. You are at the mercy of Facebook’s ever-changing algorithms, and if you’ve been paying attention, you’ll know that you are not allowed to be using your personal ‘friends’ account for promotion. You must use your author page for that, and the likelihood of anyone seeing your promotional posts are pretty small without you paying to ‘boost’ them with ad dollars.

Why do that? Your blog/website costs very little to set up, with the exception of purchasing your domain and paying for hosting – nominal costs. If you don’t know how to use WordPress.org (what many website experts far more intelligent than me recommend and what I use and love), hire someone who can help you, or watch some free YouTube tutorials.

Point is, drive traffic to your site, not Facebook’s. Bring your readers to your house. Invite them in, show them around, and give them a cookie.

3) Develop Your Branding

Blogging regularly will help you flex your writing muscles, and it helps you interact with you know, people. Actual readers of your work. Figure out about five subjects that represent you, the author (remember, brand the author, not the book) that you really like to write about, and stick to them.

If you’re completely stuck for topics, here are a few quick ideas:

* Share an excerpt of your current WIP (Work In Progress). I wouldn’t recommend doing this more than once every few months though. Surely there’s something else in the world to talk about than your WIP, right?

* What are you reading right now? Share the first sentence or a favorite passage and talk about how that resonates with you. Or any favorite book will do.

* Ask your favorite author to guest post for you. They can always say no, but it doesn’t hurt to ask! Or ask any author you admire.

* Share your five favorite articles that you read this week (caution: always give attribution – who wrote the article, link to the original source, give author credit, etc.). One friend does a Friday wrap-up every week of this and it’s my favorite blog to finish up the week.

Want to really see an increase in traffic? Participate in #MondayBlogs – share your posts on Mondays using that hashtag (absolutely not for book promotion). It’s a sharing meme, meaning you can still post any day you usually do, but share your posts on Mondays with that hashtag and be sure to generously retweet others.

(I founded the meme in 2012 and it now generates over 2.5K tweets weekly. I personally see over 4 times the amount of traffic on Mondays.) Open to any blogger.

I hope this helps you to see the value of blogging. It’s not difficult or all that time-consuming – I blog once weekly, late Sunday to take advantage of early #MondayBlogs. Here’s why: the average blog gets the most traffic on Monday, the most inbound links on Monday, as well as more visitors, comments, and engagement (Source: Dan Zarrella for SearchEngineLand).

So get started! You can do this blog thingy. Let’s see what you’ve got.

*A final caution: use pictures to attract people to your blog, but do not pull them from Google. Just because it’s on Google doesn’t mean it’s royalty-free. A photographer or company can sue you for not paying for an image. Instead, visit this website for a plethora of royalty-free image sites. My favorites are Unsplash, Pixabay, and Gratisography. Great shots, all free, no license required for blog use.

28 replies
  1. Gabe Howard
    Gabe Howard says:

    This is so true. As busy as I am, I don’t always want to blog — but I know how wise it is. I’d rather write speeches — but blogs help book speeches. It allows people to connect with you often (and from the comfort of their homes.)

    Reply
    • Rachel Thompson
      Rachel Thompson says:

      Hi Gabe! Thanks for reading and commenting. Like anything else, blogging is a habit we need to get into. I miss a week here and there or get behind — hey, life happens — but if we can plan ahead for those times, that consistency helps us to manage expectations with our reader base.

      Building relationships — that’s what it’s all about, after all!

      Reply
  2. Old School/New School Mom
    Old School/New School Mom says:

    This is a great post. Super informative and full of truth for authors out there. I’ve found blogging to be wonderful for developing relationships with other writers and making connections in the media. Blogging isn’t just about getting your feelings out, which is great in itself, it’s also about building friendships and connections online and in real life. This is fantastic, Rachel, and a great reminder to be aware of our online presence.

    Reply
    • Rachel Thompson
      Rachel Thompson says:

      Thank you, Miss Sarah! You’re right on target — blogging isn’t just about us, but relating to our readers. Ultimately, those relationships can lead to book sales, but for many of us, we can also build networks for advocacy and education.

      It all depends on our goals. Thanks again!

      Reply
  3. Patricia Paris
    Patricia Paris says:

    Thank you for this great and timely post. I’m just revising my site and gearing up to begin blogging as a way to connect with more people. Your words are both motivational, and full of great advice!

    Reply
    • Rachel Thompson
      Rachel Thompson says:

      Thank you for reading, Patricia! and good for you.

      I’ve been blogging since gosh, 2008 I think? It’s such a great way to connect with folks, especially if they’re not super active on social media. I also enjoy the freedom of blogging — it’s my place. I say what I want and interact how I want. That’s part of the fun!

      Reply
  4. Trauma Dad
    Trauma Dad says:

    Writers need to acknowledge the power of building and maintaining an audience through blogging. Everything Rachel Thompson says is correct. At least in my experience. I never would have considered trying to publish a book before blogging. But after getting 100K pageviews in my first year as a blogger, I realized people actually want to know what I have to say and like the way I say it. It’s also given me a chance to find out who exactly my market is, and how to better communicate my ideas in a way that encourages interaction and ongoing relationships. Not just for selling, but for fleshing out the stuff I write and making it better.

    Reply
    • Rachel Thompson
      Rachel Thompson says:

      Thank you, Trauma Dad! There is such amazing demographic data we discover in blogging, you are absolutely correct. I think many writers miss out on that aspect by not trying blogging at all, and they’re missing such a huge chunk of valuable data, as well as that opportunity to build those crucial relationships.

      Look at you — 100K views — that’s enormously impressive! Clearly, your audience wants more. A book is the next natural progression and as you say, to flesh it out and make it better. Great job.

      Reply
  5. Nicole Markardt
    Nicole Markardt says:

    Thank you for this wonderful share. Your tried and true knowledge is so valuable . As someone just starting out in the blogging /writing world, there is so much to learn. I really appreciate writers who support other writers success. Thank you!

    Reply
    • Rachel Thompson
      Rachel Thompson says:

      Appreciate your kind words, Nicole. There is a ton to learn, and I still learn everyday from others much more experienced than me, but that’s what I love about blogging, social media, and marketing — the general principles are sound, but there are always improvements, individual preferences and ‘spins’ if you will, that make it work for each of us. Good luck to you!

      Reply
  6. DelSheree
    DelSheree says:

    I’ve heard a lot of authors talking about how useless blogging is, or how they don’t have time for it, but I have to agree with you. Letting readers get to know me is not only fun for me and a bit of stress free writing, it makes a difference for readers in how they view me and my books. It’s also a great platform to share the things I’ve learned with other authors.

    Reply
    • Rachel Thompson
      Rachel Thompson says:

      Hi DelSheree and great points! I too find blogging to be fun and stress free. I’m always amazed when people are so flummoxed about what to write — we ARE writers, right?

      Blogs humanize us, and allow us to share our lives and interests (if we choose to — I do). That breaks down the fourth wall, to an extent, and helps us connect in more ways than social media allows.

      Reply
  7. Kitt O'Malley
    Kitt O'Malley says:

    Rachel, thank you so much for promoting the importance of blogging. I am primarily a blogger and use WordPress.com rather than WordPress.org (there are pros and cons to each). As a former website designer, I am really impressed by how easy it is to create a professional looking site using WordPress themes. I pay only $99/year for WordPress.com Premium which enables me to own my own domain name, something VERY important to me in developing my brand, and to customize theme templates which the artist and geek in me just LOVES to do.

    More than anything else, though, I have found the blogging community, the relationships I have developed, mutually supportive and invaluable in my growth as a writer and as a human.

    Reply
    • Rachel Thompson
      Rachel Thompson says:

      So glad you brought that up, Kitt. Owning our domain name is crucial for branding, and the first thing any author needs to do, regardless of the blogging platform. And I too, love the blogging community. #MondayBlogs has been a big part of my own personal growth, and I love that so many others have benefitted as well.

      Reply
  8. Justin
    Justin says:

    Relationships are so important. I come at this mostly from a music perspective, at a time when so many people take it for granted that music should be free. Unless we can make people care about the creators of the content they love, they’ll never understand how important their support is. Plus, there’s nothing cooler than having a connection with the people who make the art that beautifies our lives.

    Reply
    • Rachel Thompson
      Rachel Thompson says:

      So true, Justin. It’s not just about the relationships or just about the art. It’s about the connection between the two. Right on! And blogging humanizes us, helps us reach the people on more of a personal level.

      I know I love to read blogs from my favorite artists, authors and musicians. As consumers, it’s how we learn and connect. Thank you for your insight.

      Reply
    • Trauma Dad
      Trauma Dad says:

      Totally 100% on this. And for music, I’ve noticed how valuable interaction on short music-based vlogs is. video content is totally sharable. Even if you think it’s just super silly, you can wind up with crazy buzz overnight for something totally mundane. Because people like people, not just content. Without that connection, we’re so up the creek as creators.

      Reply
  9. Jessica Sielen
    Jessica Sielen says:

    I really needed to read this this morning. I’ve been blogging on and off for the past year without much direction on my author website, and it’s one of my resolutions this year to come up with a blogging plan and stick to it. I read a lot of blogs myself – book blogs, fashion blogs, all types – and you’re right, it’s all about the connection to the reader, sharing your voice and your world. Already brainstorming a new blog post as I type this! Thanks, Rachel.

    Reply
    • Rachel Thompson
      Rachel Thompson says:

      That’s great, Jessica! What I find helps the most: pick about 4 or 5 topics you generally find interesting or feel passionate about and stick those into an editorial calendar. i.e., using your interests mentioned above, every 1st Sunday, write about a book, every 2nd Sunday, write about shoes, every 3rd Sunday, write about a designer, etc. (I just picked Sundays because that’s when I post — do what works best for you).

      I find that if it’s in writing, it’s a PLAN, and you can follow it. Hope that helps!

      Reply
  10. hilary
    hilary says:

    I started blogging a few years before I attempted to write my book. I wanted to see if I had the wherewithal to actually stick to writing. I never expected to love blogging as much as I do. Nor did I ever expect to develop such amazing friendships as a result. Over the years I have gone through some difficult times including the loss of a cherished pet and destroyed home as a result of Hurricane Sandy – I am still blown away by the love and support I received from my blogging buddies during these difficult times as well as the good times…

    Reply
    • Rachel Thompson
      Rachel Thompson says:

      Wow, that’s amazing, Hilary! You are a survivor. Real life is the theme of my author blog — being a nonfiction writer certainly helps to connect my books to my stories, but it’s certainly not required.

      Many authors write about real-life situations and that’s the key — we’re not perfect beings. Horrible and joyful things happen, and blogging about it is a way to connect us to others who may experiences similar events. Bravo to you for sharing.

      Reply
  11. Susan Darlene Faw
    Susan Darlene Faw says:

    Rachel, with the help of Barb Drozdowich, I have finally launched my website and dipped my toes into what i thought would be the frigid waters of blogging. I was pleasantly surprised to find my experience more like paddling my toes in a sun kissed pond while fishing. I am having a ball and Barb has created a fantastic website for me. So excited to launch finally! You are next on my agenda, I need your multimedia help!

    Reply
  12. MoMediaChic
    MoMediaChic says:

    Thank you, Rachel! So happy to have found you via Twitter, and am looking forward to following you REGULARLY!

    Reply
  13. Carolyn Ridder Aspenson
    Carolyn Ridder Aspenson says:

    Excellent information here! Thank you! I have a blog. It’s empty. I need to use it. I will definitely follow your advice!

    Reply
  14. Claire Belle
    Claire Belle says:

    Thanks so much for writing this article, Rachel. I had been umming and ahhing for sometime about whether I should start a blog and reading your articles on this subject helped give me the incentive to start!!

    Reply

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