Blogs have come a long way from their birth as a way to create an online journal where you could digitally write your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and practically anything that you want people to read. People may still use them in that fashion but the software that runs those sites – the blogging platform – has matured to the point that it rivals enterprise-level content management systems. In this post, I’m going to share the basics of blogging for authors.
Although there are a few other choices for a blogging platform, I’m going to focus on WordPress in this article because it is not only the most popular blogging platform, it is also free, open-source, and used by a wide variety of small businesses and entrepreneurs to run their websites and promote their businesses.
Why should authors blog?
There are numerous reasons an author should blog. They break down into three main groups: Ease, Visibility, and Readership.
Blogs are easy to set up and use
Easy set up: All you need to set up a WordPress blog is a domain and a hosting account. Because WordPress is so popular, most hosting accounts, such as Host Gator, Ionos, and BlueHost have “one-click” set up services. You simply click the link, answer a few questions about your blog, and in a few hours, your website is ready to use! The WordPress community offers plenty of beautiful design templates that you can easily customize to your branding, so you don’t even need to hire a web designer, at first.
Low-cost : Your out of pocket costs for running a blog are a domain, hosting, and any software you decide to use to augment the blog. I pay about $15 a year for my domain and around $75-100 a year for hosting. That’s about $10 a month. There are also numerous free plugins to WordPress that add functionality and more.
Easy to use: There used to be a learning curve to WordPress, but they’ve improved the interface immensely since I first started blogging in the 1990s. If you can read and type, or at least click a mouse, you can blog. It’s like having a virtual piece of paper that you can write about your ideas, experiences, books, and more. If you have a computer and an Internet connection (and if you’re reading this, I’m pretty sure you do) then you can blog and market your books.
Blogs help raise your visibility online
SEO friendly: There are many things to consider when optimizing your blog for search engines, but WordPress makes it easy. Blogs are built to support the creation of fresh new content, so as long as you post a really good blog post at least once a month, you’ll generate organic traffic to your site. There are other things to consider, as well and I give an overview of them below.
Builds credibility: Consistency of blogging – continually adding strong, relevant content – builds your credibility. This content, if done right, can make you the go-to resource in your market, a thought leader in your space. This makes it easier to promote your books, as well as related products and services.
Blogs work hand-in-hand with social media: Not only can you use your blogs as content for your social media posts, but those who read your blog can, as well. When others share your content, it gives it more credibility than when you share it. And if it’s really good or on a hot topic, it could go viral on social media, bringing you more traffic.
Google likes blogs: Because blogs tend to have fresh content, search engines like them and spider them more often. I’ve noticed through my use of WordPress blogs that people find my blogs before I’ve even posted a single entry!
Blogs help you build readership
Grow your email list: If you add a compelling call to action (CTA) to join your email list to every blog post, you will grow your email list. If the CTA is strong enough, visitors will opt into your list on the first visit. Others will opt-in after reading several posts, building their trust in your content. In my book, Home Sweet Home Page, I talk about what kinds of things make a strong CTA.
RSS feeds: Some people will never subscribe to your list, but they will subscribe to your blog using an RSS Feed Reader. All blogs generate an RSS (really simple syndication) feed, and there are plugins that can help you promote it.
Comments: Blogs also have a commenting feature. Once you start building your readership, they will start commenting on your posts. Sometimes the comment feed is more interesting than the post itself! If you can generate a strong commenting community, then you are one step closer to building your readership community. Comments are also a great way to get feedback and, sometimes, encouragement from readers.
How do you start an author blog?
There is a lot that can be said about setting up an author blog, too much to cover in this post. But here are the basic steps you need to take to get the blog software up and running.
- Purchase your domain and hosting.
- Set up WordPress in your hosting account.
- Customize a WordPress theme (design template) so that your blog looks good.
- Start blogging!
You don’t have to do all of this alone. A competent Web Designer can do steps 1 through 3 for you. You can read more about this topic in these other posts.
What should I blog about as an author?
Blogging for authors doesn’t need to be that challenging. Since your author blog is one of your marketing tools for growing your platform, what to write about becomes simple. Just answer these two questions:
- Who is my ideal reader?
- What kind of content are they looking for that is relevant to what I write about?
OK. That may be simple, but it isn’t necessarily easy. Here are some tips to help you develop content for your author blog that will attract the kinds of people who will read your book. I suggest you buy a journal for this so that you can dig deep. I like college-ruled composition notebooks.
- What do you want to be known for? For example, if you write biographies of famous historical people, perhaps you’ll want to be known for your expertise in history, even better, your expertise in the military history of the Civil War. In other words, what broad topic underlines your books? Of course, if you’re like me and write on several unrelated topics, you might want to have separate websites and brands for those different topics.
- What is your blog reader’s journey? In other words, who are your readers when they first discover your blog? Where do you want them to be after reading your blog for a year? Your topics are those that will take them through that journey. What’s cool about this way of thinking about your blog is that you’ll attract a variety of people who are at different places on that journey!
Once you’ve brainstormed your topics, then you can do some keyword research to discover the words people are actually using to find the types of content you read about. That will help you write content that attracts organic traffic. Using an SEO plugin such as Yoast can help. I provide some more tips further on in this post, as well. You can also learn about some content marketing best practices in other posts on this site.
How does blogging for authors help with marketing?
The process of using blogging for authors to market your books, products, and services, is simple but can be time-consuming.
- Add fresh, relevant, interesting, and search engine optimized posts consistently. Write good content that your readers want to read. Optimize it for keywords they are actually using. Post on a regular schedule, whether that is every weekday, every Wednesday, or on the fourth Thursday of every month. Chose a schedule you can stick to.
- Promote your blog. Share it on social media. Let your email subscribers know when a new post is published. Reach out to other influential bloggers to cross-promotions or guest blogging. Run sharing contests. Include a link in your email signature file and on your marketing collateral, such as business cards.
- Invite your blog visitors to join your email list using a relevant, valuable, and easily consumable opt-in incentive. This can be a checklist, a short report, a video – anything that provides valuable information related to your blog and can be consumed in 15 minutes or less.
Most days you should be doing at least one of the activities on that list. There are other things you can do, as well, But these are the basics. Everything else is icing.
Is your book-focused website as effective as it can be?
At attracting readers and selling books?
At showcasing your expertise to clients?
At positioning you as a go-to resource for the media?
If you answered “no” to any of these questions, you need to “Create Your Effective Author Website.” This package will help you…
- Identify the right pages you need to have an effective author website
- Plan how you will develop them so they attract ideal readers, clients, and the media
- Walk you through the steps to creating a compelling about page, a useful media page, and more.
What technical elements does blogging for authors require?
If you want your blog to support your marketing efforts, there are a few things you need to make sure that it does or has. Fortunately, WordPress makes all of these things easy!
- Automated spam protection. Because blogs are so popular, there are people (and software) that will post unrelated doodoo in your comment feed. Thankfully, WordPress comes with the Akismet plugin. There is a cost associated with it for commercial websites, but it is very reasonable.
- An SSL Certificate. Your hosting will provide this, usually at a nominal cost per domain. Some hosting companies give you one for free. What this does is changes your URL from “HTTP” to “HTTPS.” That means it is secure. Google is now giving preference to secure websites, so this is important for SEO!
- A commenting feature. WordPress comes with this already; so you don’t need to do anything other than respond when someone comments on your blog. You might consider setting it up so when someone comments, you get an email.
- I must look good and work well on mobile devices. This is another thing that Google is requiring of sites it ranks well. Thankfully, most WordPress templates these days are already mobile-friendly. But just in case, test your site on mobile devices to make sure.
Simple SEO Blogging for Authors
In addition to what I’ve mentioned before, here are some additional tips to make sure that your blog is optimized to attract search engine traffic.
- Install Yoast and follow its suggestions. Even the free version of Yoast is powerful. Since I started using it, my traffic has increased. It helps you make sure your titles, URLs, content, and more are primed for search engines.
- Do keyword research. A simple way to do that is to type your topic into Google. Look for the “People also ask,” “People also search for,” and “Related searches” sections. These will give great ideas for content and how to phrase them.
What are the first steps to Get Started blogging for authors?
Once you’ve got your site up and running, start writing and posting. Be aware that this is a learning process and that you’ll make mistakes along the way. Take the time you need to learn the ropes, get comfortable blogging, and establish your blogging process.
Do you have questions about blogging for authors
that were not answered in this article?
Although I did some deep research for this post, it is quite possible that I missed something. Please ask your question in a comment below. If I don’t know the answer, I’ll find it for you.