There are some in the writing community who believe it is an absolute must for every author to have a personal blog. One might think, given my role at Women and Words, that I l subscribe to that school of thought. But I don’t. As with any tool, a blog is only as effective as the person wielding it.
If you’re like my friend and colleague Andi Marquette, you absolutely should keep a personal blog. She’s the sort of person whose brain is always filled to overflowing. All those thoughts need to go somewhere, so why not into a blog entry. Don’t take my word for it. Go check out her blog for yourself.
The majority of us, however, fall into a different category. I like to call myself an UnBlogger. Yes, I am admin for Women and Words, but you’ll notice, dear readers, that I only contribute a blog entry every other week. The rest of the time, I’m content to focus on the administrative side of the blog. I coordinate our master roster, schedule guests, and conduct site maintenance.
So, the answer to the blog question is the same as it is with any other aspect of marketing. There is no one-size-fits-all approach. But here are some things to think about when trying to decide if you should maintain a personal blog or not:
- What will you talk about? What message do you plan to communicate via your blog? If you have no idea, a personal blog might not be for you. Very few people can successfully use the approach of writing “whatever grabs me in the moment.” If you’re like me, you’ll stare at a blank screen for hours without any grabbing taking place.
- How often can you realistically post a blog? The only way a blog can be a useful tool for marketing is if someone else reads it. If you’re writing a personal blog that only you read, that’s not a blog. It’s a journal. I’m a fan of journaling. It’s a valuable tool for self-discovery. But, the things I would write in a journal should never be a part of a public blog post, and a blog post that I’d write for an audience wouldn’t belong in my journal. My point? If you can’t realistically blog a minimum of once a month, preferably more, then you might want to opt for a static website rather than a blog.
- Is there another alternative that is a better fit for your personal blogging style? If you’re the type of blogger who only thinks about blogging once or twice a year when you release a new book, then its even more important that your message be read by a broader audience. Rather than stressing over the number of followers you have, why not take advantage of an established blog site that features guest bloggers from time to time? Obviously, Women and Words is one possibility. But what about asking another author who maintains an active blog? Perhaps she would welcome you as a guest blog for a day. Or, what about bringing together a group of like-minded friends and create a group blog. That’s how Women and Words started a few years ago. Now, we’re just shy of 10,000 followers.
- Do you have a meaningful topic you want to explore only once? Several larger, news-focused venues, for example Huffington Post, have a clear, easy method for submitting a blog to be included on their site. In fact, some websites, like Huffington Post, offer a form on their website that can be filled out and submitted. No fuss, no muss. Check out an example HERE. Even if the blog doesn’t mention your book once, there will be a place for your bio. You can reference your work as an author and where to find your books.
- Do you need a blog? Or could you get the same result from other social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, or tumblr, just to name a few. If a few sentences, once or twice a year to tell folks about your new release is all you need, ask yourself what is the best way to share your message with the most people?
- Do you have the money, but lack the time? Just like every other situation in life, there is always the write-a-check approach. If blogging isn’t for you, you can hire a professional online promoter to coordinate blog events. Their services range from social media account management, to full blog tour coordination and promotions. I do quite a bit of business with Book Enthusiast Promotions. Deb, the owner, is fabulous to work with, so check her out if you think you have a need for a professional. And don’t be afraid to do some comparative market research. There are a lot of options available out there.
If, after you evaluate your needs and interests, you decide a personal blog is the perfect fit for you, here’s a handful of tips to help keep the train pointed in the right direction.
- First, decide which day you will post new blogs and stick to it. If your readers are used to getting a new blog every third Monday, don’t disappoint them by making them wait another week. Unless, of course, you go online on your scheduled day and leave a little note letting folks know there is more to come.
- Create a list of go-to blog topics. That way, when it’s time for you to write your weekly blog, you won’t be sitting there staring at the screen wondering what to say. You can simply look at your list and start writing. Also, the list doesn’t need to include only writing related subjects. For instance, I just bought a new bike and have set a goal of 2016 miles in 2016. I’ll do a series of blogs to commemorate those outings.
- Organize a blog hop. How many of y’all have participated in one of those? It’s a simple concept that takes a minimal amount of planning in order to be successful. The first step is to find a group of other authors who would like to be a part of your blog hop. If you have a total of twelve authors, you could schedule you full blog hop to take place three days a week for four weeks in a row. The host blog, or stop one, will post the schedule for the entire tour, including blog links. That first blog post should also explain what a blog hop is and what your readers can expect. At the end of the blog post, the blogger on day one should remind reader where and when the next stop is scheduled. I also encourage the use of Rafflecopter.com to manage any giveaways that you’re including in your blog post.
- Invite other authors to contribute to your blog as guests. This cooperative scheduling is good for you because, hopefully, the other author will bring some of her followers to your blog. It’s good for the other author because, hopefully, some of your followers will discover a new author.
- Interview other authors as a regular blog installment. An interview, or even a Q&A that uses the same five questions every time, is a great way to build connections in the industry. Plus, it ensures that you have at least one blog each month.
- Organize a contest. It can be something as simple as a random ebook giveaway where you draw the winner from the folks who leave a comment on your blog. Or it can be as complex as a blog hop and coordinate funds with several other authors to give away a larger prize, such as an e-reader or an Ylva gift card. Or somewhere in between where you post a writing prompt and your writing to go with it. Then challenge others to complete the prompt as well. Give everyone who participates a badge for their websites.
More to come in a couple of weeks when I blog about Rafflecopter. And, if there are any topics you’d like me to cover sooner rather than later, drop me a line. If you don’t have my email address, a comment in the box below will do the trick.