We all know that whether you’re traditionally published or going D.I.Y., marketing your book is mostly on you, the author—and creating a solid web presence is one of the best ways to do just that. But how can you make the most of your online persona?
Many say that the best place to start is with an author website, but new writers often find that building one from scratch is the easy part. It gets tricky when it comes time to start actually promoting the website—which is an ongoing necessity. After all, what good is your site if no one sees it?
You can market your author website on Facebook and Twitter, put it on your business card, and share it in writing groups, but my extensive experience as a blogger has shown me that there’s one simple, sure-fire way to ensure that you get traffic to your website: including a blog!
What are the benefits of including a blog on my site?
The best (and really the only) reason to include a blog on your author site is to increase the number of people who visit your site, so you can sell more books.
Readers will find your articles either via search engine or on a social media site, click on it, read it, and—if you’re lucky—click through to another page on your site, like your portfolio of books or even your “About Me” page. The more time they spend on your website, the better, because even if they don’t buy right then and there, they might recognize your name next time they’re scrolling through Amazon looking for a new book to buy (and that’s a good thing).
But how exactly do these people get to my blog?
I know, it sounds tough. You’re already having trouble getting people to your author site—why add more pages to a site no one is seeing? But it’s much easier to get people to click on a blog post than a random author website.
This is because people want to read things that do one of two things: entertain them or inform them. You don’t turn on the TV to watch the commercials, do you? Of course not! Just like the best documentaries and news reports on television, your blog is going to be informative.
You will answer questions on your blog either about writing, your novel, or books in general. Your readers will feel like they’ve learned something when they finish reading your post, which is exactly what they wanted. And if you’ve really hooked them, they’ll head toward the other pages of your site, like you want them to.
But first—you have to get them to your site, which is actually a lot easier than it sounds.
As an author, you probably already have a solid social media presence. (If not, this post will help you!) Now it’s time to use it to your advantage.
Share your blog posts on social media with your followers first. Odds are, many of them will be interested in what you have to say! Plus, if you share their posts alongside your own, they’ll be more likely to share your blog with their own followers (bonus!). You can also share them with your writing and reading friends in forums and groups. Just pick a social media platform that you’re comfortable with and do your best to connect with people and share content.
The method that I’ve found works best for me is promoting my blog posts on Pinterest by sharing them to group boards. All you need is one influential person to re-pin your pin, and your post instantly goes viral. It’s as simple as that!
Of course, creating Pinterest-friendly graphics is a must if you want to do this. For that, I recommend Canva, an online design software that you can use commercially for free!
You’ll also want to try to make your blog posts search engine-friendly. The simplest way to do this is to simply use keywords throughout the article that you think your target audience would search for. Then, if they search that term on Google or Bing, you’re more likely to pop up higher on the list!
Want more tips for creating the perfect blog? Check out this Pinterest board, full of advice!
Okay, I’m sold. But how do I start my blog?
Most website hosting softwares—like WordPress and Wix—offer the option to add a blog to your site, and it’s pretty easy to navigate this. If you’re really confused, try asking more web-savvy friends for help, or post in the comments below and I’ll see what I can do!
You’ll want to make sure that you’re maintaining consistency in your blog posts from the start—after all, you are creating a brand. For that reason, make sure that all of your graphics are cohesive and match (it will make it easier for your audience to recognize you across the web) and ensure that you’re constantly pushing out fresh, new, and quality content to your readers. Don’t just say you’ll go back and fix it later—get it right from the start!
I’m ready. How can I figure out what to write about?
It’s your blog. You can write about whatever you want.
Seriously. Recount your struggles as you work through your first, or second, or third draft of your manuscript. Share how you managed to write 10,000 words this month despite being a stay-at-home mom. Talk about how you overcame the writer’s block that plagued you when you were halfway through your novel. Even just review a book you’ve read lately. All of these things will be valuable to your readership.
Remember that different blog posts attract different readers, so make sure when you’re deciding what to post that you consider each individual article’s audience. For instance, a book review post might attract avid readers that could be willing to buy your book! On the other hand, an article about how to write your author bio will probably only attract other writers who may or may not be interested in buying your book. Don’t be afraid to mix things up and post a variety of articles that appeal to various audiences!
But won’t all this take away from my writing time?
The short answer is yes, it will. And that’s where so many artists find themselves struggling.
For many writers, your dream is just to write. You want to create stories and tell them to the world. But as fun as that sounds, it’s not the way to make a living as an author.
To be a full-time author is not just about the writing. It’s also about selling the books. Which means tons of marketing—and an author website (and blog) is just one way to do that.
If you feel comfortable writing and it comes naturally to you, writing a blog and sharing it will really help your website grow into everything it needs to be, without taking too much of your book writing time away. The right balance between writing and running your author business is really up to you—but remember, you can’t write full-time if you don’t sell full-time, as well.
I hope this article was useful to you as you consider adding a blog to your author website! Make sure to share your site in the comments below so we can all take a look!