Blogging is something that I recommend nearly all authors do. But many of the people I speak with are unsure about how to start blogging, what to blog about, or why blogs may be helpful to them. With that in mind, here are 10 questions I frequently get about author blogs (and my responses, of course).
- What’s the benefit of blogging?
I’ve written more posts about this than I care to remember. A few examples of them include: Why and How Authors Should be Blogging and Why You Need an Author Website and a Blog. But the short answer is that a successful blog is the primary way to drive traffic to your website. Sure, there are people who you will hand a business card out to. There will also be people who wind up on your website because they heard your name or your book title and started browsing. But how will you attract new people? That’s where blogging properly can come it. It can attract people who never knew you existed before, and wouldn’t unless you had started blogging. Your blog entry on a topic of interest to them will show up on their search results. And voila! You’ve found a future reader.
- What tools do I need to set up a blog?
If you don’t have an author website already, you can sign up for a free blog service like WordPress or BlogSpot. But if you do have a site like the ones we build, blogging functionality is built in. It’s free and easy.
- How often should I blog?
That can differ from person to person. I personally like to blog once a week. If you only want to commit to every other week, that’s okay too. Even once a month is okay, although not ideal. What you don’t want is a blog on your site that hasn’t been updated in a few months — or even worse — years. That sends a message to users that you’re not paying attention to your blog … so why should they?
- How long should a blog entry be?
This can also vary from person to person. It can be as short as a few paragraphs (just your musings or sharing an anecdote), or as long as a featured article (1500 words or more). In general, though, I have found 500 words to be about the sweet spot for blog entries.
- How do I know what to blog about?
You need to decide on a theme for your blog. And that can depend on your personality, your goals for the blog, etc… For example, if you are a comedic writer, then you should blog humorously. That will help you build a following of people who really appreciate your sense of humor. If you, on the other hand, write a book about religion, you should blog about religion. In that instance, you can get ideas for individual blog posts from questions that readers pose to you, news on religion, or Google Alerts (one of my favorite ways to be inspired).If you’re a fiction author, figuring out a blog theme is a little more complicated. But basic ideas can inlclude blogging about being a writer, blogging about your characters, or using the blog to offer bonus material that users wouldn’t be able to find elsewhere (book outtakes, for example).
- What are blog categories?
WordPress offers a dandy little feature called blog categories. It allows you to categorize all of your blog entries, so that people who are interested in one specific topic an easily see everything you’ve written on that topic. On the right hand side of this site, for example, you see our blog categories: author marketing tips, a successful author website, author trends, tech advice, etc… Every blog entry that we post goes into one or more of these categories. So someone visiting the site who is only interested in marketing advice, for example, but not information on how to set up a good email client, can view everything categorized as author marketing tips.
- How long do blogs live on?
Blogs live forever (unless you specifically decide to take them down). There is no limit to the number of blog entries you can post, so there’s no good reason to ever delete old ones. You may be surprised to find out that a blog entry you posted two years ago may still be getting a lot of traffic today. If it works, why change it or remove it?
- Can I include images in blogs?
Yes, it’s very easy to scan in a photo and post it as part of a blog entry. If you build your author website through us, we will have a tutorial with you to show you how to do just that.
- How do I know if people are reading my blog?
Every author (and blogger) should sign up for a free account with Google Analytics. By simply installing a plug-in on your blog and entering your Google Analytics ID there, you can then log in any time and see which of your blog entries are being viewed the most. Looking at Google Analytics can be very encouraging for authors like you, because it’s very easy to get discouraged when you notice that hardly anyone is commenting on your blog entries. You may then be very surprised to find out that hundreds of people actually visited and read that blog entry. That’s what you can learn from Google Analytics.
- How can I integrate my blog with Facebook and Twitter?
Blogging and social networking can go hand in hand. Here are a few ways to integrate the two:
- Make sure that every blog entry you post has a way for people to share it and/or like it via Facebook and Twitter.
- Promote each of your blog entries via social networking; this can be done by synching up your blog with Facebook and Twitter (so that every blog post automatically turns into a Facebook post and Tweet), or by customizing and posting your message manually for each particular audience.
- Include Facebook and/or Twitter widgets on your blog, so that people can have multiple ways to follow you.
Do you have additional questions about blogging? Post them below and I’ll be happy to respond!