By: Jennifer Lovett
Did you happen to attend a writer’s conference recently where you heard every author must have a blog? Or maybe you heard an agent won’t pick you up if you don’t have a blog. Or maybe you’d just like to join the community because believe it or not, blogging isn’t dead. New blogs still pop up all the time and become successful.
So, do you need a blog?
- If you want to sell more books, no.
- If you want to drive traffic to your website, not necessarily but it helps.
- If you want to establish a daily or weekly writing habit that will also drive traffic, then yes.
But if you plan to start a blog, I want you to think about a few things.
- It is a fantastic way to start and maintain a writing habit
- It is a fantastic way to drive traffic to your website
- It is time-consuming and requires some creative brainstorming for topics after a time
- There are 31.7 million bloggers in the U.S. by 2020
Yes, there are a lot of blogs out there. That doesn’t mean you can’t make it work for you. Your fiction content is unique and more than likely, there won’t be too many other fiction writers out there clamoring away to write about your content. So that opens up a lot of post possibilities.
The best way to keep track of what you’re writing is to create a content calendar. It’s a device to help you plan out your blog strategy, which posts to write and when to post them. You’ll never be lost on what to blog again. Here’s mine, feel free to steal it.
To get you started, here is a list of topics you can blog about:
- Behind-the-scenes. Talk about how you get your ideas (because you know you’ll be asked), where you write, where you do your research
- Excerpts of your work. Do you have a really favorite scene? Share it.
- Character Interviews. These are always fun and can help you flesh out a character as well.
- Book chronicle. Journal your book. How you create your characters; how they respond to you on a given day; where you’re having writers block and why; how you resolved the issue
- Book covers. Talk about why you like one over the other.
- Research trips. Write about what you ate, where you stayed, what you discovered, where you discovered it.
- Location Scout. Write about your setting and its history
- Writers life. How you became a writer, stay motivated and started your career
- Supporters. Interviews with people who’ve helped you on your journey: librarians, researchers, biggest supporter, funny little guy you met on the train who was super excited to find out you’re a writer!
- Reviews. Connect something in your work to popular culture and become an expert on it. For example, Young Adult novelists could review episodes of Riverdale or Stranger Things. Mystery writers could review CSI or NCIS.
As you start blogging or want to punch up the blog you have, here are some best practices to help you:
- Not 250 words. Not anymore. 1000 words. Why? Because Google likes search words and the more words you have, the more likely you’ll pop in a Google search. This maxes out between 1500-2000 words though.
- Will readers take the time to read all that? Yes. Statistics show people are reading just as much as ever, even with short attention spans, they are reading. They’re just doing it on their phones. (Source)
- I know I just said readers will read up to 1500 words, but really that’s only true if you break up the text with these elements. It makes it an easier read for users who have the attention span of a gnat.
- Attention span has been reported at 8 seconds in the online word. But more than 30% of blog readers admit to liking lists and headers, and more than 40% admit to skimming. Breaking up the text will help your reader stay involved with the post. (Source)
is still king.
- So what does that have to do with blogging? One of the best ways to up your search engine optimization is to create a quick 1-3 minute video that basically just tells the reader what’s in your blog. Pop that on the end of your blog and you should start to see an increase in traffic.
- In addition, 80% of blog readers report they remember more of what they read if it’s accompanied by a video. Win win! (Source)
- Articles or blogs with images receive 94% more views. Even if you just use one, put it toward the top so you pull readers in right in the beginning.
- Find photos on Flickr, Google Images, Shutterstock and Pixabay. Most of these sites will have free or inexpensive photos you can use copyright-free. (Source)
- Because content is how Google finds you, it’s better to have at least 20 posts before you officially launch your blog.
- Think about that … 20000 words. That will certainly help your search engine optimization.
- This one has been preached forever. Right now the going rate is at least every other week, but weekly is best.
- Never go for once a month. It simply isn’t enough content to drive traffic. (Source)
If you’re read to start, you’ll need a platform like Wix, Weebly, or Blogger – all of which have a pretty easy learning curve and free templates. I use WordPress because it has better integration with the Google search engine and an amazing SEO tool in the Yoast plugin which makes SEO super easy. You’ll also want to own your own domain (URL), so head over to GoDaddy, SquareSpace or HostGator and purchase the URL.
For slightly more information, check out this link.
Jennifer Lovett is the founder of Writer Nation, a podcast and Facebook group dedicated to helping writers market their work. With 17 years communications experience, she regularly writes on social media, internet marketing and face-to-face publicity.
She currently lives in South Korea and travels around Asia for fun.
You can find her on her Website, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest: @jennylovett