Start a Blog!

Last month I urged you to make it easy for readers to find you online. Don’t procrastinate just because you haven’t published a book yet. You need to start building an audience before your book goes on sale.

One of the best ways to reach potential readers is through a blog. There are many advantages:

  • Google will send readers your way – free of charge
  • You’ll get a lot of writing practice
  • You’ll get useful feedback from readers
  • You may be able to repurpose some of your posts as a book
  • You can make useful connections with other writers
  • You can make money

I’ve used my own blogs to do everything on this list.

So how do you get started? I just came across a website that offers excellent instructions – free! – for setting up a blog. Go to www.makeawebsitehub.com and click the Start a Blog link.

The big question – of course – is what to blog about. If you’re writing a nonfiction book, the answer is easy: blog about your topic. I use a blog about police reports to publicize – what else! – a book I’ve written about police reports. Where do I get content? I’ve set up a free Google Alert that sends me a daily email with links to recent articles about police reports. I also look for newspaper and TV news items that might interest the cops who read my blog.

But what if you write fiction? There are still numerous possibilities for a blog. One approach is to blog about the theme of your novel. If it’s an espionage novel, you could blog about espionage news stories. The same principle applies to family life, a foreign country, a historical period, or a topic like bullying, higher education, Hollywood…you get the idea.

Or you could use your blog to brand yourself (something you should be doing anyway!). You can write posts about your everyday life, your interests, and your reactions to current happenings in the news and popular culture.

Here’s an example of what you might do (with the help of a little imagination!). My friend Coach Sokolove from Field Training Associates just sent me a link to an article about the unfolding James Comey story. (Comey is the former FBI chief who testified before Congress this week.) Although this is a political story, Beth Skwarecki turned it into a how-to article about becoming a better writer.

Tips for Bloggers

  • keep your posts short (a rule I regularly break, alas!)
  • post a picture with every post (making sure you’re not violating copyright)
  • make sure your typeface is large enough for easy reading (I use Georgia 12)
  • keep paragraphs short
  • avoid stating polarizing opinions about politics and religion that might turn off potential readers
  • keep your posts fresh – avoid telling readers what they already know
  • post often
  • use the preview feature for proofreading (it’s saved me from zillions of errors)
  • respond warmly to readers who post comments on your blog

Making Money

Your primary goal will be to sell books. But an active blog may also help you land consulting jobs (it’s happened to me) and make connections to other professionals who may turn out to be terrific resources. (Cherish those people! They’re solid gold.)

Many bloggers make money by posting ads on their websites. If you don’t want to clutter your blog with ads and pop-ups, there’s another way – and it’s easy and free: You can become an Amazon Associate. Every time someone clicks a link on your blog and makes a purchase, you’ll earn a small payment. Over time they add up!

 

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