To blog or not to blog – that is the question. The answer? To blog, of course! You are a writer (or perhaps a writer in the making). Writing is what you do. Your blog is your own personal online podium. If you are serious about promoting your book, an author blog is almost a no-brainer. It is an excellent way to build an audience even before your book is published, establish yourself as an expert in your field and cross-pollinate with other bloggers as you promote each other to a wider shared audience.
You don’t necessarily need to post every day. Once or twice a week, every other week or even monthly is fine as long as you are posting relevant content and interacting with your readers when they comment on your posts. Find a schedule that fits in with your routine and stick with it. Many bloggers schedule their posts out days and weeks in advance, so they know exactly what they will post about and when. If you get hit with the writing bug and write several posts at one time, no problem. You can schedule them to post at certain dates and times in the future.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when using a blog to promote your book:
Use keywords. These are words and phrases that people would use to search on Google and other search engines when they want to know about something. For instance, if your book is about the Fourth of July, keywords might include things like, “patriotic,” “freedom,” “Independence Day” and such. The more relevant keywords you include in your posts, the better your search engine results.
Spell check and proofread. Or better yet, have someone do this for you. Getting another pair of eyes on your post before it goes live is generally a good idea – and it can save you the embarrassment of posting a typo or other minor goof that takes the reader’s attention away from your content.
Introduce yourself. Include an About Me page to let readers know who you are. This makes you more real and accessible to your readers.
Include media in your posts. Ours is a visual culture. Pictures and videos capture our attention much more quickly than even the most cleverly written headline. Capitalize on this by incorporating media into your blog using pictures, graphics, videos and podcasts. If you use pictures or graphics, be sure to use your own original images or get permission before using someone else’s. It’s best to not use images that unusually large, because large image files can keep your page from loading on some computers or slow down the load, causing the reader to become impatient and leave your blog. Use videos or podcasts to share book excerpts or a brief (one minute or less) introduction about you.
Invite guest bloggers. Reach out to other bloggers whose blogs are also of interest to your readers and invite them to post as a guest blogger on your blog. Be sure they include a link back to their own blog and encourage them to share a link to their guest post on their blog, which will expose their readers to your blog. Ask about guest blogging on their blogs as well, being sure to include a link to your blog. Cross-pollination benefits you both and exposes you both to a wider shared audience.
Keep it real. Relevant content is key for your blog. Talk about things your readers will find interesting and that will help to establish you as an expert. When people recognize you know what you are talking about, they will be more inclined to check out your book when presented with the opportunity.
Keep the conversation going. Allow comments on your blog posts so your readers can respond to what you have said. Be sure to check those comments and reply back in a timely fashion. Taking the time to hear what your readers have said and reply back to them goes a long way in building a lasting connection with them.
Incorporate your blog into your website. Experts recommend incorporating your blog into your website. Why? While websites are typically static with basic information and certain calls to action (buy this, sign up for that), blogs by nature are more fluid because they are updated more frequently and generate traffic with every new post. More traffic translates into boosted Google rankings. Business website with incorporated blogs generate 55% more traffic than site without a blog.
Have a call to action. Your blog should include specific calls to action throughout. These can include an email sign up list, an option to follow your blog via email or feed readers (such as Google Reader), an opportunity to follow you on social media sites and naturally, an option to purchase your book. These should reside somewhere in the sidebar of your blog. Inviting them to buy your book in the closing of every blog post will likely result in them feeling pressured and un-following you. You want to keep it in front of them but not in their face. Don’t forget to include social media share buttons on your pages and posts. This encourages readers to share your content with their friends and associates, expanding your exposure.
Use your blog to promote your pre-published book. Even while you are still in the pre-publishing phases of your book, you can begin to generate an interest in your book with your blog. If you are a fiction writer, you could tease your readers with hints about the characters they will meet in your book or the mystery or drama that will present itself. If you write non-fiction, talk about some of the issues you will address in your book and problems you will provide solutions for. If you are still in the development phase of your book project, you could even solicit questions or problems your readers might like you to consider addressing in your book. Perhaps they could win a free copy if their question is selected and used in your book.
Blogging is an essential part of your book marketing plan. Just remember – keep it simple, keep it brief and keep it relevant. Now, go forth and blog!