Last week I was chatting with a friend. She’s excited about a new series of novels she’s writing. She said that her sister had told her that blogging was essential for authors.
What did I think about blogging? Is it essential?
Blogging made her nervous. What would she write about?
Blogging: is it essential for authors?
Although blogging is useful, I wouldn’t call it essential. 🙂 Book marketing is essential of course, but are many ways you can do it. It’s up to you, and what’s easy and effective for YOU.
I mentioned the benefits of blogging:
- You can build a mailing list of readers who love your books;
- You can build your platform as an author;
- It’s inexpensive — all blogging takes is your time. You can even use free blogging services if you don’t want to spend money;
- Blogging can deliver unexpected opportunities — to partner with other authors, to get book contracts, and to build your overall visibility in general. (A close friend was looking for a new job. She mentioned that on her blog, and within four hours, she had several offers — one offer was for her dream job. :-))
After chatting about the benefits, I offered her some tips to conquer her anxiety about blogging.
1. Think of blogging as your writer’s notebook
I’m a huge fan of Day One (for iOS, and the Mac, if you’re a Windows person, check out Journely, it’s open source, and free.) I’ve used Day One as my digital writer’s journal for years; I love it to keep my photos organized. I also keep blogging ideas, ideas for books, and vacation plans in Day One.
Why not use blogging as your online writer’s journal? There are no rules for blogging. I started a blog for my employer (I’m a marketer by trade), because I love blogging, and initially, the blog was simply a place to post news, and updates about and for clients.
You can blog in any way which appeals to you. Talk about your writing, about books, about your family, about challenges you have… There are endless blogs written by people who want to become debt-free for example, and many thousands of “mommy” blogs.
Your blog is what you make it. Post what you like, when you like.
2. Choose topics to write about: keep a list
One thing I’ve found useful, because I blog for several clients, is a list of topics. I use iMindMap to track the blogs for which I write. Each blog has a list of topics I cover, or want to cover. I choose a topic, and enter it in the Google Keyword Suggestion Tool.
Alternatively, I enter the topic into Google itself, to see what’s been written about the topic.
3. Create mind maps to integrate blogging with your writing
Blogging for authors is similar to blogging for business. You’re blogging to create awareness of your books, and make contact with readers, or people who might become readers. Therefore, it’s essential to think about upcoming releases, and start writing about those books before you publish them.
Essential: create a mailing list for your readers.
Most providers of mailing list software offer an option to send out each new blog post to your mailing list, so you don’t need to send out updates to your mailing list manually.
Use mind maps to track your writing for your books, and mind maps to track your blogging. Aim to start blogging about your upcoming book release at least a couple of months before publication day.
4. Conquer inertia: grab a topic and free write whenever you want to write a blog post
Blogging can become stressful if you allow it to be. Keep it casual. Choose a topic, do a little research, then free write some possible blog post ideas.
When it’s time to write a blog post, free write again. Free writing conquers the blank computer screen so you can make the most of the time you’ve scheduled for blogging.
5. Create as many draft posts as you can: try creating them on your phone
Your biggest challenge with blogging is: “I don’t know what to write about!”
This happens to all bloggers. Savvy bloggers create draft posts. A draft post may be just a title, with a couple of sentences. Or it might just be a note to yourself. Either way, with a stash of ten draft posts, you’ve conquered the blank computer screen.
I like to create draft posts on my phone. Since I always have my phone, I can tap something out in any spare moments I have, or whenever an idea strikes.
Blogging can be your social media hub, and the foundation of your author’s platform
Your blog is yours. You can blog about anything you choose, any way you like. If you like to take photos, you can create a photo-heavy blog.
Alternatively, you can write long essays on your blog, or post funny stories about your kids.
About your anxiety: I promise you it wears off. After you’ve created five blog posts, blogging will just be something you do. You won’t need to think about it, and it may just be the best thing you can do for your career as an author.