I’ve had several questions about blogging for authors who are on a strict budget. Years ago, you could get away with blogging on a free service like Blogger. Today, you need your own domain, as well as some control over your hosting.
What about WordPress on your own domain? My suggestion is that if your self-publishing income is low, avoid WordPress for now. Yes, the benefits of WordPress blogging are huge, but the bills can be huge too.
Author blogging on a (tiny) budget: avoid self-hosted WordPress
Perhaps you’ve been told that to have a “proper” author blog, you need a self-hosted WordPress blog. Maybe you do, when self-publishing becomes your full-time business, but not when you’re just starting out.
As we’ve said, with self-hosted WordPress, the bills soon mount up. You’ll decide that you want:
- A proper authors’ theme that’s commercial. Some popular WordPress themes for authors charge you annually, or even monthly;
- You’ll need a designer to set up your new theme, unless you have design and coding skills;
- You’ll want a commercial plugin like the MyBookTable plugin… and on, and on.
WordPress can be a huge money-sink, and time sink, too.
That said, let’s look at the tips.
1. Let professionals host your blog
My best tip is that you pay for hosting, on a platform like Typepad (not an affiliate link.) I have friends who’ve been on Typepad for years.
The big benefit of a hosted blogging platform like Typepad is that you can relax. You get stats, tools, easy design, and can be totally unafraid in the face of disasters. You’ll be able to smirk at the woes of self-hosted WordPress devotees, and tell them that you feel their pain. 🙂
2. Remember that your blogging audience is your readers
Blogging is fun, and can become addictive. You start getting likes, shares and reposts, and before you know it, you’ve forgotten your blogging audience, which is readers. Your readers.
Always keep the focus on your readers. Create a mailing list, with an inducement for readers to sign up to it. Of course, you’ll blog about things other than your books, but do remember your books, and blog with a purpose.
3. Create a blogging plan: decide what you’ll post, and when
Your first enthusiasm for blogging will last a month or three. Then, suddenly you realize that it’s been weeks — months — since you glanced at your blog.
Hundreds of thousands of blogs are created every month. Most are abandoned. You can avoid orphaning your blog by creating a blogging plan to carry you through the next 12 months.
You know what you’ll be publishing, and when, so use your blog to build reader anticipation.
A member of our writing group tells me that when she’s creating her yearly plan for her blog, she brainstorms promotional content first. She said: “I promote one of my books every week, so I mention that on the blog of course. I slot those promotions into my editorial calendar, so that I know what’s happening and when.”
Is blogging worth it?
Blogging takes time, some money, and energy.
Is it worth it?
That depends on you — how many books you’ve published, and the plans you have for your career as an author. Blogging has benefits, but it’s not a magic bullet as far as promotions are concerned.
Only you can decide whether it’s worth it for you. 🙂