Part One: The Hows
Here at Clockpunk Studios we believe in the power of blogging. A blog is a powerful tool for any author at any level. While it may seem like blogging could take away from your valuable writing time, it’s actually extremely important for you to maintain a vibrant and active blog.
Of course, developing your blog into something interesting to your readership isn’t as simple as taking ten minutes twice a month to type out 500 words on any old subject that comes to mind. Blogging is an art form, and in the post-LiveJournal world, the most successful blogs aren’t those where people simply list their thoughts and feelings. But, never fear—the Clockpunk Studios team is here to help you get your blog where it should be. In this two-part series we’ll go over the hows and whys of blogging, in order to get you on the path to blogging success.
The best blogs out there draw readers and colleagues in with frequent updates that contain stellar content. But… that’s obviously a tall order. As any writer knows, staring at a blank page, feeling the pressure to be brilliant is no fun, and can more often than not lead to producing nothing at all. So, if you’ve ever wondered how the heck to take your blog to the next level, check out the following ideas and see if they provide any inspiration. Then, make sure to tune in next time to read all about why you should be taking the time to think about all this!
- Keep It Relevant. Publishing may seem slow when you’re waiting to hear back on a short story submission, querying agents, or even waiting for your next book to come out. The truth of the matter is that publishing is often so fast that blink… and you might miss something. Discussions about current events, new releases, or trends in publishing often start on blogs and then take to Twitter and other social media sites. Keep your eye on Twitter or the blogs of your colleagues to see what’s being talked about and add your “two cents” in a timely fashion. Even if you don’t feel qualified to weigh in on complex issues such as the #WeNeedDiverseBooks discussion, for example, reviewing the last few books you loved by women, LGBT individuals, or people of color is a way to join the conversation without feeling like you might be wading out of your depth.
- Keep Your Content Diverse. It can be tempting to use your blog as a megaphone to announce your own successes—your metrics, your short story sales, your latest deal—but many of the most successful bloggers regularly focus on what’s happening in the world, not just their own life. Consider John Scalzi’s very popular blog Whatever. Scalzi blogs about his own work, but he also runs the feature The Big Idea, where novelists can discuss their forthcoming works. He also regularly comments on major publishing news. People read Scalzi’s blog as an information source, not just a place to find out what he’s doing, which draws in a lot of readers who might not hop over there just to see what his latest book is called.
- Harness the Power of Social Media. Google Reader is a thing of the past, and while people still curate their RSS feeds, reaching new readers can be a struggle for authors just starting out. Linking your blog to social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, and G+ can attract attention and lead people to what you’ve written. Let people know you’ve said something interesting once, and they’ll probably return again (if you manage to keep it interesting!).
- Be Yourself. If you’re an author, it’s tempting to keep the focus of your blog on your writing-related thoughts and reading-related interests, but feel free to branch out! Do you cook? Post recipes! You never know—you might attract new readers if they first find you because of your killer recipe for chili. Are you active? Post pictures from your latest race, hike, or biking adventure! Do you try every single one of those crazy new Oreo flavors? Blog about it, posting pictures and tasting notes! Remember, your readers want to get to know you. If they just wanted to know when your latest book is coming out, they’d hop over to Amazon to see!
- Keep it Consistent. When a new reader comes to your website and finds it full of interesting, recent content, it holds them there, encourages them to search your backlist, and even click through (if you have links) to online retailers. The opposite is also true… if your site pretty much dead, it can make them wonder if you’re still writing—if you have anything new coming out—if they should keep searching for your stuff. Those aren’t the questions you want your readership asking! Blog regularly to keep your fans, new and old, eager for your latest work.
We hope you’ve enjoyed these tips on how to keep your blog a lively place to attract new fans and keep your established readership engaged. Next time, tune in to find out why you should bother! That’s a big question, but we have answers.