I have been blogging for a year now. I started The Author’s House as a diary of my book writing journey. If I am honest, I thought writing my book would be a much quicker project. I thought I would have had my copies back from AuthorHouse already and been marketing my book already.
Well, I am not there yet, but I should have my book ready for Christmas. My manuscript is almost ready for submission. That’s why I am really thinking ahead towards my book marketing. As a self-published author, I know the majority of my book marketing will be done by the person who knows and loves my book best – ME!
Blogging is definitely a strategy I will be using. I am a big fan of Hedi Cohen’s and she just wrote a blog about blogging. She has one more year at it than I do, but I though it would be interesting to compare note.
Here’s her article, (along with some of my thoughts as well).
What I Learned From Two Years of Blogging
By Heidi Cohen from Hedi Cohen’s Practical Marketing Advice Blog
While good bloggers can make blogging look easy, the reality is that showing up at your computer on a regular basis with fresh ideas is hard work that involves more than just content creation. (I concur!)
After close to two years of writing this blog, there are things I’ve learned that I wouldn’t have anticipated. Hopefully, they can help you improve your blog.
As the second anniversary of this blog approaches, here are thirteen lessons I’ve learned, either directly or indirectly.
1. Start with well-defined blog goals. Blogging well takes time and resources. Therefore you need to know what you’re trying to accomplish. “Make money” Isn’t sufficient. Actionable Blogging Tips: At a minimum, start with at least one objective you want to achieve with your blog. The more specific and measurable, the better.
(Great tip here. As we agreed, it is not just about content creation. Committment is paramount. Fortunately for me I am 100% deteremined to achieve my goal of self-publishing my book with AuthorHouse)
2. Dive into blogging. Don’t wait for the perfect time. Once you’ve decided to blog, just start doing it. Until you actually write posts in a live blogging environment, you won’t appreciate what it takes. Actionable Blogging Tips: Write a minimum of ten posts to find your voice before you open your blog. Keep five of them in reserve so you have something to publish for those occasions when life intrudes. Of course, you have to add new posts for every reserve post you use. Afraid to publish? Write guest blog posts or join a group blog.
(Practice makes perfect. But then, if you don’t have anything to say, there is no point in blogging. Writing a blog lets you get your voice out there.)
3. Serve a variety of compelling information. Just as having the same thing for lunch everyday gets boring, so does writing about the same topic, the same way. Mix it up to make it interesting for you and your readers. Actionable Blogging Tips: Offer an array of different types of columns such as news roundups, interviews, editorials and other options. To help build your audience, offer special formats on certain days like guest blog posts. To this end an editorial calendar is helpful. Here’s how to make your blog content compelling!
(I am writing about my book. The great thing about my job is I get to meet lots of writers. Working at AuthorHouse means I meet and coimmunicate with all kinds of authors writing about all kinds of subjects. I have tried to add bits of their stories to mine to inject a bit of color, a new point of view, or a different perspective)
(oops! I hope I don’t get in trouble with Heidi here! I am linking to her blog though and am giving her full credit for these tips, so I hope she will be alright.)
5. Be prepared for the non-writing aspects of blogging. Blogging is more than just writing posts. Creative/design, copyediting and technical support are needed. You can either do these functions yourself or get outside support. Actionable Blogging Tips: Since the non-content creation aspect of blogging takes time, find ways to get additional support. If you’re a solopreneur or personal blogger, ask a family member you trust to proofread your content.
(Proofreading is very important. I find that blog posts needs more editing than the articles I write for work because I am writing from the heart and am talking about something I am genuinely passionate about. It’s more like a freewriting session. I would never want to publish my freewriting!)
6. Encourage conversation in the form of comments. Understand than only a small proportion of your readership will comment. If you only read top bloggers, you’ll see lots of comments because they’ve got lots and lots of readers. Don’t let this discourage you. Actionable Blogging Tips: Ask a question at the end of your blog post. Also, participate on other blogs by adding your insights on their posts.
(I can understand this being frustrating. I just treat this as a personal journal, so I am personally not too bothered if I get comments or not. I have a blog at work though for our authors and it is great to get a comment on their posts, though)
7. Plan for social media engagement. Unless you’re a rock star, it takes time and work to build an engaged following. Actionable Blogging Tips: Among the options are automating the social sharing of your content, including social sharing buttons and participating in social media conversations such as Twitter chats.
8. Build your email house file from the beginning. Capture email addresses early because a significant proportion of your traffic turns over. Have a “don’t make me think” approach to getting them to read your content on a regular basis. Actionable Blogging Tips: Entice prospects to provide their email address with a download or ebook. Also, if you collect email addresses, make sure that you respond with a confirmation email in a timely fashion.
(great if you are looking for leads to sell them something. I don’t really bother for The Author’s House because all the advice I give is for free)
9. Keep evergreen blog posts ready to publish. These articles can be used anytime on a topic that’s not time sensitive. Regardless of your best intentions, occasionally something will happen that keeps you from blogging. Evergreen content that can be quickly adapted and posted will keep your audience engaged so that you won’t have to make excuses across social media platforms. There’s nothing worse that writing a blog post at some ridiculous hour because you had no backup and didn’t want to let your readers down. Actionable Blogging Tips: Replace an article as soon as possible after you’ve used a reserve column or you’ll deplete your stash.
(write articles in advance and schedule them to go live later on. You can always change the content if something happens or changes nearer the live date)
10. Track results but don’t obsess over them. While it’s important to develop blog metrics to track your success, checking your stats five times a day to see if anyone’s stopped by doesn’t move the needle. There are much more productive things to do with your time. Actionable Blogging Tips: Use a good analytics package such as Google Analytics (it’s free!) and check it on a regular basis. When you first start blogging, it’s better to check your results on a weekly basis so that you don’t get disheartened with your results.
(like constantly looking at you watch when you are waiting for someone. It doesn’t make the time go quicker. In fact it seems to slow time down!)
11. Get a blogging buddy. Blogging can be a lonely endeavor. Have a colleague with whom you can brainstorm new column ideas, test out title options and discuss other blogging challenges. At a minimum, you can keep each other on track. This is particularly important for solopreneurs and personal bloggers who don’t have a team to work with. Actionable Blogging Tips: Find other bloggers who are interested in having a blogging buddy at social media events like #BlogChat or live blogging events.
(I am going to try this. Great idea, thanks Heidi!)
12. Stick with your blog – it takes time to yield results. After the initial thrill of starting your blog dissipates, keep on blogging. Results accrue over time. Bloggers like Rand Fiskin of SEOmoz and Jay Baer of Convince and Convert have both made this point in presentations. Actionable Blogging Tips: Set yourself a blogging schedule that you can live with. Don’t expect to be able to go from never writing to writing every day. You need to build up your writing muscles and skills.
(again, you can write more posts in one day and schedule them to go live at a later date. This will reduce your monthly writing stints. Instead of one every day, you can do 30 days worth in three or four days)
13. Give yourself permission to fail. While blogging can be fulfilling, it can also be daunting. Since it’s not only a big commitment but also a public activity, allow yourself to make mistakes. Every blogger does. Actionable Blogging Tips: Find ways to turn your mistakes into teachable moments and use them to create better blog content.
(a good life tip in general)
Thanks again Heidi. Take the time to visit her blog.