How to Start Blogging: A Definitive Guide for Authors
Yet blogging continues to interest authors, and be discussed, as a way to market and promote. Why? Because blogging does work, if certain conditions are met. The problem is that few authors meet those conditions. This post will delve into what it means to blog successfully and in a meaningful way for an author’s long-term platform and book marketing efforts.
For clarity: I define “blogging” as publishing material to a site that you own and control—usually your author website. Blogging is sometimes conflated with writing for other websites or blogs, but that’s not what I’m discussing in this post.
Another complication: “Blogging” has become a somewhat dated term. Some people use it to describe a practice that isn’t all that common now: keeping a rather personal “log” or diary of one’s thoughts and experiences. Blogging as discussed here is best described as online writing you do for free, or—better yet—an online content strategy where you create interesting articles, columns, interviews, etc. that get shared on social and discovered through search.
How to Find Ideas
Great writing can’t cover for bad ideas. The best content writers spend as much time honing their ideas as they do the nuts-and-bolts of their writing skills and writing style, and at Animalz, there’s a process we use to help workshop and strengthen ideas: the Idea Farm. Writers collect the “seeds” of ideas, spend time nurturing them, and write them only once they’ve grown to a mature state.
Collect the Seeds of Good Ideas
Many writers use keyword research as their default starting point, but this has limitations. Not all great ideas have a convenient 500-monthly search keyword associated with them. Many great ideas have been weakened by forcing the unnecessary constraint of keyword targeting upon them. There are many types of content, and not every article needs to be SEO content.
Nurture Them to Fruition
Not every idea is great from the outset. Sometimes they need time to sit in the backwaters of your consciousness. Other times they need more data or a different framing to be the best they can be. You can encourage this process by:
Harvest Ideas When They’re Ripe
Your Go-To List for Producing Great Content
The Big Reveal: Exciting announcement! You’re launching a new product, sealing a new partnership, setting up a new location, or any similar update that you can share with your readers. You’ll have a stronger impact if you present these reveals as a significant development and market it as a real milestone for your brand or organization.
Step-By-Step Tutorials: Short, detailed texts that guide readers from point A to point Z are always useful. You can create a tutorial that touches on your own products directly (“how to style your moustache like Dali’s using our facial hair products”), or you could write one that is related to your field or inspired by your interests (“how to repurpose your old jeans into a neat handbag” or “how to edit studio portrait photographs in Photoshop”)
Success Stories and Testimonials: Your happy customers/collaborators are your best marketing agents. Give them the spotlight so they can sing your praises and tell everyone just how wonderful your product is, or just how helpful you’ve been for them on their path to success.
#ThrowBackThursday : Nostalgia is very effective for marketing efforts. Get on the #TBT train and share some blasts from your past with your readership. It could be your very first live concert, an old newspaper report covering your work or just a cute photo of yourself as a kid, connecting it somehow with your present day. And don’t worry – you can do it any day of the week. No need to wait until Thursday.
Survey or Poll: Show your audience you care about their opinion. Solicit their input using a poll or a survey related to your industry or your expertise. You can learn a lot from what they have to offer, and ignite an eye-level conversation with them.
The Fruits of Your Buzz: Getting some great news coverage online or offline? Don’t hesitate to show it off! Round up a bunch of reviews or references for one post, or give special attention to a particularly great piece. This is a wonderful opportunity to thank the author and publication as well (networking never ends!)
Top 10 List: Curated lists are popular reading items online because of their concise, to-the-point presentation of relevant information. The trick is to choose a topic that will be of interest to your audience. “Top 10 wine experts to be aware of” may be too niche, but “Top 10 white wines to bring to a Labor Day picnic” is more appropriate.
Guest Blogs: It’s not uncommon for blog admins to host a guest author for a special post or article. You can approach professionals in your field that you think can write a valuable text for your website visitors. What’s more, if your guest author has a site or blog of their own, you can certainly ask to be featured there in return. This type of collaboration can grow into something even more exciting!
Video Content: Experimenting with different types of media is excellent. It keeps followers alert and engaged to your work. For bloggers, business owners and artists of all kinds, video is a fantastic way to communicate and share aspects of your work that don’t translate as well into text. You can create a webinar, film an interview, a live performance, or a presentation of one of your products. Whatever you choose, make sure it’s not too long and that the audio-visual quality is good.
“Meet the Team”: Introduce yourself and your colleagues in a special post that fosters familiarity and a sense of community. Additionally, you can also use this content in your killer ‘About Us’ page. This is a wonderful opportunity to share how you got involved in your work, what passions drive you and what is the expertise you bring to the table.
Event Announcements: Launching a tour of your band? Scheduled to speak at a conference? Planning a mega sale? All these special dates are a terrific reason to add a news update or blog post to your site. You can invite readers (if the event is public), give them a glimpse of what is expected and give a shout out to venues and collaborators.