Like I said before, I will address different ways to build your author platform over a series of posts. This one will be about blogging. Writerland is a new blog, and I don’t claim to be an expert on blogging, but I can share some of the information I’ve gleaned from books, articles and sites I’ve read.
1. Decide on the focus of your blog
If you’re trying to sell something, anything, a product or a service, you must have a blog. And that blog has to have a focus, and not just “I went swimming today. It was fun.” There are many ways you can craft your blog. It can be humorous, or educational, or informative, or entertaining. If, for example, you are a photographer, you could simply post photos on your blog, you could post photos with the stories behind each photo, you could post photos with all the technical information about what lens and which settings you used to take that photo, you could post photos with little Photography 101 lessons, or more advanced lessons for experienced photographers. You could post your ratings of different cameras and other photographic equipment. You could write articles or reblog articles about the industry (the advantages of analog photography over digital, for example.) You could even do a podcast or a video blog or a question-an-answer U-stream broadcast. There are a lot of directions you could take your blog. If you’re a photographer, you’re going to want to post photos. If you’re selling something else, you may or may not want to add photos. Some people add stock photos and clip art just to give their blogs some color. Other people don’t bother and their blogs are very popular as well. The ultimate goal of your blog is to attract readers. Again, I am not expert. I am not speaking from experience so much as the wealth of articles and blog posts I’ve read about blogging.
2. Decide whether to host it yourself or on a blogging website
You can host your blog for free on a site like WordPress or Tumblr or Blogger, or you can host it yourself. WordPress and Tumblr are the most popular. A few differences between the two:
Tumblr is super easy to use because you can just click an icon to create a text post, photo, audio, video, etc. It also allows you to “reblog” someone else’s post and to follow other Tumblr bloggers, the way you follow people on Twitter. A disadvantage I noticed is that it’s not optimized for including text and photo in one post (unless the text is a caption, in very small font.) There may be a way around this, but I couldn’t figure it out. The greatest advantage of Tumblr is that it allows you to host your own domain for FREE. For example, you can have www.writerland.com instead of www.writerland.tumblr.com without paying hosting fees, which can save you a lot of money (GoDaddy, for example, charges $4.99/mo to host one domain.)
WordPress, on the other hand, has an easy-to-use and searchable system for archiving all your old posts, and gives you the option to either have WordPress host your blog (www.writerland.wordpress.com) or to download the theme you want and host it yourself somewhere else. I use WordPress because it’s what I’m familiar with, and because I couldn’t get Tumblr to do some of the things I was used to doing on WordPress. But if you’re new to blogging and have never tried either one, Tumblr may be the better way to go.
3. Choose a catchy name for your blog
Once you have your blog set up (and it’s good to think of a catchy name, too. One of my favorites is Pimp My Novel).
4. Post often
It’s important to post frequently, preferably three times a week or more. If people check your blog often and there are no new posts, they’ll stop checking it.
5. Comment on other people’s blogs.
If you want people to buy your book, you need to buy other people’s books. If you want people to read your blog, you need to read other people’s blogs. If you want people to comment on your blog, you need to comment on other people’s blogs.
6. Respond to comments on your own blog.
People want to feel like they’re in a conversation with you, that you’re a real live person who cares what they have to say, so respond to their comments on your blog.
7. Ask questions on your blog.
This is another way to generate conversation with your readers, and to encourage them to comment.
8. Show your link love.
Linking to other blogs is a way to introduce your readers to many other great articles and blogs out there as well as to show some love for those other bloggers, even if they’re your competition.
9. Integrate your blog with Facebook, Twitter and all your other social media accounts.
There are many ways to do this, like adding Facebook and Twitter buttons to your blog, simply adding the links, having your blog automatically update those other accounts each time you post, etc.
10. Try something new
Add a contest or a poll to your blog now and then, or show a funny video. Use your imagination.
11. Provide great content.
This really should have been number three. You need great content, and this means DON’T use your blog simply as a means of promoting your wares. (You shouldn’t do this on FaceBook or Twitter either.) People will very quickly tire of your advertisements and stop coming back.
12. Make it easy for your readers to share your content.
Add links like “sharethis.com” and “addthis.com,” so it’s easy for people to share your articles with other people. I haven’t done this yet myself, but I will today!
13. Write guest posts for other blogs
When you do this, include a bio and a photo, so readers can link back to your own blog.
14. Make sure you have a feed for your blog
Without a feed, readers can’t add it to Bloglines or Google Reader, where they’ll be automatically updated every time you post.