MARKET A BOOK WITH A BLOG
My self-publishing blog currently has 150,000 views, with 350 to 550 views per day, and 5990 followers.
Most of my blog traffic comes from search engines, so it functions as a content-rich website.
A blog can be a highly effective marketing tool if you can draw in hundreds of visitors per day.
People discovering your blog through search engines don’t already know about your book, so this can be great exposure for your book.
It’s not just for nonfiction books.
In fact, I just launched a new blog for a science fiction series that I’m working on, called Alien Curiosity.
You can check it out here, in case you want to see what my blog for a coming fiction series looks like:
Feel free to follow my Alien Curiosity blog to see how I use it.
Note that I launched my blog months in advance of when I will release my science fiction series.
My goal is to have hundreds of visitors discovering my Alien Curiosity blog before I publish the first volume.
BLOGGING TIPS FOR AUTHORS
Realize that you have two separate audiences:
- There is your current audience of followers and fans, who are likely to give your post initial views, likes, comments, and occasional shares.
- Then there is your future audience who may discover your post through search engines.
Both audiences are important:
- Fans and followers make your blog lively and interactive through likes, comments, and shares, and followers who are genuinely interested in your writing can give you initial support when you launch a new book.
- Search engine visitors are people in your target audience who don’t already know about your book, which gives your blog a very wide and powerful reach.
Choose your content with both audiences in mind:
- Prepare content that is likely to draw in search engine visitors from your target audience (so the content needs to be relevant to your book and its audience).
- But the content also needs to interest and engage your current following (and that audience may be somewhat different from the audience for your book; many may be bloggers themselves, so you may share common writing interests, for example).
How to interpret your blogging stats:
- In the early months, views, likes, follows, and shares will probably be scarce. Even the best blogs often start out very slow. Don’t sweat this data.
- You start with zero followers, just like everyone else. It will take time, many posts, and even marketing your own blog (include a link in your book along with a reason to visit—it works both ways) to slowly gain traction. Don’t sweat the beginning.
- The key is that blog stats can accelerate after months of blogging. If you can get your blog stats to steadily grow, this is a positive indicator.
- Once you have several posts, look at the visitors you’re getting (or not getting) from search engines. If your search engine traffic is steadily growing (even if slowly), your blog has excellent long-term potential.
Your blog has two goals:
- Slowly build a following and grow your views, likes, comments, and shares.
- Strive to get 100+ daily visitors to find your blog through search engines (and don’t stop there). 100 daily visitors means that 3000 people who didn’t know about your book are discovering your blog every month.
Remember, these are long-term goals. It doesn’t happen overnight.
To help grow your following, be interactive. Find blogs that interest you. Read those blogs, like them if you enjoy them, leave comments, and reblog those that may be relevant for your followers.
To help gain search engine traction:
- Content is king and will survive longer than the latest SEO tactics. Write good content that will attract your target audience. (For fiction books, you can still find relevant nonfiction content to blog about.)
- You needn’t post every day. Once weekly can work. Posts needn’t be lengthy. Around 1000 words can work. (But there isn’t just one size that works. Some bloggers are highly effective with a very short daily post, others are effective with much longer, less frequent posts. But if you write very long posts, you really need great content to attract readers.)
- Choose 3-5 broad categories that fit your article well. Choose 3-5 specific tags that are perfect fits for your article. For example, I wrote a post about Amazon & Goodreads giveaways. My categories were quite broad (yet relevant): Amazon, books, contest, giveaway, and Goodreads. My tags were much more specific: Amazon giveaway, book contest, free books, and Goodreads giveaway. I like for the tags to extend the categories by adding one or two words to make a keyphrase. But that’s not the only way to do it: See this WordPress example.
- Start typing keyphrases into the Google search field and it will pull up popular matches. You at least want to make sure that your keyphrase is searched for daily. (Google also has apps to help you judge popularity. But you also have to consider, would you rather be on page 12 of the most popular keyphrase, or page 2 of a less popular one that’s still searched hundreds of times per day?)
- The keywords and keyphrases that you used for categories and tags should appear quite naturally in the content of your post. Your post should have headings or subheadings. Chances are that one or more of these headings can include those keywords; other keywords will fit into the body text. First and foremost, your post needs to read well (and definitely not like a jumble of keywords). And you don’t want to overdo it. (Google can smell a rat.) The keywords and keyphrases should be a natural fit for your content, and if so, it should be easy to use them in a natural way.
- Write your post so that it’s skim-friendly. That’s right, most people don’t read every blog article in its entirety, but skim through it. They skim to pick up the main points, to see how much the article interests them, and to decide which parts to read. They might read all of it, but you can’t count on everyone reading every article in its entirety. So make it skim-friendly. Use headings and subheadings to help organize your content. Use bullet points. Use boldface, italics, and color. But use them sparingly so that it’s effective. You can even use images as a visual aid.
- Every post should have at least one relevant image. That visual appeal helps people decide which articles in their WordPress Reader to check out. You can also use the images for your posts to brand your image as a blogger; you just need a consistent style.
Be patient. You can’t build Rome in a day, not even a blog about Rome. 🙂
Many bloggers give up after a few months, not realizing that their blog stats may accelerate at some point. (If you stick with it, the dropout rate actually works in your favor.)
- Check out other blogs. See how other bloggers use their blogs effectively. There are many different ways to do it well. You can find great ideas just by checking out other blogs and interacting with other bloggers.
- Try to learn a little SEO. It’s not really about knowing the latest trends, but about finding things that are likely to work long-term. Those who try to use SEO to fool Google often plummet way down the lists once Google catches on. Those who have great content are likely to rise to the top over time. But there are ways to help present great content in a way that’s search engine friendly, and those are the subtle tips you’re looking for.
Some variety is okay for your blog. Sometimes, when you explore something new for your blog, it winds up being better than what you were doing before.
Write happy, be happy. 🙂
Copyright © 2015
Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers
- Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
- Volume 2 on marketability and marketing
- 4-in-1 Boxed set includes both volumes and more
- Kindle Formatting Magic (coming soon)