Chuck Wendig is a prolific writer with more than 20 books under his belt, but he still gains new readers regularly through his blog, Terribleminds. The blog has been active for more than a decade, adding up to a blog archive of more than 400 pages filled with writing advice, updates about his books, and humorous inspiration for other writers.
His blog hits some of the most important features that lead to success: posting on a regular basis, giving readers useful information, and entertaining them. At their best, blogs draw attention to your website and showcase your skill as a writer. Readers value the personal connection and chance to react to your work via the comments section.
Blogging is a fun way to share creativity and promote your work. As you make your mark online, your blog will boost your readers’ engagement and connect you to your peers. In this article, we explore the why and how of an author blog, and give you advice about building an audience, directing traffic to your content, and monetizing it.
Let’s take a closer look!
The first blog ever created was a place for a student to share his thoughts on the books he read and websites he visited. Blogging has changed a lot since then, but the desire to share information has remained the same.
For authors, blogs are a great place to share thoughts that aren’t likely to make it into a book. Some take a more journalistic approach, while others give writing advice, share some flash fiction, or recommend their favorite books. There’s a lot of freedom in blogging. It can be a useful creative exercise.
Blogs not only increase engagement with your current readers, but also attract new ones. Your fans will be more invested in your career as a whole, instead of in just the one book. Over time, consistent posting will foster a larger audience and get more readers interested in your brand and writing style. You can also speak directly to them if you so choose, and get valuable feedback through their comments.
Blogging might also strengthen your writing habits while giving you a breather from the straining process of writing a book. Blog posts can be informal and playful, and give you plenty of room to experiment.
Is blogging worth your time and energy? It depends upon your workload, interest, and audience.
Don’t be fooled: Great blog posts require careful planning, drafting, and editing. Between coming up with ideas, creating the content, and optimizing it to get more traffic, the process will take a solid chunk of your time. If you’re dealing with a packed schedule, blogging might not be the best use of your time, as it could end up cutting right into your general writing schedule. No good!
Some writers take to blogging faster than others. If you’re a master of social media posting, or craft amazing newsletters, blogging might be right up your alley. Maybe you already have a series of posts in mind, ready to be written. On the other hand, if you dread the idea of sitting down and coming up with content, don’t force yourself to blog. Successful blogging takes time, creativity, and brain power. Unenthusiastic posts won’t leave readers craving for more. If you feel more motivated to work solely on your books, channel that energy there instead.
Not all audiences are as interested in an author blog. Spend some time finding out your readers’ interests before you decide to invest time and effort in churning out posts. Always consider your potential traffic, too. If your audience is too small or niche, it will be hard to raise your traffic, unless you put some hours into becoming an SEO wiz. If that’s the case, you might be better off focusing on building another platform or trying other marketing techniques.
If you’re new to blogging, the hardest part of getting started may be deciding what to post.
Internet users are looking for valuable content from blogs. Your blog posts should fill the need for entertaining or educational content. Original content that adds something new to the conversation will always draw readers. Before you post something, ask yourself what value it provides for the reader. Remember that blog visitors are looking for entertaining, helpful information, and they’re more likely to return to a blog that leaves them with something to think about.
Author life is a popular topic. Writing is hard work, from brainstorming to the final round of revisions. Readers enjoy a peek behind the curtain, and aspiring authors will appreciate your thoughts on the creative process, mindset, and wellbeing.
For example, author Laurel K. Hamilton published a blog post about how she polled fans about their favorite side character to help decide which one to write about next. The post had a more personal touch than a standard announcement and welcomed her readership into her writing life.
Some authors take a more informative approach, sharing tips on writing and inspiration. You can cover common questions that many writers ask, like how to overcome writer’s block. Consider delving into more specialized topics, such as how to find a good editor when self-publishing, or looking for an agent. These topics will attract attention from your peers, but not so much from readers unless you’re a non-fiction author signaling your unique insight and authority through your blog.
Avid readers are always looking for more books to read. As an author, you’re a trusted source. You can spotlight books from your personal reading list, or even do roundups that fit a certain theme or mood. Also, sharing work from your friends and colleagues is a way to give back to the author community and build joyful relationships with your peers.
You can also share exclusive content on your blog. Deleted scenes, short stories, and flash fiction will draw existing readers and introduce new ones to your interests and style. And never forget that everybody loves free extras!
Once you’ve established your blog and its content, it’s time to move on to the logistics of running it and helping it reach its full potential. Catching the right eyeballs is easier said than done, but there are some tried and true methods that will have readers returning, and hopefully bookmarking your blog.
RSS feeds allow people to subscribe to their favorite websites and blogs. People have been using this simple but effective tool since 1999. It allows people to view a collection of the latest headlines and posts from the websites they’ve subscribed to, with the most recent articles appearing at the top of the feed. It’s possible to subscribe to any website through their RSS feed, including those that don’t normally send notifications. Adding an RSS script to your website lets people subscribe to updates, so that your content will pop up alongside all their other interests.
RSS feeds are sometimes overlooked as content shifts to websites like Twitter and Instagram where you curate your feed by “following” people. However, RSS is the original version of a curated feed. RSS feed readers are getting a new life through mobile apps, so consider adding an RSS button to your blog that makes it easy for readers to subscribe to your blog and read updates as you post them.
First, focus on Search Engine Optimization, or SEO. The goal of SEO is to appear in more search results with a higher page ranking, so more people can find your posts.
There are lots of potential techniques to boost your SEO. The first step to a better ranking is writing good content that readers engage with thoroughly. Once you have the foundation of quality writing, you can add SEO keywords to improve your online visibility. Tools like Answer the Public, Google Trends, and Ahrefs will help you research the best keywords to use. Once you know which keywords are most relevant to your topic, you’ll need to integrate them naturally into your post. Repeating keywords carelessly won’t improve your ranking, and in fact search engines may ding you for this practice.
Another way to drive traffic is to fit into a niche. As an author, you might feel drawn to topics around literature and creativity. Try getting even more granular and writing about your unique experience as a writer. You might include some genre-specific posts, like how to worldbuild for a historical novel, or come up with alien-sounding names.
Try to post on a regular schedule. Visitors to your blog are more likely to bookmark it or subscribe to your feed if they notice frequent posts and expect more content to look forward to. You may want to create a content calendar, plan out your posts ahead of time, and spread them to build and keep momentum going.
Making a guest post to a more established blog can help you find your footing in the author community. Guest blogging allows you to tap into someone else’s audience and share your content with them. A lot of these posts happen by invitation between friends, but you can also keep an eye out for blogs that accept submissions. Your guest post bio can include a link back to your own blog.
Paid advertising can boost your blog’s profile, but this option will make you break your piggy bank. Facebook Ads and Google Ads will increase your reach, and they can help you target your ideal audience. This approach is a good idea if you expect to monetize that traffic through sales, affiliate links, or even newsletter subscriptions. But be realistic: If your ads aren’t making a significant difference in book sales or the income you get from your blog, that will be money down the drain.
Make sure to link to your blog on any other social media platforms you have. It’s not always easy to find blogs because they’re spread across multiple platforms, so let people know where you are. You can capitalize on your existing audience by sharing links to new posts on your social media, or linking to them in newsletters. Ideally, anyone who is looking forward to more of your content should be able to find your blog within a few clicks.
The blogging industry has grown since its humble beginnings in the early 2000s. The first option for blog monetization was in 2002 with BlogAds. A year later, Google created AdSense as a way to monetize a blog by sharing ads, and the program remains one of the most popular ways to make money from your blog.
There are several programs that let you earn some cash by hosting advertisements on your blog, and most of them allow you to use other ad network programs at the same time. The ads can be text, images, video, or animation. Some of them require you to drive a certain amount of traffic to your website before you can join. Google AdSense is free to join and has low traffic requirements, making it a popular option to start. Other ad hosting programs include:
Affiliate links are another way to monetize your blog, and you do so by sharing unique links to specific products. As an affiliate, your goal is to choose links that your target audience and visitor demographic will enjoy. If your readers are mostly aspiring writers, for example, you might choose a writing software program as an affiliate link.
When someone clicks through from a link on your blog and buys the item, you get a percentage of the sales made. This is a good choice for people with steady traffic to their blogs.
There are countless affiliate programs, but some popular ones for writers include:
- Amazon Associates
- Kobo’s Affiliate Program
- Apple Services Performance Partners
- Barnes & Noble Affiliate Program
- Google Play Books Affiliates
Once you’re getting steady traffic to your blog, you can start using it as a marketing funnel. Your marketing funnel starts out with a wide range of potential customers in the awareness stage and narrows until the final purchasing stage. You can’t convert every blog visitor into a customer, but you can make it easier for anyone who is interested to learn more about your work, and focus your attention on the most likely customers.
One of the most straightforward ways to do this is to include a signup button to your newsletter in a prominent spot on your blog page. Some blogs even have the signup box appear as a popup, so no one can miss it. You can encourage viewers to sign up with an incentive, like a free ebook or a coupon sent via email. The more signups, the larger the audience you can reach to share important updates and new books.
Make sure to find ways to advertise your books in your posts, as well. Try to link to the retailers where people can buy your books. Some authors include a link and short blurb at the bottom of each post, so that their books are easy to find for anyone who is impressed and wants to read more.
Blogging done right can be fun and rewarding. With the right focus and strategy, you can turn your blog into a valuable marketing asset, and even a source of extra income. A new blog gives you the chance to explore writing in a different form, and share your enthusiasm with readers, writers, and media professionals. But remember, it will be hard work! If you’re ready to roll up your sleeves and share quality content that celebrates writing, and most importantly, your unique author brand, you will be pleasantly surprised with the results. It might take some time, though. If you’re committed, don’t give up too quickly.