Today's guest post is from Nick Colakovic of FirstSiteGuide.com. Nick contacted us awhile back after discovering the BW blog and asked to share some ideas and resources he thought would be helpful to indie authors confronting the digital aspects of their platform (you know, all that fun stuff we're always writing about, websites, SM, etc.) especially their author blog. "Great!", we said. Have at it, Nick...
Self-promotion (and lots of it) is something that every new writer on the scene needs if they are to start gaining some traction. This is something we all know, and yet you don't see a lot of really great writer blogs. To remedy this, I'm going to share some of my favorite tips for your author blog.
The main problem is that it takes extra time and effort to build an attractive blog with plenty of engaging content. However, there are useful and affordable tools out there that can help you get started. What follows includes some good ones.
Building & Perfecting Your Author Blog
Let’s start with the technical details. First of all, you will need a website where you will post your articles.
If you don’t know how to start, run or grow your online presence, First Site Guide is a great starting point. There you can access step-by-step comprehensive guides for free. Among others, you can read How to Start Blog and How to Make a Website. Don’t worry if you don’t have a technical background, because these guides are designed to help you get your website up and running without writing a single line of code.
Since most bloggers use WordPress (WP) to build their blogging platforms, you should get more familiar with this platform and its plugins. WP is easy to use and you can improve functionality and the reader's experience by adding some completely free plugins. Here are few ‘must-have’ add-ons for WP that I recommend:
- Yoast SEO - scans your post and provides guidelines/suggestions for search engine optimization
- Akismet - prevents spam comments on your blog posts,
- Contact Form 7 – an easy way to create a customized “Contact Me” page,
- UpdraftPlus - simple website backup/restore plugin
Another important asset when one wants to build and perfect a blog is Search Engine Optimization (SEO). What many bloggers fail to realize is that SEO should start the moment you get a blog topic idea. To learn how to maintain good SEO, check out the guides posted on the Moz blog. These guides will help you learn about keyword targeting, how to reach your intended audience, on-page factors and more.
Simple & Effective Ways of Growing Your Audience
Today, writing for your author blog is not going to work like it did 10 years ago. This is simply because there literally millions of blogs with quality content online. As a new blogger, it is important to develop a strategy in order to attract more readers and to keep them coming back to your blog.
The easiest way to maintain consistency when promoting your blog post is to use social media. Facebook and Twitter are great to start with. I always like to recommend this article on Quicksprout.com written by Neil Patel and Aaron Agius for new bloggers. The authors cover this topic in depth. You will learn how to use free social sharing tools for scheduling posts.
To encourage readers to visit your author blog regularly, you should offer multiple, easy subscription options, (email, Twitter, RSS, Facebook). This will increase the odds that visitors will choose one that suits their preferences.
Communicating with your audience is essential to growing it. This will keep them coming back to your blog. Pay close attention to the comment section below your blog posts, but also make sure not to miss any comments on posts you’ve shared on social media. Your community can easily become the source of future blog post ideas.
How to Engage Readers and Spark Curiosity
As a novice blogger, your primary concern should be identifying the type of content that suits your audience. This article on Social Media Examiner reviews 12 types of content that will drive traffic to your blog.
Most bloggers admit that the hardest part of writing a post is writing the first sentence. It should be short, easy to understand, informative and to have the power to hook the reader. Yeah, all of that! Check out this great post on Hongkiat if you want to learn how to grab your reader’s attention.
There’s also a psychological phenomenon you want to pay close attention to—the curiosity gap. That energized field in a person’s mind formed between something the person knows and something they want to know. If you bait the readers with provocative headlines, make sure that you don’t disappoint them with content. It should be at least half as provocative and interesting as the headline is. Check out this headline psychology post on Kissmetrics for more insights.
More Helpful Author Blog Resources
The resources shared here can help set you on the right course to becoming a successful blogger and promoting yourself as a writer. Being able to write well is just one requirement. You will also need to learn how to utilize digital marketing and social media and create an engaging website. It can seem daunting at first, but by taking a step by step approach, building your knowledge, and a bit of trial and error, you will find what works for you.
Nick Colakovic works for FirstSiteGuide. He is passionate about helping other writers take their craft to the next level by creating an online presence and likes to help newbies learn the joy of blogging.
If you haven't seen the new version of BookWorks, please check us out for more great content like this and join our community of indie authors, editors, coaches, designers, marketers, bloggers and other self-publishing pros.