Ten Reasons to Launch an Author Blog

on July 21, 2014 in Book Marketing & PR
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10 Reasons to Launch an Author BlogIf you’re an author, you've probably heard that you should consider having a blog. Some authors swear by them. Others swear them off as a distraction and waste of time. But the marketing value of blogs is undeniable, and they can be effective promotional tools for both nonfiction and fiction authors.

In a future post we'll take a look at some of the ways you can simplify the author blogging process to reap the benefits without letting it take over your writing schedule. But for now, let's look at what some of those benefits actually are.

10 Reasons to Launch an Author Blog

Not convinced you need an author blog? Here are ten reasons you should consider launching one if you haven’t already:

1. Blogs build pre-launch interest in your book.

If you blog about the same subject as your book, you can start building a targeted audience of readers who already have an interest in what you have to say. You then have a promotional platform for your book where you can push its launch, offer a special, or offer excerpts and previews to gauge reader interest.

For nonfiction authors, this means publishing a blog related to the niche your book covers (such as publishing a blog on English garden care to promote your book on the same subject). For authors of fiction, it might mean publishing excerpts, similar short fiction, or even reviews of other books in the genre -- taking the "if you like these books, you might also like mine" approach.

2. Blogs can help you build newsletter subscribers.

If you plan to use a newsletter to help market your books, you need start building your subscriber list as early as possible. Readers of your blog are natural candidates and you can include a newsletter subscription form directly on the site. Then you can reach those readers directly through their inboxes if you want to offer specials to subscribers to help push early sales or to keep interest in your book up over time.

3. Blogs are excellent networking tools.


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Authors benefit greatly from a strong professional network (other writers, past readers, reviewers, new potential book buyers). Your network will be your best source for targeted feedback about your writing, whether that’s the writing coming from your blog, newsletter, or book.

You’ll know if there’s enough interest in a subject to consider a second book. Or colleagues in your network may have their own Web presence where they can mention or promote you and your book. If you give, you’ll get; but you need to build your network before that happens.

4. Blogs teach you how to deal with criticism.

People aren’t always going to agree with what you have to say on your blog (and therefore what you may say in your book). Some people will be downright nasty with the anonymity they find on the Web, while others will give you constructive criticism and feedback through ideas you may not have considered.

You’ll need to learn how to deal with both situations publicly and professionally on your blog (even when that means knowing when to walk away without saying a word). And that might help when you’re facing reviews and critiques of your book, or even your book proposal if you’re at that phase.

5. Blogs can serve as an additional income stream.

In any kind of business model, it’s wise to diversify your income streams. Blogs are tools that allow writers to do that. Being a writer gives authors an edge in blogging, because they know how to communicate in a way that’s going to interest readers. The biggest problem many bloggers face is their monetization strategy.

If you want your blog to be a viable income source, you can’t just throw a few ads on the sidebar or header and expect to get rich. There’s a lot you can do though: sell your books through your blog, sell shorter reports or e-books there, feature advertisements from ad networks, include affiliate ads, make private ad sales, have a paid membership area of your blog where you offer exclusive bonuses, offer e-courses or webinars through your blog, etc.

Speaking from experience, it’s very possible to bring a blog from nothing to earning a few hundred to several thousand dollars per month within your first year, and even a few months, as long as you put the effort into promoting and monetizing it, and if you update the blog often enough for your audience.

6. Blogs help authors build authority and an expert status.

Blogs are a highly effective PR tool for building your authority status in your specialty area, whether that's through educational content related to your nonfiction niche or commentary related to the type of fiction you write.

By offering consistent high quality content on your blog, you’ll build a strong readership and gain trust. The more readers trust and respect you, the more likely it is they'll buy your book and help to spread the word. It can also turn you into an expert source that members of the media, and even other bloggers, turn to. That increases your exposure even more.

7. Blogs keep you writing.

Blog posts can be relatively easy to write (compared to your book), especially when you get into the habit of blogging regularly. They keep your writing fresh and you may find that your posts later inspire, or even become a part of, a future book.

8. Blogs are inexpensive marketing and PR tools.

As far as promotional tactics for your books go, blogs are downright cheap. You’ll pay less than $10 for a domain name each year and then no more than $10 for hosting each month if you only need a shared hosting account.

9. Blogs are easy promotional tools to use.

Some of the best blog platforms are not only free (namely WordPress), but they have large user communities with people willing to help with any questions you may have. There are pre-made themes, or designs, for most blogging systems so you don’t have to know how to design and code your own blog.

Most themes are very easy to modify on your own these days, with many coming with simple admin panels that let you adjust the basic colors, upload your logo, or make other minor changes. They’re also very easy to update. Plugins will even help you deal with things like spam to take some of the administrative work off of your shoulders when the blog grows.

10. Blogging can help you increase search engine rankings.

If you tie your author blog to your overall author website, it can help your website earn better search engine rankings. That's because Google seems to consider not only relevancy, but also the timeliness of content. By regularly showcasing fresh content through your blog posts, your overall site can rank better. Of course this assumes you're effectively targeting your keyword phrases and not using spammy "black hat" tactics like keyword-stuffing.


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As an example, my business website where I promote my freelance writing services has a blog attached to it. Last year after some on-site changes, my rankings dropped significantly for my top target keyword phrases. Where I used to rank #2 in Google, I was suddenly buried on the third page. That had a direct impact on how many people found me and got in touch to hire me (just as it can affect how many potential readers your author website reaches).

While the rankings haven't fully recovered yet, I was able to get the site back up to #4 on Google for that same primary phrase. All I did was start blogging again (one or two posts a month was plenty) and feature the titles and excerpts of my new posts on the homepage so Google would see that the site had fresh content more often. A blog really can make a difference.

Resource Recommendations for Your Author Blog

Disclaimer: This section contains some affiliate links. If you click an affiliate link for one of these services (all ones I've personally used and recommend), and you happen to choose to buy from them, I may receive a small commission for referring you.

Here are my recommendations for resources to help you get started in launching an author blog:

Domain Names:

My favorite domain registrar at the moment is called NameSilo. I'm slowly moving all of my own domains to them.

Web / Blog Hosting:

(Note: While I no longer actively support HostGator due to past customer service issues, they did provide a reliable service for a few years, and most customers I know still swear by them.)

HostGator is my former hosting company, and I'd consider them a decent place to start if you're looking for shared hosting.

Most of my sites are currently hosted with MyHosting. I recommend them if you want a VPS (I haven't tried their shared hosting, so I can't recommend it on a personal level, but I've so far had a pretty positive experience with the company).

Blog Platforms:

The only blog platform I recommend is WordPress.org (the self-hosted version; not the free blogs at WordPress.com which come with greater limitations).

Note: This post was originally published on March 4, 2011. It was revised and updated with new resources on its currently-listed publication date.

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Jennifer Mattern is a professional blogger, freelance business writer, and indie author. She began writing for clients in 1999 and started her first blog in 2004.

She owns 3 Beat Media - a publishing and client services company which operates All Indie Writers as well as several other websites and blogs including The Busy Author's Guide and BizAmmo. Jenn comes from a background in online PR and social media consulting, having owned a small PR firm for several years before choosing to pursue a full-time writing and publishing career.

Jenn also writes fiction under multiple pen names in the areas of children's fiction, mysteries, and horror fiction. Jenn is an active member of the Horror Writers Association (HWA) and currently serves as the organization's Assistant Coordinator of Promotions and Social Media.

9 Comments

  1. Joel Friedlander March 9, 2011 Reply

    I’m glad you’re reposting these articles, Jennifer, they are really good and it’s interesting to see that they are just as relevant now.

    • Jennifer Mattern March 9, 2011 Reply

      Thanks Joel. I update the posts a little bit to try to make sure they’re still relevant, but you’re right. In the grand scheme of things not a lot has changed. As much as the tools do, the fundamentals of good writing, good design and strong marketing and PR stay the same.

      Love the blog by the way, although I’m sad to say I only recently discovered it given that I’d been out of the book / author niche for a couple of years to focus on the freelance side of writing. I’ll be sure to stop by there soon. And if you’re ever up for it, I’d love to line you up for an email interview on fundamentals in cover designs and book layouts. Let me know. :)

  2. Elizabeth West March 9, 2011 Reply

    Good article. My blog isn’t very big now; I’m just learning. My biggest problem is focus, but right now it’s just about general things. I’d like to try some continuing fiction on it, and come up with an ebook of some kind. Still working on that. I think some of the tips here will help.

    • Jennifer Mattern March 10, 2011 Reply

      I’m glad the post might help you out. :) If you do launch an author blog, be sure to let us know about!

      • Jennifer Mattern March 10, 2011 Reply

        Pardon my stupidity. It’s early. ;)

        You said you have an author blog, but it simply isn’t big yet. You should share the link so we can check it out and help change that. :)

  3. Peter Bowerman July 22, 2014 Reply

    Great piece, Jenn!

    I might add a few other reasons, based on my own experience…

    1) A blog can help you write a book: Many people use a blog as a way to discipline themselves to actually get a book written. Each post becomes more content for the book. Obviously works best with non-fiction titles, where you’re covering certain list of topics in sequence, that will eventually form chapters or parts of chapters.

    Nice thing about this one is that it doesn’t even matter much how much traffic you’re getting (or not getting); it’s still all leading to a specific goal.

    2) It can help build a community: If you visit my blog (http://www.wellfedwriter.com/blog), you’ll see that I end each blog with a series of questions specifically designed to spawn conversation. A blog should never be about you pontificating; you should position yourself as the catalyst to a deeper, richer conversation.

    As I see it, I’m one guy, with one point of view. As such, to make the blog as optimally useful to as many people as possible, I want to hear from other folks with different perspectives and experiences. The more people who weigh in, the more scenarios we cover, and the more practical and useful that post becomes to more people (say, with situations different than my own).

    And, in the process, we build a community of like-minded people with a similar goal. In the case of my blog, that goal is to make more money as a freelance “commercial” writer. Which, is another tip: focus on something specific that appeals to a certain group of people.

    If you’re all over the map, you’ll appeal to fewer, if any. Unless, of course, you’re doing it for yourself, with no thought of speaking to any specific group, in which, case, you can do whatever you want! ;)

    One more benefit to a blog like mine – because of the rich conversation we can typically build on any given topic, I end up with a mini-knowledgebase on a bunch of topics, and I can (and do) refer to those posts when someone hits me up with a question I’ve covered (with the help of a bunch of friends’ comments) in the post.

    In addition, my book is full of references to specific posts when I’m explaining a particular topic, posts that can give a reader much more information and insight than I can offer in the book by itself.

    @ Elizabeth – just a comment. Per the discussion above, if you’re just enjoying writing your blog in its current form (i.e., not focused on a given topic), and are doing it mainly for the creativity, then few rules apply, so go for it.

    But, if you’re doing a blog because you feel you “should” do one (after all, “they” say that all writers should have a blog), that’s about the worst reason going. Then, it becomes a burden, and not a very effective one at that.

    Just one man’s opinion!

    PB

    • Author
      Jennifer Mattern July 22, 2014 Reply

      Thanks Peter!

      Nina Amir has a great site on the topic of using a blog to write your book if anyone is interested. HowToBlogABook.com

  4. Anne Wayman July 22, 2014 Reply

    Right on as usual, Jenn. Agree all the way.
    Anne Wayman recently posted…I Don’t Want To Write On Fridays!My Profile

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