If you’re an author, you really can’t afford to be absent from the blogosphere. Writing and managing a blog isn’t always easy (especially if you’re determined to do it well), but the benefits of blogging for authors make it well worth it. Here are ten reasons you should consider launching an author blog if you haven’t already:
- Blogs build pre-launch interest in your book. – If you blog on the same subject as your book, you’ll start building a niche audience of readers who already have a targeted interest in what you have to say. You then have a promotional platform pre-launch for your book where you can push its launch, offer a special, or offer excerpts and previews to gauge reader interest.
- Blogs can help you build newsletter subscribers. – If you plan to use a newsletter to help market your book(s), you need subscribers. Readers of your blog are natural candidates and you can include a newsletter subscription form directly on your blog. Then you’ll be able to 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.
- Blogs are excellent networking tools. – Authors should be constantly working to build and increase their professional network (other writers, readers, potential book buyers, etc.). Your network will be your best source for targeted feedback about your writing, whether that’s the writing directly on your blog, newsletter, or book. You’ll know if there’s enough interest in a subject to consider a second book. Colleagues in your network may have their own Web presence where they mention or promote you and your book. If you give, you’ll get; but you need to build your network before that happens.
- 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 be saying 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, which will help when you’re facing reviews and critique of your book (or even your book proposal if you’re at that phase).
- Blogs can be an additional income stream. – In any kind of business model, it’s wise to diversify your income streams. Blogs are an easy method for writers to do just that. Being a writer gives authors an edge in blogging, because they know how to get their points across (hopefully) 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 book through your blog, sell shorter reports or e-books there, ad services, affiliate ads, private ad sales, 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 -- if you put the effort into effectively promoting and monetizing it, and if you update the blog often enough for your audience.
- Blogs help authors build authority and an expert status. – Blogs are a highly effective PR tool for building author publicity. By constantly writing intelligently on your blog, you’ll build a strong readership and gain reader trust. The more they trust and respect you, the more likely they’ll not only buy your book, but spread the word. When you’ve built a solid authority status, you’ll find yourself being consulted by journalists, bloggers and others on relevant issues. That provides even more exposure for you and your book.
- Blogs keep you writing. – Blog posts can be relatively easy to write (at least compared to your book), especially when you get into the habit of blogging regularly. They help to keep your writing fresh, and you may find that your posts later inspire, or even become a part of, a future book.
- Blogs are inexpensive. – As far as promotional tactics for your book 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 (you can find it for less).
- Blogs are easy to manage. – 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 (designs) for most blogging systems, so you don’t have to know how to design and code your own blog, and only have to hire a designer if you want to. Most themes are very easy to modify on your own if you simply read a little bit about CSS (the code may look intimidating at first, but keep in mind that you’ll mostly be simply adding or removing a few things, altering a few color codes, etc… not coding a site from scratch). They’re also very easy to update. Plugins will even help you deal with things like spam to take some of that work off of your shoulders when the blog grows.
- Blogs are fun! – What could be better for a writer than a completely uncensored outlet for their writing? You can say what’s on your mind, express your opinions, participate in discussions, etc. all without having to worry about approval from a third party. It’s just your voice on your blog exactly how you want it. Of course there's a certain level of responsibility in that too, but as with most things it's about finding balance.
Here are my recommendations for resources to help you get started in launching an author blog (all based on the services I currently use myself):
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. There are currently no shared Web hosting accounts I respect enough to wholeheartedly recommend.)
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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.
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