Wednesday, May 28, 2014
Bumfuzzled. I looked it up. It means confused or perplexed. That perfectly describes the look I see on the faces of new writers who have been told they should have a blog. Bumfuzzled.
Disclaimer: I am not an expert on blogging. I have listened to experts on blogging, though. I am more of an expert in being bumfuzzled. But I’m working through it and happy to take you along on my journey.
Why blog? Initially, I thought blogging was a forum for people who needed to rant or “wax philosophical.” Yeah, right. Not me.
For authors a blog is more.
· It is a place to practice the craft of written communication.
· It is a place to build a sense of community with other writers.
· It is a place to gain readers who like your style of writing.
When I was told I needed to blog, I didn’t have a clue about what to write. “Write about something you know about,” people told me. I had written Breathing on Her Own so I thought I should write something about the book. Let’s see. I could write a synopsis and maybe a character sketch or two. That gave me two posts. Maybe three.
Figuring out what to write about may be the hardest part of blogging. Ultimately, I decided to write about writing. I decided I was still close enough to the “first work” experience, I could share what I was learning. I also decided to draft my second novel as part of the blog. The blog held me accountable.
To get started I read everything I could about blogging and signed up for a free blogging course offered by +Jeff Goins. (I told you I knew some experts.) I began posting short paragraphs on my Facebook page on a regular basis to get used to the idea of weekly writing. Baby steps, yes. But steps in the right direction.
Finally, today I want to offer you some rules for blogging all authors should follow.
6 Rules (not guidelines) for Authors Who are Blogging:
1. Take Time with the Title- A title or book cover is the first look a reader has for your book. The same is true for your blog. It needs to be catchy, interesting, fun, and tweetable. Yes, tweetable. Your blog is a great place to practice pulling readers in with a title.
For example, a post I titled “Sidestepping Hoopla and Ducking Monkey Wrenches” received more hits and was tweeted and re-tweeted more than an earlier post called “Making the Calendar Work for You.” Enough said.
2. Proofread & Edit- I cannot emphasize this enough. I’ll not say my posts are always without error, but I do my best. If you are a writer, you should always proofread writing you intend to publish. Blogging is publishing. You don’t know who will read your post. Check your spelling. Check your grammar. I write my post in a word document and read it through carefully before I cut and paste it to my blog.
3. Maintain Consistency- If you are going to write a blog, plan to post at least once a week. I see a number of blogs with two or three posts a year! If you were hiring a worker, would you want someone who shows up so inconsistently? In effect, when a publisher gives you a contract, you have been hired. Be consistent. And remember, without that commitment, you will not be able to build a following.
4. Tell People You’re There- Invite readers to visit your blog. They can’t read it if they don’t know you are writing it. Announce it on your Facebook page. Tweet about it. Invite people from your email list. This is not self-promotion. This is simply telling people you know about something you’re doing. If you do a good job, they’ll decide to stick around. And they’ll tell their friends.
5. Share the Space- Invite other bloggers to post on your page. They will invite you to post on theirs. You will both benefit. You will both gain readers and name recognition for when you release that novel you’ve been writing. You can also review books for other authors and interview other writers. It’s not all about you. It’s about building community.
6. Engage Others in the Conversation- I have to admit, I am not the world’s best at this. I’ve been told to end each post with a question. I don’t always do that. I’ve had people email me with comments. I’ve had comments about posts made on Facebook. I don’t know if the comment section on this blog is awkward for some to use or if I need to adjust my writing.
Let’s experiment: What part of this post did you find helpful? Leave your comment below.