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By Sandra Rea

“I need to start a blog!” I hear this from authors all the time. What I say sometimes when I know the voice of that author is unique or humorous or intriguing is “GREAT!” And then I answer their questions about where to have the blog, how often to blog and other incidentals involving blogging. When I’m discussing the topic with authors who might not be right for blogging for different reasons, I approach it differently. I ask them questions that make them understand the realities of blogging. After all, blogging can be a big undertaking.

Blogging is a consistent effort. Otherwise, it’s just sharing bits and pieces of your thoughts about life or a given topic once in awhile. Some bloggers have a following for a reason. They are active in their blogging efforts! They are talking about things people want to know. They approach issues with humor, or they are really good about staying on track if their blog is of a serious nature.

Spotty bloggers won’t get a following. If you are going to be a spotty blogger, why bother? Why not offer instead to be a guest blogger? That might fit in with your schedule better if you’re a busy writer. Guest blogging can be great for your following on your social media pages and your website. It also helps the person for whom you are guesting. They get a little break and you both experience the results of this exchange. It’s called good will. You both get new friends and followers, which is discussed more in depth in another article here in the VAULT. (Refer to TWEET TWEET.)

If you start a blog, please do us readers a favor and proofread and spell check your work before hitting the upload button. When a writer has a blog, one might expect it to read well and have minimal typos. However, I’ve seen a few authors’ blogs that would raise your hair. I have read these blogs in disbelief because they were not written at all well, because they were filled with spelling errors and because ultimately they were not interesting in the least. You might stop me here and say “not interesting to YOU.” Okay, I’ll take that. They were not interesting to me and I’d guess the blogs I’m talking about don’t interest many people because I can see the lack of followers to the right of the page. The proof of disinterest is in the follower set. That said, even good blogs sometimes have few followers. In such cases, the blogs aren’t being promoted actively enough or in the right ways.

It is important to choose the right forum for your blog posts. I’ll give you an example of what I mean. I worked with an author who had written three books who also has a blog that he uses to promote all of his works. Two of his books were really good, but the third missed its mark. What happened was that his first two books are non-fiction and cover topics of interest in today’s world around religion, the meaning of God and a woman’s place in different cultures. Interesting stuff. Then this author tried his hand at a work of fiction. Parts of that book are terrific. Parts are so poetic that they make the reader crave more. And then there are the parts that belong in a non-fiction book that only a technician in a certain industry can truly appreciate. As a result, there is a disconnect that takes place in this brilliant and peaceful man’s blog posts vs. his last book. He would do well to promote his third book elsewhere or even consider starting another blog for that book and use his serious and brain-sparking blog to promote his non-fiction works. He also needs to choose a different blog template, because his is terribly outdated and not very appealing. I suggested these things and he’s working on the changes currently.

You don’t have to use Word Press for your blog! Some authors find Word Press a snap to use; others not so much. I’m in the latter group. I don’t want a complicated architecture or framework on which to create simple, engaging blog pieces. To me Word Press over-complicates. I recently started using Weebly.com to build simple sites. It has a really easy-to-use framework that includes a blog function. It’s a drag-n-drop system, so you don’t have to be a wiz at technical tasks to make things work. I wanted to try my hand at the newly upgraded and updated Weebly, so I created a simple site for one of our authors. He said he wants to start a blog, so I started one there in literally one minute on Weebly within his new website. Of course, Weebly is just one of many such website-building template sites, but it has become my favorite. It’s worth checking out at any rate! (Before you tell me that Word Press has built-in SEO, which makes that a good platform for creating a blog, I already understand this to be true. Other free website builders have the built-in SEO, too. It’s worth doing some research before you choose.) Oh, and if you want to see the author’s site I created for him, please go to www.authoredmoore.weebly.com. (The site is hosted at no cost if you keep the “weebly” part in your domain, but you can pay to use a domain name that doesn’t include the company’s name.)

Admittedly, I’m a hard sell on subscribing to blogs. Even fabulous blogs may not get me to subscribe because I already have enough junk mail to choke a horse. There are a few standouts that I really enjoy, and I do click the READ NOW link when the invites arrive in my email. I found a link recently to a blog that is excellent and I wasn’t even searching for it. The blog I literally stumbled across while searching for something entirely different is about writing, and I was so moved by the blogger’s words that I reached out to her. We can now share ideas and theories via email. The blog is http://www.accrispin.blogspot.com, just in case you want to check it out. This writer speaks out, and her voice (actually two writers’ voices) is refreshing. If you want a blog spot to emulate, this is a good one. It is done well and it is done right.

If you decide that blogging is something you want to undertake, and you want your blog to stand out above the countless other blogs, put your thinking cap on and figure out how yours will be different, then keep the posts coming. By keeping your content fresh you can climb up the ranks in searches across search engines. Content truly is king. However, boring content remains in the deep dark dungeon of the Internet realm.

Feel free to send me questions about this or any topic you see here in the VAULT. Email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Published in FCM Blog Articles

By Sandra Rea, author of And Then My Lawyer Died…

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google +1, GoodReads, RedRoom, Reddit and the list goes on and on. Can you imagine if you could actually hear all the voices posting about their books or talking about promotions or their lives or whatever? It would be an amazing amount of chatter and noise. With that in your mind’s eye, how do you get heard?

It seems there is an endless list of social media sites on which an author can open a page to have a presence and new ones keep popping up. (I get invited to social media sites I never knew existed, and I’ve stopped joining. Enough is enough!) Then there are the social groups within the sites and all those blogs! Does it ever end? The short answer is NO, but you have control on how many sites you’re on and what you do there to promote your work.

To promote your book, you have to be on social media, participate (notice I didn’t say simply “join”) in groups online and it wouldn’t hurt to write a blog if you keep it current and fresh and add in lots of key words to lead readers to your book(s). The secret to making it all work is consistency. That’s where a lot of people – myself included at times – fall down on the job. I talk to authors who tell me they have a presence online and when I check ’em out I see that they are indeed there, but they don’t really keep things up. Hey, I get it. That’s a lot to keep writing and posting and connecting and crossing ties when you also want to write your next book or do your paid job during the day or raise a family. You get 24 hours in a day and you have to decide how to spend those hours. That said it would be wise to devote an hour a day to your book promotions online. Just one hour can make all the difference in the world.

How do I know?

Whenever I spend consistent time online… even on just three pages in social media without any other effort or time spent… I see a little spike in sales of my e-books. Same goes for authors I assist online. They talk about their book in the RIGHT WAYS and they report seeing a bit more in sales. Beyond that, they get invited to guest blog, have a book signing in the real world and get new friends with similar interests who might just be interested enough to one day buy their book. The next thing that happens is that my authors start seeing reviews from readers on Amazon. That’s cool and it makes me happy to see that when it happens. It’s all a process. And it’s something authors can’t just put in place and walk away from if they expect results.

What’s the process?

  1. Choose a handful of social media sites that work best for you. I’ve been doing social media as an author and for authors since the days when MySpace ruled. That was once a great place to be for authors, but then people started using it as a great big bulletin board and it was redundant and boring. There was no true engagement. Then the way the system worked changed, Facebook became the “it” place to be and the rest is history. Facebook then was a great place for authors to be and there was great freedom to have open and widely shared discussions, and all was good… for a while. Now Facebook is a tough place to be for anyone selling anything. Discussions are controlled by the Great OZ behind the screen of the computer screen. Facebook decides who sees your posts based on your activity. And they want you to advertise. We all kicked rocks and grumbled when Facebook started pushing the paid advertising path, but eventually we had to go with their program. However, there is a way to do that without spending much money at all, and you can target with precision. That comes to you in a later piece. Stay tuned.

    Twitter grew stronger and is a pretty good place to be, but you must participate fully for the best results. LinkedIn is my current favorite social media site, because it still functions as a social media site should. It used to be more restrictive, but they loosened up and made it easier to connect there. Smart LinkedIn!! And there is GoodReads, which I can endorse, and a few others that are worthy of authors, because they connect readers to writers, which is the point, isn’t it? The actual point to this article is that you only have so much time in a day, so choose no more than five social media sites and work ’em!

  2. WORK YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA SITES!! That’s right. You can’t just open pages and have them automatically do their thing. You want friends? Seek them, but be careful, because too much activity is viewed as spamming by the system on Facebook. Other systems, too. Accept friendship from all who apply. My rule is to accept all, but if they act up or start doing stupid things or posting inappropriate messages on my timeline or pages, they are gone. A delete button is a wonderful thing.

    Aside from friending, you must ENGAGE people. I talk about this in other articles, because I cannot stress enough that if you don’t care about your friends, if you simply post and post and post, telling people to buy your book, buy your book, it’s not going to work for you. Get interested in other people and what they are doing. Repost, retweet, share other people’s information. Do unto others as you would want them to do unto (or for) you. Be approachable, funny, witty, intelligent, something that shows you are a real human being with goals and a life. Don’t only talk about your book or your writing life. Share pictures of your interests. Get involved in other people’s conversations. And when it’s appropriate, you can slip in that “that’s why I wrote” INSERT BOOK TITLE AND LINK HERE. You are waiting for that wonderful question: “Oh, you’re a writer? What did you write?” Yay!

    Invite other authors to share about their work. Try to get discussions going. Interact with others. It’s called networking. In the real world, we gather, get to know each other, shake hands, exchange business cards and information and help each other. Online in social media, we use our words to help one another. It is SOCIAL media. So be social.

  3. Join and PARTICIPATE in social media groups. You can also start a group if you are so inclined and can actually lead it. You can join lots and lots of groups, but the secret is participation. I admit that I am guilty of joining a few groups that are very interesting around writing and publishing. However, in reality I don’t have the time to be very involved. I am guilty of non-participation. Yet, my involvement alone has done good things. For example, there are amazing groups for writers on LinkedIn. I’ve joined and participated a bit here and there. As a result, I have a large influx of new links and all sorts of people are endorsing me. Thank you to all who do that! YOU are fabulous.

  4. Start a blog and keep posting. I don’t know what the statistics are around blogs and blogging, but I’ll guess there are millions of blogs. It’s not the fact that you have a blog that means much. It’s the content, the key words, the following you build and how you lead people to see your blog in a virtual ocean of blogs and bloggers. I know some authors who have amazing blogs and yet no one knows of them because there are no back links, no banner ad links, no guest posts, no real sharing of any kind going on. They are blogging to blog, but yet they have books to sell. Good books and zero sales. I’ll share an article with you about blogging to teach you how to do it. A friend has a wonderful webinar on the topic, and he covers every aspect and then sends out a full piece on it. Soon, I will include the link in the VAULT so you too can learn exactly what you need to do. This guy is an Internet guru, and I don’t use that term lightly. There aren’t many out in the world that I would give that title to, but this guy… well, he’s special.

  5. Devote an hour a day to your promotions efforts. Seriously, just an hour to post and write and share. If possible, link your social media sites, so you don’t have to hit “post” more than once or twice. In fact, check out www.HootSuite.com. That’s a paid social media site-sharing mechanism that will cost you maybe $20 a month, but it sure makes your posting life easier! You can even schedule posts out far into the future. It’s pretty cool. We have nothing to do with that company, but as you will get to know, if we like something and think it’s useful for authors, we’ll share it with you. None of the things we share will cost much either. We know you might not have a large budget for promotions. That’s why you’re reading this article perhaps, or because you know you have to do a lot of this work yourself.

For now, this is enough. Go to your social media sites, work them, send me a personal friend request, link with me, pin me, follow me, TALK TO ME, and feel free to post about your book(s) on any of my pages. Be sure to like our company page on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. There are links on our site when you exit the VAULT today!!

Published in FCM Blog Articles

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