Fix that Author Blog! #blogging #writing

blogging #FixThatBlog  So many of us authors have this problem: we’ve started an author blog with high hopes, we’ve posted stuff, we’ve spent time, effort, and perhaps money on it— and nothing happens. We have created the equivalent of an Old West ghost town in cyberspace.

Can a ghost town blog be fixed? I think so. I’ve been dealing with the problem for years, and applying what I have learned I think my current blog is slightly livelier than a ghost town. My current effort is to learn more, share it with you readers, and so improve my blog and yours.

First, let’s look at some easy little fixes. They won’t make your blog into a viral superstar overnight, but they will make it a little bit better.

Your Topic is too Narrow

If you decide your blog is JUST about you-as-author, or, worse, just about your current book, your blog will run out of gas very fast. Broaden the topic! What else are your potential readers likely to be interested in? A genre? Other authors that you enjoy? Pictures of your cat? Look at other, more visited author blogs for ideas.

You Blog only Rarely

I used to participate in a monthly blog tour for Christian science fiction and fantasy books. I got to see a lot of author blogs and writer blogs that way. But some months I would visit other blogs and find the author hadn’t blogged since the last month’s blog tour!

Regular posting is a must if you want visitors on your blog. Once a month or once a week won’t cut it. Posting regularly not only encourages returning readers, it convinces Google to take you seriously. You need Google to take your blog seriously!

You Don’t Share Each Post on Social Media

I only got started on social media in order to get more traffic to my blog. Being on social media adds more work, and can end up being a time sink. My current blog on WordPress.com makes it easier – every post is posted to Twitter and to my Facebook author page.

You also have to tend your social media accounts — following interesting people and sharing their stuff, unfollowing those who won’t follow you back and who aren’t the president or the pope or James Woods, and similar things. After all, if you share every blog post on Twitter but only have three Twitter followers, it won’t get you more blog visitors.

You Don’t Edit Your Blog Posts

I usually compose my blog posts on my Scrivener software. When I finish the post I can re-read it and make corrections and improvements. I can also adjust posts that come out too short (less than 300 words) or that are long and rambling.

This also ensures my breathless blog posts are available on my computer for repurposing into books or articles at some future date. That’s a win, even if you are not currently planning to reuse your posts that way.

You Don’t Use Pictures

It seems dumb, but having a photo on each blog post makes a difference. It makes more modern blog themes work better. It makes your blog posts shared on social media look more attractive and generate more reads and shares.

It is best to use photos that belong to you. Even if you have to use a photo of your cat on a post not about cats. I also use photos of an old typewriter on many writing posts. I intend to create some new topical photos for this blog’s use once I get back home. (I’m currently in a rehab center because of a stroke.)

Have you been having difficulties with your blog? What do you need help with? Or have you improved your blog in a way that may help me or other readers? Give details! And don’t forget to share your blog URL!

 

 

Advertisements

How Long Should Your Blog Post Be?

bloggingWhether you have an author blog, a topical blog or a personal blog, the question comes to mind— how long should a blog post be? Is 2000 words too short? Is 300 words too long? What should we be aiming for?

The internet reader isn’t looking for a long read, for the most part. Not only do they want a brief article rather than an epic, they like white spaces and subheadings to make it seem less dense and scary.

Too short is not good, either. Search engines ignore blog posts of less than 300 words. We need that search engine traffic, so make 300 words your minimum.

In the book ‘How to Blog a Book’ by Nina Amir, she suggests individual blog posts of 300 to 500 words. A blog post of 700 words, she suggests, might be better split in two, giving you two days of blog posts.

Of course, these blog posts should be concise and to the point. Wordy posts need to be edited to make them more concise. Let your reader feel they are getting something of value in exchange for their reading time. That’s how you build relationships with your readers that can make them into regular blog readers or buyers of your books.

There is one exception to the 300-500 word post rule. That is for Evergreen posts. An evergreen post is one that covers a topic more thoroughly than a shorter post can. It is called ‘evergreen’ because if you do it well, new readers will keep discovering the post for years to come. An evergreen post can be over 1000 words and still get readers, provided it is concise rather than wordy, and gives good information.

Your blog can do with an evergreen post or two, but the meat of your blogging work will be 300-500 word posts, posted regularly and shared on social media.

Currently I am still in a rehab center as a result of a small stroke, and blogging using my Kindle instead of my home computer. Which is difficult. I will be coming home next Wednesday.

YOU are the *star* of your author blog

WordpressThis is scary for most of us. We want to be modest people, or at least have other people think we are. But when you become a writer, and you start an author blog, you have a little bit of internet real estate that is all about you. The horror!

I remember one author blog I once read by an Evangelical pastor who had written a fantasy novel about the Nephilim. He posted when his book got accepted by a vanity press. He posted when his book cover got designed. And he posted when the book came out. And, being a modest Christian gentleman, that was the last time he posted.

Don’t be like that. Your author blog needs regular posting, and it can’t all be about events of your publishing or self-publishing life. You need to decide some things. What is your niche as a writer? Not just your genre. What is special, even unique, about you-as-writer?

Your ideas about your writer-niche will change over time, but what do you think it is right now? What topics does your niche bring to mind that you might post about?

As an example, if you write historical romance, you might post about your favorite books in that field, notable authors, books in that category which have been made into movies or cable TV series, and so on. Stick to the books in your category that you, personally, enjoy. Your blog may find some readers who appreciate your taste in books, and perhaps might be keen on your own books.

Another example. Suppose you are a Christian pastor, have a seminary education, and write fictional stories that are allegories about living the Christian life under difficult circumstances. And they are cool, exciting stories in their own right. You might write blog posts where you answer people’s questions about the Bible and faith matters. You might also review and recommend Christian books, both fiction and non-fiction.

For your own personal blog, you have to decide for yourself what your niche is. What things go with your writer persona that will give you stuff to blog about? Get a sheet of paper out and brainstorm some ideas. Blog a few, and see what gets a response. Keep trying! Once your blog takes off it will be a good book-promotion tool for you.

How to use Facebook as a Writer

facebook_logosIf you are a writer or a would-be writer, you may have been told you have to build a platform. If you are short in the hammer, nails and boards department, you may be relieved to discover that involves Social Media. And, hey, Facebook is social media.

I have a personal FB account which I use to communicate with my mom, brother, nieces, aunt and cousins, as well as some random writer friends. That account is nice, but for platform building you want to do something more.

That something more used to be making a FB author page. I made one for myself back when that was something worth doing. Your fans would like your page, and you would announce things about your forthcoming books, or share your author blog’s posts.

Then they changed the rules. FB would only show your posts to a small number of the people who had liked your page. They offered to show your posts to more people if you’d only pay for a FB ad to promote each one of your author page posts. Who can afford to do that?

Some authors then started making personal FB groups to serve the function that a FB author page used to. For an example of this, look for the group ‘Finn’s Firebrands’ on FB, by author Declan Finn. Currently this method seems to work well for many authors.

In either case, you have to post to your author page or group regularly to keep your fans engaged. Not always just stuff about your own books and blog posts. Maybe your author friends have new books out that your fans might like. Or you just reread a great book and want to share something about it.

Of course, Facebook, like Twitter, is notorious for being unfair to Christians and/or Conservatives. But FB is where the people are. I have not yet personally been suspended from Facebook, but when I report bullying from those offended by my polite conservatism, it seems they feel people telling me to eat shit and die is OK with Facebook.

Your Facebook, like your other social media & like your blog, must eventually come into line with your ‘author brand’s – your author persona. But don’t worry too much about that yet. Right now your task is just to get started as an author on Facebook.

I am writing this from my Kindle as I’ve had a small stroke & can’t work from my computer until I get back home. Sorry I can’t be as responsive as I’d like to be.

Writers write, Authors market

Recently I’ve been reading a book about how to be a successful author. It was pointed out that writers write books. But authors market the books they write. Not just half hearted, lame techniques like posting a book promo in a Facebook group that allows no book promos.

We need to learn more about book marketing. Sometimes that means reading an e-book by someone who regards book writing as a way to make money. Making a little money won’t kill your writing career. And the people who sell a lot of books may know a bit more about marketing than we do.

I have purchased a few books on marketing and I am hoping to put some of what I’ve learned into effect.

One book I have is ‘How To Make A Living with your Writing ‘ by Joanna Penn. I suggest you get that book or something like that , and read until you get just one idea you can use right now.

Then carry the idea out. Extra point if you share what you did in a comment on this blog!

This blog is moving on

My new blog is at: https://nissaannakindt.blogspot.com/

One interesting thing: I’ve been blogging before there was blogging. I had a printed-out one-woman ‘zine for a few years. Then I had a blog on some long-gone proto-blogging host. My earliest real Blogger blog was called Moreover the Dog Went With Them— named after a Bible verse from the book of Tobit. (I also had an Esperanto-language version of Moreover called ‘Kaj la Hundo’ which still exists, though now I mainly write in English about Esperanto.)

At a certain point, the Moreover blog ‘ran out of gas,’ and I started The Lina Lamont Fan Club, named after a character in the movie ‘Singing in the Rain.’ But then Blogger bothered me one too many times about getting on Google+. So I started this blog on WordPress. And I liked some aspects of WordPress and missed others from Blogger. I worked on ‘Antimatter’ for a number of years and it was good. I had a few readers.

But, like the previous blogs, it came to the point that I felt this blog had also ‘run out of gas.’ And since all my other blogs, like ‘Kaj la Hundo,’ and one about my ketogenic diet and my fasting practices, were on Blogger, it just seems to make sense to go back ‘home’ for my newest blog.

The new blog is called ‘My Antimatter Life.’ Which maybe means I’m finally growing up in my old age? I already know the new blog will be a little different— more about Asperger Syndrome, maybe more Catholic/Christian? I’m not really sure yet.

Unlike in the past, I’m not taking this blog down. There are a lot of nice articles I’ve written on this blog. I also may cross-post things from the Blogger blog here. The good stuff, mainly.

So— I hope to be seeing you on my new blog. If you want to come visit. Anyway, it’s been nice blogging at/with you here.

Getting Followers on Gab

Gab is a Twitter-like social media outlet which has taken a firm stand for free speech. A great home for people like me, who have seen friends suspended or banned from Twitter or Facebook, largely for expressing Christian and/or conservative opinion.

I first got on Gab when some of my friends in the Conservative-Libertarian Fiction Alliance (CFLA, a FB group which has migrated to MeWe) recommended Gab as a social medium. But when I first got to Gab it was dull. It took me a while to realize it was because while I had hundreds of friends/followers on Twitter and Facebook, I had about 25 in those early months on Gab— and some of those are now inactive on Gab.

How do you go about getting followers on Gab? First, POST. Post to your own followers, but also post a few things in popular Topics, where other people can see them.

What are Topics? They are classifications for public posts— posts that the whole Gab community can see. Members can create their own topics, and most of those topics fizzle out. Some topics are dumb, or rude, or even hostile to different groups of people, from Jewish people to Trump supporters. Since Gab is popular with actual conservatives and also with some non-liberal extremists, liberals/progressives try to band together with topics, while others post in the topics of News and Politics and find support for their opinions.

Since I’m not on Gab for the politics, I started my own topic called Books and Authors. I’m hoping to encourage a more literary form of discussion on Gab. I’ve posted about some of the books by my author friends from the CLFA, and a few other people post there as well. I get a little response, and I hope to post at least 1 thing to the topic every day to keep the topic alive and encourage others.

Another way to meet people on Gab is to join one or more Gab groups. You have to be a paid member of Gab to start a group, so I can’t start one of my own— too low-income to be a paid Gab member. But I have found one or two groups of interest.

Once you are regularly posting on Gab, you see people you might like, or share opinions or interests with. They may start following you, in which case you can follow back unless they are hookers or nasties or something. But don’t be shy! If you keep seeing certain people when reading or posting on topics, follow them! They may follow you back.

Since Gab is a free speech medium, and since it has public topics to which anyone can post, you may see opinions you don’t care for. Anti-semitism, for example. On Twitter they claim to be censoring for things like that. But the term ‘kill the Jews’ was trending on Twitter some time ago, so Twitter is full of not-nice people too. It’s just that on Gab, because of the open topics, you can see such people, while on Twitter you have to search for and then follow them to see their posts.

I don’t like anti-semitism, so I put an Israeli flag into the middle of my username on Twitter, and on Gab and MeWe as well. If I really was sensitive about seeing things like that, I would  not look at the topics, and would instead confine my Gab activity to some safe Catholic and Christian groups, and maybe the cat picture group, and to my Gab friends. But personally I feel that just because a person has some wrong opinions it doesn’t mean I don’t think they should enjoy freedom of speech, and I don’t think ostracizing the ‘Nazis’ will make them fit into society better.

I think that Gab has a lot of potential for authors who want social media presence without having to become the kind of progressive zombie that modern society seems to approve. You won’t get your account suspended for posting the wrong Bible verse, at least. And Gab members call themselves the Gab family— we like each other, even if we don’t always care for one another’s opinions.