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.

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.

The Making of a Popular Blog Post

I follow a Twitter account that purports to give people advice about social media and how to use it to make your blog or web page get more visitors. They had a post this morning about making your blog post go viral. And I read the whole blog post. It told a lot about why making your blog post go viral is good for your blog or your business or whatever. But the one thing it didn’t tell you was what they promised on Twitter they would tell you: how to make your blog post go viral. You had to buy an ebook from them to get that info.
WRONG, WRONG, WRONG! They missed the point of blogging there! A blog gives out interesting or useful information for free. It doesn’t just promote some ebook at the audience. And promising something in your blog post title— and in a Tweet or other social media about the blog post— just makes readers mad. Don’t promise what you aren’t willing to deliver!
To create a popular blog post, first think about your reason for having a blog. For novel writers, it is often to attract readers who might be moved to buy that writer’s books. But they aren’t going to buy because some stranger whose blog they just landed on shills his book at them! No one likes to be advertised at when they had anticipated reading a blog post that might be interesting.
Other bloggers blog to express their opinions about politics or about their religious or anti-religious faith. Or about which recent movies really suck. Or why Star Trek is better than Star Wars. Whatever. To create an interesting blog post, you have to think about what kind of people will be interested in what you are blogging about. And don’t say ‘everyone.’ No one attracts an audience of everyone, and to think what you write appeals to everyone might make it harder to the readers you have a real chance of catching.
Your blog headline must raise curiosity in your readers, and your blog post must fulfill those readers. If you write a blog post on the ten best ways to create story conflict, you have to give those ten best ways. All ten. For free. Because that’s what blogs do.
When you write a post, think about this: why are you qualified to write about that topic? If you have been writing and reading how-to-write books for years, you have a good background for writing posts about writing. If you just decided on becoming a writer a few days ago when this year’s NaNoWriMo began, you probably don’t have knowledge to share yet. Though you can share your experiences as a newbie writer.
Your blog headline must be well thought out. There are loads of things on the internet that will tell you how to write better headlines. But you can also tell by your own reading habits. What headlines have made you click on  a link in social media and read a whole article or blog post? And you must also think— is this potential headline an accurate one, considering the content of the post as a whole?
These days a blog post must have a picture. It doesn’t even matter that much what the picture represents, so long as it doesn’t contain nudity or anything gory. When in doubt, I’ve used random pictures of one of my cats. It’s better than no picture at all.
I’ve seen some blogs— recipe blogs, often— that are filled with video ads, pop-up ads, and pictures and videos to the point that I, with my second-hand computer, can’t even stay on the page long enough to read the post. Maybe these bloggers are somehow making money from all the people who get onto their page and then immediately jump off. But I tend not to go back to blogs that threaten to crash my computer with loads of visual stuff. I’m a reading-oriented person— I can actually read a blog post, I don’t need a video. And no one needs multiple pop-up ads.
The popularity of your blog posts will depend on whether you can write well enough that you are not a pain to read. This means you need to possess the kind of skills that used to be taught in the schools— like correct spelling and English grammar. You also need to have a readable writing-voice. Mostly that means being yourself and avoiding bogging your work down with big words to show off how many big words you know. Read the work of some popular bloggers in your niche. They usually have a friendly, easy style, and they also may be able to organize their subject material in some logical fashion.
What about controversy? Sometimes the way to get online attention is to mention controversial issues. And I do that myself sometimes, so I don’t discourage that. But I believe that if you want your blog to be popular, you’ve got to be relatively civil in disputes. Others may get attention by calling Jane Fonda a traitor. Or, more commonly, calling her a f—king traitor b-tch. But a lot of folks out there don’t believe that kind of harshness is appropriate, especially against a woman. Better to say that Jane Fonda has been not that loyal to the United States. No name-calling needed.
The next step after writing and posting your blog post is to link to it on social media. Now, when people are on Twitter they are not constantly stopping to follow links and read blog posts or articles. But I have noticed that when I share on Twitter my blog posts get more reads and my blog gets more traffic. Since I am on WordPress . com, I can set my blog to post to Twitter automatically. I can also tweak the Twitter post by adding hashtags and such before I click ‘publish.’ But since Twitter is like an ever-flowing river, people that follow me on Twitter may not be on when the Twitter post goes up. So I use Buffer to plan some Tweets of my blog posts over the hours of the day. I have heard it is recommended to Tweet your blog post a couple of times on the day you publish, and then a few times over the next several days. Buffer makes doing that easier. I also Tweet some older blog posts from time to time.
Facebook, on the other hand, is not so friendly to the automated Tweets from WordPress or from Buffer. And Facebook has made Facebook pages— like a Facebook author page or a page for your blog— almost unusable if you lack money for constant Facebook ads. I do post on my Facebook sometimes— but it doesn’t seem to make any difference in my blog stats. I also use newer social media like Gab and MeWe, but I don’t have enough followers in either place yet to make much of a difference.
Here is the REAL secret for getting more blog readers— post good posts. More than once. And feel quite free to post more than once in a day if you have more than one thing to say. Just make sure it might be of interest to your reader base, not just another buy-my-books advertisement disguised as a blog post. You can MENTION your books, but please, don’t try to make your blog readers choke down a post that’s just an ad. Remember, your readers want to read what THEY are interested in. They need to get to know you and your blog, and even when they do, it’s better to be more subtle, less hard-sell, when you mention your books.
For most of us, building up a blog readership and/or an author brand will take time and work. We can’t create a viral blog post at will. In fact, in my experience, the most popular blog posts are never the ones I predicted would interest anyone! So keep on blogging. In time it will pay off.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I often use this space to share some of my social media accounts to get a new follower or two. But with this post, I want to know more about YOUR social media. Please drop a comment on what social media you use to promote your blog posts, and feel free to share a link to your social media account. I will certainly consider following you, and hope other readers do likewise.

Changes to this blog

I’ve always worried that this blog has been a little unfocused. I’m about to change that. It’s still going to be a somewhat personal blog, sharing what is going on in my writing life.

But with all the writing blogs out there, I want to stand out by focusing this writing blog on three kinds of writers-like-me:

1. Writers who are conservative or conservative-libertarian or ‘superversive’ and who have to deal with SJWs (social justice warriors) trying to stamp out hatred and bigotry by being hateful and bigoted about US.

2. Writers who are Christians (Catholics, Protestants, Evangelicals, Orthodox, LDS, and other Jesus-followers) or Jews— in the traditional understanding of the words ‘Christian’ and ‘Jew’— who write fiction that they hope is pleasing to God. Or fiction that is at least not a mortal sin.

3. Writers who are struggling with problems such as Asperger Syndrome/Autism Spectrum Disorder, ADHD, and other problems that can interfere with getting writing done.

I’m going to be changing and updating the sidebar and pages of this blog to reflect the new focus, and I welcome suggestions from readers as to what you want to see more of on this blog.

I’m also busy with another project, which will take some time away from my work on this blog. I will be announcing what that other project is on this blog. At some point.

Blessed Sunday to you all!

How I do my email newsletter

I’ve read all the advice books about promoting books and building your ‘brand’ as an author and they say we all ought to be starting an email list with aWeber or MailChimp to collect email addresses in order to send out newsletters to our ‘true fans.’

And so I signed up for MailChimp and added that incredibly annoying popup to this blog and got a few signups. And then went a long time without sending out a newsletter, until last December.

The good thing was that only one person unsubscribed, and five opened the newsletter, so it wasn’t a total failure. Most people who get email newsletters never open them.

And so, on to this month’s newsletter, which is called Antimatter Insiders or some such. I wrote it up this morning, and scheduled it to be emailed out to whoever is on the list early Monday morning.

According to the books I’ve read, you should not use your newsletter for a lot of ‘buy my book’ advertising. You are supposed to write things that your readers will find of value.

So in this month’s newsletter the main article was on a little secret I discovered about blogging. I also mentioned Jon del Arroz’s new book, and instead of trying to sell one of my poetry books, I showed a way that newsletter readers could read my more expensive book for free. And of course there was a cute kitten picture.

Interested in the newsletter? Go to http://eepurl.com/FN2hr before Sunday is over with and you can get the newsletter for yourself. Remember, there’s a kitten picture!

 

Yeah, this is me. Picture was taken in a photo booth in Heidelberg, Germany, near the Heidelberg Woolworth store. Author photos are not a sign of author vanity— I’m vain enough, but I hate how I look in photos— but a way to connect with your readers as a real person.