Blog Strategically: How to Get it Done and Get it Read

How to blog strategically for long-term results

by Janice Campbell

“What a waste of time,” grumbled a writer at a recent conference. He was responding to yet another speaker’s suggestion that a blog is one of the simplest and best marketing tools for an author or freelancer. I’ve gotten used to hearing complaints, excuses, and grumbling whenever blogs are mentioned, but I’ve also noticed how fast the whining dries up the first time a fan or client approaches, and starts a dialogue by mentioning, “I read on your blog…”.

How to blog strategically.

For every writer or editor who sees the blogosphere as the anonymous, overwhelming clacking of a billion voices, there’s another who is quietly and effectively using a blog to communicate with readers and clients, and another who uses a blog as a thought-catcher, catalog of ideas, or a place to judge interest in a possible article or book topic. A blog can be used in any way you choose, but the two most important things you need to do are to get it done and get it read.

Get it Done

1- Decide the purpose of your blog. Do you want to establish a rapport with readers? Sell books? Get new clients for your writing or editing services? Your decision will help you determine your tone and what you write about.

2- Decide when and how often you’ll post. I recommend no less than once a week, so that your readers will have something to look forward to. Try to post on the same day each week, and remember that mid-day Tuesday-Thursday is usually the best time to post. People are often to busy to read blogs on Monday, and on Friday, they’re looking forward to the weekend, and not ready to do anything extra.

3- Decide what to write about. If you’re going to post once a week, you’ll need 52 short articles. Get a calendar with all major holidays marked, and begin listing topics on your chosen blog day. You can use a holiday as a springboard for posts; offer news about your book sales or your business; review other books your readers might find interesting; share news from the publishing or freelance world; whine a bit about your current project (this is recommended only if you do so in a funny way); share a great quote or poem; and so much more. If you’re stuck for a topic, post something you wrote long ago, write a response to someone else’s blog, or just post an inspiring quote.

Get it Read

1- Feedburner: Your blog posts can be send directly to subscriber mailboxes using Feedburner, a Google service. Add your blog feed, then click on its title to get to the screen where you can “Analyze, Optimize, Publicize, Monetize, and Troubleshootize” your feed. Take a little time to look at the options offered, and use these free tools tools to send your feed to where it can be read.

2– Blog Carnival: A blog carnival is a gathering of blog posts on a single topic such as writing, business, or organization. Search the blog carnival site for carnivals you’d like to contribute to, then click on “Submit a Post,” and fill out the brief form. Your post will be included (at the carnival owner’s discretion) in the next issue of the carnival. If you choose an active carnival that is posted regularly, this can bring your blog to the attention of many new readers who may in turn share it with others.

3- Incoming Links: Links are the lifeline of any website, and blogs are well-positioned to benefit from them. If you have a NAIWE blog, you already have a head start on incoming links, but you’ll want to gather more by announcing each of your blog posts on social media. Some of the simplest and most useful links come from sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Digg, StumbleUpon, and Delicious. You can use as service such as Hootsuite or Edgar to pre-schedule updates so that they’re optimally spaced. (To view the social media sites listed above, just type each name into your browser bar and add .com.)

There are other ways to get your blog read, including blog tours, guest blogging, webrings, and blogroll exchanges, but the first three options will get you started.

Great Blog Examples

It’s a good idea to study successful blogs to see what makes them work. Remember, though, that each of these blogs has been up for a long time, so there’s enough content to draw readers. You can’t start with a hundred posts, but you can start with one, and build from there. Little by little, bit by bit, you’ll create a site that connects you with readers and clients, and meets the objectives you set when you began planning. Here are five blogs that offer very different examples. Enjoy reading, then plan your own and get started.

Seth Godin writes a long-standing blog that supports his non-fiction writing career. He’s created a vast following for his interesting posts, and that’s translated to great sales for each of his books. Here’s a good sample post: When a stranger reads your blog.

Copyblogger is where blogger Brian Clark shares his expertise in frequent, information-packed posts. He also hosts guest bloggers, which a good way for a blogger to add fresh content without having to write it all.

QueryShark is the blog where agent Janet Reid shreds reader queries. It’s definitely blood-in-the-water writing, and it gives you a strong taste of Reid’s personality and working style. She does it all in a spirit of helpfulness, and you’ll learn a lot by reading it. For Reid, it’s not just an act of charity or wicked fun–it’s smart marketing that draws potential clients like flies to a sticky bun.

Rachelle Gardner, another literary agent, offers a kinder, gentler tone on her blog on all things related to publishing. Her site is professional, attractive, and consistent.

Michael Hyatt, the CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers, is an avid blogger, and his posts are always meaty and thought-provoking. He writes about publishing and life, and manages to promote his company, his speaking services, and his author’s books in a low-key, entertaining way.

The Cozy Chicks blog is a great example of group blog. Seven writers of cozy mysteries have teamed up to create a blog that helps to market their work while building rapport with readers and fans. It’s an excellent way to share the blogging load and have fun in the process.

Beyond these examples, be sure to look at the blog feed of the NAIWE member blogs.

Janice Campbell is Director of the National Association of Independent Writers and Editors. She has been writing, speaking, and coaching since the 1980’s.

 

Welcome To Book World, The Greatest Theme Park by Brian Feinblum

Camelot_Theme_ParkHow come there aren’t any theme parks dedicated to books and publishing? I think it is a billion-dollar idea waiting to be acted upon. I am sure one day we’ll see billboards or Groupons for AmazonWorld – or maybe Barnes & Noble Land. Wouldn’t you bring your family and friends to a place that celebrates ideas and creativity, that honors the written word and free speech, and that makes reading fun?

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This past week I had the pleasure of taking my wife and two young kids to several theme parks in Orlando. Never mind that the parks only cater to people who can afford to drop $100 per person per day, who pay for the right to then purchase overpriced food and licensed products that further promote their properties. I also had to pay the tourist tax (speeding ticket) for trying to turn a 180-mile trek to Boynton Beach from the parks into a quicker excursion. We had a great time and know we’ll be back again – albeit with a lighter wallet.
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The theme parks have the right idea – they hype their existing content and repackage it in a way that makes it appealing to all ages. If movie studios can do this, why not publishers or those in the book industry?

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Books connect to everything because they are written about everything – real and imagined, past, present, and future. A theme park can show what a book looks like in different languages. It can show us how books are treated globally or culturally. It can show us how books entertain, educate, enlighten, or inspire. Books, like the Bible, can be powerful, or they can be merely thrill-seeking, like Fifty Shades of Grey. The park can reflect a diversity of thought, significance, creativity, and commercialism.
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Maybe bookstores should be turned into theme parks. Then they’d become entertaining destinations and people would want to be where books are.
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Publishing has a lot to play with. It has tradition. It has so many facets to explore – the legal side, the cultural side, literacy, how books influence people and societies, and how our history is preserved in books. There are millions of words in millions of books and not one theme park is dedicated to them.
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We have grand museums, mainly dedicated to art, history, and science. We have immense zoos and circuses to highlight nature and animals. Every industry has a hall of fame. Businesses have conventions. There are county fares, championship sporting events, and theme parks, and amusement parks and huge concert arenas. But no publishing theme parks.
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Can’t we muster together a little bit of Trump extravagance and apply it to books and come up with a place that exceeds what is offered at the biggest palaces of fun in the world? The parks could be divided into so many unique sections that highlight interesting aspects of the book industry, such as:

·         Ranking the best-sellers of all time
·         Examining historically-significant books
·         The evolution of publishing technology
·         The history of the printed word
·         The future of books and all formats
·         Books turned into audiobooks, TV shows, movies, plays, etc.
·         How books are written
·         How they are acquired, edited, packaged, sold, promoted
·         Self-publishing
·         E-book mania
·         Era-specific books such as 18th century romantic poets or 1950’s Sci-fi
·         Region-specific books such as those by or about the south
·         Book-specific such as Catcher in the Rye or Chicken Soup for the Soul
·         Author-specific such as the works of John Grisham or Janet Evanovich

·         Genre-specific such as what’s new in erotic vampire thrillers or diet and fitness

Think of what can be sold:
·         Food
·         Games/Toys
·         DVDs
·         CDs
·         Clothes
·         Stuffed animals of book characters
·         Replicas of things referenced in the books
·         …and BOOKS!
There can be displays that include:
·         Book showcases
·         Videos
·         Rides
·         Games
·         Lectures
·         Readings
·         Reenactments
·         Workshops
·         Concerts
·         Tricia contests

·         Historic manuscripts, printing presses, e-book devices

Maybe there’d be a university on site, a special academy that is a school for writers and those who want to work in the book publishing industry.
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There could be sections for adults and children. There could be sections of books highlighting industries such as automotive, gardening, or sales. There could be a hobby section, a fantasy section, a children’s section – really, you could put anything in the park as long as it relates to books. And everything connects to books.

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Of course,, some might say the best way to honor books is to buy and read them, share them, and live them. But imagine a place where bibliophiles can  call home, a place that is part library, bookstore, e-reader, Web site, Disney, Vegas, Indy 500, Miss America Pageant, Mall of the Americas, Mardi Gras, and Time Square?

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Take me to BookWorld – or write a book about such a place. BookWorld should exist and needs to. Books are still popular but they also are under many threats. It is not government censorship or Communism or war that threatens us. It is cultural laziness, a degraded education system, economics, and entertainment competition that puts books in danger. BookWorld could be a great boost not only for the publishing industry, but it can be fun for the whole family.

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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog 2013 ©

Do You Know Joseph Finder? by Brian Feinblum

My firm was just hired to promote the newest novel from Joseph Finder.  We’ll conduct a radio tour to promote the late June publication – a spy thriller.  We’ve promoted his books a number of times.  What surprises me is how many people never heard of him, although when I first started promoting him, I didn’t know of him either.

It’s interesting that someone as successful as he has been – five New York Times best-sellers with four million copies in print – can be under the radar.  Then again, in a country of 310 million, it’s easy for the vast majority to not recognize best-selling authors, movie stars, politicians, Grammy-winning musicians or leaders in major fields and industries. There is simply too much to keep track of.  Plus, the top people in their given area of expertise, may “only” have tens of millions of fans – or just a few million, still leaving 250+ million people who don’t know anything about the Joseph Finders of the world.

What surprises me is if something can break through, like a Harry Potter book, and gets lots of publicity, ad support, and praise from fans, how come it doesn’t go all the way, and get into the hands of practically everyone? Is it getting to the point that our society’s interest are so varied that we can’t get the majority to like the same thing or know about the same things?

Social media may be contributing to this, to a degree.  We’re fragmented.  Few national discussions or centralized platforms exist.  Instead we have people tweeting and blogging to a core group of self-selected followers and we have literally, millions of public discussions going on simultaneously but nothing to unite us.  And yet it is probably social media that affords us the best chance to rally the masses to focus on specific issues, people, events, or even books.

I know that we’ll schedule a great radio tour for Joseph Finder. We’ll get him a few dozen interviews with top tier markets and inform millions of listeners about him.  Now we just need to reach the other 300 million people.

Random Thought
51% of Americans ages 12 and older have profiles on Facebook, up from 8% in 2008, according to a recent Arbitron/Edison Research survey. What can you conclude from that? On one hand I’m surprised to see 49% don’t have profiles, but then again, why does this study include pre-teens? Does a kid really need a FB page?

I also thought about seniors who still may not be as active online as others, as well as illiterates, people who can’t afford a computer, and those that don’t speak English well. Really, that 51% number is probably more like 80% of people who are active and contributing to society. What’s most interesting is how in just a few short years the majority of the country lives on one social networking site. That’s a lot of power and potential there, but how are we harnessing it to market books and to make the world a better place? …

Google is king of the search marketing industry. Over two million searches take place using Google every minute, according to the New York Times.  An article last month caught my eye about a new search engine, Bekko, that is using a different approach in order to yield better results. If you use it, let me know if you find Bekko, to be better.

Brian Feinblum, Chief Marketing Officer, Planned Television Arts, has been promoting and marketing authors since 1989. feinblumb@plannedtvarts.com 212-583-2718 www.plannedtvarts.com . Brian Feinblum’s new blog is http://www.bookmarketingbuzzblog.blogspot.com and he can be followed on Twitter @thePrexpert.

What If Authors Were Treated Like Athletes? by Brian Feinblum

What if writers were treated like athletes?The NBA and NFL lockouts this summer reminded me why I love sports but hate the way the pros operate. Every bailout, strike, contract negotiation, free agent signing, and stadium-naming deal reaffirms professional sports are more like corporate America.  The fan or customer is an afterthought, taken for granted. If only the fans could muster the ability to override their addiction and boycott for a long enough time period to reassert who is in charge, we’d see a very different sports landscape.

In thinking about sports and how it mirrors life at times, I wonder how book publishing can mirror pro sports.  What if:  Continue reading

How to Be Irresistible to Publishers and Readers

Jerry Simmons NAIWE blogIf you’ve written a book, you know by now that being an author is only half  of what it takes to have a writing career. The other half is the process of marketing and promotion– getting your book accepted by a publisher, and then marketing it to potential readers.

Writers who aren’t willing to perform the second half of the job find it increasingly hard to get published because publishers aren’t just looking for great content. They are focused on the value an author can bring to the publisher in the form of readers, fans, and publicity.

Here’s the audio recording of our latest episode of The Freelance Life with Publishing Expert, Jerry Simmons, along with notes about a few of the essential points. The interview is less than 35 minutes long, but it’s packed with good tips. Listen and enjoy!

How to Promote Yourself as a Writer

Establish connections with your local writing community
  • Local promotions can include:
    • Bookstore signings
    • Offer brief commentary on your topic on local radio shows
    • Speak
      • Organizations, trade groups, service groups, clubs, etc. need speakers for meetings
    • Teach a class
      • Parks and Recreation Department
      • Community college
      • Hobby group
Establish an online presence with a following
Why is this important? It expands your reach far beyond your local area. 26-year-old Amanda Hocking has sold over a million copies of her self-published books through her own online promotional efforts, and she now has a four-book deal worth over 2 million dollars from St. Martins’ Press.  This isn’t typical, of course, but it proves it can happen– as long as you have an online presence.
  • Website/blog with mailing list
    • Use Feedburner to allow blog visitors to receive your posts via e-mail
      • Sign up at Feedburner.com, then paste the provided code into a text widget on your NAIWE member website
  • Social media
    • Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn

How to Promote Fiction

  • Know where your writing fits in your genre
    • Who are you most like?
    • Where would your book be shelved at the bookstore?
Blog about: things related to your genre, style, subject area, setting, review books by similar authors, etc.
Example: An author of fiction set in Ireland blogs about the country of Ireland which attracts travelers, people of Irish heritage, etc.
Give away samples to create an audience
This can be a chapter, extra background information, more details about the characters or setting, etc., all posted on your website or blog
  • Send review copies to bloggers, the media, and “big mouth people” (they can’t talk about what they haven’t read)
    • A good review is worth more than any paid advertising you can do
  • People need to sample your writing style and subject expertise in order to want more

Be more concerned about obscurity than piracy

  • If someone finds your work worth stealing, generate buzz (and sales) by blogging about it

Additional Points

  • Don’t worry, introverts. The focus is on building audience for your work, which is not the same as bragging or self-promotion.
  • Don’t get so busy writing books that you forget to lay the groundwork for marketing your next book
  • A recent study showed that more than 2.7 million titles are published non-traditionally vs. 300, ooo through traditional channels

20 Secrets to Blogging Success by Carol Tice

By Carol Tice

Carol Tice, NAIWE Blogging ExpertEver wonder how successful bloggers got where they are? If you’d like to start or improve your own blog and turn it into a really useful tool for growing your business, below are 20 tips I’ve distilled from my own experience in growing this blog into a Top 10 Blog for Writers.

I recently did a free blog-review day, and took a look at about 30 different writers’ blogs. This gave me a good sense of some of the common mistakes new bloggers make.

The tips from 1-13 will help you use your blog as an audition piece to get freelance blogging gigs. Tips 14-20 concentrate on ways to turn your blog into a money-earning business of its own.

This tips are my own opinion, based on what I’ve learned from guest-posting on sites including Copyblogger and Write to Done, and from my participation in A-List Blogger Club.

1. Your blog has a great name, tagline and URL. Your URL matches your blog name, and between the name and tagline, it’s easy to understand what your blog is about.

2. You write great post headlines with key words. Work hard on your headlines – they are your hook for luring readers to your site. Learn how to write compelling ones by reading the Psychotactics report Why Do Some Headlines Fail?

3. You write strong opening paragraphs. Remember that many search engines will show the first few sentences of your post – so make them catchy and include key words.

4. You understand blog style. Blogging truly is its own format. It’s different from a magazine or newspaper article. Blogs need to be scannable, short, informal, and to the point. The posts contain links to other useful, related information, both within your blog site and on other credible sites. Good blog posts use short sentences and paragraphs. Using bulleted or numbered lists is also a great way to get your blog noticed.

5. You understand blog mechanics. There are some basics you should learn to make your blog posts appealing and useful to readers, including how to enliven links properly, add photographs, code images, and link to sales carts.

6. Your design is uncluttered and inviting. For instance, you don’t have a black background, tiny typefaces, a lefthand sidebar or multiple righthand sidebars.

7. You have a great About page. Typically, your About page will be the most-visited page on your site. Tell a compelling story there about who you are and why you’re blogging.

8. Your posts focus on what your blog’s readers need to know. Many bloggers just post about whatever’s on their minds. Great bloggers are constantly asking their audience what they need to know, through polls or contests – and then delivering exactly that.

9. You post consistently. Even if you only post once a week, you post on the same day of the week, at the same time of day. That way, readers can come to rely on you.

10. You stick to a niche. You pick one topic and blog exclusively about it. If you have multiple subject areas of interest, start multiple blogs. With the plethora of blogs out there today, the more focused your niche is, the better you’ll tend to do.

11. You have testimonials. Particularly if you’re looking to get hired off your blog, be sure to include raves from customers.

12. You have a “Hire Me” page. If you want gigs, don’t be shy – let visitors know you do work for others. Have your clips well-organized on your blog site on a static page, and make sure clips are clickable links to your stories. If they’re not online, get your clips turned into PDFs and load them onto your site.

13. You engage your audience. Good bloggers aren’t know-it-alls – they ask readers for their point of view. You also ask readers to be guest posters occasionally, to give them the spotlight. Showing good engagement on your blog can help you get gigs moderating others’ blogs for pay.

14. Your content is easy to share. Your social-media share buttons for Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc. are easy to find and use. You also use them yourself, promoting your blog posts in social media.

15. You guest post and leave comments on popular blogs. Circulating on other blogs is a great way to draw new readers to your own blog.

16. You make it easy for visitors to subscribe. Ideally, your subscription form should be simple and visible “above the fold” – ideally, right at the top of your sidebar. Don’t make readers hunt for it.

17. You have a funnel of products to sell. Top-earning bloggers have a variety of products at price points from low to high. For instance, a $9 eBook, a $47 ebook, a $97 course, and a $500 bootcamp. The lower-priced products act as marketing tools that motivate readers to want to buy your higher-priced products.

18. You know how to affiliate sell. Once you attract an audience, you can sell products they would find useful. On this blog, I have taken the approach of only selling products and tools I personally use and recommend. It’s a way to sell with integrity that works for me and doesn’t feel sleazy.

19. You don’t clutter up your home page with too many ads. If your ads aren’t earning much, take them down. They’re a turnoff for viewers, and you probably won’t earn much. An alternative is to group them on a separate Products I Love page.

20. You persist. It takes time to build a following, often a couple of years. Keep at it and don’t give up before it pays off.

Parting gifts

Thanks for tuning in for this presentation! For free tips on how to earn more from your writing, visit the Make a Living Writing blog. Subscribers receive a free report — 40 Ways to Market Your Writing.

Through Feb. 7, you can also visit this secret link on my site to get a special discount offer on my Webinar, How to Break In and Earn Big as a Freelance Writer.