Marketing Blog truths.
It’s often asked, “Is it necessary for an author to have a blog?”
The answer is no, it is not necessary. However, it is a valuable marketing tool. Everyone should have a landing page where readers can find out about your book. A landing page can be either a blog or a website. Put your blog / webpage in your signature line so that every email or post is an advertisement.
I’m going to take a moment to plug a fellow author’s book. If you want a lot of marketing ideas, get J. Steven Miller’s book, Sell More Books. It’s loaded with research and marketing ideas. It will save you a ton of time. It’s one of the best and most complete resources I’ve found. Now that plug is over, let’s talk about a blog / webpage as a marketing tool.
First marketing blog truth – you must have time to invest.
If you can’t invest the time, don’t get bent out of shape. It’s the type of tool that works well for you if you can work well for it. Readership grows as you put out relevant content on a consistent basis. Statistically, Tuesdays and Thursdays are the biggest days for blog reading. This is why many bloggers put new content up each Tuesday. If you put up weekly content, readers will visit regularly. If your content is sporadic, readers will quit visiting. So if you don’t enjoy blogging, don’t beat yourself up over it. Focus on other marketing ideas. For more ideas, see the afore mentioned book.
Marketing blog truth number two – relevant content.
Post content that is relevant to the readers you are trying to reach. Unless you are a very interesting person, not many people will come back to read about your daily life. People aren’t interested in whether I cut the grass or weeded the garden. Unless, of course, I am a gardening expert and have helpful content along with my blog.
You can make something relevant for every niche audience. I have a friend, Jessie Gunderson, who posts about her life, and she does it in a way that draws in readers. She posts about writing and her family life. By nicknaming her kids things like Captain Obvious, Scarfunkle, and Loud Kiddington, we can already get an idea of her children’s personalities. Her niche audience is mothers. Her posts share her struggles and successes with humor.
Marketing blog truth three – don’t be boring.
Boring blogs don’t draw readers. Posting tidbits about your kids and family may be a good way to update your extended family, but doesn’t mean much to the face in the cyber crowd. However, if you tell a funny story about how your child got the nickname, Scarfunkle, well now you have my attention. The goal is to connect with readers. People are drawn by things that affect them. A ‘look at me’ blog doesn’t draw a crowd. It’s okay to talk about your life, but it needs to be in a way that connects to the reader. They have to see themselves in your world.
Humor is a good way to do this. Saying that your son fell and had to get stitches may make your friends respond. That’s because they know you. But when you tell a story that moves, inspires, or entertains, it makes the reader feel like they are a part of your story, even if they don’t know you personally. Blogging is much like writing a novel. Readers have to be drawn in and made to care about the characters (you or your family), and then they will care about what is going on in your life.
Saying, “I published my book,” is more interesting to you than to the world. I know. That’s hard to believe, but it’s true. However, if you tell about the funny thing that happened while you wrote the book, then people feel more connected. When you have a story that draws the reader in, then they rejoice when you get to the part where your book is published.
Marketing blog truth four – connect first, market second.
Several years ago I was tricked into attending a timeshare presentation. It was an adventure, but I’ll save that for another post. What I observed was how they drew people in to the experience before trying to make the sale. They wanted you to see yourself enjoying the overpriced…I mean high valued time share. They connected with the potential buyers emotions in every way possible so that when buyers sat down at the sales table, they were under a spell. We toured the resort and passed other families. I could tell who was already hooked. They had stars in their eyes. I wanted to reach into the cart, slap them, and say, “Snap out of it!”
We would do well to learn from these examples. Focus on one of two things. Either offer something that you know your reader wants or needs, or find a way to tell your story in a way that keeps the reader at the center. Don’t write for you. Write for them. Build your blog post with the reader in mind.
I post articles that focus on the craft writing. I look for questions that writers struggle with, and seek to provide answers. It is giving a reader what he or she needs. I then plug my book at the end or at an appropriate time in the post. When people find value in your post, they will also be more receptive to your marketing. You give something to them, and perhaps, they will give back to you. This is a reader relationship. But to have a relationship on the blog, the post has to be something valuable to a reader. If you are sincere and trying to help or touch readers, relationships will happen.
Marketing blog truth five – post something worth sharing.
Here is a good test. Look at your post and ask yourself, “If I saw this post on another blog, would it be something I would share on Facebook, twitter, or email?” If the answer is no, then your blog post isn’t going to connect with readers. A few weeks ago I wrote a post called, Succeeding Through Dyslexia. I wrote it because I felt my struggle would be an encouragement to parents dealing with this issue. The response was overwhelming. I had dozens of parents email me, and one parent had such a compelling story, I had her do a guest post. She then invited her friends, parents who struggle with their own kids, shared the post with other parents, and I even had a teacher write to say her and other teachers shared it with their classes. Many people retweeted this to their friends and networks.
In the article, I plugged my book as part of my success story. Don’t be afraid to plug your book. You have just given something of value to a visitor, so don’t be afraid to say, “Please buy my book.” This is a much better marketing tool than to send someone a message marketing your book. A naked advertisement comes across as shameless promotion, but when someone shares something that connects with me, and then recommends their book, it’s like an offer from a friend.
Everyone needs to find their niche. Sometimes you may post for a while before you discover what your special niche is. It’s okay to mix it up a little. On the weekends, I like to add an article dedicated to humor. It always draws a weekend crowd.
Though I’ve had my blog for quite a while and have it in my signature, I didn’t dedicate myself to the blog until five months ago. My first month had about thirty unique visitors. The next month was about ninety. The following month was about 1600 visitors. Last month was nearly 2000. My goal was to gain 500 by the end of the year, so I’ve exceeded this. The big difference was adding regular content and focusing on the reader. No one came to find out about my book; however, I can see my book sales go up with the traffic of my blog.
While it is not necessary to have a blog, it is a valuable relationship tool. Through relationships, book marketing takes care of itself. To effectively promote your blog and your book, don’t promote yourself or the book. I know, that sounds counter-productive. Let your book promotion be a sidebar conversation – not the focus.
From my experience, flooding Facebook and Twitter with promos for your book doesn’t generate much of a response. But lines like, “How to succeed with dyslexia,” and “Funny Writing Mistakes” do. Focus on connecting with people and building relationships and let book sales take care of themselves.