Hi friends! Here’s another marketing post, by request. It’s another lengthy one, so if you’re in for the long haul, buckle up.
This post covers the bare essentials of setting up your blog for success. I didn’t cover reaching out to the blogging community, even though they are amazingly supportive, because I wanted to focus on how to breach through to a larger audience.
Is there something I missed? Comment below!
Note: If you’re wondering why the heck you should even read my marketing advice, check out my BOOK Marketing 101 post for my credentials. I’m not going to type them out again, I feel pretentious doing so. Also, with regard to email marketing, Dea Poirier has a wonderful post on Email Marketing as an Author which covers some of the legal and social aspects of having a mailing list. It’s mostly geared toward writers, but many of the points overlap for bloggers as well.
- Figure out what you’re going to write about.
- I know this seems fairly basic, perhaps you have a broad idea in your head. For ex. I’m a book blogger who focuses on YA/NA novels. That’s great, BUT A) there are a lot of different genres within YA/NA (ie. fantasy, sci-fi, romance, etc.) and B) due to its popularity, there are A LOT of other bloggers that focus on the same thing. So why should anyone care about what I have to say?
- I personalize my blog in two ways, A) in my About page, I emphasize that I hold a degree in English Literature from the University of Texas, so I am qualified to discuss ALL literature (sorry that I didn’t go to law school Mom), and B) I have a section on my blog for book reviews and a section for my “rambling thoughts” as I like to call them. These are two ways in which I try to stand out, both by proving that my credibility and by allowing me to interact with readers. Thus far, my rambling thoughts section has consisted of requests made by readers, so thank you all for even taking the time to read it. I am truly humbled.
- While it’s important to differentiate yourself, do not beat a dead horse by posting it at the beginning of every post (or video, if you’re vlogging, but that is a post for another day.) A great way to have it featured is to have an “About the Author” section at the bottom of each post, especially if you have a stable of writers who collaborate on the blog.
- PERSONALITY IS IMPORTANT. Don’t be some emotionless voice on the internet. Unless you’re writing a science or tech blog, in which case by all means, feel free. But that’s still a part of your brand. As I said last week, branding deserves a post on its own, but I’ll go over some of the basics here and why it matters. I’ll also use my own website for an example. (Please note: I’ve technically had this website for a few months, but I hadn’t actually been active on it until last week, so it’s still being polished.)
- As a blogger, you are the narrator of your blog, and maintaining the credibility of your narrative is essential to getting your readers to trust you enough to keep reading. What’s more, they are more likely to recommend your blog to someone else. It’s also important to figure out who you are as a blogger before moving on to this step. Why? Because that persona will effect the tone of your blog posts, your website design, and everything in between.
- Ex. Lissa’s Library.
- Lissa’s Library is not the first blog that I’ve run, but it is the first personal blog that I’ve launched.
- Writing Style: You’ll notice that my writing style is a little ditzy and zany, with a touch of professional diction sprinkled throughout. This is intentional. It is a young adult blog geared toward a younger audience. I could easily write a post debating the merits and credibility of Bathsheba as a trailblazer for feminism in Thomas Hardy’s Far From the Madding Crowd, but that would be off-brand. My audience doesn’t want that. (Side note: if you do want that, please let me know, because I can go for days on that one.)
- Website design: You’re probably thinking, but Lissa, what website design? The stark contrast of the plain white background with the vibrant colors of the book covers I have reviewed is on purpose. It’s meant to be an aesthetic representation of my degree in English and the literature that I review with it. It’s the first impression of my credibility that you get before falling down the rabbit hole. It’s also a metaphor for the way that I, myself, am a storyteller for other peoples stories as an audiobook narrator. Without their stories, my voice is a blank canvas, but writers add their own color.
- Less is more sometimes. Look at your homepage. Is it cluttered? Is it difficult to navigate? If the answer to either of those questions is yes, consider cutting back and simplifying it until you’re happy with your base. Once you have a homepage that is on-brand and that you are happy with, it’s easy to add on from there. If you aren’t quite sure, it can never hurt to get the opinion of a professional. There are some wonderful website designer’s out there who specialize in blogs, and many will also be happy to give a consultation.
- Social media: I LOVE supporting the writing community of Twitter. What’s more, as a book blogger, it’s completely on brand for me to do so. I’ve pretty much composed my entire Twitter account around this premise. It has enabled me to connect with some great writers and even other bloggers in my niche. More on this in a second. That being said, there are a few things I strictly steer away from on social media. I won’t curse, I don’t talk about drinking, partying, and I don’t overly promote myself. Why? Once again, I blog for the YA/NA audience, so the first three aren’t on brand, and I don’t want to alienate them. Overly promoting yourself is also almost as bad as doing no promotion at all. If your social media feed consists mainly of promotions, then your followers will either A) silence your feed, B) unfollow you, or C) just grow immune to them. Here’s a direct quote from my BOOK Marketing 101 post: “If your voice can’t cut through the clutter on your own feed, then that’s a problem. Also, as humans, we have grown so accustomed to seeing ads everywhere all day that we naturally tune them out. ‘Cutting through the clutter’ is literally an advertising term for making your ad (in this case yourself and your books) stand out, because in America alone its estimated that on average each person encounters approximately 5,000 ads a day.”
- Say it with me: CON-SIS-TEN-CY
- Post consistently and constantly. If you have to choose one though, go with consistency over frequency. If you have enough writers collaborating to post every day, or multiple times a day, then that’s great! If you’re working on your blog solo and can only commit to posting once or twice a week, that’s fine too! It’s more important for your readers to know that they can rely on your posts than for them to have a frequent flow of content. Why? That doesn’t make sense? Actually, humans are creatures of habit. If reading your blog becomes a part of that habit, and then suddenly your posts become erratic, you’ll lose- want to take a guess?- THAT’S RIGHT, CREDIBILITY.
- I’m not quite sure how it works with WordPress, but if you’re posting multiple times a week, then don’t email your subscribers after every single post. It goes back to the issue of clutter. Break through it, maybe send an email once a week with a summary of your posts as a kind reminder for the subscribers who haven’t already checked your site. No one wants to read those emails every single day unless they’re your mother. Even then, I don’t think my mom has even looked at my website yet. (HI MAMAN)
- Do some research and try to figure out what is the best time to post. Are you writing a trade blog? Then most likely, people will be reading it during their workday. I have a very talented friend who is a journalist for a cyber security news site based in DC, and they send out an email to their clients (they operate behind a paywall) at the beginning of the work day with breaking news. SIDE NOTE: News services are different from blogs and are expected to send out daily updates to their subscribers. Unless you’re running The New York Times, or BuzzFeed, please abstain from daily emails. Dea Poirier said it best:
- Can you say guest blogs? Good. Go write about it. First, though, you must make friends who will graciously allow you into their home(page.) Guest blogs are a symbiotic service that allows bloggers to be featured to each other’s reader base, and increases traffic and flow to your blog. Try to maintain your credibility on these blogs though, don’t write about a topic that’s completely off-brand. Why? Well, say I were to write a guest blog for one of my Mental Health blogger friends. Hypothetically, let’s say Reader X liked my post on relaxation techniques so much that they decided to go check out my book blog. Reader X was expecting another mental health blogger, and leaves the website. See how that’s ineffective? Now, if I were to tie the post to my book blog somehow, perhaps on how to choose a good book for relaxation, it better prepares Reader X for what they would encounter when they come to my site. For a more effective guest post, I recommend writing for a friend who writes to a similar audience. I have some lovely author friends who have agreed to host me, and their fan bases happen to coincide with my audience.
- Search. Engine. Optimization. Don’t know what this is? That’s okay, it’s easy to learn. There are some great resources for learning online and at your local library. Or, if you decided to get a professional website designer, many include this as an add on to their packages.
- SEO is essentially a way of using key words in the metadata of your website to improve visibility in the results of search engines. It helps direct people to your website. Please note that SEO is not a one-time thing. The algorithms that search engines use are being updated all of the time, so I recommend refreshing your SEO at least once a month to maintain your place in the search cue.
- SEO can be used on any page of your website, including each of your blog posts and articles, to help boost clicks directed from search engines. Make sure to direct your SEO toward your audience. For example, when my friend Virginia time to do my SEO on Lissa’s Library, she’ll gear each particular book review toward the fanbase of that author. Ie. the grishaverse for Leigh Bardugo, Potterheads for J. K. Rowling, etc.
- Advertising (Optional)
- If you have the funds, targeted ads at the niche market your blog applies to are a great way to boost your reader base. Clickbait, especially on social media platforms like Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter, entices the reader so that they are already invested in the piece before they are directed to the website.
- Quality Content
- I can’t help you here. This is entirely up to you. I can give you all of the tips and tricks to draw people to your blog, but if the content isn’t there then they might read one post and then move on. Stay on brand, interact with your readers, and edit until each piece shines. Remember to consider what unique perspective you can offer your posts, that no one else can.
- Most social media and blog sites have an analytics section where you can track impressions and clicks. These are extremely helpful for those who are DIYing it and help to perfect your process for your own blog through trial and error.
My post next week will be uploaded on Friday, instead of my normal Saturday routine. Thanks for reading. I love you all and good night!