Kristen Lamb

Author, Blogger, Social Media Jedi

Kristen Lamb — Photo

Daily Archives: July 20, 2011

Welcome to WANA Wednesday, the day I devote to help you guys rock it hard when it comes to social media. These blogs are based off my best-selling books We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me Writer. As part of the job description, I read a lot of blogs. I also play with paper clips and scream at my printer, but that’s beside the point. I read a lot of writer blogs, so today I am going to give some pointers to help maximize your author blog.

I am not a social media expert. I am a social media expert for writers. Big difference. I focus on teaching you guys how make the most of every second you spend on-line. Every effort must serve building an author brand. This leaves more time for the important things, like writing books.

Often I hear social media being demonized. Oh, heavens! Writers are spending too much time on Twitter and not writing. They are missing deadlines because they are too focused on blogs. Down with evil Facebook!

This lack of focus is not social media’s fault. Too much time on social media (aside from a lack in self-discipline) is very often the result of a writer not taking a time-efficient approach to social media. This is why I am here. We don’t have to choose between writing great books and having a solid platform. We can have both. Here are some general tips for author blog housekeeping. If our social media platform is a tidy, neat, efficient machine, then that leaves us more time to write amazing books.

1) Make backgrounds easy on the eyes.  

If your background is dark, change it to a lighter background. Dark backgrounds with light lettering look cool, but they are really hard on the reader’s eyes and they will do terrible loading on a PDA. If you look at this blog’s background, it’s boring. Here’s the thing. People aren’t coming to your blog to look at your snazzy background; they are there to read your brilliant writing. When we have a light, simple background free of clutter, this encourages people to subscribe, to hang around and read earlier posts, and to even read posts on the go.

2) Break up large chunks of text.   

If you have blogs with large blocks of text, break them up.  Most readers, if they go to a blog and see huge chunks of text, they move on. I read at a computer all day long and that is hard on my eyes. Guarantee you our readers will feel the same way. Try to put no more than three to six sentences in a paragraph. Readers will forgive a long blog if it’s a) interesting and b) easy to absorb/read.

3)  Insert bolded bullet points to break up text.

This makes blogs easy to scan. Remember a lot of people read blogs on the go. They are often reading from a PDA. Make life easy and they will love you for it.

4)  Remove unnecessary clutter.

This is a problem with a lot of web pages. There is too much stuff so the reader moves on. Less is more.

5)  If possible, pick blog titles in a way that will engage and spark debate.

One of my most popular blogs to date was titled: What Went Wrong with the Star Wars Prequels? I gave my two cents worth and then asked others what they thought. I have 150 comments! But the title just posits a question that BEGS to be answered.

The best blogs are not information, they are conversation. Notice there really isn’t a right or wrong answer, but it sparks some fun discussion. Also, if this title was posted on Twitter, people would want to know the “answer.” Titles can be key when it comes to driving up stats and creating a loyal following.

Additionally, this type of approach takes our blog from talking “at” people and inserts us right into the heart of a healthy discussion. Now we are speaking “with” others. When we create enough discussions, we form friendships which create community. This activates people’s innate sense of loyalty.

6)  Make sure your NAME is the blog title.

Few things are more frustrating than when I try to do a mash-up and I have to hunt down a name. There is simply no sense in blogging if it isn’t building our author brand, which is our NAME. This is working smarter, not harder. If I am contributing 2000 words a week to the Rainbow Fluffy Kitten Dreams Blog, that means nothing unless I want to change my name to Rainbow Fluffy Kitten Dreams. Our blog is a powerful tool to build our author brand, which is: NAME + GOOD CONTENT + HAPPY EMOTIONS= AUTHOR BRAND

Name recognition alone will not compel people to part with cash to buy our books. They must recognize our names AND feel good about the images and content that bubbles to mind. People buy from who they know, and more importantly, who they LIKE. This is why spamming people on Facebook and Twitter is a BAD idea. Yes, we recognize this dude’s name…but the emotions are negative because I recognize him as the dude that kept crapping up my In Box with form letters.

7)  Insert widgets for others to follow you on all your other platforms.

A blog is all about customer service. If you are also on Twitter, Facebook, Tumbler, LinkedIn, Technorati, and Goodreads….I will first tell you that you are doing too much social media. Get back to writing before I take away your G+. Ah, but after that , I would advise that you insert widgets so others can hang out with you on their platform of choice. Hey, we need to take advantage of the warm happy feelings our readers have after reading our nuggets of brilliance.

8)  Make sure you embed widgets to help others SHARE your content on other platforms.

Even if you don’t tweet, make sure your readers can. Embed a widget to help readers share your content with their networks.  Information needs to be portable to go viral. This is one of the few times, the word “viral” is good. We want out genius wordsmithery to infect the planet and make them our zombie slaves fans.

9) Make sure you embed a widget to SUBSCRIBE to your blog and also to get the RSS Feed.

RSS stands for Real Simple Syndication and it delivers your blog to a web feed for your reader. This is all about serving the customer—the reader. It’s like pizza delivery. We dig yummy awesomeness magically appearing in our news feed. Also, make sure that readers don’t have to go hunting for the subscribe button. Make life easy. We dig easy.

10)  Go through your posts and look for personal pronoun infestations.

If we use a lot of “I, I, I, I,” “me, me, me,” “you, you, you” it turns people off. We sound at best like we are lecturing and at worst like we are full of ourselves.

11)   Yes, okay ELEVEN tips. I lied :P. Make sure you have questions at the end of each post designed to spark discussion and encourage sharing.

When we get good at enticing conversation, then our blog becomes the cool place to hang out and chat. Blogging is less about great writing and more about being a good host/hostess. I see some really wonderful writers who have crappy blogs. Hey, I was once one of them. I am here to help you guys take the short-cut to success. I did all the dumb stuff so you don’t have to ;).

Speaking of questions at the end, I love hearing from you! What are some other tips you would like to add? Did I miss something? What do you guys like to see in a blog? What turns you off?

I love hearing from you! And to prove it and show my love, for the month of July, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. If you leave a comment, and link back to my blog, and mention my book We Are Not Alone in your blog…you get your name in the hat THREE times. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.

I will pick a winner every week for a critique of your first five pages. At the end of June I will pick a winner for the grand prize. A free critique from me on the first 15 pages of your novel. Good luck!

Note: I am keeping all the names for a final GRAND, GRAND PRIZE of 30 Pages (To be announced) OR a blog diagnostic. I look at your blog and give feedback to improve it. For now, I will draw weekly for 5 page edit, monthly for 15 page edit.

In the meantime, I hope you pick up copies of my best-selling books We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer . Both books are ON SALE for $4.99!!!! And both are recommended by the hottest agents and biggest authors in th biz. My methods teach you how to make building your author platform FUN. Build a platform and still have time left over to write more great books! I am here to change your approach, not your personality.