Welcome to WANA Wednesday, based off my best-selling book We Are Not Alone—The Writer’s Guide to Social Media. Every Wednesday I dedicate this blog to help improve your social marketing skills. If you are a verteran reader of this blog, feel free to scan down to the next header. But, for the newbies…
For the past month we have been talking about blogging. Everyone seems to be telling writers they need to blog (um…you do), but few people are telling writers what to blog about or how to get started. Each of these lessons builds upon the previous lesson so I recommend that, if you are new, go back and read the other posts. They will save you a ton of time.
Blogging Part I—Meet the Bright Idea Fairy then Shoot Her teaches how to know the difference between a really good idea, versus a total time-waster in disguise.
Blogging Part 2—Don’t Feed the Trolls is an exploration into how to find good blog topics that will connect you to future READERS.
Blogging Part 3—Tearing Up the SEO in 2011 explains how to use search engines to your advantage. What good is a rocking blog if no one can FIND it?
Blogging Part 4—The Future is Now discussed the shifts in the publishing paradigm and why blogging will give you a distinctive edge ahead of the non-blogging or half-ass blogging competition.
Blogging Part 5—The Counterintuitive Nature of Social Media Influence debated how effective blogging is for the fiction author. Can your blogs reach readers? I also gave tips for increasing blog traffic.
Blogging Part 6—Maintaining Your Sanity and Your Blog
Okay, I know a lot of you are fired up about starting a new blog or even just buckling down and breathing new life into that old blog that’s been invaded by dust bunnies and spam bots in your comments.
I so lick your blog. Is beste infermentation ever. My blog same. See you like. www.sportszanexhussycoedsluts.com
If you are anything like me, you heard about blogging and took off like a shot. I opened an account, chose a wicked-cool background, posted a blog…then three weeks later ran out of something to say.
True story about how I ended up on WordPress.
I started on Blogger. I loaded my blogs then kept going to my link to look at my page, in awe that I had created something. Kind of like giving birth, but no drugs. I would pop over to ooh and aaah over my awesome turquoise…no, black background with red letters…no, flowers and babbling brook background with italics text. I would get misty-eyed at the sheer beauty and genius of my widgets (I had just learned what those were).
My blog is sooo pretty. She is the prettiest blog ever. I think I will call her Tiffany.
What was even better was that, even though no one knew me, I already had 15 hits on my first day of blogging. Proof I was brilliant and that soon the world would be dying to hear what I had to say. I was a blogging genius. I knew this every time I visited my page.
35 views! OMG!!!!
Hmmmmm. No one has left a comment.
Let me go check my page again.
36 views. What????? Wait a minute. Click.
37 views. WTH? Click.
Are you kidding me???? Great, the 38 visitors was ME. Moron. I changed over to WordPress because, at the time, the analytics kept me honest. Clicking on my own site didn’t count.
Okay, yeah maybe I shouldn’t have told you guys that story.
I be an expert :D.
The thing is, I didn’t go into blogging understanding what I was doing. I had a lot of trial and error and have had 4 years to throw noodles against the wall and see what sticks. Blogging can be the best experience ever, or it can make you hate your life, your computer, and your dog. Even if you already started your blog, these tips should help you as well.
Before you start writing blogs, brainstorm. We have talked about blogging on topic or by demographic. Sit down and pick a subject and see how many possible topics you can generate. Go for at least 100. Here is an example.
A writer of paranormal romance wants to start blogging.
Readers of these types of books would generally like to hear about romance, the paranormal or even writing. Many writers are readers and vice versa. 78% of Americans say they are interested in writing a book, so blogging on writing is a good way to reach a lot of people. But let’s pick paranormal.
It is safe to say that an author who writes paranormal romance likes the paranormal. I think it is also safe to say that readers who eat up paranormal romance probably like MysteryQuest, X-Files, Ghosthunters, etc. So a paranormal romance author could sit down and just start writing a list of topics that would interest people who dig spooks, spirits and stuff that goes bump in the night. Heck, blogging on topic is a great way to recycle the research information used in writing the novel.
Brainstorm possible topics ahead of time. You don’t have to write about them right now, but that list will percolate in your subconscious. Your subconscious mind will become more in tune to the topics and will pick up on articles, shows, etc. that you can blog about. Sort of like, I never noticed red Honda Civics until I bought one.
Pick the Top 15
Pick your favorite 15 off that list, then take a day or three and write nothing but blogs. Load them into the queue. If your goal is to post 3X a week, you are already….
Crap. Need paper. Hold on. Carry the one. Multiply by pi. Why does it smell like something is burning?
You are already 5 weeks ahead! Now when you launch your blog (start telling people about it on FB, Twitter, etc.) your blog will look more professional and established. It is easier to be confident to send someone to our blog when we at least give the impression we’ve been at this a while and know what we’re doing. I say fake it until you make it ;).
I try to always have a week of posts loaded in the queue. I pick a day and just write blogs. Then I am free to do the other writer stuff the rest of the week…drinking, prank calling my parole officer,bathing my sea monkeys, testing the viscosity of low-fat buttercream icing. You know, research!
Tag, Tag, then Tag Some More
Make sure you tag all of your blogs with your name. The goal of blogging is to build YOU. I see too many writers who have killer blogs…but their names are nowhere in the tags. Go read Blogging Part 3. Google the Codependent Genie needs a hand in finding you.
After you tag with your name, go and add as many tags as you can think of that could be used in a search. In the blogosphere, the best way to find blogs, like anything, is word of mouth. But sometimes we just want to know about something, so we google it. We will use this blog as an example.
Blogging Part 6—Maintaining Your Sanity and Your Blog
Tags: blog, blogging, writers
Yeah, I see a lot of that. Three tags. Um, I want you to picture the Internet as one big carnival and doing a search is like being at the ring-toss booth and our goal is the big pink unicorn (the loyal, subscribing readers).
Do you seriously want to belly up to the bar with three freaking rings?
Noooooo. Man up and bring in the real firepower.
Tags: Kristen Lamb, marketing, promotion, promoting, blog, blogger, blogging, write, writer, writing, fiction, author, We Are Not Alone, organization, time-management, success, platform, readers, publishing, google, brainstorm….
You know you want it.
Okay, you get the point. Be a Tagging FREAK! Own the Ring-Toss. Claim that Pink Unicorn! You are allowed more than three tags. They are free. No one is going to auto-debit from your account. Help your future fans find you.
More next week on constructing a killer blog. I am working to make mine shorter-blech. Michael Hyatt had some good points, but he made me all self-conscious about my long blogs. His blogs are short, but mine are way funnier :P.
What are some of the biggest challenges you guys face when it comes to blogging? What helps you? Any advice?
Until next time…..
Give yourself the gift of success so you can ROCK 2011. My best-selling book We Are Not Alone–The Writers Guide to Social Media is recommended by literary agents and endorsed by NY Times best-selling authors. My method is free, fast, simple and leaves time to write more books.
Also, I highly recommend the Write It Forward Workshops. Learn all about plotting, how to write great characters, and even how to self-publish successfully…all from the best in the industry. I will be teaching on social media and building a brand in March. For $20 a workshop, you can change your destiny….all from the comfort of home. It is not too late to sign up for the workshop Selling Your Book taught by USA Today Best-Selling Author Bob Mayer. This workshop is for all authors, but any self-pubbed writers would stand to gain amazing benefit.
Mash-Up of Awesomeness
Fave Blog of the Week Why Your Novel Won’t Get Published by Chuck Wendig
To Book Trailer or Not? Do they really work? Are trailers worth the time and expense? Bob Mayer
Aspiring to Failure or: How I Learned to Stop Apologizing and Start Writing by Albert Berg
How You Decide on Your Author Brand Part II by Paranormal Author Jami Gold
Why I Stopped Reading Your Blog by Michael Hyatt. Funny, I didn’t know he was reading my blog. Kidding! He makes some good points.
The Left Brain, The Right Brain and Everything In Between by Jenni Holbrook
3 Tips to Writing a Better Book Proposal by @BubbleCow
Is the Query System Dying? by Jodi Hedlund
How to Dish Out Backstory in Digestable Bites by Roni Loren
Mother, She’s Just a False Protagonist by Peter St. Clair
Get Your Nerd On:
Manon Eileen’s Affective Neuroscience
You had me at Muppet picture. Seriously, I think our pop culture interests and humor style must have been spawned and hatched in the same lab. Maybe a paranormal writer could explain the phenomenon in a future post. You make great points here, but the strongest one is getting ideas down and started. I have a chunk of futures pieces sitting in the corner. Every once in a while I stroll over and add some features, a fact here, a sea monkey there. Nice to be ahead.
Yeah…I think the government had that lab destroyed :D. I always joke that when they made me they broke the mold. (Rumor has it that they beat the hell out of the mold-maker, too.)
Thanks for the tips! I definitely feel like all of your blogging posts are directed to me as I feel along in the dark trying to publicize my blog. I felt the exact same way that you did about your blog in the beginning. This week I’m going to brainstorm a crap-load of topics and try to hack out at least five this weekend. I need to get ahead so I can focus on my editing.
Thanks for the shout out Kristen, as always. I always forget to plug my name into the tags, but will make an effort to remember. I use Zemanta (auto tagger for WordPress) and sadly, it doesn’t ever think to include my name in the tags it generates for me.
Honestly, following your way of blogging, I’ve found a huge increase in traffic to my site and I get at least a couple comments on all my posts. I even put up decent numbers on days when most of my traffic isn’t from here…lol
So to anyone who is thinking about blogging, trust me, this system works and it works well.
You are hilarious! My question has to do with the fave fifteen that I’m in process of writing for my upcoming blog. Do I need permission from people to mention their name in my blog? For example it came up yesterday when I was writing my first entry about comfort zones and I happened to mention how you and Bob Mayer are responsible for dragging me kicking and screaming into the blogosphere. Can I quote from books as well as long as I attribute the quote?
Just attribute and you will be fine. You aren’t representing our work as yours of profiting so you should be good to go ;). Thanks. Happy you are enjoying! I quote from books all the time and even hyperlink to amazon so readers can buy it. That is great advertising/promotion for authors.
Thanks for putting my mind at ease, plus I love the idea of hyperlinking to Amazon to buy an author’s book. Love to support my fellow writers!
The muppet picture is priceless! Oh the memories!
I really wished I would’ve sat down and brainstormed ideas before having my blog up and running however I do need to sit down one day and get it done. That is what I’m struggling with the most.
A good blog is very difficult to write and maintain. I believe consistency is the key. I also think giving the reader something valuable to take away is important. In the same way that I’ve listened to many keynotes that were quite inspiring, but two hours later, when I reflect on what the speaker said, I’m left with nothing tangible I can use.
Shoot, I hadn’t thought of putting my name in the tags, either. I’ll have to make sure my future posts are better tagged. Thanks for the pointers!
I’ve committed the dreadful blog sin of “lack of focus” (I see myself sitting cross legged at your feet, like a Kung Fu student admitting an error to his sensei. Huh.) My blog has accidentally split into two subjects – writing and the emigration to Canada. Logically I should make that split physical, starting a second blog and keeping to one subject per blog, but this is only my second full year blogging “properly” and I’m scared about the amount of work running two blogs would be. Plus there’s the horrible thought that one blog would have tiny visitor figures and I would become discouraged…. Words of Wisdom please, oh great one….
Two blogs a week is better than one. Blogging more frequently is actually easier in that you will gain a following far faster and the increase in traffic will spur you to do more. Take a week and write 5 posts on each subject. Writing/ Personal Experience. Then load them in the queue and you will be 5 weeks ahead. Make sure your topics are engaging your audience. Give them a way to offer opinions, feedback, suggestions. Good blogging is a dialogue. Face your fears. Usually your greatest treasures are behind the biggest dragons ;). No one ever accomplished anything great by staying comfortable.
I’m backing up Kristen on this one. Kristen’s often mentioned that writing three days a week is best. I realized, upon writing once a week for a few months, that I didn’t have 1 niche, I had a few interrelated ones. So I moved to three days a week, and scheduled those topics into the different days. If someone only wants to follow me for running games for their buddies, they’ll want to read Mondays. One Wednesdays I discuss game design theory, and on Friday I write about different things based on mood. (So I’m not perfectly focused, but people know Friday is my crazy day.)
I have a question regarding tagging my name in my blog posts. My blog is called Thunderstorm Game Design which I’m using to build a platform for the table top games I’m designing. As I hope to eventually have more designers than just me operating under the name, is it better to tag my blog as that (Since it’s the ‘label’ so-to-speak) or should I use my name, or both?
Use both. As more designers come on board, add their name to the tags. Your goal is to have your content associated with you. As it stands, if someone googled your name could they find your site? YOU need to be searchable and that will happen far faster if your name is in the tags ALWAYS.
Thanks, clears that up, will need to go add some tags (I’ve already got a small boatload!)
Hey Kristen! Thanks for the shout out (I love that I’m always in the “get your nerd on” section :p).
Great post, as usual. “I be an expert’ – that had me laughing out loud! Anyway, good point about adding your own name to the tags. I never did that before – no clue why. I suppose because they’re already on my site anyway.
But from now on I will add the tag.
I have to say from my Google Analytics I can tell the tags really work – people have found me through the strangest searches, but they’re all combinations of tags that I’ve used.
My keywords are similar, Manon, except it’s usually combinations of my tags and post titles. I think part of that is the stuff blogger does you can’t control.
“His blogs are short, but mine are way funnier .”
Dang skippy yours are funnier! I’ve learned to swallow my coffee before clicking on your posts.
Learned it the hard way.
Woohoo, I can’t wait to get started! This series (and website) has been incredibly helpful for me, and I recommend it to other writers, too.
For what it’s worth, I usually like to read shorter blog posts, but you’re one of the bloggers on my list who can get away with a longer post. I always know it’s worth the read. 🙂
Insightful and informative as usual. Keep it up. You’re helping all us Blog-neophytes.
Ah sanity, a nice thing long gone. 😉
I must remind myself to tag the articles in my writers blog.
That is right. And I totally have not thought of tagging them with my name.
*off to adding tags, yeah, tags, one more, five more – dozens!* 😉
I can’t believe I forgot to tag my name. :((
LOL…I did the same exact thing. JUst had to go back and put my name in the tags. No worries. Happens to all of us, LOL :D.
Kristin, this is the most informative blog post about blogging I’ve read in a long, long time–if ever. I’m ordering your book.
Thank you! I hope the blog and the book help you reach your writing dreams…faster :D.
Oh, I love your post! They’re funny and informative. I bought your book online and it should come through the mail any day now. I’m guilty about not brainstorming. I figured that since I realized what I like to blog about (inspirational stuff), I’ll just go along with it. Last night, I’m trying to figure out what I’ll post for today so I just roll with it. It’s one of those times when I don’t have inspiration but need to write anyway and see what comes through me (provided that it’s inspirational of course). Hence, brainstorming is a good advice.
Quick Question: I’m about halfway through reading your book right now, and I was wondering if you would suggest buying both the .com and .org domain for my name if they’re available, or if you think one is enough.
One is fine. Go with the .com if it is available. Back in the 90s and the 00s we worried about people buying domains and squatting. Social media is taking over and pushing the web site to the back burner. Unless you are wanting to sell something off your site, a FB fan page will do just fine. MySpace decided to lose its ever-loving mind three weeks after my book came out. Sadly, MySpace is dead, which is a shame because it worked as a great substitute for a free web site. I put off doing a web site until I just had to, namely because I would rather spend my money on video games and makeup :D.
Thanks alot! And yeah, I’d rather spend my money on books, more books, and my tv series addiction.
I have loved your series on bloggin, Kristen. So much so that I mentioned the series on my blog today.
Thanks for all the tips!
Thanks! I appreciate that :D.
Ok, enough prodding! I’m bought in. Today I’m writing a butt load of blogs! I had been doing the brainstorming ahead, but trying to stick to the same writing schedule when your work schedule is different each week wasn’t always conducive. So, I will now blog ahead, and I know that will help me with writing better blogs. I also vow to start tagging my name. I admit, I believed you that it worked, but I was still scared. No more! Well, ok, I’m still scared, but at least I’ll be publicly scarred and ridiculed which is so much more courageous, right? Right? Oh, lord, help.
Hi Kristen, Thanks for the blog shout-out!
Wow, I hadn’t ever thought about tagging posts with my name before. 🙂 Back to the drawing board…
Kristen, I have learned not to be eating or drinking or talking on the phone when reading your blogs. Don’t get me wrong. Love ’em. Just can’t choke, spit, or laugh during certain situations. You are funnier and we learn so much.
Message to Love
The Wild Rose Press
That’s funny. You are the second person to comment that they won’t drink while reading my blogs. That’s okay, I drink while writing them. Wait…is that right? 😀
Please, please do not change your style of blog. I love that it is long with information and full of humor. Humor is the one thing that will make me come back for more (that and dark chocolate covered almonds). You are doing wonderfully!
And I too have learned not to drink while reading your blog. Had to replace my keyboard, spit my coffee all over it one too many times! 🙂
I really need to catch up on reading these, but what you said about tagging blog posts with your name? I NEVER THOUGHT OF THAT BEFORE! But now I see your point entirely. I admit that I’m very lazy when it comes to tagging my posts, though I know it helps with google searches. I’m going to take the time to think of tags in the future and to use…my actual name.
Thanks for the great advice, as always!
OH So that’s why you use facebook cool. I might refire mine *Bleh* Nice post but I wished there was more elaboration on the tagging bit. That’s where I drop in performance.
Sorry to double post but is it mandatory to blog with your real name?
You need to have the name that will be on the front of your books. Blogging is the best way to build your author brand. And think of it this way, your name will be out there eventually when you publish a book, so a blog is a nice baby step :D. Many agents now are googling an author and looking at their blog to see what kind of presence they have. If your name isn’t searchable, that’s bad juju.
As a blog reader as well as newbie blog writer, I reckon post length is hugely dependent on content and to some extent on style.
For a really useful, informative and entertaining blog like yours, I thing you have the length about right. In fact, I would be disappointed if you made them shorter!
I find I can’t be bothered with overly short posts either. If I’m browsing on WordPress and see a blog with an interesting title and first few lines, then click in it only to find that’s all there was, I am slightly irked and leave in search of something that can entertain me for longer.
But some posts are too long and waffly. If there is no focus to the post and it is neither informing nor entertaining enough, I will also leave.
I find readers of my cat’s blog prefer short amusing posts, preferably with pictures, while my new personal blog I go for between 300 and 500 and it seems to be working OK.
As for what has helped me, aside from your own advice, with the start of the new year, WordPress have launched PostADay which has encouraged loads of newbie bloggers and restarters to post frequently. I jumped in, as I enjoy a challenge with a sense of community. Participating blogs are tagged postaday, so we can easily find each other’s blogs. I have read and commented on some, and people have found mine that way, as well as my following back from my comments on theirs.
I’m working on focussing the blog right now, although some readers have said they don’t mind a blurry blog! I find it harder to write though… I might take your advice and write a load in a day, if I can find a day I have time to write so much that is not my thesis…
With it being a new postaday blog and that having so many fellow newbies, it feels just fine to be blogging at the same time as refining the blog, and even posting about doing that. Especially if my efforts help others do the same.
Kristen – I feel like a “tag-a-holic” with my tags…good thing the blogging police are not on duty. 🙂
Thanks for your list of recommended blogs. That saves me time in my search for relevance + quality.
I am in my 2nd week of blogging, and I already received 5 comments – woohoo! I was celebrating last evening with a midnight treat while reading them. Here’s the link of which I am so proud: http://wp.me/p1gAw0-L
You’re right Kristen, your blogs ARE way funnier.
Excellent info as always. I’ll have to check out those blogs you listed.
Gotta go now…need to tweak those tags:)
Have a great evening!!
Is it right that I haven’t posted on my blog since December 30 because I am so busy reading your book!? Kristen, the information in “We Are Not Alone” is going to be tremendously helpful as I develop and refine my blog. I got off to a bit of a wrong start, but I only began 2 months ago so it’s not too late to go back and change some things based on your advice. Now I need to start building up my queue! Thanks for sharing your experience and expertise!
Another very informative blog. I am so putting my name in my tags, I never even thought of doing that before. Der. I agree having a handful of blog posts to choose from makes maintaining a blog that much eaiser. Thanks for sharing!
Loving this blog, Kristen. Getting so much out of your posts, I need to read each at least twice to digest all the wonderfully relevant articles. Love the humor, too. Wish I were half as witty.
Dream. Believe. Strive. Achieve!
NO MATTER WHY
The Wild Rose Press