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“Ten Tips for Developing Your Writing Blog” – by Tony Riches

Your writing blog can become the beating heart of your author platform. Social media has its place and all the different types will be covered in future posts, but twitter, Facebook (and some you may not have even heard of yet) can be ephemeral and capricious. You may have an author website as your ‘shop window’ but your blog will help people understand why you write, what you stand for and who you really are.

Here are my ten top tips for anyone who wants to add value to their writing blog:

1.    Think about your brand values  Blog of the day once again

The American marketing Association defines branding as: “A customer experience represented by a collection of images and ideas.”  I like this definition – which also serves as a description of my writing blog.  Your aim with your brand is to be consistent and differentiated, so people can learn to recognise your brand and what it stands for.  Consistency is fairly easy to achieve but it can be hard to differentiate in the increasingly crowded world of indie publishing. This is the time to be creative. Find your niche and master it. Avoid templates and ‘default layouts’. Be different.

2.    Add helpful resources for writers

We are all learning, all of the time – but some of us have more freedom to go searching for useful information. ‘Resources’ can be anything that helps writers, saves time and/or triggers new ideas. Next time you find something that helped you, add a link to a page on your blog. (Here’s mine: Writing Links)

3.    Make sure your books are easy to find

Having said that your author platform isn’t about self-promotion, we mustn’t over react. I’ve tried various ideas over the time I’ve been blogging and find it best to put everything on one easy to find page. If people are interested in your work they’ll find it quickly enough. I keep it to a cover shot, a short description and a short video. (I’ll be posting about my experiences with promotional videos later in the series.)  When I have a new book out I like to add a cover shot somewhere in the sidebar – but I don’t think that’s the place for relentless promotion of your work.

4.    Make it easy to contact you

I was amazed to realise one day when someone pointed out there was nowhere on my blog for people to contact me, other than through comments. Some bloggers are concerned that an email on their blog will open the door to all sorts of unwanted ‘spam’ or worse but I decided to try it. My experience has been very positive, as I like to hear from readers, reviewers and other authors. (Still waiting to hear from a producer who wants to make one of my books into a film…)

5.    Invite authors with a similar readership to guest post

The best place to promote your work is on someone else’s blog.  As well as reaching a whole new audience of potential readers, simply being invited to guest post means you start with a certain amount of credibility.  You need to be very selective of course, both with who you invite and where you personally guest post. Set yourself some simple criteria and try to stick to them.

6.    Team up with other authors to launch books

There are so many book being ‘launched’ every day that you need to do everything you can to raise awareness. By working together, authors can prepare launch posts well in advance. Remember they need to be different (you shouldn’t keep using the same post, for search engine optimisation) and ideally written with the style of the blog in mind. It is also easy to help other authors by simply posting a cover shot, one paragraph of blurb and a link.

7.    Encourage comments on your posts

This is something I keep forgetting to do but asking questions and inviting comments makes a big difference to the ‘engagement’ with readers of your blog. Very occasionally I have comments that are nothing to do with the post but you simply make sure that your blog options allow you to ‘moderate’ comments before they are published for everyone to see.

8.    Keep it lively and current

I have seen some clever blogs where the posts have a timeless quality – and there are no clues about when they were written. More often, however, I find the newest post is wishing readers a happy Christmas. You need people to want to come back often, so consider a series of posts (such as this) on a particular theme, look at some topical issues and include links to recent pages of interest.

9.    Join in with blog tours and ‘challenges’

OK, when you are determined to write at least 2000 words a day the

last thing you feel like doing is helping out with a blog tour, writing a review or writing another 500 words on the ‘prompt of the day’.  All I can say is give it a try, as it can bring a surprising number of repeat visitors to your blog. I was right in the middle of the editing of my last novel last Halloween but enjoyed the diversion of joining in with Cheyenne Williams’ Halloween Challenge – answering questions such as “What is the greatest last line of any book you’ve ever read?” (See the answer here.)

10.  Visit other peoples writing blogs and learn from them

Have a look at the Top 10 Blogs for Writers and see what other people are doing. (Educational, useful, engaging, and discussion-creating posts were rated higher than self-promotional posts – accounting for 55% of Tony Richesthe final score.) These are all writers who have put a lot of thought and effort into getting it right and you’ll find they are all happy to share.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Tony Riches is an author based in Wales UK. He has a writing blog at www.tonyriches.co.uk  and is on twitter @tonyriches

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