9 Ways to Create and Maintain a Successful Blog

by | Nov 24, 2010 | Book Marketing Basics, Social Media for Authors

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You took the advice and started a blog, and there you are – staring at the screen of the newly opened post, cursor blinking and your mind blank… what on earth are you going to do now?

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The beauty of blogging is there are so many things you can do, and once you get organized you should have no trouble scheduling posts and keeping your content fresh and interesting. In order to blog effectively, it’s not the actual topics you write about that matter as much as posting to your blog at least three times a week, ensuring that your blog is regularly updated. You can’t grow your blog and readership without having content that brings people back again – and again – to your blog.

Continually adding content is important because search engines like Google and Bing always seek new content; your blog will grow as the search engines discover more new content on your site to share. Then, your blog will benefit by moving up higher in search engine results, making your blog and you easier to find online because you will show up sooner in search results for your topic.

Once you have your blog posting down pat, you can use social networking sites and techniques to help spread the word and gain more readers. To get started, here are some ways to keep your blog content fresh:

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* Blog on your industry. As an author, the publishing industry is always ripe for commentary. What do you think about e-book pricing? Is Amazon killing bookstores? What do you think about the latest book deals? All of this news that you can comment on is available for free at sites like http://books.alltop.com and http://publishing.alltop.com. You’ll find a roundup of top news from a variety of blogs and websites there.

* Your “industry” could also include your area of expertise. Even a fiction author may find that writing about 17th Century China opens the door to blogging about conditions/news/issues in that country today. As a nonfiction author, your topic is fodder for blog posts – breaking news, trends, opinion pieces – the sky is the limit. Set Google alerts on those topics so you can see what’s going on.

* Blog on hot topics. That’s one sure way to get more readers to your site. See what’s hot at http://www.google.com/trends for instance, or blog on what everyone is talking about. Be sure to encourage others to share their thoughts so you will have some lively and timely comments on your blog.

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* Write about writing. Even fans of your writing will enjoy learning about your writing process: what are you working on now? How do you handle writer’s block? What are your tips for getting your writing done? What have you learned from other blogs, writers, experts that you can share?

* Hold contests. Have readers vie to name a character in your book. Or hold a contest for a signed copy of one of your books. Post polls – these could be on topics related to your books, the industry at large… whatever you like. Check out sites like http://www.simple-polls.com/ and http://www.surveymonkey.com/ for options.

* Have a wordless day. Post an inspiring, thought-provoking or interesting photo. You’d be amazed (or perhaps not) at how a photo can get your readers commenting!

* Invite guest bloggers. Perhaps there are other writers, publishing pros or writing experts whose advice you’d like to share with your readers. Or you’ve read a blog post that you just love – why not ask the author if you can reprint the piece for your own blog? Most bloggers are happy to have their posts picked up (as long as they receive credit of course), and you might receive a guest post offer in return.

* Keep it Short and Sweet. Another area that trips up bloggers is the myth of blog post length – you don’t have to write 500 to 1,000 words every time out. In fact, 250 to 500 words is just fine for the average post. But you can also post quick tips and observations of one to three paragraphs with links to something that you find interesting, or photos … so you don’t have to drive yourself crazy thinking you have to generate a lot of material for every post in order to maintain your blog. Sit down and brainstorm some ideas so you can work ahead and before you know it, your blog will be buzzing along, bringing you readership and ranking. You can also do a post that is a roundup of news or items of interest from the week – having something like that on your blogging schedule takes some of the pressure off you thinking you must write fresh content for every post.

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* Spread the Word. You can help spread the word about your blog by using sites like Twitter and Facebook; in fact, you can set up your blog feed so that new posts are automatically posted to Twitter and Facebook as soon as you hit “publish.” You can also join free sites like http://www.stumbleupon.com, http://digg.com and http://delicious.com – where users share content – and make sure your blog posts feed through those sites as well. As you grow your followers, you’ll have a new batch of readers for your blog! You should also follow other blogs and make sure to schedule time to stop by your favorites and post a comment. Blog commenting allows you to join the conversation, leave a link back to your site on other sites, and it also helps you grow your own site as bloggers love comments and many, if not most, will want to visit your site to return the favor.

Also, make sure you submit your blog to directories like DMOZ, http://www.dmoz.org/, Yahoo, http://dir.yahoo.com/ and Best of the Web, http://botw.org/. You want to make it as easy as possible for people to find your blog online.

You’ll spend some time up front planning and scheduling and joining some social networking sites (if you don’t already belong), but once you get your blogging underway you’ll find it’s a great way to keep your creative juices flowing, attract new readers and branch out professionally. Happy blogging!

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