When should you start marketing your writing? Well, if you want to eventually make money writing the answer would be: as soon as possible.
If you are writing a book, you need to start marketing way before the book comes out. Why? In today’s competitive publishing world where almost everyone is writing a book these days, you need to create your own reader base. If you’ve already published your book (or books) and you’re thinking that you’ve missed the marketing boat…think again. Just like in life, it’s never too late to start.
One thing you need to be aware of is readers have changed. These days readers don’t just want to read your writing, they want to get to know you, interact with you, and be in a relationship with you. Okay, I’m not advocating dating each one of your readers because that’s impossible plus it’s kind of a problem if you are already in a relationship with someone. By “relationship,” I mean they want to be active participants in your writing journey. So why not share it with them? Nine times out of 10, they are aspiring writers too. They want to learn from you. One of the fastest, easiest, and least expensive ways to do this is start a blog.
Everyone has a blog, even dogs. I’m not talking about that horrible show on the Disney channel that my kids force me to watch either. There really is a dog with a blog. Check this out: http://mollythewally.blogspot.com.
Why You Should Blog
When you’re not working on your book, newsletter, email, or other project, you can practice your writing on your blog. This is the best reason to start a blog. To be a writer, you’ve got to write. This can be in a journal…or on a blog. The more you do it, the better you get. Blogging helps you:
- Organize your thoughts
- Get ideas out of your head and down somewhere
- Be creative and expressive
- Practice writing
- Learn a new skill – how to set up a blog (see below)
- Connect with readers
- Build your platform – critical for selling your writing (we’ll talk about this more in next week’s post)
How to Get Started
First, you need to choose your blogging tool. If you’re a beginner, you want something that’s easy-to-use and quick-to-set-up. There are only two tools that I would recommend for a beginner:
Pro: great for beginners, free, easy-to-use.
Con: because it’s free, doesn’t have a great reputation for building online presence. Seen as “amateur” blogging. Harder to move over to a more professional blogging tool. Have to be careful about spam.
Pro: free version, easy-to-use and set up. Has a little more “presence” factor than Blogger. Easier to move over to a more professional blogging tool.
Con: bound by Google’s terms, cannot be customized. Not as much prestige as a professional blogging tool.
Then there’s the more advanced, professional version, WordPress.org. This is for people who have been blogging and want to take their online presence to the next level. I actually think every writer/author should be blogging on this tool but when you’re a beginner it’s quite daunting and overwhelming if you don’t know what you’re doing. You need to purchase a domain, hosting service, download the WordPress blogging software, and understand how to customize WordPress.org (which means a bit of coding). If you don’t want to do this for yourself, or are afraid too, you can hire someone to do it. And you can always move your blog over once you get to a point where you want your message to be seen by a larger audience. I’m not going to go into much detail here and will save that for another post. Just so you know, my blog is on WordPress.org.
What Do You Blog About?
At first, you just write whatever you’re struggling with, your life, how to balance writing and motivation, thoughts, musing, really anything. The most you get into it, the more ideas will pop into your head. For authors, blogging about your process, your struggles, your breakthroughs, or insights and tips are great places to start. You eventually want to get to a point where your blog posts engage readers with really good content. I’ll talk more about this in a future post but you need to remember that readers online get bored easily so keep that in the back of your mind.
You just want to get started blogging and get into a rhythm. After you’ve got a dozen posts under your belt, you’ll want to load up your idea queue with a bunch of pre-planned posts that you can start putting into categories like:
- book ideas
- the writing life
- writing challenges
- what works for me
How Often Should You Post to Your Blog?
Ideally, you want to figure out a schedule. Post something every Tuesday, maybe every two weeks, or once a month. If you’re really prolific, you can post two or three times a week.
The point is to establish a schedule your readers can count on. As you build a following, they will come to expect a post from you every Tuesday if that’s what you started out doing. And NO MATTER WHAT don’t stop! You’ve got to be consistent. This is the number one rule of blogging: once you start, don’t stop because you’ll loose readers’ interest.
How to Get Blog Readers and Comments
So, you’ve started your blog, you’re on a roll with your schedule, and you get no comments. You have what I call, Hello? Is Anyone Out There? Syndrome. That’s okay. This will happen. It’s part of the blogging process but you want to get through this part as quickly as possible. There are several ways to attract readers and people who will leave comments on your blog. Some are more involved and some require you to really put yourself out there, it’s okay don’t get all freaked out. Just remember: baby steps.
- Encourage reader participation. Get people to comment by using statments like, “Now it’s your turn.” Or “Tell me in the comments below.” Ask a question like for help on something specific. You can also think of your blog as a way to help people. If you share what’s worked for you or what isn’t working, that helps people!
- Reply to comments as soon as possible. In this age of texting and immediate responses, you want to not only ALWAYS reply to people who comment but also try to do it as soon as possible. People will check back to see your response. Everyone wants to be validated so make sure you offer up something nice to say about the reader’s comment, or just say thank you for stopping by.
- Read and comment on other writing blogs. Find blogs by authors, writers, editors, or by writers in your same genre. It only takes a quick Google search to find thousands of blogs on a given topic. When you comment make sure you are seen as a contributor, expert, or helpful and you’ll start connecting with the people who read these blogs. They’ll want to come over and visit your blog.
- Ask for guest posts. Sometimes you can’t come up with enough ideas for blog posts. Don’t stress! Why not let someone else take the stage? This works in giving you more content to share with your readers and the guest poster will bring some of their audience with them. It’s a win win.
- Write a guest post. This one requires you to step outside of your comfort zone. As you are scanning the Internet for blogs like yours, you may find some that accept guest posts. Read their submission requirements and submit your idea. I know it’s scary but what’s the worst that could happen? They don’t accept it. So what? The best that can happen is your post goes live and you boost traffic to your own blog…and nab more readers for your writing/book/project. That’s the goal, right? Here are a bunch of blogs that actively seek guest posts about writing: 7 Popular Blogs About Writing That Want Your Guest Posts
In my next post, I’m going to talk about building your platform and other fast, easy, things you can do yourself to market your writing. Be sure to check back next week for creative, DIY marketing tips that deliver results.
If you missed last week’s post: The “M” Word: When and How to Market Your Writing, you’ll want to read about the first step in marketing your writing.
Are these marketing posts helpful? I want to hear from you! What are your biggest marketing challenges? Tell me in the comments on my blog.