At 2017’s Festival of Writing, literary agent Julie Crisp took several answers from Twitter users at her workshop, asking if book buys were ever influenced by social media.
— Julie Crisp (@julieacrisp) September 10, 2017
Whether you’d like to be traditionally or self-published, this kind of contact between yourself and readers can start with a blog.
Sharing your thoughts and writing life in a blog helps create a connection to readers, whether you’re published now or are hoping to be.
For in-depth social media and blog insights, you may like our self-publishing course content – but, be you published or not, here’s a whistle-stop tour on how to successfully start a writer’s blog.
What to write about in blog posts
A few first ideas.
- Opinion post (perhaps wise or poignant, perhaps funny, depending how you write)
- How-to guide (on something you know well)
- Personal anecdotes (sharing stories that serve audiences and serve you)
- Book reviews
- Book giveaways
- Round-ups (e.g. writing or competition news, links, etc.)
Enjoy mind-mapping, as this should be a passion project and unique to you. A blog you love is a blog others will love. (If you’re a planner, you may enjoy creating a blog content calendar, too.)
What blog platform to choose
If you’re an uncertain blogger, try starting a hosted blog. WordPress.com, for instance, is a free platform that makes it easy to transfer to WordPress.org, the latter giving autonomy on domain, design choices, and more. You’ll have the option of upgrading later to a self-hosted site when you feel confident.
If you’re time-pressed, another idea is a micro-blog. Writers like Erin Morgenstern, Rainbow Rowell and Neil Gaiman use Tumblr.
On a hosted site like Tumblr, it’s easy to ‘re-blog’ if you’re on the move. You can re-share social content (bookish images, links, quotes, audio, and video), whilst still linking to original users.
If you know you’ll struggle finding time for posts, Tumblr is a ‘low-maintenance’ choice, and you can buff up less-frequent writings with this sort of re-sharing.
Question how much time you can really commit to a blog, how confident you are, your aims and the content you want to create. Research your options and work from there, as best suits you.
How to write blog content that sticks
You need writing readers can return to. How will your blog shine out, and how will your posts stick over time?
Creativity on your own time and terms should bring fun and fulfilment, so write posts that bring you to life. Just remember, if you’d like to create engagement and connected readers, everything you post needs justification. What value is it bringing?
If you’re writing for other authors, as an example, why must people with limited writing time stop by to read? Is there timeless advice you’re posting, encouragement you can share, a round-up of quotes, or tips for productivity and self-confidence you can give?
Brainstorm advice, anecdotes, lists and inspiration you can offer. Write for enjoyment, but make it worth a reader’s time stopping by. If your content grips, they’ll linger, feeling more connected to and interested in you and your books.
Look up popular authors’ blogs for ideas.
How to write blog copy
A note on copywriting.
You’ll have no in-house editorial team as a blogger, no line- and copy-edits made, just as if you were self-publishing a novel.
As a plus, you can write what you want. As a minus, you can write what you want. Shakespeare’s observed brevity is the soul of wit, so keep sentences clear, concise, and sharp. Use shorter paragraphs, bullet lists and subheadings, remembering people will often read on the move.
Simpler is better in blog copy.
How to get people to your blog
Whichever social channels you feel comfortable using (never the ones you don’t), add your blog URL to profiles.
Make use of writers’ and readers’ hashtags like #amwriting, #askagent or #bookstagram if you’re sharing post links on Twitter.
If there are calendar days or months like #NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month in November), tap into these, schedule thematic blog posts and join the chats. Social media helps feed your blog. (Just don’t spend too long on social media. Keep it to only an hour a day.)
What’ll make readers linger on your blog, though, is still value of content. Once those readers are there, really enjoying your words and your stories, they can enter their emails to subscribe to your feed.
Ultimately, whatever you’re posting should bring readers value and wisdom in some guise. This gets readers to your blog and keeps them there.
Do writers need blogs?
You’ll need a website and social media, online spaces your readers can find you. A personal blog should display writings, musings, advice, insight into what readers may find in your books. It’s the space you can create meaningful connections with readers. Do share your links on social media with us.
For more free insights, peek at our prose advice, or other writing advice pages to give you ideas. There’s also our self-publishing course with details on arranging blog tours, plus more marketing essentials for self-publishing writers and bloggers.