A blog is an essential part of your website. Unlike when you post content on your website, blogs can have a much more engaging and navigational feel, and since they’re designed to please the eye with a clean, organised layout, you don’t have to worry about tidying it up like your website.
Most blogging platforms such as Tumblr (note: this is more of a photo-based platform and not so good for text-based blogging), WordPress and Blogger, do so for free, too – so there’s no reason to not have one.
Blogging is a great way to keep your readers up to speed with your work and self-publishing journey, and platforms offered by WordPress are great as they allow you to fully customize your layout and theme. Much of this won’t cost you a penny. You can also link your blog to your website, and, for a small yearly fee of around $14, lose the ‘.wordpress’ to make it look more professional.
But what actually makes a great blog tasty and appealing to readers?
Many things is the answer, so let’s take a look at each aspect:
It sounds obvious, but yes, interesting self-publishing articles that will keep your visitors around. The more they hang around, the more chance there is they will click a link that sends them to your book. When you’re informing of news such as giveaways or how your new novel is going, have some fun, add some spice and humour, always being creative. Not only does this make it more enjoyable for people to read, it also creates more buzz and will make them remember you.
Be careful not to get sloppy, though. Always proofread and do a little bit of editing. Overlong, repetitive articles can quickly drive a reader to someone else’s blog, so take a bit of time to polish them up before you hit upload. (Not too much, just a leisurely edit – or blog writing will become a chore) A book takes months to edit, an article takes about ten minutes – so it’s worth it.
Don’t forget, you can leave linked text and images which send readers to your book. But don’t be too aggressive with advertising – there’s nothing more off-putting than a salesman screaming buy me! Be subtle, and focus more on creating good content.
Not that thing you find in the bottom of a can of John Smith’s bitter. Widgets are very handy little short cuts which can be placed on your self-publishing blog (and WordPress let’s you add them for free). Widgets are very handy for visitors as it makes navigating your page ultra-fast, effortless, and more enjoyable. And you want your blog to be just that.
So, for example, right next to an article on one side of the page could be a number of cool widgets like:
- a Like button for your Facebook page
- Twitter feed
- blog subscribe field
- list of most recent posts
- list of categories
- and a linked cover image of your book
(And that’s just for starters!)
Widgets mean your visitors won’t have to do any extra work to find out about you – everything about your online self-publishing presence and articles is right there, visible and accessible.
Just like your website, blogs can feature different pages which help to organize your information. This is another thing WordPress provides for free. So, in addition to your Home Page, you can also create others such as an About (you) Page, a Contact Page, an Author Website Page (one linked back to your website), and more. Again, this helps visitors find specific information fast. A good thing.
Though a blog is essentially a mass of articles, that doesn’t mean it has to look boring. Blogging platforms, like WordPress, allow you to set different themes at the click of a button and also customize your blog in a surprisingly detailed way. It really is ridiculously easy. You can change the background image, colour of text and links, add pictures, change the header description, set a static page (one which will always appear first when a reader visits your blog), and more. Making your blog unique is worthwhile as it makes you stand out from the crowd, so spend a few hours playing around with it.
The great thing about blogs is that most platforms (except for Tumblr, I found) easily allow visitors to leave comments at the foot of articles. This is a great way of building a reading community around discussion, and also makes your blog look popular and worth a read. If people get in touch on your blog, it’s of course a good idea to get back to them right away. And why wouldn’t you? – your readers deserve your attention!
Plus it’s fantastic talking to readers who’ve read your book and are interested in current events surrounding your new one. Embrace interaction, whether feedback-related or just a bit of literary chin-wagging!
Finally, I’d love for you to read my debut, ALEX, the Kindle #1 Best Selling Thrillers & Suspense novel. If you’re after a haunting mystery dripping with psychological thrills, head on over to Amazon by clicking the cover. It’s now available for just £0.77 ($0.99 US).
I hope you found this article useful – as always, your thoughts are welcome in the Comments section. The next self-publishing article will introduce you to Goodreads, a platform which is priceless for both the writer and reader in you.