Today we have ten questions for the Inspiration to Creation coach, Nina Amir, five-time Amazon best-selling author, award-winning blogger, and keynote speaker. Nina’s newest ebook, BLOGGING BASICS FOR AUTHORS, is out today from Short Fuse Publishing.
Why should authors blog?
Every author needs a place to send potential readers and the media. That place is an author website. Your website features your bio, your media kit, and your books.
However, a plain-and-simple website that sits in cyberspace like a brochure doesn’t attract anyone. For a website to work like a magnet it must become “discoverable.” That means it must easily be found when you search for a specific topic or term using a search engine. For that, you need a blog.
The search engines use programs—we know them as bots or spiders—to scan the content published on websites. They then catalog the keywords, or search terms. The more often you publish content on your site using the same keywords, the more often your site gets cataloged for those terms. That pushes your site higher in the search engine results pages. If you can get your site to show up on the first (or even the second) Google search engine results page, your site becomes discoverable. A potential reader or book buyer will find your site and click through.
To find your site on the first Google search engine results page, however, you have to, first, have a blog, and, second, blog often and consistently. You also have to stay focused on one or two topics. That gives the search engines plenty of new content to catalog and the appropriate keywords to get your site noticed for the subjects about which you write.
Additionally, a blog provides the foundation of an author’s promotional efforts. Blogging builds author platform. It gives you great content to share on you site and on social networks, so you create a following of potential book buyers. You also can promote your book from your blog in a variety of ways.
What’s the biggest mistake new bloggers make?
They don’t write often and consistently or in a focused manner. As I explained, this is the key to discoverability.
Usually, new bloggers haven’t created a plan for their blog content, and that’s the underlying mistake. They just think they’ll blog about whatever strikes their fancy that day, week, or month.
For this reason, when they sit down to compose a post, they stare at the computer screen and wonder what to write. Then they produce a post that isn’t as pertinent to their book or blog or that doesn’t promote their books, products, or services as well as it might have had they put some forethought into the whole blogging process.
What’s the best blogging platform out there? Is there a best, or does it vary?
I’d say WordPress.org (not WordPress.com, which is free). The majority of professional bloggers use this blogging platform. I use it and highly recommend it.
You don’t want to use a free platform for a variety of reasons. These include the fact that they could shut down without warning, they may limit your ability to create a mailing list, and they may restrict your use of automated programs, which are called plugins. You want to control your site in every way, and that requires “owning” it—or paying for it.
With so many demands on an author’s time, how do they fit blogging in?
One way to manage the time demands is to blog your book! You can write your book—or many books on the same topic—on your blog. This effectively promotes your forthcoming books as you write them. To do so, you need to break your book into post-sized bits, and write publish those posts on your blog one by one. Create a manuscript in Word at the same time.
I often suggest that writers give up their morning pages or journaling. (And I get yelled at a lot for doing so!) Instead, use that time to write a blog post. Depending upon the type of blog you write, you can get quite creative and introspective—but stay on topic! In other words, make blogging your warm-up for your other writing. That doesn’t mean the posts should be any less polished or thoughtful, but they can become part of your daily writing practice. You’d be amazed at how much your writing will improve if you learn to write 300-500 words per day, edit it, and publish it!
What can bloggers do to boost their readership?
They can share their blog posts! A blog serves as the home station broadcasting out the blogger’s message to the satellite stations, the social networks. Every time they publish a post, that post needs to be shared far and wide on the Internet—and more than just once or twice.
Also, be sure you have sharing tools installed on the blog. I recently went on a virtual book tour, and I was amazed at home many bloggers who reviewed my book or hosted guest posts didn’t provide a way for me to share the posts right from their site. You want to use a plugin that provides the social network icons at the bottom of a post. Then readers can click on them to easily share your work. You can also put them at the top of a post; this will increase the likelihood that your work gets shared.
Can you really make money from a blog?
That’s the million-dollar question, isn’t it? You can, but not in the way most people think.
It used to be that everyone thought they could make money with ads. You have to have an enormous amount of traffic to make money with ads. For most bloggers, that’s not a viable option.
You can make money from your blog by providing products and services related to your books. Webinars and telesminars, membership sites, online courses—all of these provide ways to monetize both your blog and your books. I make a good bit of my income from my coaching and consulting services, which are advertised from my blogs, and from the courses and program I offer, for instance.
You also can make money by promoting your books and other authors’ books. Which brings me to affiliate sales. Many bloggers make money with affiliate sales, which are like referral fees. If you like a product, you recommend it to your readers or site visitors. You then get paid a bit if someone clicks on your affiliate link and purchases. You can begin by becoming an Amazon affiliate. Then use your affiliate link for all the books you mention in your posts—including your own! (And you’d be amazed at what other things your readers buy after they buy a book, and you make money on those purchases as well.)
What should writers blog about?
Writers should blog about the subjects about which they write. They need to determine the topics and themes in their books, and stick to those. This will help them promote their books.
Some writers choose to have an “author blog” that rambles around. They write about whatever moves them that day. That’s okay for uber bestselling authors, but it won’t help a new author’s site get discovered.
Is blogging social media?
Many people do group blogging with social media. A blog, however, is not a social media site. It is your author website (or one part of it). You then share from that site to the social networks.
I would call blogging content marketing. And you use content marketing to promote your work in a way that doesn’t feel salesy. It allows you to provide valuable content on social networks so people begin to know, like, and trust you. That eventually gets you more readers.
Is it OK to put material from your book on your blog?
Yes, in most cases.
If you are traditionally published, you may need to ask your publisher if you have permission to use the content from your book on your blog.
If you plan to traditionally publish and you write nonfiction, the majority of the time, you can put content meant for your book on your blog. You do need to have some new content for your final manuscript (to entice publishers and readers to buy), and you will want to revise and edit the content that was on your blog a little but not entirely. Nonfiction publishers like blog content from well-trafficked blogs because it represents a successfully test marketed book idea.
If you plan to self-publish, you can publish your content on your blog to your heart’s content. Just don’t use the Kindle SELECT program when you produce an ebook. Instead, just use the Kindle program. The Kindle Select program requires that you take down all but 10% of content in the book that can be found on the Internet as well.
Last, if you write fiction and want a traditional publishing deal, don’t blog your book. Or blog your first novel to prove you can gain a readership—and successfully self-publish as well. That will help you land a deal for your second novel, and it’s possible the publisher will later republish your first book. If you want to self-publish a novel, you can blog your entire first draft. Then publish the edited version with something extra in it to entice readers—such as the first chapter to the sequel.
Where can we learn more?
You can find out more about blogging books at www.howtoblogabook.com. Or you can check out the revised and expanded edition of How to Blog a Book. And, of course, you can visit www.ninaamir.com or http://booksbyninaamir.com.