This article was originally published on BadRedhead Media.
You’re thinking, I’m an author, not a blogger.
You’re thinking, I write books, not articles. Why would I start a blog?
Because you know that success in self-publishing demands a two-pronged approach: first you have to write a book your target audience will value, then you have to market it to them—and that’s where blogging comes into play.
Let me explain.
Blogging is a proven content marketing strategy, an established way to garner trust, credibility, and community. It’s a mechanism by which to get found online, both organically (i.e., via search) and socially (i.e., via others sharing your writing).
Authors who blog are enabling their work, giving their books a chance to stand out.
Authors who blog are on their way.
Think of it this way…
A book is a long reading experience. It’s a commitment, a time investment that carries a high opportunity cost. An article is a shorter, less involved experience. Reading an article takes minutes, not hours.
Compelling someone to devote the energy to reading your long book, then, is an uphill battle. It’s much easier to get someone to read your relatively short article first. And from the reader’s perspective, if your article is interesting and valuable—if it draws the reader in and makes her feel something—there’s a good chance your book will, too.
In that sense, every article is an introduction to your writing, your brand.
Every article is an ad.
Start by deciding how you will deliver your content, or your core channel. When making this decision, consider two factors:
Reach: how will you disseminate your articles? Reach can be achieved by leveraging an existing platform to publish on.
Control: how will you present your articles? Control can be achieved by building your own platform.
Or you can create a Medium account, a pre-designed blog that leverages your existing Twitter audience to drive attention to the articles you write. This option provides more reach but less control.
Now that you’ve selected your core publishing channel, let’s answer several common questions around blogging:
1. “What should I blog about?”
That depends. What’s your book about?
Your blog’s subject matter should correspond with your book’s main concepts and themes, which should inform the topics you blog about.
This approach will help you attract a relevant audience, one that’ll be more likely to read your book, love it, and leave a positive review.
2. “How often should I publish?”
Volume isn’t as important as consistency.
Blogging is about building an audience—followers who trust and appreciate your work—and that demands showing up on a regular basis to provide value. Your cadence could be once a day or once a week. Whatever it is, keep it steady.
Your audience should know when to expect you. This’ll keep people engaged with your brand over time.
3. “How long should my articles be?”
Don’t focus on hitting a predetermined word count. Focus, instead, on delivering a coherent message.
Length comes second to clarity.
Every sentence, paragraph, and subheading in your articles should be as long as it takes to convey the message, and no longer. For that to happen, you have to kill your darlings and EDIT. Edit ruthlessly: split long sentences; cut adverbs; use active voice, and so on. The reader will love you for it.
4. “Should my articles read like my book?”
If the goal is to funnel your blog’s audience to your book, then yes because readers may expect a consistent experience (e.g., tone, voice, style) across mediums.
Give it to them. You know how to.
5. “How do I generate sales.”
Creating great content—content that’s engaging and valuable and addictive—is Step One.
Step Two is far more simple: ask.
Want readers to sign up for your newsletter? Want readers to share your article? To leave a comment? To reply to an email with feedback? Want readers to buy your book? They never will unless you ask them to, pointedly, with a clear call to action.
Though you won’t need it. As an author, you already have what it takes to be successful.
A blog’s success, after all, is the product of diligence and discipline and grit, which also happens to be how books get written.
You’re ready. Start soon.
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