by Abigail Carter
If you’ve been following my series on Author Websites, you now (hopefully) have a wonderful blog! Congratulations. Hopefully you have begun writing posts. As an author, you may be wondering what the heck to write about and how to find your new audience and begin actually building your “platform” (anyone else besides me sick to death of that term yet?).
First, you need to write some compelling blog posts. Here are some tips:
1. Show, don’t tell
In my experience, many of the same qualities that make good writing also make for good blog posts. My most read posts are the ones where I show rather than tell. Here’s an example of a post where I remain “in scene” and here is an example of one where I am more telling the story rather than showing it. The first one brought me way more traffic than the second one did because people are able to see themselves in the story and thus respond to it more intimately. But, there will be times when you have to use the second style as I did when you are giving an update on what you are up to. Both have their place.
2. Remove the date on your post
This is becoming more and more the norm because bloggers want to be able to re-post old posts and a date can make the content seem dated. I am on the fence about this because I write about personal stuff and have written for a long time (Alchemyofloss.com has been alive since 2008). If I repost an old post about an old boyfriend and it doesn’t have a date, my new boyfriend may read it and think I’m cheating on him (this is an “for instance.” I would never cheat :)). But if you have content that is more generic and timeless, (the true meaning of an “evergreen” post), then it makes sense. It just depends on what you write about. Further on this, I highly recommend getting the WordPress plug-in “Tweet Old Posts” which you can set up to automatically tweet your older posts on a regular basis. This is a great way to keep posting content and getting more people to your site.
3. Write about your book’s topic
A rookie mistake of many author blogs is that authors often write about their writing process on their blogs, thinking their audience will be interested. But you want your readers to read your blog, not other writers. The trick then is to find topics within your book to write about. A location, a character’s profession, an object of interest in your book are all compelling topics. If your story takes place in Italy and you write about it, then people interested in Italy might find your post and be interested in reading your book.
4. Make the blog posts personal.
Readers want to know about you (though not necessarily about your writing process). You can write about why your story takes place in Italy for instance, especially if it’s because you had an experience there. Tell an intimate story about that experience and you will have a great blog post. Another timeless popular blog post: take a photo of your writing desk. For some reason, many readers find this fascinating
5. Post questions within your posts requesting answers to be posted in the comments
This is a great way to encourage engagement with your audience. This works especially well if you have a compelling or controversial point to make, you can encourage others’ opinions. You can also ask advice and can get feedback on small pieces of writing you post. Which leads me to the next tip…
6. Post new writing
Even small excerpts of writing can entice readers to become excited about your forthcoming project. You can get some great feedback (if you ask for it) this way while engaging your audience at the same time.
7. Keep your posts short
The general wisdom is to keep your posts between 500 and 700 words. I break this rule consistently and I seem to get away with it, so it’s not a hard and fast rule. If the writing is compelling and draws readers in, the length won’t matter. At least, that’s what I keep telling myself.
8. Write in lists
If you are writing posts like this one, lists are a great way of getting lots of information across quickly. People can browse the list (notice I have list “titles” bolded which makes for easier scanning) and get your point. These posts are often shared since they are quick and easy to read. That said, many of my posts are narrative, which is not conducive to list making.
9. Write what makes you happy
In the end, like most of my writing, I don’t have a whole ton of control over what comes out. Often I am writing to work through a personal conundrum, and the posts just sort of spill out. But I write a lot about grief, so I can get away with that. In the end, what I write is from the heart, and that comes through. That authenticity is what keeps my audience coming back to my site and reading my posts. We each have a talent that draws readers to our work, the trick with the blog is to let that talent shine.
Continue with my author website series: