#14-Blogging-Author-how-toAs we’ve outlined in our recent posts about websites and SEO, we encourage authors to include blogging as part of your overall marketing strategy, because a blog is what helps you hunt down new readers, keeps those readers coming back to your site, keeps search engines ranking you, allows for instant reader feedback and more.

So now come the inevitable questions: How long should those posts be? How often should you blog? What should you blog?

If there were magic answers to these burning questions, there probably wouldn’t be thousands of articles devoted to this subject all over the internet. Let’s tackle it anyway! Then, be sure to explore our additional resources at the end of this post for other great blogging tips.

Have a blog to share with fellow authors? Leave the URL and description in your comment below!

How Long Should a Blog Be?

Yes, there are longer blogs that work, and shorter blogs that work equally well. Typically the range is 350 – 750 words. If a LOT needs to be said on a topic, it needs to be said, but then what we often tell authors is, if it can be split into Part I and Part II, do that.

Why? If you’ve heard the term “information super highway” you probably already know this is a fast moving highway, where blogs and social media snippets are what we refer to as “drive-by reading.” Less can be more.

Unfortunately there are few rules of the road beyond that. Yes, we’ve seen effective blogs break the rules; we break them ourselves (including this very post!) But this is a range to get you to started until you find your own sweet spot.

More important is that you don’t slam down a bunch of words just to have something to say, or rush your readers with too few words, just to say you blogged. The point of blogging is to give your readers insight into you… your work, your characters, your interests, your voice, your point of view.

If you’re writing non-fiction, this is twice as important. Readers will be coming to you for the same tone and level of expertise you provide in your books, to keep them up-to-date with news and trends on the topics about which you write.

Write Better Blog PostsHow Often Should I Blog?

A lot of business advice out there would have us all blogging once, even twice a day; those folks also have teams to do the heavy lifting. Joel Friedlander of The Book Designer wisely says, “Bloggers have different aims, write in different categories, and have wildly different abilities to produce content. If you’ve identified the top blogs in your niche, you’ll already have a head start on understanding what readers might expect.”

We haven’t met many authors who have time to blog each day (well, any), though many start out thinking they can. After a couple weeks they decide maybe only three times a week, then once a week, then… oops, I should’ve blogged last month. Blog readers have expectations – if you set yourself up to meet them daily but can’t, those readers will wander off.

We’d rather see an author blog weekly or every other week and be consistent, so they can establish a pattern and develop a following.

Building an audience for your blog is based on trust. Just as you’d show up to school or work, you need to show up to your blog. If life gets in the way (and it does), give readers a heads-up so they’ll know you haven’t gone MIA. Store up a blog or two in your drafts folder; solicit guest posts related to your readers’ areas of interests for those “I’m on book tour” weeks.

Most important – have fun. If you treat your blog like a chore, it will be, for you and your readers. But honest sharing with your readership will encourage their comments and participation, to help you build a solid and genuine fan base!

What you’re blogging will obviously inform both how long your blogs are and how often you’ll be blogging. If, for example, you’re opining on each day’s political headlines, then daily works. If your blogging strategy is to offer up Top 10 lists on everything from favorite books of a certain genre to chili ingredients, then short and sweet will do the trick, and weekly is more than sufficient.

What to Blog

If you think you “should” be blogging but you’re asking what you should blog, it’s time to take a step back. Maybe you’re not ready to be blogging yet. True enough, while your blog may shift and grow and change as you and your audience do, you’ll want to have some idea of what you’ll be blogging before you jump in the deep end of this really murky pool.

Here are a few tips to get you thinking about the directions your blog may go, whether new or in need of new direction.

Do Your Research

What are other authors in your genre blogging about? Obviously you won’t want to do the exact same thing, but how they’re appealing to their audiences may help give you a sense of how you can uniquely appeal to your own.

What Do You Bring to the Table?

Do you have an area of expertise you can share with readers? Can you motivate readers to take action based on your advice or inspiration? Perhaps your gift is in creating an emotion in your readers — making them laugh, or cry, or get angry, or ponder. Tap into what makes you uniquely qualified to write a book. Does that also make you qualified to share weekly or other periodic wisdom?

Tackling Tough Issues?

Does your writing tackle a predominant issue, an issue you share with readers? Animal rights? Adoption? Organ donation? Issues based blogs can talk to everything from news on the related topic, to events, to substantive discussions on how to tackle tough issues, to curating content from other great writing on your pet issue.

Genre-Based Blogging

Maybe your common bond with readers is in what you write and read. For example, if you write southern gothic fiction, this represents a particular group of readers to whom discussions of other southern gothic books (both classic and contemporary) would appeal. In this example, an extension of that blog might be discussing southern gothic recurring themes, character archetypes, settings. Genre-based blogging works especially well for historic work, both fiction and non-fiction. There’s no shortage of research and fascinating facts about time periods and historical characters.

Obviously there are few hard and fast rules on the blog scene. We’ve seen blogs that zero in on travel adventures, those that hope to amuse with lists or jokes galore, those that explore poetry, painting, pottery or plants. Some authors (Joanna Penn comes to mind) are brilliant in giving other authors advice. Others, like Dean Robertson, find joy in reviewing books by other authors.

The trick is to find that sweet spot between a blog you’ll love writing as much as your readers will love reading… And if you’ve found that, we want to see it, too!

Additional Resources

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8 thoughts on “Author Marketing Mastery #14: Blogging – How Long, How Often and What to Blog

  • April 11, 2016 at 3:40 pm

    Hi Shari: I found you via my subscription of Joel Friedlander. I am going to become a fan. I absolutely know I am not blogging the right way. I’m a short two and a half years into indie authorship. Still learning. I didn’t know what a blog was on December 31, 2012. Did discover it is both a noun and a verb. Didn’t know Twitter or Webpages or Google existed. I did get accused of living under a rock, but actually, I was living my life off grid and loved every minute of it. My blog audience is indie authors. I just made a whole raft of them angry when I blogged: “It is simply not good business sense for me or any indie author to loan a hard won brand/reputation/platform–whatever those buzz words mean, to a site/blog that has no traction, which translates to no exposure.” I am still getting reamed for it, but I stand by what I said. IMO, the goal is to reach a new audience with interviews and guest posts. Early on I was invited for interviews. I accepted. Nobody showed up on the sites. No shares, No comments. I was invited to guest post. Did it. No shares. No comments. I now have two interactive webpages and blogs aimed at an indie author audience. I don’t sell anything. Except my books when in promotion. I would love your opinion.

    Jackie Weger

    • April 11, 2016 at 4:01 pm

      Hi Jackie! Good to meet you and off the grid sounds delightful sometimes — believe we should ALL go off the grid once in a while (just preschedule posts and shares before we do, lol…) Joel Friedlander is a wonderful resource; I’m a huge fan. Just back from IBPA and so will get round to viewing your sites after catchup, but I agree w/ you on where to post. True, everyone has to start somewhere, and for that I suggest having a couple of posts “in the can” to offer up for those who want your wisdom but haven’t created much traffic yet… We do have our authors checking traffic before they submit because honestly, it’s a LOT of work if you’re creating original content for a blog that’s only being seen by the blogger and his/her mom…

      But let me also qualify that because dependent on the post/site, fewer folks comment these days – often because they’re just inundated with information. I know at WWW we receive fewer comments than we used to (and about the same shares but more RTs) even though we have an audience that’s 3x the size… and I know they’re reading because I get emails but not site comments… So, the world wide web can be world wide weird… I look forward to reading your words and yeah, I’ll probably be inviting you to guest post, too 🙂

      • April 11, 2016 at 5:54 pm

        Shari! Thank you for: “We do have our authors checking traffic before they submit because honestly, it’s a LOT of work if you’re creating original content for a blog that’s only being seen by the blogger and his/her mom…” Mercy me. I did not say that as nicely as you did because I was then and continue be annoyed when asked to trot around the WWW to comment on a review/guest post/interview. I say to the authors in my group: Share it, Tweet it, use #eNovAaW hashtag and it will get retweeted via Roundteam and shared by my 30,000+ followers and their followers. Like you, I suggest check traffic, not only on blogs, but promoters. Hit that Alexa button. No ranking and 2 sites linking in: PASS. I’m done. Nice to meet you. Shared this post everywhere.

        • April 11, 2016 at 7:32 pm

          Thanks, good lady and YES – excellent point on the hashtag — will share you as well!

  • April 3, 2016 at 4:37 pm

    Wonderful article. For me, posting weekly works best. I don’t overwhelm my followers with frequent posts, and it gives me time to visit other blogs during the week. More than that, and I find it eats into my writing time.

    • April 4, 2016 at 10:04 am

      Good points, Carrie! We’ve taken to posting our wisdom series on Sundays, and only posting Tue/Thu when something of value, i.e. guest posts of fun news, to share. Write on!

  • April 3, 2016 at 12:49 pm

    I find that my blogs, many of which are fairly elaborate reviews of books, nearly always run over–somethimes WAY over–the recommended limit and I had forgotten until reading this about the idea of breaking them into two parts. I’m not sure that would work for all my blogs, but I’ll be I could tinker enough to do that with at least a few to start. I wonder if those book reviews would even do the authors more good if they were either shorter or split? Build a little suspense. Thanks, WWW.

    • April 4, 2016 at 10:05 am

      Yes, hard to break reviews in two and I know yours are quite comprehensive. What you might think on is blogging twice weekly — one for “meet the author” stuff and your interview w/ them/quotes, and the other be just the review… Could work?

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