Marketing Monday: To Blog or Not To Blog (Author Sites, Part 5)

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KeepCalmBlog_CarolynColesTo blog or not to blog…that is the question. For aspiring authors, at least. Most marketing experts expound on the importance of the blog in building your platform—that is, your eventual readership. But what if you hate to blog? What if you don’t know where to start?

I happen to be one of the few fiction authors who actually enjoys blogging. I have a background in copywriting, and so knocking out 400-800 words of non-fiction a couple times a week isn’t all that daunting. Until, of course, it’s combined with deadlines, editing, and other marketing. The pace can be overwhelming, and the demand for new content is never-ending. But I also recognize that my site traffic is much improved by having new posts each week, and watching trends in my site stats has shown me that, personally, I’m better off blogging than not.

So let’s take a unbiased look on the importance (or unimportance) of blogging to your overall marketing strategy.

Why You Should Blog

1. Blogging allows you to showcase your voice, writing style, and personality. Potential readers may decide they like you and therefore they might like your book. It gives readers a no-risk way to get to know your writing and offers assurance they won’t be wasting their time and money on your novel.

2. Blogging gives you a way to connect with readers in a non-marketing forum. Yes, a blog is part of your overall marketing strategy, but unlike other marketing and advertising strategies, it doesn’t involve a hard sell.

3. Blogging gives you a way to give back to readers. Many social media and marketing pundits espouse the 99% rule: 99% of your contact with readers should be you contributing to the conversation. Only 1% should be you taking from the conversation (that is, giving a sales pitch). If 99% of the time, you’re providing useful or entertaining information, readers are more likely to see that 1% of marketing message in a positive light.

4. Blogging improves your page rank. Google prizes new content, and constantly having new blog posts will push you to the top of search rankings for your topics. Which brings us to another important note…

5. Blogging allows you to establish yourself as an expert. This is usually emphasized for non-fiction writers, but it’s true for fiction writers as well. Perhaps you want to be known for writing a particular type of fiction with a particular type of character (e.g. military suspense). If you consistently blog on these topics, your site will not only climb to the top of the appropriate search results, but also bring you readers who prize expert knowledge in their area of interest.

When You Shouldn’t Blog

1. You hate blogging. At times, we all say we hate blogging. Usually, we mean we hate finding the time to do it. But if you truly hate it, that will come through in your writing. You won’t be motivated to be consistent, and you won’t reap the benefits of blogging that I listed above.

2. You truly don’t have the time. Many writers hold down a full time job while writing books, and marketing already takes up a significant amount of writing time. If you have to choose between writing to meet your deadline or blogging, it makes more sense to write. After all, blogging is only one piece of an overall marketing strategy… and there’s no point in building a platform if you have no product.

3. You don’t have anything to say. Some people find that writing fiction comes naturally, but writing non-fiction is a little like a root canal without anesthesia. Slow, painful, and seems like it lasts forever. If you truly cannot consistently come up with unique content on a topic relevant to readers, you may be better off passing on the blog. One exception might be if you’re Seinfeld: a show about nothing would be well-promoted by a blog about nothing, (though truthfully, that’s harder than writing about something). I have a friend who writes quirky contemporary romance, and her blog is a charming combination of slice-of-life ramblings and sharp wit. In her case, it works, and it gives readers a taste of her voice and her sense of humor. But not everyone can pull off this strategy.

4. You attract stalkers. No, I’m not kidding. One particular author friend of mine deliberately keeps a low profile online because she seems to attract crazies (beyond the usual “hey, I like your Facebook profile pic” message). While it’s great to let readers see inside your head and your life, there are times when it makes more sense to keep your private life as private as possible.

Now that you’ve seen the reasons to blog and not to blog, how will you answer that question? If you’ve decided that you indeed need to blog, don’t forget to come back next Monday for my top ideas for making blogging easier and less time consuming.

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