Indie Author Marketing – Get a Blog, Right? Wrong…

Did that title get your attention?  Let’s face it, indie author marketing is tough work (indie author marketing success even more so).  And so many indie authors will tell you that you need a blog for effective marketing.  Well, yes and no.  I’m actually all for having a blog, if you are doing this for the right reasons, and you are avoiding some key mistakes.  Having a poorly designed blog or one with little content can do just as much damage as good for you as an author, so you must think about why you have a blog in the first place.  I’ve touched on some of these points before, and I’ve added some new things here as well…

Indie Author Marketing – Reasons To Have A Blog

The primary purpose of blogging, for indie authors, is to help you sell books (unless you’re blog basics - wordpressrunning a blog like this one that focuses on helping indie authors with writing and marketing).  Here are some of the things a blog can do for you:

  • it can connect you with potential readers
  • it can build your audience
  • it can showcase your writing skills
  • it can generate book sales
  • it can position you as an expert in your genre
  • it can generate traffic to your author website
  • it can give you credibility as an author (great if you want to get an agent)
  • and more…

Okay, you’ve probably heard of all of those and could add to the list.  And you may be asking yourself, I do these, so why isn’t it working?

Indie Author Marketing – Reasons Your Blog Isn’t Working

author marketing - good and badAs I meet more and more indie authors, I see numerous things that they do with their blogs that actually harm their blogging efforts:

  • having a poorly designed blog
  • spelling or grammatical errors
  • blogging inconsistently (this doesn’t encourage people to come back because they see you’re inactive)
  • only blogging about your books (and saying buy my books all the time)
  • little or no book information
  • not linking your books directly to Amazon or other selling sites
  • not having a niche (you have to target your audience and write to them)
  • sharing your posts with those that aren’t in your target audience (I see this on Triberr a lot)

Now that we know the good and bad about our blogs, what can we do to correct things?

Indie Author Marketing – The Big Key – Your Blog Design

I visit so many blogs where it’s hard to navigate through the blog and you can’t find anything.  Or the blog is just blah…put some work into your design – it will pay off.  Here are some other tips:

  • make it easy for people to find posts (categorize your posts)
  • have pages with links to similar or themed blog posts (like my Promoting Your Books page)
  • Make sure you have EASY access to your book’s buy links – I can’t tell  you the number of blogs I visit where there’s no easy way, or sometimes ANY way, to get to the book’s Amazon, Smashwords, or Nook page (unless I go to Amazon and search the author’s name, which most readers won’t do).  Big mistake!
  • don’t have too much clutter on your site
  • don’t advertize unless you’re getting paid an affiliate link (after all, you want to sell your books, right?)
  • have links to your social media sites

Visit the Promoting Your Books page for links to my Blog Basics For Indie Authors – there are great tips and videos to help you design a great, dynamic blog.  Also Google how to create a great blog for more tips.

Remember, your blog makes an impression on your potential readers – don’t blow it with a poorly designed blog.

Indie Author Marketing – Spelling or Grammatical Errors

This one amazes me.  I actually see blogs where indie authors have blatant misspellings or grammatical errors in their posts (just yesterday my editor showed me a site where an indie author had a misspelling in the title of a story he’d posted to his blog, and I suspect that the error is in his book as well – another reason to use professional editing).  Sure, the occasional error might slip through.  But I’ve seen posts with big issues in this area, and then the author is asking people to buy their books – huh?  You’re showing me you can’t write but you want me to buy something from you?

A cautionary note: I see many indie authors advise one another that a blog is a great way to share your sample writings.  True, but you better make sure you’re writing is really good or you’ll turn away potential book buyers.   Also, I am one who advises not to share rough drafts on your blog.  Why?  It’s not showcasing your best work and this can and will turn away readers.  There are too many other ways to let readers sample your works, and you always want them to see the best you have to offer.

Indie Author Marketing – Become An Expert

Remember above, where I said a mistake is to only blog about your books, or to repeatedly say buy my books?  This turns people off.  The better thing to do is to make yourself an expert in a specific area and blog to that specific audience.  Do you like cooking, and your books have recipes in them?  Blog about cooking.  Let’s stretch this – your books are spy thrillers.   How can you be an expert?  Blog about spy tools, or some great spy stories of the past.  Be creative and interesting, and you will build an audience.  Scream buy my books and your potential readers will go away.

Indie Author Marketing – How Do People Find My Blog?

This is the killer question.  There are millions of blogs out there.  Just like your books, your blog can get lost in the sea of other blogs out there.  One thing you should be doing is use keywords to get people to find you.  This is so important, and yet I think many, many indie authors neglect this.

Other ways to market your blog are Triberr (see posts on my Triberr series on the Promoting Your Books page), Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.   There are many ways to share your blog posts.  Also consider using StumbleUpon, reddit.com, delicious.com and Digg as well.

You can also list your blog on a number of sites and this can help drive traffic to your blog as well.  BlogCatalog, Daypop, BlogPulse, Blogdex and Popdex are some I’ve heard of (I’ve not explored them all).  You can Google this and find places to submit your blog.

Finally, remember to make it easy for people to share your posts.  I have a widget installed that allows readers to easily share my posts on a number of social media sites.  And many do (thank you all for doing that :) ).  This means more traffic to your blog, and potentially more sales.

Remember these indie author marketing tips and you should see an increase in blog traffic, and hopefully book sales as well.

___________________

If you tweet this (or other useful posts for indie authors), use the hashtag #IAHB (Indie Author Handbook) – this way we can all find great content :) .

About Renée Pawlish

Award-winning author Renée Pawlish writes the bestselling horror book, Nephilim Genesis of Evil, the Reed Ferguson mystery series, short stories and non-fiction ghost stories.
This entry was posted in Indie Author Handbook, Promoting Your Books and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to Indie Author Marketing – Get a Blog, Right? Wrong…

  1. Cathy says:

    Fantastic advice. I’m new to blogging so these blog sites will be a huge help. Thank you.

  2. An excellent post. For me, the blog is a place to connect with readers and writers. I don’t think of it as a sales tool, though obviously it also serves that function. That’s not its primary function, however.

    I think all too many writers view social media as nothing more than a place to scream “Buy my stuffs!” rather than engaging people and letting that audience build over time. It’s not going to happen overnight, so you might as well have fun while you’re doing it.

    • Renée Pawlish says:

      I agree. I’ve occasionally said “buy my book” but I try not to :) . It’s tough to find the delicate balance of selling and connecting…
      Thanks for your comment.

  3. Good suggestions. I’m particularly weak on promoting my blog, and I will find this post useful! Thanks.

  4. Nice overview of the basics!

    One thing I would add is to always consider the reader… or, as Steve Krug would put it, “Don’t Make Me Think.” Specifically, if you mention resources that can help the reader, be sure to link to those sites, with an appropriate title tag in the URL (for SEO and accessibility).

    Your post only links to one of your internal pages, which is great for your site’s SEO, but I try to consider value to the reader first, by being as helpful as possible to them. SEO will take care of itself so long as you present excellent content, which you’ve certainly done here.

    We talk about this sort of thing over in the Indie Author Marketing Info community — come by and join us, Renee!

    • Renée Pawlish says:

      I agree about the SEO – I didn’t see anything externally to link to, so rather than link unnecessarily, I didn’t worry about it (one post without external links isn’t going to kill the blog lol).
      Thanks for the community link, I will check it out. And thanks for your comment.

      • “I didn’t see anything externally to link to…”

        What about Tribrr, BlogCatalog, Daypop, BlogPulse, Blogdex and Popdex? I think instead of asking readers to Google them, linking out to them provides the reader a service and adds value to your post. That’s an important lesson for authors who want to start their own blog: provide value at every opportunity.

        IMO, of course! :-)

  5. Dan Wright says:

    I will echo the thoughts of the previous comments, this was a great blog with some great advice, most of which I’ll take to heart myself.

    The blog I have is mainly used to talk about other writing and book reviews – I only really talk about my writing if I got a new book coming out. I also try and blog at least once a week as well so I agree with your point about blogging inconsistantly.

    This I think is a great help for those wishing to start a blog and I believe you are spot on on the points raised. :)

  6. Great suggestions. For me, the best part of blogging is the community. I don’t yet have a book to sell, but all the people I’ve met through blogging and Twitter have helped me really thrive as a writer. I love the encouragement we share with one another. And, when I do have a book, I think having participated in the community for so long without anything to sell will help me to keep that community mindset. I hope so, anyway. :D

  7. Kate says:

    I think starting a new blog, this late in the blogging game, is a waste of time for “new” authors. Either you have a platform and an audience or you don’t. Most people keep a blog for years before they write a book. If you write a book before you blog, your have to build an audience for both your blog and your book and the two audiences are different. The book audience pays for content, the blog audience wants a quick hit for free. A guest column or a guest post at an established media outlet gets the brand-building job done more effectively.

    • Renée Pawlish says:

      Hmm, I don’t think I agree. First, you have to start somewhere with building your platform. It doesn’t just happen.
      And if you blog to a target audience, bearing in mind keyword research and other things to establish a presence on the first or second page of search engines, this can be effective in finding you new fans for your book(s). And I’m not sure who you mean by “most people” – I highly doubt this applies to fiction authors, as most mainstream-published authors don’t keep a blog, nor did they for “years” before publishing a book.
      And the problem now with trying to hit an established media outlet is that many will not consider self-published authors, and the ones that do are inundated with requests. Just my two cents :) .
      Thanks for your comment.

    • Respectfully, Kate, a guest column or guest post at an established media outlet might get your book a short-term boost, but unless that guest post is directing readers back to your website (where you’ve provided lots of reasons for readers to stick around, including a blog) the effectiveness is limited.

  8. Robbie Cox says:

    Thanks, Renee, for the great information above. Notes taken as I am striving to build my own readership.

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