The Wide World of Blogs
“Web Logs,” or “Blogs” as they are more commonly known in cyberspace, are the newest trend in attracting visitors to web sites. Similar to a diary, an author can record daily thoughts or experiences to share with readers. The difference between a blog and an online diary is that blogs are interactive. Readers and other visitors can post comments, and if desired, authors can respond back. Blogger.com, livejournal.com, and bravejournal.com are some of many free blogging sites that offer subscriptions. All you need to do is visit the site, pick a username and password, and you’re ready to start blogging. If you’d rather not link your website to an outside provider, consider using Word Press, a free software package that you can install. It requires a msql database and there are many beautiful templates to choose from. Some web hosting sites offer a blog subscription so authors can post their blog directly on their websites.
If you’re trying to increase your web traffic, blogs have become a fantastic way to generate more hits. Suzanne McMinn, a Silhouette Intimate Moments author at www.suzannemcminn.com/blog, tells of how her web traffic doubled in the first month after she created a blog. Another way to launch blog traffic is by joining Romancing the Blog, a blog site just for romance writers. At Romancing the Blog, you can find not only author blogs but also industry blogs from editor Anna Genoese of Tor publishing house, agent Jennifer Jackson of the Donald Maass Agency, and Deidre Knight of the Knight Agency. What could be better than an insider’s look at publishers and agents? Many have even started anonymous blogs like Miss Snark the literary agent and Agent 007.
But why would you need a blog? In one word: promotion. Increasing your web traffic can directly lead to higher sales. Even aspiring writers can build a following of readers for a future pen name. When that first sale comes along, there’s an instant way to announce the sale and have a core network of readers already established. The best part is, web promotion requires little or no money, and there’s access to millions of people across the world.
- There are some do’s and don’ts that apply to blogging.
- Do post something every day or at least every other day. If you’re going to commit to a blog and building a readership, people will expect a regular post. If you haven’t posted since last November, your readers aren’t going to come back.
- Don’t overdo the promotion. Blatant commercials for your upcoming books aren’t what readers are looking for. They want to read about the real you, and they want funny, enjoyable stories that you share.
- Do offer contests from time to time, or fun activities like online quizzes. Julie Cohen, a Mills and Boon author, posted a quiz titled “What Kind of Writer Are You?” Suzanne McMinn offered a quiz on “What’s Your Pirate Name?”
- Do share favorite photographs and links. Be careful and don’t ever post the names of your children with the photos, however. There are still predators out there.
- Don’t write about the weather. Nobody cares.
- Do allow people to post comments or to post anonymously. Posting anonymously means your readers don’t have to create a subscription with blogspot or livejournal. Most people will sign their names anyway.
- Do visit other blogs and post comments. This is the best way to start generating readers. If someone visits your blog, be sure to reciprocate and visit theirs.
Above all, be entertaining! We’re writers, and by sharing a part of our daily lives-both the perils of publication and the journey toward it, people will begin to care about us. And they might even buy a book or two.