120,000 new blogs created. Over 1.4 million posts published.
What’s that, every year? Guess again.
That’s every day. Every. Single. Day.
Kind of a terrifying, huh? When you hear numbers like that, it’s easy to think that blogging is futile. After all, with that many blogs and posts, who’s going to read what I have to say?
But check this out: over 57 million people read blogs daily. And that’s just in the US. Granted, a bunch of those people are reading the bigger blogs, but still.
Here’s the good news: if you do some planning up-front, not only will your blog be read, it will also win you loyal readers who stick with you throughout your career.
Even better news: you can get started at any time — even right now!
14 Easy Steps to Kick Start Your Author Blog
- Define your goals.
- Goal-setting is a critical step in any endeavor, but especially when starting a blog. As an author, what’s your goal for your blog? Sell 50 books in a month? Share mystery/thriller writing tips?
- Warning: Be sure your goals are clearly-defined; instead of saying you’d like to “gain new readers,” be specific. As in, “gain one new reader each week.”
- Perhaps even more importantly, describe the steps you’ll use to achieve your goal.
- Example: “My goal is to gain one new lifelong reader a week by: discussing my previous and upcoming work, showcasing my personality through applicable tales from my life, and sharing helpful information my readers will enjoy.”
- Warning: Be realistic. I’d love to sell 1000 books every day, too, but it’s probably not going to happen.
- Describe your perfect reader.
- Close your eyes and picture your ideal visitor; one who voraciously consumes everything you put on your blog, always comments, and purchases everything you put up for sale. If you’ve invested in branding or marketing, you may already be familiar with this person: he/she is a member of your target market.
- Now, describe everything about him/her. What does he do? Where does she live? When does he visit your blog? Why does she visit your blog? What other blogs do they read? Answering these questions gives you a clear picture of who you’re writing for, informing many of the decisions you’ll make about your blog.
- Determine your scope.
- What are you going to write about? Keep in mind your goal and your ideal reader. Many authors choose to write not only about their own work, but also about the writing process in general. Others discuss tales from their own life or tackle the publishing industry.
- Warning! Don’t spread yourself too thick or too thin – for example, neither “everything under the sun” nor “the outdoor adventures of my one-eyed cat, Felix” would be examples of effective scopes.
- Determine your blogging voice.
- As a writer, you already have a voice built-in! Let your blogging voice be a natural extension of your writing voice.
- Warning: If you’re used to long-form writing, you may have to tweak your voice to appeal to a more time-crunched audience. Many blog visitors prefer short, punchy, action-oriented posts.
- Set up your categories — your blog’s filing system.
- Flowing from your scope, brainstorm the categories your posts will fall under. Think of these like files in your filing cabinet.
- Warning: Make your categories broad enough so there’s little overlap — just as you can’t file the same sheet of paper in two folders, most posts should belong squarely in one category.
- Brainstorm potential post titles.
- Now that you have your scope, voice, and categories, you can begin brainstorming post titles. What would your ideal reader be interested in reading?
- Write your first post.
- Many bloggers choose to make their first post an introduction, to themselves, to what they’ll be writing about and to what readers can expect. Make it engaging, drawing in readers from the first sentence!
- Warning: Be yourself! In this type of writing it’s okay to let your quirks shine through.
- Set a posting schedule.
- Now that you’ve written your first post, you have an idea of the time involved. Use this estimate to set a schedule for your blog. How many times a week will you blog? Which day(s)?
- Set a schedule and hold yourself to it. Use post-it notes, set an alarm, have Google Calendar send you reminders– whatever it takes to keep on track!
- Write posts for first 2 weeks.
- Whenever you have extra time, it’s a great idea to write posts in advance. While this may not work for time-sentitive material like news events or your daily life, having an extra week of posts in the bank will take some of the pressure off of you in case unexpected events (or dreaded writer’s block) occurs.
- Purchase a domain name.
- Choose your host/platform.
- Spice up your posts.
- Unlike the pages of a novel, readers on the internet like (and expect) visual formatting to make your posts easier to read. Add photos, use headings to break up sections, bold important points — whatever you do, don’t put your post out there naked.
- Post your first blog.
- You made it! Time to publish your first blog post. Read it aloud to ensure it makes sense. Give it one more spell-check. Take a deep breath and…hit publish. Release your held breath. You did it!
- Now that your first post is live, it’s time to let everyone know! Call friends and family; share with your followers on Twitter; tell your friends on Facebook! Put your blog address on all of your social media profiles and stick it in your e-mail signature.
- Warning: It takes footwork (and time) to get your blog out there — don’t expect Google to do the work for you.
Take A Deep Breath
Realize that these first steps are just that — first steps. Thankfully, the web is dynamic, always changing and shifting. If you start out with one goal in mind, but realize in a couple of months that it’s quite right, you’re free to alter it. Want to change your scope or tweak your voice? Go for it — experiment!
My advice in regards to this, however, is to give it a few months before dramatically altering anything (unless you just know one aspect is just a total dud).
Another piece of advice: If you do change your goals, scope or voice, give your readers a heads-up, letting them know about the change and the reasoning behind it. They’ll appreciate your honesty.
- Blogging Tips and Resources via ProBlogger
- Podcast: Advanced Blogging Tips for Authors via The Creative Penn
- 5 Keys to Promoting Your Book with a Blog via Tony Eldridge
- How to Blog Effectively: A Guide for Writers by Tony Noland
- Starting a blog doesn’t have to be a daunting task!
- Taking the time to do some planning before your blog launches gives you a clear direction.
- Don’t trust Google to do your promotion for you — tell your online and offline friends and let them help you spread the word.
- Stick with it! Don’t give up and become one of the nearly two-thirds of bloggers that abandons their post. Blogging can be difficult, but is also a valuable tool for expanding your readership.
Now, get out there and create your blog! After you’re done, leave us a link in the comments.
Have questions or need help with the process? Leave them in the comments, shoot us an e-mail or tweet @duolit and we’ll help you out.