Three Keys to Successful Author Blogging

by Joel Friedlander on February 15, 2011 · 31 comments

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It’s an old truism that we often learn best by teaching. I was asked to give a presentation on Author Blogging and the opportunity to pull back and think about the whole phenomenon was incredibly educational for me.

Writing a blog and running a business don’t leave all that much time for reflection. Being forced to come up with a way to create a clear explanation for other people that could be delivered and absorbed in 40 minutes set some boundaries.

I ended up taking the ideas I’d put together and creating about three dozen slides to give a focus for the presentation. I much prefer listening to people who also have visuals, don’t you? I decided it was worth the time it would take.

Buried in the Pile, Three Keys to Success for Authors Who Blog

The talk was well received, and I felt I had communicated some of the excitement and possibilities in the marriage of self-publishing with blogging.

Looking through the slides the next day, I was surprised to find that the three most important ideas leapt out at me from the very middle of my presentation. Here are the slides.


1. Content Focus—I don’t think there’s anything more important, or more challenging, than to keep your content focused on the subject matter and the goals you have for your blog. The deeper you dive into your subject area, the more you create community of the people who want to go deep with you. This is really critical to your success.


2. Patient Care of Your Readers—Sometimes we get fixed on numbers, metrics, subscribers, followers, visitors, hits, page rank, and all the other things that don’t actually contribute to success. Riding out the slow periods, like in the first few months of your blog’s life, and taking care of each reader who wants to interact with you, on the other hand, pay huge dividends.


3. Collaboration and Networking—Blogs are social media in more ways than one. No blog exists by itself, it’s part of an ecosystem of writers within the same subject area. Your blog has the ability to connect you with these other influence leaders in your field and in the process confer authority and trust on you as well.

These three keys really do impact your success at blogging. Understanding how to focus your content, consistently valuing individual readers more than any metrics, and creating networks of friendship and shared interests make your blog memorable, a “must visit” location.

Photo by Daniel Morris

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    { 22 comments… read them below or add one }

    C. Michael Lorion October 24, 2014 at 7:20 am

    I’m late to this particular party, but I’m glad I found this today. Joel, I’ve known I have to get my blog going, and I finally decided to do it now, and I found this post by you. Three great things for me to focus on. I have my niche idea, and I’ve had other ideas also, but after reading this and a similar comment elsewhere online, I’m sticking with my original idea and I will plumb the depths to the very end. Thank you for the encouragement!


    fiona October 10, 2012 at 10:16 am

    Joel, your posts about blogging have been the most helpful and personable I have come across. I am starting to build a platform through blogging and tweeting and am about to publish my first novel. I was reluctant to do this but am really enjoying meeting people. So many writers talk about numbers and stats which I really dislike. I think it is so important to value each person who takes the time to interact. Thank you for your reminder that it is more important to value people than to focus on followers. Your attitude makes all the difference in a world of voices. This is a brilliant post.


    Joel Friedlander October 15, 2012 at 4:36 pm

    Thanks, fiona, I really appreciate your feedback. And yes, the number of people is far less important than the engagement you have with each reader. Good luck with your book!


    Greg Gountanis February 18, 2011 at 4:43 pm

    Joel, thanks for the nice article. It is very important to focus on your niche. While we’d all like our writing to be in front of the largest possible audience, sometimes it’s best to focus on your niche–on your target group of readers–and go from there. Cool site, and I’ll definitely be returning!


    Joel Friedlander February 18, 2011 at 4:56 pm

    Hey Greg, thanks for that. I agree it’s important to focus on your niche, but keep in mind that building a blog is a process that can take a while. It’s smart to find a niche you can really make an impact in, become the “go-to” authority in that field because when you achieve that, you’ll be able to move “up” to a bigger niche or laterally to related niches and you’ll find larger and larger audiences quite naturally.


    Mary Anna February 18, 2011 at 7:48 am

    Hello Joel – This is my first blog comment ever…so I hope I can ask 3 questions! I attended your presentation on Sat, Feb 12th for BAIPA. Great information sharing…thank you and great presentation style. I am working with someone to create my own blog site. Here are my questions: 1.) I thought I heard you say that it is best to have your own domain and blog site – do you also advise posting at the same time on a well established site like Wordpress or just playing in the sandbox alone until Goggle starts to send others my way? 2.) Do you recommend any specific fonts for blogs? 3.) Do you think dark text on light background is easier for the reader than the reverse? Thanks much!


    Joel Friedlander February 18, 2011 at 10:37 am

    Congratulations, Mary Anna. Commenting is a great way to get to know other bloggers and leave links to your own blog for others to follow. 1. You only need one site, not two. Get your own domain and the Wordpress software and start establishing yourself. 2. I’m using Verdana here, which seems to work well on screen, but there are other choices and more coming. As long as it’s easy to read, use something that appeals to you. 3. Avoid dark backgrounds, they are much harder to read. And good luck!


    B.C. Young February 17, 2011 at 7:22 am

    Excellent information. I’ll use some of these points, and see what happens. I’ve ramped up my blogging efforts in the past month and have see some success. Thanks for the insights!


    Joel Friedlander February 17, 2011 at 8:46 am

    B.C., your blog looks great, good luck with it. Keep providing useful info and your traffic will continue to grow.


    B.C. Young February 17, 2011 at 8:57 am

    Thanks for the compliment and encouragement. I appreciate it!


    Neil Vogler February 16, 2011 at 3:55 am

    Great advice, succinctly delivered. I too agree with your point about taking care of each and every person that takes the trouble to visit and comment on your blog. This entire industry is about networking, and people, and making connections. The great thing about the net is the limitless potential for making discoveries, be they people, places, or products. Good stuff.


    Joel Friedlander February 16, 2011 at 10:21 pm

    I think that’s why social media really works for people who love to connect, can reach out to others and share something of themselves.


    jonathanfigaro February 15, 2011 at 1:43 pm

    Great advice. Those who come to your website. You must befriend and treat as equals. Never try to be something your not. Focus on the content and market like your a Great post.


    Joel Friedlander February 16, 2011 at 10:20 pm

    Thanks for visiting, jonathan.


    Marcia February 15, 2011 at 8:39 am

    I just published my first novel on Kindle. I am taking an online course on blogging, and have set up blogs for both my niche business and for my writing. I’m finding that getting published, just like starting a business, is only the beginning. I liked what you said about taking care of your readers. It reminds me of what my uncle did after World War II. He started a neon sign business out of his garage. By the time he retired, he was a multi-millionaire. Asking my dad how he accomplished so much, he replied that Uncle Harvey had a tremendous work ethic, and a tremendous sense of integrity. He took care of his customers, and that became his reputation. Maybe, I can emulate him.


    Joel Friedlander February 16, 2011 at 11:43 am

    Marcia, congratulations. It’s tough to keep 2 blogs going at once, but you have a great example to follow in your Uncle Harvey. Best of luck.


    Betsy Gordon February 15, 2011 at 8:09 am

    Joel — These are all excellent points. But the one that instantly caught my eye was “taking care of each reader who wants to interact with you.”

    You are so good at that! In the end, it’s what kept me coming back for more when I first found your blog. It’s really quite unusual that a busy blogger, one who offers so much good and varied material to his readers, takes the time to answer every single comment he receives. Your replying to each of us, by name, with a few words that show you actually did read our comments, is gracious, welcoming, and a true selling point, in my opinion.

    I am trying to encourage our newest author into blogging, and the best way I can think of to do this is to keep forwarding your remarks to him. Thanks for being such a generous mentor to all your readers.



    Joel Friedlander February 16, 2011 at 11:41 am

    Betsy, I’m blushing. Thanks for reading, and send your author over here to read for a while, it would have to help!


    Texanne February 15, 2011 at 7:38 am

    Nicely done. Specially like your 1″ wide, 1 mile deep measurement. Sometimes settling on that particular inch can take a lot of time and thought.


    Joel Friedlander February 16, 2011 at 11:38 am

    Too true, Texanne. Some people seem to know right away, others have to try different things to get a good fit. My suggestion is to get a subject you’re passionate about and just try it.


    Christopher Wills February 15, 2011 at 12:55 am

    Thanks for this. I have started a blog and it is in the early, not many visitors, stage. I’m trying to teach the steps of writing a book, editing it, and then self epublishing it. As I post I am editing my own book and I will be taking visitors through my own experience of ISBN numbers, formatting for an ebook and then uploading to Amazon so they can learn from my efforts. But the lack of visitors was beginning to make me think maybe I should be posting about all sorts of things to try and coax people to my site.
    I will persist in what I am doing because I feel much more comfortable with that. And I will try to take care of my visitors.
    Thanks for the good advice.


    Joel Friedlander February 16, 2011 at 11:37 am

    Christopher, it does take time for traffic to develop, and a certain amount of work on your part. The early days of your blog are best for working on “evergreen” content that will stand the test of time, because people will always come back for that. I would suggest you don’t stray from your focus and give it six months to see what happens. Good luck!


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