By Shelley Sturgeon
You’ve heard it over and over and over again. Having a popular author blog can be a key ingredient of a successful author platform. A successful author platform can be key to being a successful author—translation: selling lots of books!
Dynamic Versus Static Content
A blog consists of blog posts and blog pages.
- Blog posts are dynamic content which means they change, the content is fresh, and it keeps readers coming back to the blog.
- Blog pages are static content. Pages are usually full of information that readers can and do reference, such as About and Contact pages, but their content doesn’t typically, or at least frequently, change.
Today I’d like to focus on what makes a popular blog post because a successful blog needs traffic, a large and loyal readership, and popular blog posts will help you find those readers and keep them coming back.
There are many popular blogs out there that I could use as examples but I believe in using what you know best and since I’ve been working as editor of The Book Designer blog for nearly 9 years, I’m going to use The Book Designer as an example. Chances are good, too, that if you’re here reading this blog post, you know this blog, too, so the examples I’m about to give you will resonate.
Elements of a Popular Blog Post
I don’t have all the answers about what makes a blog post popular. Just as some books inexplicitly become bestsellers while other books on similar topics, written with equal skill, marketed with equal effort, do not, blog posts can sometimes become hugely popular, even viral, without obvious explanation.
I remember years ago when I had a personal blog on WordPress.com where I wrote about a variety of unconnected topics, I wrote a blog post about killing chickens and how I’d opted out of visiting my aunt and uncle who lived on a farm on a particular day because they were going to be killing their chickens and how that went against my vegetarian sensitivities and wasn’t something I wanted to witness. That blog post was extremely popular compared to my other posts and to this day, I don’t really know why.
But, aside from random and unexplained successes, there are some things that we know will help to put a blog post on the path to success.
1. Frequency of posts
If you want readers to keep coming back, blog often and on a regular schedule so your readers want to come back and know when to do so.
Here at The Book Designer, almost without fail, we have been blogging on:
- Sundays–This Week in the Blogs and Carnival of the Indies blog carnival posts
- Mondays–Joel Friedlander, contributing write Sandra Beckwith and e-Book Cover Design Awards
- Thursdays–contributing writers Judith Briles, David Kudler, Amy Collins, Nate Hoffelder, Lee Foster
for years, occasionally varying from the normal offerings by providing guest posts or during the holiday season.
2. Stay on topic
Readers who come to The Book Designer expect to read about topics in our content niche that are related to self-publishing after the first draft is written such as:
- book marketing
- social media
- book and cover design
- getting book reviews
- legal issues to do with publishing a book
It is important that we provide that content consistently. We get many requests to publish guest posts on completely unrelated topics like:
- fashion design
- real estate in Toronto
- companies offering roofing services
I kid you not! We have been approached by companies to publish posts on these subjects. Those who approach us with these requests see a high traffic blog and their priority is to get their information in front of as many eyes as possible. They don’t care if you come back to the blog after reading their post. We do.
Think of it this way: If you go to McDonalds for a hamburger, you know exactly what you’ll be getting. Same thing if you come to The Book Designer. We don’t serve hamburgers of course, but I think you take my point? Don’t keep people guessing what’s on your menu!
3. Content of Value and Takeaways
If you want busy readers to spend their precious time visiting your blog, make it worthwhile. Don’t peddle fluff. Aim to provide content with substance so that when your readers are done reading your posts, they’ll leave a little wiser, and a bit more informed. Give them something that they can perhaps apply to their own situations.
If the goal of your blog is to entertain your readers versus to inform and/or teach them, then run with that and do it well.
Give them a reason to remember your blog posts. Make them think or make them smile but make them remember your article–and want to come back!
4. Keywords and SEO
Employing search engine optimization techniques can help you achieve higher search engine rankings so that readers can find your blog posts.
Think of it this way. There are undoubtedly many excellent books available for sale on Amazon which have not been marketed so aren’t getting readers because no one knows they’re there. You need search engines to know about your blog posts so that readers can find them.
These articles on SEO may help you understand how to do that:
- 12 SEO Tips to Drive Traffic and Sell Books
- SEO for Authors – Part 1
- SEO for Authors – Part 2
- How Improving Your Author Website Can Help Sell More Books
Keywords are focused words or terms that others would use in a search engine to find content. If you use those specific and focused words or phrases in your content—titles and within your posts, readers can more easily find your posts through search engines.
5. Promote and Reach Out
- Advertise your blogs posts on social media and through newsletter, etc. so that people will know about them.
- Take an interest in other similar blogs and leave comments to make connections so that those people will know about you and will discover your blog.
It is also important to acknowledge and interact with individuals who comment on your blog posts. Don’t ignore your audience. Encourage their input and strive to continue the conversation.
Examples of Popular Posts
Here’s a list of the 10 most popular blog posts on The Book Designer in the last year. Take a look and consider whether they:
- Stay on topic
- Offer content of value and takeaways
- Use keywords and SEO
Please note that page views, comments and shares were based on the figures available at the time I wrote this article. I expect that these numbers will increase over time.
- 1. What’s Going on with CreateSpace and KDP Print? [Updated]
25,135 Page Views / 89 Comments / 85 Shares
- 2. 110 Type Ornaments to Use in Your Book (Plus a Free Download)
7,874 Page Views / 31 Comments / 33 Shares
- Understanding the Current “Dos” and “Don’ts” of Amazon Book Reviews
7,190 Page Views / 37 Comments / 101 Shares
- Words Gone Wild: KDP Keywords Revisited
6,306 Page Views / 14 Comments / 52 Shares
- “I Hate That!” Book Design Pet Peeves
5,125 Page Views / 44 Comments / 51 Shares
- Book Promotion: Do This, Not That – July 2018
4,845 Page Views / 21 Comments / 137 Shares
- e-Book Cover Design Awards, August 2018
4,464 Page Views / 20 Comments / 34 Shares
- As the Author World Turns on Amazon Book Review Policies
4,068 Page Views / 25 Comments / 66 Shares
- 14 Content Ideas for Author Newsletters
4,039 Page Views / 12 Comments / 29 Shares
- e-Book Cover Design Awards, September 2018
3,829 Page Views / 20 Comments / 999 Shares
Even if you follow every tip and example I’ve included in this article, be patient. Blogging success and high traffic rates don’t happen overnight. Remember, slow and steady wins the race!