You’ve read the articles, heard the incredible success stories and seen other authors burst on the scene attracting interest, gaining authority and making waves.
You know that a lot of these authors have used a blog as a means to get these great results, and everyone says you should start blogging as soon as possible. Marketing gurus like Seth Godin say you should start marketing your work three years before you publish, and traditional publishers are encouraging their authors to blog, too.
So off you go to start your blog. Maybe you have a good idea of what you’ll write about, or maybe you think you’ll figure it out as you go along. Hey, there are lots of roads that lead to success when it comes to blogging.
But there are even more roads that lead to failure. And that’s too bad, because many of the mistakes authors make when they dive into blogging are easy to avoid if you know how.
There’s nothing I find more depressing than running across blogs that have been abandoned by their authors. You see the archives: lots of posts for a couple of months fading to a trickle, until there’s one post left that starts with something plaintive like, “Sorry I haven’t posted in a while…” and then silence. I don’t want that to happen to you.
Let’s take a look at the 3 biggest mistakes authors make when they start blogging. If you can get these things right, you’re much more likely to stick it out, find readers, and build a community you’ll enjoy—and profit from—for years to come.
3 Ways to Fail at Author Blogging
- Not knowing who you are writing for
- Not marketing your blog
- Not creating a posting schedule
The most important question to ask yourself when you start blogging is “who am I writing for”? Exactly who do you have in mind that will read your articles? I don’t mean to say that you won’t discover more about your audience as it grows and learn exactly who is attracted to what you’re writing about. But if you don’t know who you’re writing for, how will you know what to write and how to write it?
This is a big one. Even if the author has studied blogging and has written excellent content, the biggest problem with many author blogs is that the author never markets them. Half of blogging is writing, and the other half is marketing. Contrary to what seems to be many people’s expectation, even good content does not magnetically attract hordes of readers. After all, if they don’t know about it, how can they discover, read, enjoy and share it?
Early bloggers started out writing what were basically personal journals, so lots of authors think that writing a blog is about telling the world about their own day-to-day activities. This casual approach to blogging extends to the frequency of your posts. Authors who write these “personal” blogs seem to post whenever the inspiration hits them. Sometimes weeks go by without an article and sometimes they’ll post every day for a while before going dormant. But a publication (your blog) intended for public consumption has to have a schedule of some kind. You wouldn’t subscribe to a magazine if you never knew when—or if—it would arrive, would you?
Luckily, it’s not that hard to get a grip on these problems when you first get going with your blog. Here are some suggestions that will help you avoid these newbie mistakes and encourage your blog to grow.
3 Ways to Turn Those Failures Into Successes
For each of these failings, you can start moving instead toward success by changing the way you approach each of these areas.
- Your audience. This is easier for nonfiction authors, because you can research your audience and then “listen in” on their conversations. For instance, searching for online forums, discussion groups, Twitter chats, Google+ communities and other places people gather will lead you to ongoing discussions in your field. You can also research successful blogs in your field and take a look at the guest authors and the readers who leave comments to get a good idea of the audience. After all, these blogs have already succeeded in the same field, so they are a great place to learn more about your audience.
- Blog marketing. The research you do on your audience is going to lead directly to the beginning of your own blog marketing. Why? All those forums, discussion groups, blogs and other places you found your audience are the same places you’re going to start marketing your own insight, expertise, knowledge—and blog articles. They will also supply you with great opportunities to contribute to your community and to meet and network with other bloggers and thought leaders in your community. You’ll turn up guest blogging opportunities, and lots of communities where you can start to become known, leaving links that will build into a steady stream of traffic to your own blog.
- Publication schedule. This is a personal decision, and it’s one of the best ways to de-stress your approach to blogging. When you’re new, set a schedule that you absolutely know you can stick to no matter what. If that’s once a week, start with that. As you get more proficient as a blogger, you can always increase the frequency of your posts, and that’s usually a good way to increase your traffic and readership. An easy way to do this is to have specific features you publish at specific times. For instance, you can add a shorter post every Tuesday with tips for your readers. People will start to look forward to your “Tuesday Tips” posts, and you’ll have pretty effortlessly increased your schedule. You also can create several of these posts and use your blog’s scheduling function to schedule them all at once, another great way to maintain a publication schedule.
So follow these tips if you’re just getting started blogging or if you haven’t had the results you want. Blogging is one of the greatest marketing and engagement devices ever invented. Authors are perfectly positioned to make the most of blogging technology, and if you avoid the three newbie errors you’ll be off to a much better start.
“Key to blogging success: Half of blogging is writing, and the other half is marketing.”—Click to Tweet
Photo: bigstockphoto.com. Originally published at CreateSpace in a slightly different form under the title The 3 Biggest Mistakes of Beginning Bloggers