When you write a blog post, it is not as simple as writing 300 words and posting every few days.
There are essential elements that are critical to making the difference between just a blog, and a very successful blog for fiction writers.
For many authors, most often, it is not about how much effort you put into it.
It’s about how much smart work you apply to your author blogs to help your author brand.
If you are not happy with the number of blog readers you are attracting each day, or you are finding it hard to gain comments and social shares, there are ways, and often quite simple fixes, to improve your blog’s performance and help you build a platform.
While the choice of a self-hosted blogging platform is critical if you want to create an income-earning blog, for authors wanting to gain readers, free platforms such as WordPress and Blogger/Blogspot can perform very well.
Well-known author, Joe Konrath uses the free Blogspot blogging platform for his posts and articles and has a huge following.
While Irish author, David Gaughran has his popular Let’s Get Digital blog running on free WordPress site.
Jane Friedman however, uses a self-hosted WordPress site.
No matter what platform you use for your author website or author blog, there are always ways to improve and increase your readership, which in turn can help your book sales.
The following list will help guide you towards making adjustments that can only make your blog work much better for you and help you with your book marketing.
10 Reasons Why Your Author Blog Might Be Struggling
1. You Don’t Spend Enough Time Researching Your Blog Post Titles
The few words you choose for your blog post title are the most important words in your great article.
They are the first words people see in Google Search and on social media so they need to be words that should instantly attract attention. It needs to give readers a very clear idea of why your article is about.
Before deciding on a title for a blog post, check how well the words perform on Google Search.
Another great way to check is to use the CoSchedule Headline Analyzer. You need to register, but it is free. Here is the result of my headline of this article.
I am usually happy with a score above 70, but you can experiment and try for yourself. Check some of your existing blog post titles to see how they rate.
Most importantly, a good title is between 50 and 55 characters long and contains less than 11 words.
2. You Love Big Paragraphs, But Blog Readers Hate Them
A blog article is not a book.
Reading blog articles on laptops, phones, and tablets is a very different reading form.
It has to be very easy on the eye, so use a lot of white space, which means that big chunky paragraphs are out.
As a rule of thumb, use no more than 2 short sentences together, and break up very long sentences into smaller bite-size sentences.
Ideally, the text should be dark grey and not black, on a white or very pale background.
Your choice of font is also important. A san serif font such as Arial works much better than a serif font like New Times Roman.
The last element is the font size. Don’t make readers squint. Use at least 12, if not 14 points for body text.
3. You Don’t Use Enough Images
While one image is okay, more images are much better.
You need at least one image that will appear when your post is shared.
But for a reader, more images not only help inform or entertain, but also help break up your text, as mentioned in point 2.
Try to add at least two more if you have a word count of around 1,000 words.
But don’t go stealing images. The image above is from Canva, a free online image maker.
You can also use free stock photos and images or better still, take your own photos.
Oh, and don’t forget to use your book cover – but only from time to time.
4. You Talk About You Too Much
Do you use the first or second person in your articles?
Cut down on totally I, and concentrate completely on You. That’s your reader. Write to them.
You will notice the difference immediately, won’t you?
Your writing process needs to be directed towards your reader. Inform them, and help them to solve problems or answer questions they may have.
Give your advice to writers to help them improve.
I want you to succeed at author blogging, and selling books, so I am writing this article especially for you. Why? Because you are very important to me.
5. Your Content Is Not Helping Your Readers
It’s not what you write about, it’s how you write about it.
Do your articles entertain, inform, or more importantly, answer questions readers have?
If you write about you, can your experience help your readers?
The best author blogs write articles that help their readers.
Great blogs are very focused on one particular theme or topic and become a reliable resource for readers, who then return, return and return, and then comment and ask questions. This is the process that builds your author platform.
A quick and easy way to get ideas for a blog post is to take a look at questions being asked on Quora or try to get a few new ideas by reading some articles on Writer’s Digest.
Select your blog theme or topic and then narrow down to questions that attract a lot of attention and answers.
It doesn’t matter if your topic is Architecture or Zoology, there are always questions that need answers, and you can help someone.
Always remember that your blog is not about you, it is about your readers.
6. You Blog Is Not Focussed
A good author blog remains very much on the topic.
Too often a blog becomes a daily diary, a writing scoreboard and is overloaded with book promotion and your book reviews. This is not of interest to blog readers.
Pick your topic and stick with it. Become a reliable expert and you will gain loyal blog readers.
It doesn’t necessarily have to be a topic related to writing and books. But perhaps a topic that is related to your book themes and subjects.
It could be your historical knowledge, your region, something culinary or even rose cultivation. Become an expert readers trust.
7. You’re Old News Too Fast
Blog articles that are read over and over again are what is called Evergreen content.
This means that your article will remain relevant for years to come.
Don’t go to all the effort of writing a long blog post that will be dated by next week.
Write long, informative articles that will stay alive and readable for a very long time, and will keep attracting readers from Google Search and social media sharing.
Oh, and of course, don’t forget to check and update your articles from time to time to make sure they are of continuing interest to your readers.
8. You Have Few Or No Headings
Headings give structure to your article, as well as helping readers navigate if they skim your article.
They are also very helpful to Google, who like logical headings when indexing your post. But they are not just bold words.
Headings are categorized as H1, H2, H3 and so on. On any blogging platform, you can add these from your editor.
H1 is usually your title and is added automatically, but you will need to add one H2 for your sub-title, and then H3 for subsequent paragraph headings.
You can use bold, italic and underline within your text to add emphasis, of course.
9. You Don’t Add Internal Links To Your Other Articles
If a reader likes what you write, give them more!
You can do this by adding internal text links to your most popular articles to send readers to your new articles.
To do this, select a few words in your text, and add a link to the words to send a reader to another one of your articles, as in the next sentence.
You should really know how to use links and especially how to add internal links to your articles.
A good rule of thumb is to add up to three internal links in a 1,000-word article. You should also add links from a couple of your older articles to your new article.
One near the beginning to keep a reader on-site who may not be totally hooked by the article. Another about half-way for a reader who has read enough.
And most importantly, add one near the end for readers who loved your article so much and want to read more. Don’t disappoint them!
Sharing your article yourself helps a little bit.
But not nearly as much as one hundred, or one thousand readers sharing your article on social media.
By far the easiest and quickest way to get readers to your blog and articles is from social media shares.
But it is all too frequent that author blogs lack this simple, yet highly effective tool.
Make sure you have social media share buttons on your blog and highly visible on every single article, and also that they work on mobile devices and tablets, as more than 50% of your traffic will come from mobile users.
There are many free tools available for all blogging platforms to add social sharing buttons, so do it.
There is always room to improve your blog. That’s what I do, day in, day out. But you don’t have to work at it full-time.
The most important element in a good working blog for a published author is to post articles regularly.
Perhaps once a week, or three times a month. Then check occasionally to make sure your older articles are up to date. If not, make a few edits or additions.
Hopefully, these 10 points will give you some new ideas about how you can improve your blog and your articles and help you attract more readers, and of course, more potential book buyers to your blog.
For new authors who are ready to start blogging, use these tips to get your author blog off to a flying start.
All of these tips can be used to improve your existing articles. Just make the changes and update your old articles and make them shine.
For your new articles, you will have a new way of thinking, writing and presenting your work to your readers.