Monday, July 12, 2010

Starting Out With Your Blog

blog75 Lately, I’ve gotten a few emails asking me the best way to launch a blog.

I think there must be a lot of different ways to do it and I’m not sure mine is the best approach. In fact, my blog had been launched for about five months before I decided to try and accelerate growth in number of readers.

Here’s what I did: First of all, I joined Dani's Blog Book Tour, which is a free class run through Yahoo Groups. You may not have the time for this (and she's just started a brand new class...a week ago, I think), but I think her site and the sites she links to are very helpful: My blog design is roughly laid out in a style that she had recommended. One important part of blogs is a follower function--it helps people feel they belong to your blog and it's a spot for them to regularly visit. I have the Google follower widget on there (easy enough to install) and the Networked Blogs (Facebook) follower widget (harder to install, but still doable.) The next thing I did was to visit blogs of other authors. I located many of those authors from the blogrolls of high-volume writing blogs I'd found online--places with lots of hits each day. I was looking for blogs to follow that posted regularly (usually at least 1-3 days a week), had loyal followers, and focused on topics that were important to writers or readers. When the blogs posted updates, I'd read them and comment.

After a while, I had a lot of regular commenters and also a lot of online friends. It does get time consuming to visit everyone. What I decided to do was to add all the blogs I followed to a Google Reader via RSS feeds. Then I organized my friends' feeds by days of the week: I have a MWF folder and a T/Th folder, etc. With this method, I hoped I could ensure I visited everyone at least once or twice a week and keep up my online friendships.

If you're not on Facebook, I'd have to recommend that you look at joining up. You can set up a feed from your blog to your Facebook profile page--I do get lots of readers through Networked Blogs. How do you find writers on Facebook? Try going to the Facebook page of one of the writers whose blog you follow. Then go to their friends page and start following their friends. Nearly all of my friends on Facebook are writers (I’m on Facebook at Elizabeth Spann Craig Author).

In addition, I'd recommend tweeting your posts--with catchy headlines. It’s better not to over-promote on Twitter—you can keep from doing that by tweeting especially good posts of your blogging friends, too. It’s all about sharing content on Twitter.

If you only post a couple of days a week, I'd try to post that fact in the sidebar: Posting Schedule: Tuesdays and Thursdays...please pop by! That way people know when to expect a new post from you.

I'd also recommend doing a few guest posts and link back to your own blog...after you get your feet wet and get the blog up and running for a while.

Do y’all have any tips for blog launching or reader-building?

Yes, I’m on the road again—virtually. Got to love blog touring—and it’s so easy on my minivan! :) Today I'm also at the Write Chic blog, with the top 5 writing tools and why they make my list. Hope you’ll catch up with me tomorrow at Terry’s Place where I’m covering “Working Around Absent Muses—Tips for Completing Your Manuscript.”