Friday, April 23, 2010

Setting Up a Blog--and a Thanks

blog9 First of all, I want to thank Writer’s Digest for the honor of choosing Mystery Writing is Murder as one of the 101 Best Websites for Writers (Genres/Niches). Their list has just been published in the May/June 2010 issue, just hitting the stands now. Thanks so much!

But it’s all due to my friends who are so active on my blog—supporting me with their comments and making me think. Y’all are incredibly supportive and I really, really appreciate it.

I spoke Thursday evening at the Women’s National Book Association of Charlotte meeting with Susan Dosier and Carrie Ryan about social media promoting for writers.

One thing I found interesting was that many of the attending industry professionals were on Facebook and Twitter but didn’t blog.

I think it’s easy for the blogging world to get a little insular. I’m starting to think that everybody blogs and that’s just not true.

So here’s a quick post on setting up your writing related blog.

The first thing I would do is set a goal. What are you trying to accomplish with your blog? And I’d caution that even if a blog is supposed to be a promotional vehicle, that’s probably not going to fly for very long in the social networking world. Social media is really all about supplying content—and providing a service to your readers. A soft sell approach is best in the social media sphere.

After you know what you want, decide how much time you have to spend on the blog. If you’re honest with yourself and realize you don’t have a lot of free time, then limit your posting right out of the gate. It really doesn’t matter that you’re only posting once a week…but you need to let your readers in on your plan. Even if readers are using Google Reader to tune in to new content, it’s still nice to know that “if it’s Wednesday, there must be something fresh on Julie’s blog.”

Then I would write a whole slew of posts before the blog goes live. Write as many high-content posts as you can handle. That way you’ll have a buffer between you (and your busy life) and your blog.

Decide who you’d like to host your blog. WordPress gets the best press and is probably less-buggy…but I’ve gotten used to Blogger, quirks and all.

Keep your blog somewhat focused, at least at first. Otherwise, readers might get a little confused about where you’re going with it. Sometimes I’ll visit blogs and one day they’ll focus on politics, another day on humor…that’s fine if you already have your audience. If you’re building an audience, that can make things tricky. If you want to regularly show photography or focus on your hobby, etc, it might be good to assign it to a particular day of the week..and even post those days in the sidebar so that we all know that Wednesdays are “Wordless Wednesdays” with photography featured.

Give your readers a way to follow you and become part of the community. Feature an RSS feed button, a “Followers” button, etc, prominently on your blog page.

Develop your readership (and learn how blogging is done) by visiting blogs that are similar to your own. When you hang out at blogs that are frequently updated and with regular commenters, then comment there—adding content to the post with your comment, if possible. Link back to your blog.

Visit other blogs in this active blog’s blogroll. If those are active and healthy, comment on those blogs….adding content and a link back to your blog.

Make sure, if you’re an author, to have a buy button on your site, “contact me” info, and that you’ve made it clear that you’re a writer. Profile pictures are nice, too, and help readers to relate to you a little better, I think.

Blogging has been an incredibly experience for me and I’ve gained so much from it. Is it time-consuming? Yes. Is it worth it? Definitely.