It seems like a month doesn’t go by without someone mentioning the death of blogging, that social media has taken over and there’s no reason to have a blog, but I don’t think that’s quite true. In this episode, we take a look at the difference between blogging and social media, why both of them are important, and how to get started as a blogger in 2017.

This topic was inspired by a friend of mine, LunaBell, who is just starting her personal blog and was asking me these very same questions. She isn’t a writer, but most of this episode really can pertain to anyone out there.

Industry News:

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As always, below is a direct copy of the show notes. They were written before the episode was recorded and are unedited but are here for reference and SEO.


Topic: Tips for a blogger and starting an online blog

  • Blogging is dead, long live Social Media!
  • This is something that you might hear, well maybe not in such a dramatic way, but many people think blogging is dead, but I’m not so sure about that.
  • Should you start a blog in 2017? If so, can it be something that can help you with a career, or to build an audience, or make money?
  • Or, is blogging really dead, killed by social media and what is commonly known as the microblog? Well, let’s find out.
  • Before we get into the topic, a quick update on me and Steam Powered Dreams.
  • I recently wrote a post on my author page that reveals a bit more about the project I’ve been working on, the Steam Powered Dreams Story Engine.
  • While I still can’t reveal too much, if you’re interested I’ll have a link to the post in the show notes, or you can just head over to author.jeremycollier.com to read it.
  • In industry news, we have an article that directly relates to the topic of this episode.
  • Jane Friedman recently posted on the topic of which is more important to an author, their website or social network account(s)? While this might not be directly related to industry news, I think it’s worth sharing.
  • Also, the McIlvanney Prize for Scottish crime book of the year winner was announced. Denise Mina’s The Long Drop takes the prize this year, so if you’re looking for a good crime novel, check that out.
  • Alright, that’s it for industry news this episode and we’ll get to the main topic in just a moment, but I wanted to remind everyone that this podcast is fully funded out of pocket and takes a lot of time to produce. If you like what you hear, there is a Patreon to show your appreciation. For just a few bucks a month you’ll be helping not only keep the show running, but push it towards the next level. You can find that at steampowereddreams.com/patreon or just search Authorpreneur Mindset on Patreon.
  • The good news for many of us is that blogging is not dead. In fact, it’s far from it.
  • I would actually say that it is stronger now than ever if done right and combined with other media, such as social networks, video, or podcasts
  • But, let’s take it back a few steps and start with what is a blog.
  • Well, a blog is pretty much any website that has moving content and some sort of interactivity, and by that I mean content that is published on a regular (or irregular) basis that allows for comments.
  • Your blog could be made of images, video, podcast episode, text, or a combination of two or more of these.
  • A lot of people don’t realize that.
  • For example, even though I don’t call the website for this podcast a blog, that’s exactly what it is. I post the show notes, episode links, and the episode itself into a new blog post and publish it
  • The text is the most common form of a blog. Sometimes it has images or video, but it’s mostly text.
  • At least that’s how it used to be. Let’s take a look at some websites that you probably don’t even realize are blogs: YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter
  • Youtube is a blog where Video is the focus, but it’s a blog none the less. You post new content, people can comment, the two most basic functions of a blog
  • Instagram is a Picture focused type of blog
  • And Twitter is a microblog, as is Facebook and many other social networks
  • So you might be saying why should I start a boring old text blog when I already have a youtube, Instagram, twitter, facebook, or whatever else with a large following?
  • There are a few reasons.
  • The first is that you don’t own anything you do on these websites. At any moment, they can be taken down or deleted, you could be banned for no reason, or their service could be discontinued.
  • The second is because you get to decide what your users see at all times when you have your own blog and you can set up each individual post to be 100% unique if you wanted to.
  • And third, because it allows your users to feel a connection with you that a social network just doesn’t offer.
  • Now, we understand what a blog is and some of the advantages over social networks, but why should we have a blog in the first place?
  • Anne Allen recently wrote a great article on this subject called 10 reasons to start an author blog and we’re going to go over some of them.
  • The first one is simple, you’re going to need a website anyway, why not add a blog? If you’re traditionally published (or trying to become so), you must have a website. Agents, reviewers, and even publishers will search for your website and the higher quality it is (and the more activity), the better it reflects on you.
  • If you’re self-published, not having a website will make you stand out, and not in a good way. Even before steam powered dreams, one of the first things I’m asked whenever I meet new writers, editors, or other industry people is where can I find your website? And if I didn’t have one, I’d lose out on both potential sales and potential networking opportunities.
  • And that brings us to the next reason: Having a blog gets you into search engines.
  • Sure, just having a static website might be what gets you into google or whatever other search engine people are using, but it’s the blog that helps you rank and keeps your website fresh. If a website has no changes, it will sink lower and lower into the rankings until it’s so far buried the only way you’ll find it is if you google your exact name, and even then it will be way below anything else you do.
  • Also, blogs mean more traffic and more traffic means higher rankings and your website will start coming up more often in whatever search results make sense for you.
  • Many of you are writers, in fact, I’d argue that most listening is, and that’s exactly what blogging is, so why not play to your strengths? You know what good writing looks like, you know what YOU want to know, so if you create the content, you’ll attract people similar to you, or who have similar tastes at least.
  • The last reason I want to talk about from the article is that she says blogging is social media for grown-ups. What she means by this is that, unlike facebook or twitter, you can generally discuss much more complex ideas and share them with like-minded people. Twitter is limited to how many characters it can display and facebook is so full of random people and restrictions that it’s really hard to get what you want to say out.
  • But on a blog, you control the flow, you control the content, and you even control the comments, if you want to go that far. It’s not uncommon for blog posts to be 3000 or even 5000 words long, as where the average facebook post is probably just a few hundred if that.
  • If I haven’t convinced you to start a blog, then just google around and you’ll find that pretty much every author you read has one, as well as professionals from almost all walks of life.
  • Alright, let’s switch gears a bit and discuss what makes a good blog, some tips to starting one, and what you can expect if you put in the hard work and dedication.
  • A good blog usually consists of more than just the posts you put out there. For writers, you need to make it part of you, so including a few pictures is a great way to make the whole site feel real.
  • Some people jump right in and have the blog displayed on the front page, and that works, but what I prefer is the front page be pretty static, let your visitors know who you are, what you do, and where else they might be able to find you.
  • Make sure your blog is easily accessible, though! A link in the navigation bar is probably the best way, but having the latest post section is also a great way to get people to click.
  • Create your website and blog around a color scheme that fits you. If you’re writing is dark, like horror, suspense, or thrillers, you probably don’t want to use white, pink, and light blue as your theme, just as you wouldn’t want to use blacks, greys, and dark reds for a children’s book site.
  • Make sure to include an about me section that goes more in-depth with who you are. Include a few paragraphs that share you with your audience. Don’t share anything you’re uncomfortable with, of course, but it’s a great place to talk a bit about what makes you a writer and the journey you’ve been on.
  • If you feel comfortable enough, include pictures of yourself, your pets, family, or whatever else makes you, you.
  • Also, you should give your viewers a chance to easily contact you. This can be achieved easily through a contact form that sends you an email when someone contacts you. It keeps your email safe but still allows for that communication.
  • As for the blog itself, organization is key. You want to keep your posts in as few categories as possible, but still enough to make navigation easy. For example, having a news and updates section is pretty common, as are things like Inspiration, Book Info, writing snippets, or writing advice. But if you already have those categories what probably isn’t needed is separate categories for things like Inspiration, Book Updates, Character Snippets, Editing advice, and so on. All of these things can fit neatly into the five categories you already had.
  • For the posts, you’ll want to keep them at a length that is readable in one sitting, maybe between 500 and 1500 words. Also, don’t forget to include images and video!  You can easily embed youtube videos in your posts legally, so there’s no excuse not to!
  • Make sure that your blog is always in date descending order, meaning your newest post on top, and a good rule of thumb is to hide the majority of a post behind a “read more” link.
  • Imagine going to an author website where it’s not uncommon for them to share 1500 word character bios and 3000-word chapter previews and trying to sift through that to find a 500-word post they made. By limiting the amount of words displayed on the blog list view to around 250, it makes navigating a lot easier.
  • For writers, make sure you also have a section on your website that showcases your work. Some writers do this right inside the blog, but I prefer a separate section so the viewers can easily find it.
  • Now that you have an idea of what to put on your blog, how do you go about actually starting one?
  • Well, many people start out with free blogs, and that’s fine, but know that they don’t scale very well, and they don’t look too professional.
  • If you’re going for a free platform, I highly recommend wordpress.com. WordPress is the most widely used website and blog platform, so getting to know the basic will help you a lot in the long run. There is also a huge community and tons of free tutorials and guides for using WordPress to help you.
  • If you’re looking to pay, there are a few options. The most basic are to do it all yourself. Get hosting from somewhere like Hostgator or GoDaddy, install WordPress, and you’re ready to go. For a bit extra they’ll even do all the heavy lifting for you, all you have to do is configure WordPress!
  • If you’re not very technically inclined, you could also hire someone to create everything for you, and this is a great option, but you have to be careful. There are a lot of scams out there.
  • Steam Powered Dreams offers a service for writers and other creative types, from DIY to fully customized, and they tend to be about half the price of many other services. If you’re interested, there’s a lot of information and demo sites over at websites.steampowereddreams.com.
  • Okay, so now that you know what you’re doing, and have your blog, how do you actually get views?
  • Well, one of the great things about blogs is, for the most part, the more energy you put into it, the more results you get out of it. I highly suggest writing anywhere from 5-10 posts and save them as drafts before you publish your first one, and then release them in succession, maybe one every other day for the first two weeks.
  • This will jumpstart Google into getting your blog and website into the search results, and also give viewers more than a single post to look at, increasing the likelihood of them sharing it or saving the page for later.
  • But, just as important, is sharing your post with friends and family on social networks and asking them to help you by resharing it themselves!
  • This is why I say that having a blog alone really isn’t enough. Getting those links out there and getting them shared is extremely important!
  • You won’t see much traction at first, but after a few weeks of this, it’ll start to grow. But even then, don’t expect to see much results in the first 6 months or even a year, unless one of your posts happen to go viral, in that case, congratulations.
  • The most important thing is to keep writing. Keep consistent. You don’t have to do 5 posts a week, but 1-2 should be the minimum.
  • I’m going to end this with a little story that ties this up with a nice example.
  • The steam powered dreams website has been around for years. It was originally just a place for me and my writing partner to showcase our writing. It literally had nothing but a homepage that introduced us, a books page with links to our books, and an about me page that linked to our social media.
  • We got almost no views, as you’d probably expect.
  • About six months before I was forced to rebuild the Steam Powered Dreams website and make it what it is today, I started blogging weekly. All of a sudden, after only a few weeks, we were seeing consistent views across the whole website. It wasn’t much, but instead of 5-10 a month, we were getting 5-10 a day.
  • And then we were hit with malware and I lost almost all of my content. The only reason I was able to save any of it was that Google had saved some of our pages in their cache! This wouldn’t have been possible if we didn’t have consistent viewers.
  • By the time I remade the website and republished those posts, Google thought we were a dead website because technically for a while we were. Our views dropped back down to almost nothing.
  • Then, I hired a few freelancers to write new posts, which quickly revitalized our views and took them to a new level, and it only took a few months.
  • Because of our blog, and I know this for sure since I can track it, we have submissions to be published, writers looking for services, and more.
  • The bottom line is a blog, along with social networks, can be an amazing tool to not only get your voice out there, but also to build a community, and promote your own work, so get blogging!
  • Alright, I hope this helps you out. In a future episode I’ll talk more in-depth on the topic of blog themes and finding things to write about, but I think this is a great stopping point for this episode. The topic was brought to me by a friend of mine, Lunabell, who is just starting out on her blog.
  • If you have questions about this episode or anything authorpreneur or entrepreneur related, there are two ways to reach me.  The first is through the website at steampowereddreams.com/authorpreneurmindset and then click on Ask A Question.
  • The second is to join our facebook group at facebook.com/SPDwritershelpingwriters
  • Where to find me:
    • The website is at steampowereddreams.com/authorpreneurmindset
    • you can find me on Facebook at facebook.com/jeremylcollier
    • on Twitter at SoulScribbler,
    • and finally on Instagram at authorpreneurmindset
  • Until next week, I am your host Jeremy and don’t forget to keep moving forward.

 

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