I’m so disappointed when I see great content on bad author blogs.
Well, maybe the blogs aren’t bad . . . it’s more that they’re ineffective.
Blogging can be a great way to showcase your writing skills and topic knowledge, but if you aren’t doing it properly, you could be wasting your time.
Here are three common mistakes I see on author blogs and how to fix them.
1. No images in blog posts.
A blog is the platform that hosts your articles. The articles themselves — your blog’s content — are called “posts.”
As Mridu Khullar Relph explained in the excellent “How to pick the right images for your blog post” article, images draw in more readers than blog posts without images.
You want people to read what’s on your blog, right? That’s more likely to happen if you have at least one interesting image in each post.
2. No subheads or bullets.
Because of the way we read online, web-writing is different from book- or magazine article-writing. Our online content needs to be skimmable.
Help our eyes by “chunking up” the text in blog posts with subheads. When it’s appropriate, use bulleted or numbered lists, too. In fact, don’t write a list, tips, or how-to steps without using bullets or numbers.
We need these visual elements to pull us through your article.
3. No social sharing buttons on author blogs.
Social sharing buttons or icons serve a couple of purposes.
First, there’s the obvious reason to have them installed on your blog — they make it easier for people to share your content. More shares equals more traffic. More traffic means your site will show up higher in search engine results. It also means more people will discover you and your book.
Social sharing toolbars with counters also provide what marketers call “social proof.” It’s evidence that your blog’s content is popular. We are influenced by others’ behaviors, so when we see that others have shared your content, we think it must be good.
Think of it as the online version of “Monkey see, monkey do.”
As an example, my blog uses a social sharing bar at the top of each post and on the far left. Notice how the side bar stays with you as you scroll so that no matter where you are on the blog, you can share a link to it with a variety of social networks.
I prefer social sharing bars that display the share count. Site visitors can see how many times the post was shared, which makes it another form of social proof. In addition, I can tell at a glance whether people responded to the content by sharing it. I then work to provide more content on those topics that seem to be popular.
Find an option that you like and install it on your site immediately so that your fantastic content gets seen, shared, and informally endorsed by others
A few resources
If you’re a beginning blogger — and even if you aren’t, but your blog looks like you are — here are a few resources that might help you out:
Problogger: Check out the resources on the site, subscribe to the newsletter, and bookmark the blog. You’ll get great information from a blogging Ninja.
Copyblogger: Subscribe to the blog; read up on past articles. While the blog is often about how to write well (you’ve figured that out already, right?), there’s lots of information here that can help you improve the experience for the reader who visits your blog.
Hubspot: This link takes you to a post with mistakes to avoid plus a link to download six free blog post templates. Use the search box on the site to find more helpful blogging content, too.
How to Start Blogging: A Definitive Guide for Authors: Jane Friedman’s article is loaded with advice that’s relevant to you.
Author blogs can be powerful and influential. You’ve got great material on yours.
Make sure you’re presenting your content in a way that encourages people to read and share so your author career flourishes. .
What “here’s how to do it” tips would you offer authors for their blogs?
(Editor’s note: This article was first published in August 2013. It has been updated and expanded.)
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