Updated: Jan 22

Hey there!

Welcome to the second monthly blog post in my #7LessonsLearned series, where I will be sharing lessons and tips - in sets of 7 - about the writing and editing world. Today's post is about creating an on-brand blog.

1. Benefits of blogging

Having a blog in the writing world comes with a few main benefits:

- Adds on-brand content to your site

- Helps you to build a subscriber list

- Gives you space to promote your work, including upcoming titles

- Allows you to share news with your readers

One of my favourite parts of blogging is where I can connect with other authors and give back to the #writingcommunity that has been so helpful to me. I do this through my book tours and author interviews blog series and this #7LessonsLearned series.

2. Do some research

When you are trying to establish your blog, the best place to start is with some research. Explore some other blogs, including those of authors, readers, and just general ones. Find features and topics that you like, and are passionate about and record the ideas in a central location. Don’t forget to save links to any you really love.

To track my research on various topics, including blogging, I keep a spreadsheet. My spreadsheet gives the name of the site, the site author, a link and a description to prompt my memory about what it was about and why I liked it. Pick a strategy that works for you that is simple to find and look through!

3. Pick your topic/s

From this collection, consider what you are passionate about and what fits with your brand. When I limited my ideas down to a couple, I found it useful to flesh them out to make sure I would have enough content to last for an extended period of time so that my series wouldn't fizzle out in a month or two.

Make sure that whatever you choose fits in with your brand. For example, my book tours and author interviews moving forward are solely fantasy-based since that is my genre. My other blog content, such as this series, is based on helping other authors.

4. Writing your blog piece

This part is really up to you! Some things that work for me though, are:

- Using my fleshed-out list (mentioned above) to select the content for each piece in my series, or in the case of the book tours and author interview - a new author every two weeks (I usually find these through social media but am currently branching out and contacting publishers directly)

- Keeping the pieces to around 4-6 mins in length (most blog pages will tell you how long your article is), though the ideal length will vary on your audience

- Try and include things like hashtags, links, and pictures (if relevant)

- Use numbers, especially in the title. People like short and simple explanations of things (for example my blog post on 5 tips on getting started as an author got more hits than other general articles did).

5. Designing your layout

This part is really about being on-brand and your choices will largely depend on your overall website look and the capabilities of your platform. I use Wix and my theme is linked with my blog. I choose to keep consistent colours on my blog too. One limitation for me has been that the font on blog pages is not as wide as that of the main site, but I don't mind too much.

You can also choose to have features like a sidebar on your blog pages to advertise various things, e.g. other pages, features, affiliate links, etc., but I have chosen to just keep mine plain. I do however utilise links within the blog posts to connect to other features on my site, such as book reviews linked to book tours and author interviews. Do what works for you!

6. Picking titles

As mentioned above, people like numbers. This was a big part of the reason for my blog series name #7LessonsLearned. These days content readers seem to be quite time poor and are not often looking for long articles on how things work or how to do things, they are often looking for a simple, concise version.

The other major element to consider is that you want to use common terms that people may look for in a general search. If you want your content to come up, you need to use these terms and ensure they are listed in the SEO section of your blog (you can find this in the settings section). Make yourself visible!

And of course, the most simple - make sure it encompasses your content. Nothing will make a reader more irritated than a title that doesn't match your content. Just think about all the clickbait that people get irritated about!

7. Sharing your work

Before you consider where you might share your content, you'll need to think about when you're going to share it. This comes back to your calendar/schedule. I have found it most beneficial to set myself a schedule for how often I will make posts in each series, and stick to it! I do book tours and author interviews twice a month (at the beginning and in the middle, content permitting) and this blog series is once a month on the third weekend. My general posts are just whenever I have something to talk about!

Once you've sorted out your when, think about your where. In my case, I primarily share on Twitter as that is my biggest audience. I will sometimes do Instagram as well. Each month I do a summary of content with my clickable links to my email subscriber list. You may also want to share on different platforms that are relevant to the posts you make (you may find some ideas during the research phase).

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this post and that you’ll be back to check out the rest of the series as it arrives. Next up is about being organised. If you missed last month's article on building an author platform, you can find it here.

Remember you can sign up for my newsletter (via my Home page) to get a monthly reminder that includes the links to each new post.

I’d love to hear from you in the comments down below. Feel free to share your thoughts on the article and anything you’d love to read about from this series in the future - I’m always open to ideas. You can also catch me on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and via my Contact page.

Happy reading & writing!

Shay :)

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© 2018 by Shay Laurent. 

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