If you missed yesterday’s webinar on “How to Sell Books with an Author Blog,” you can watch the replay here.
Joel Friedlander of TheBookDesigner.com joined me in presenting our take on why most authors should be blogging. It was special training to kick off our “20 percent off” promotion that’s under way until midnight Pacific Time on Monday night, for our Quick & Easy Blog Post Templates, a bundle of 17 templates I created to make blogging faster and easier.
If you were on the call, or if you’re watching the replay, what you won’t be able to see are the many questions attendees asked in the Q&A box in GotoWebinar. Tracy Atkins, Joel’s business partner at BookDesignTemplates.com, was busy answering almost all of them while Joel and I were presenting. They dealt mostly with basic decisions on how to get started and what to write about.
Attendee Felicity Logan wrote: “I’m noticing the fantastic questions coming through (things I realise I needed to have asked) and want to thank you for making this possible during the process. The Q&As are so good, I might have to look at the replay of the webinar to see what I missed!”
That’s when I got the idea to feature the questions and answers here, by category. We were inundated with them! And Tracy did his best to answer them quickly, with a little help from Joel and me. That’s why most of the answers are so short.
Enjoy! If you have other questions, type them in the Comments and we’ll reply.
Creating Your Author Blog
Q. What is a blog?
A. A series of articles published to a website that are displayed in reverse chronological order, and on which readers are invited to comment.
Q. I’ve got my domain name and have my host lined up, but I don’t know how to create the blog. Help!
A. We recommend installing WordPress. It is very easy to use and set up, and there is a lot of help on the web on how to do it. Great stuff.
Q. Any basic advice for using WordPress? Like, would you recommend buying the “professional” version for a fancier blog, or does content really trump all?
A. Content does trump all. I do recommend adding Optimize Press to it, for the themes and utilities.
Q. Can you explain self-hosting a blog?
A. You acquire your own domain name and open your own account with an internet service provider.
Q. What cost is involved in setting up a blog?
A. It is pretty cheap. You can get a good hosting account for as little $10 per month, and the cost of buying a domain name, which is around $15. We recommend using wpengine to host your blog.
Q. Why would using Blogger or WordPress, and letting them host the blog, relinquish control?
A. You don’t own their ecosystem and they have their own editorial and policies that may conflict with your blog. If something happens, they can take down your blog and you will lose your content. It is just higher risk.
Q. As GoToWebinar is the best place to go for webinars, what or where is the best platform for blogs?
A. WPEngine.com is the best we have found.
Q. Many blog names I’d like to use are taken but their owners have stopped posting. Is there any action I can take if I have no email address to contact the owners?
A. You can get the information on who owns the blog in order to contact them. Use https://whois.icann.org/en, You can sometimes hunt down their contact info with a Whois lookup.
Q. You started with Bluehost, Joel. Who did you move to and why?
A. We moved to WPEngine. Bluehost has become slow and doesn’t seem to handle our traffic well.
Q. Is Weebly OK to use for my blog?
A. Not recommended.
Q. What’s your opinion of a blog on an author site? Or, do you recommend a separate blog site?
A. Having it together is a great way to generate traffic. It’s perfectly acceptable to combine them, and the best method.
Q. How do you keep spam bots from posting to your blog?
A. Akismet and Captcha.
Q. If you’re a publisher, how do you encourage your authors to start a blog to help promote their book?
A. Show them success stories like the ones we just shared in this webinar. Should be pretty motivating.
Q. I have a blog I write for regularly. The handful of people who do read it seem to enjoy it, but no one wants to share. How do I generate interest in my blog if I can’t get people to share?
A. You have to learn how to market the blog to other readers who would be interested.
Q. Joel, how did you get 37,000 followers after only a few months of starting your blog?
A. I took Yaro Starak’s blogging course. Details here. Then having an on-topic blog, with a popular topic, regular updates and good content. Once Google finds you and starts ranking you highly for your content, its like an avalanche.
Q. How do you build readers for your blog?
A. We will cover some of it in this webinar, but basically, producing superior content, and regularly updating, helps build and maintain readership. But there are other factors too.
Q. I am starting to blog since my book launched May 1. But but I am unsure if my blogs should be on just my website (that still isn’t getting much traffic) or how can I just “toss out” my blog on the Internet? I read people’s opinions that come up under my search request for an idea. If it’s not too basic, how do I submit my blogs “out in the world”?
A. You just need to make sure you blog is indexed by Google. You should use Google Webmaster tools to make sure the site is on there. Then it just takes a little time to get indexed.
Q. Any best practices for linking my author site/blog to my LinkedIn profile? (or multiple profiles for niches, pen names, etc.?)
A. Nothing special here. Just link them up and you’re ready to go. Some people also feature their blogs under the “Publication” section of their summary.
Q. As a fiction writer, say you already have a “my daily life” kind of blog. Would it be risky to market from a blog not focused on your book? Or would it be clever to tap into your existing fan base that way? How would you work with an unrelated, pre-existing blog, especially a popular one?
A. It can be effective to slowly work in your book and promote it there. But, if you plan to do heavy promotion, having a specific blog for your writing can be beneficial.
Tips for Blog Topics and Content
Q. How does blogging work if I write kids’ stories and over 18 + adult mysteries?
A. You may want to do a blog for each, since they are so different, unless you offer content to both groups. I would use your best judgment to make a logical approach to doing it that makes the most sense to you.
Q. As a fiction writer, I’m very hesitant to write about my stories on my blog, lest my ideas get snatched. But what else could I write about? Or will I have to share something from my story, no matter what?
A. Only share what you are comfortable with. You don’t have to give anything away.
Q. As a fiction writer who eventually wants to write nonfiction books on different topics for authors, is it smart to have one blog with posts for readers and posts for authors? Or should I separate that material into two separate blogs?
A. Separate. They are different audiences with different needs.
Q. I’m a novelist with epilepsy-related characters and a writer of two non-fiction epilepsy memoirs, how can blogging help me out?
You can write about topics that are important to people who have epilepsy. Examples: epilepsy statistics, symptoms, types of epilepsy, epilespy in children, special treatment, epilepsy medications, etc. Do a Google search for epilepsy and see what sub-topics show up on the first page of the results. Also go to the bottom of the search results on the first page. Google will list phrases with the word “epilepsy,” all phrases people are typing into the Google search bar.
Q. How do you blog on a topic when you write fiction (contemporary romance) rather than nonfiction?
A. Blog on topics in your book. Or about contemporary romance topics like dating, popular dating apps like Tinder and OKCupid, unusual places to take a date, best places for dates in certain cities, etc.
Q. I try to produce a ton of original content but my readers seem to be overwhelmed by the frequency of my posts. How can I hit that sweet spot?
A. Honestly, more is often better. Some people will consume all of it.. some little of it.. but offering a lot of options is aways good. You can offer a weekly “best of” recap post that readers can check out, that is usually helpful and popular.
Our Quick & Easy Blog Post Templates
A. No, not at all. You own your content and copyright.
Q. Can I use the same template over again to write a different blog post?
A. Absolutely. The beauty of almost all the templates is that they can be used again and again for different topics. With each template, we’ve even given you ideas for three headlines.
Q. Regarding your template for “Top 10 Tweets f the Week,” these can be tweets to other people’s blog posts?
A. Yes, they can be.
Q. How long is your special promotion under way?
A. Until midnight Pacific Time on Monday, June 6. Order here.
Q. Is LinkedIn important?
A. For professionals, it really is. You can make valuable connections, join special interest groups where you can meet others and answer questions, and you can write an impressive Summary to promote your expertise. Mention your blog!
Q. If people “Like” my Facebook page, will they they automatically be receiving my blog posts?
Q. When is the time to do an author website? I am currently finalizing my first manuscript. I have a blog now that I would link up my Author blog to.
A. Start as early as possible. Get as many readers as possible, so when you launch the book, you have an audience to sell to.
Q. Is your blog considered to be copywrighted?
A. Your blog posts and articles are indeed copywrighted and you can defend your content legally.
Q. A lot of images I might want to use would be photos of ancient busts, etc. That would require a lot of permissions, how does this kind of thing work?
A. You can often license images cheap with a site like Shutterstock.
What Questions Do You Have?
If you have a question you don’t see here, include it in the Comment and we’ll respond.