This is a guest post by Shanna Groves. If you would like to submit a guest article, please check out our guest post guidelines.
I set up a private blog, invited 100 people to follow it, and posted a chapter a week. Readers posted comments on what they liked and how to improve the book. I even landed an editor.
Six months later when I published Lip Reader, there was already a small, but loyal group of fans. Before making the blog public, I revamped it to include one teaser chapter and posted updates about book signing events, where to purchase the book, and information about my writing focus: hearing loss awareness.
Who were the most loyal promoters of the blog? The original 100 followers. They helped me sell copies of my book by simple word of mouth.
Because of that initial experiment, I fell in love with blogging. It allows me to write about what God places on my heart anytime of the day. I can write the message, proofread it, and click “publish.” Instead of waiting on a publisher to accept or reject my story, I can instantly share it with the world.
- Do you have a cause you are passionate about?
- Are there other blogs similar to your cause?
- Can you commit to posting blog entries a minimum of once a week?
- Do you have ways to promote your blog?
- Can you see yourself sticking with blogging for the long term?
Find Your Passion
Just because I have a fondness for antique shopping doesn’t mean I should start a blog about it.
Are you passionate about antiques to the point that when you dream, you visualize your next vintage store acquisition? When you write about your shopping excursion, do the words flow as if dictated by the Almighty? Now that’s a passion!
When I write about hearing loss awareness, I can hear the Spirit whispering words to me and I get excited. It seemed natural to create a blog about this cause because I am so passionate about it. And I sense God leading me to do so.
If you have a writing passion and you feel the Lord’s hand on it, you have the first step down in launching your blog.
Research the Competition
It was easy for me to start a blog with all the free and user-friendly website resources out there (blogger.com, wordpress.com, weebly.com, tumblr.com, to name a few). But before you craft a clever blog name, make sure your name is original. Here are some additional facets to research:
- When you do an Internet search, do other sites share your cause?’
- What makes them unique or blasé?
- Do they feature a lot of photos?
- Do you have the capacity to take and upload photos once your blog is launched?
- How often do the other blogs post, and can you post at the same frequency—or even more frequently?
- Are the other blog posts long (more than 500 words) or short?
- What do you like or not like about the posts’ headlines?
- Does the competitor blog have too many categories from which to choose, or not enough?
Make the Commitment
Some weeks, I don’t feel like blogging. Other weeks, I want to post every day. Decide on a commitment of time that works for you. One important rule of thumb: Strive for one blog post a week, at the minimum.
On the weeks when I am too busy, tired, or scatterbrained to blog, I recycle some of my older writing pieces. Or I ask one of my writer friends to write a guest blog post. Or I post a compelling question and ask my readers to respond.
Some weeks, I post an interesting photo and ask people to write a clever caption for it. Anytime someone comments on my blog, I promptly comment back with my appreciation.
Market Your Blog
If you haven’t done so already, set up free accounts with Facebook and Twitter. Most all blogging sites, such as WordPress and Blogger, have buttons that allow you to instantly share your blog posts with Twitter and Facebook. Other social media sites worth using if they appeal to your writing passion: Pinterest (photo sharing) and LinkedIn (resume and career building).
Other ways to market a blog:
- Add the blog address to your email signature, on your Facebook and Twitter pages, and on other social media sites with which you belong.
- Email everyone you know once you post the first few times, and invite them to follow you.
- Add a “subscribe” or “follow” button to your blog for people to receive your posts automatically. To encourage people to follow your blog, offer fun incentives, like coupons, e-book links, and book giveaways. Recognize the 20th follower of your blog, the 50th follower, and so forth with Follower of the Week recognition posts. Make your followers feel appreciated, while giving them your best writing each week, and they will notice.
Plan for the Future
Once you start blogging, stay faithful to it. Like a runner, don’t stop blogging when it gets hard, painful, or boring. Pray before you write. Then, take a deep breath, sit yourself in front of a computer, and write.
There will be weeks that no one comments on my blog or I haven’t added a new follower. I have to find ways to keep things fresh and creative. After a few months, you may need a new layout template, which is easy to do at sites like Blogger and WordPress. You may need to add a few more good quality photos — either photos you have taken or fres or low-cost stock photos.
Do you blog?
Add your site’s link in the comments section below so I can follow you.
Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/saraffujimura/7306617114/