In the time that I’ve been blogging I’ve done heaps of research and learnt lots about developing image, expanding content, using social media, building an audience and keeping track of it all. This is part of a five-section ‘how-to’ for writer/bloggers. Each article will be published at the start of the week for the next five weeks. The aim is to help bloggers to conduct a self-review. This series came about through my own experience in self-reviewing, and questions I have had about being a writer and blogger.
Sometimes it feels like there’s nothing else to blog about, or we worry about whether that draft blog post will be accepted by our readers. This section looks at ways to keep blog content fresh while keeping aligned with our author image.
How often have you had an insightful, funny, or wow-I’d-never-thought-of-that-before conversation? I’ve written a few posts based on conversations I’ve had. Two that were particularly ‘successful’ (i.e. comments and views) were one about peer pressure vs age, and one about comparing ourselves to social media perceptions.
Even if you specify the content you want the guest author to cover (which you should do, because you want it to tie in with your author brand, remember?) they naturally bring a different voice and perspective to your blog. It has the bonus ofdrawing that blogger’s loyal readers to your blog – and who doesn’t like new readership? Read these posts, one by my friend Shawn Chue, the other by my friend from Tales of the Borderline, Barbs Peterson. They bring a very different voice to my site.
Research similar blogs
Another brainstorm, this time based on sites by writers in a similar genre to myself, to research alternative ideas for topics and blog post types (e.g. article, interview, video…). I did a search for YA and fantasy writers and noted all the things I liked – and didn’t like – about their blogs (I chose sites that I hadn’t visited before, so I could be more objective). I then went through with a highlighter to categorise them – author interviews, personal life stories, book reviews, guest posts, tips for writers and so on, seeing what was most popular among these bloggers (an extra tip is to visit sites that are more established than your own, so you are comparing yourself to a ‘better’ blog, and therefore aiming higher). This step is important as it helps you learn what people expect from similar blogs, and what they might expect from yours. If you don’t meet – or exceed – the expectations of your readers, they’ll stop coming back. It also means you can notice gaps in the market, or niches you can fill.
We sometimes need the reminder that authors and bloggers are people, too. Lots of authors regularly post little snippets about their lives – it doesn’t have to be an amazing achievement or grand experience, just a little snippet to give us a bit of insight into your life, like how you made that awesome breakfast fry-up, or when your cat brought you a half-dead pigeon for dinner (yep, both are true stories).
Use Your Own Ideas
Go back to your author brand brainstorm. Look at the categories you found (the broad themes). If you did the task at the end, you’ll have a list of things to explore in order to push your author brand. For example, I think my site can feel a bit too serious at times so I’d like to bring in the ‘magical’ stuff out more. Some ways I might do this are by fantasy book reviews, interviews of fantasy authors, sharing my artwork / character sketches, or self-publishing some of my short kid’s stories.
I haven’t hosted any interviews on my site, but I have participated in interviews, which you can pick apart here. One blogger who does interviews really well is Joy Findlay, and I think what makes them really effective is the thought she puts into the questions she asks. It’s tailored to each interviewee and she draws nitty-gritty depth out in the responses. What would you add to this list? I’ve got a friend who recently added a “Fact Friday”, which is a fabulous idea.