As an indie writer, building a readership for your work can be a daunting task. Luckily, there are several ways to go about this. One effective method is to start a blog. Not only can a blog help you showcase your writing skills, but it can also serve as a platform for connecting with potential readers.
In this guide, we will cover topics such as:
- Understanding your target audience and creating content that resonates with them
- Developing a consistent blogging schedule and creating a content calendar
- Optimizing your blog for search engines and social media
- Networking with other bloggers and writers in your niche
- Using your blog to build your email list and market your books
By the end of this deep dive, you will have the skills and knowledge necessary to launch and maintain a successful blog that supports your indie writing career. Let's get started!
Pros and Cons of Blogging as an Indie Writer
Let's start by talking about the pros and cons of blogging as a marketing channel for indie writers.
- Blogging can increase your visibility and attract a new audience for your books.
- A blog can provide a platform to showcase your writing skills and style, which can encourage readers to purchase your books.
- Regular blog posts can help you stay connected with your readership and keep them informed about your writing projects.
- Blogging provides a way to create a community of readers who are interested in your work and can offer support and feedback.
- Blogging can create opportunities for guest posting and collaborations with other bloggers and authors.
- Maintaining a blog can be time-consuming and take away from writing time for your books.
- Blogging requires a certain level of technical skill and knowledge to set up and maintain.
- It can be challenging to attract and retain a regular readership for your blog.
- Blogging for the purpose of selling books can come across as too salesy or promotional, which may turn off potential readers.
Now, let's figure out the best way to build a successful blog.
1. Define Your Purpose
Blogging can be a powerful tool for promoting your writing, sharing your thoughts on the writing process, and connecting with other writers. However, before you start publishing articles, it's important to take a step back and think about why you want to blog in the first place.
Are you looking to reach a wider audience with your writing? Are you hoping to connect with other writers and build a community around your work? Or are you simply looking for a new platform to share your thoughts and ideas with the world?
Whatever your reasons may be, taking the time to define your purpose for blogging will help you create content that resonates with your audience and keeps them coming back for more.
2. Build Your Blog
Before you can start selling your book through your blog, you need to have a blog set up.
When it comes to choosing a blogging platform, there are a multitude of options available to you. WordPress, Ghost, and Squarespace are just a few of the many platforms out there, each with their own unique set of features and capabilities.
It's important to take the time to research each platform and determine which one will best suit your needs and goals for your blog. Consider factors such as ease of use, customization options, and pricing when making your decision.
Remember, the platform you choose will play a big role in the success of your blog, so choose wisely!
Create a content calendar
One important aspect of maintaining a successful blog is consistency. To achieve this, it is essential to create a content calendar that outlines the topics you plan to write about and when you plan to publish them. Not only will this keep you organized, but it will also ensure that your readers have fresh content to look forward to on a regular basis.
When creating your content calendar, it is important to consider the following factors:
- Your target audience: What topics are most relevant and interesting to your readers?
- Your goals: What do you hope to achieve with your blog? Are you looking to increase traffic, establish yourself as an authority in your field, or generate leads?
- Holidays and events: Are there any upcoming holidays or industry events that you can tie your content to?
- Seasonal themes: Are there any seasonal themes or trends that you can incorporate into your blog?
By taking these factors into account, you can create a content calendar that is both strategic and engaging. Additionally, you will have a clear roadmap for your blog, which will help you stay on track and avoid writer's block.
Write engaging content
Creating quality content is key to attracting readers to your blog. Your content should be informative, engaging, and relevant to your target audience. Consider writing blog posts related to your book’s topic, sharing your writing process, and creating content that your target audience will find interesting. Be sure to include a call-to-action at the end of each post, encouraging readers to buy your book.
To create engaging content, you should:
- Research your topic thoroughly. This will help you gather all of the necessary information and ensure that your content is informative and accurate. Once you have your research in place, you can then start to craft your content in a way that is both interesting and engaging.
- Use storytelling techniques. This can help you connect with your readers on an emotional level and keep them interested in what you have to say. You can also use visuals, such as images and videos, to help break up your content and make it more visually appealing.
- Use simple language and short paragraphs to help keep your readers' attention. You can also use headings and subheadings to break up your content and make it easier to navigate.
Remember, the key to creating engaging content is to provide value to your readers. Make sure that your content is informative, interesting, and relevant to your niche. This will help you build a loyal following and establish yourself as an authority in your field.
Optimize your blog for SEO
Search engine optimization (SEO) is an essential process for every blogger who wants to increase their online visibility and attract more readers. It is a continuous process that requires time, effort, and patience. Here are some ways to optimize your blog for SEO:
- Conduct keyword research and incorporate relevant keywords into your blog posts. Use tools like Google Keyword Planner to find high-volume keywords that are relevant to your niche. You can also use long-tail keywords, which are more specific and less competitive, to target a particular audience.
- Create high-quality backlinks to your blog. Backlinks are links that point to your website from other high-authority websites, and they are crucial ranking factors in search engine algorithms. You can create backlinks by guest posting on other blogs, participating in online forums, or asking other bloggers to link to your content. It is essential to ensure that the backlinks are relevant and of high quality, as spammy backlinks can harm your website's ranking.
- Optimize your blog's meta tags and descriptions. Meta tags and descriptions are HTML elements that provide information about your blog to search engines. Use relevant keywords in your meta tags and descriptions to help search engines understand what your content is about. It is essential to ensure that your meta tags and descriptions are unique and descriptive, as they can influence whether a user clicks on your website in search engine results.
- Produce high-quality content that caters to your target audience. Create blog posts that are informative, engaging, and relevant to your niche. Use your keywords strategically throughout your content, but avoid keyword stuffing, which can harm your website's ranking. It is also essential to ensure that your content is unique and original, as duplicate content can harm your website's ranking.
- Use social media to promote your blog and engage with your audience. Share your blog posts on social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn to attract more readers and increase your online visibility. Engage with your audience by responding to comments and messages, and encourage them to share your content with their followers.
By following these tips, you can optimize your blog for SEO and increase your online visibility. Remember that SEO is a continuous process, and it may take time to see results. However, with time, effort, and patience, you can attract more readers and grow your audience over time.
Do you want to learn how to best leverage the best marketing channel for your blog? Our masterclass is a fantastic resource to help you master the basics (and go beyond them,)
3. Brand Your Blog
Besides defining it as identity or personality, branding is best defined by its main components:
- Personality archetype
- Value proposition
- Writing style and voice
- Name (and domain name)
- Other visual elements
I like to arrange the main components of a blog’s brand in the shape of a pyramid, like this:
How do you go about branding your blog? Do you design a logo in Canva and start from there?
Your start by defining your blog’s personality, and the first step is to choose your blog’s personality archetype.
Psychologist Carl Jung thought that humans belonged to one of twelve primary personality archetypes, and that each of the twelve primary types has its unique set of values, traits, motivations, and flaws.
When it comes to blogging, you can use these archetypes to figure out your blog’s primary personality, while gaining crucial insights into what story you’re telling about your blog.
The archetype you most identify with influences everything:
- The audience you’re most likely to connect and engage with
- Your writing style
- Your logo
- Your tagline
As a matter of fact, we can consider this archetype as the foundation upon which you build your blog’s identity, as it influences all other branding decisions, from the fonts you choose to the overall design of your blog, your blog’s mission, vision, and your target audience.
Mission and vision
Your mission is in direct relation to your blog’s target audience.
Who do you help?
How do you add value?
What are they going to achieve?
That’s your blog’s mission.
Your vision, on the other hand, is what truly compels your readers to become loyal fans.
Because while a mission is tied to a specific pain point (problem, challenge, objection), your blog’s vision paints a vivid image of what is going to happen once the mission is accomplished.
Story and value proposition
Our readers don’t just care about what we write, or how we write what we write. They also care about why we write.
I highly recommend that you spend some time writing a genuinely compelling story for your blog, in which you explain why your blog exists, why you’ve chosen this particular mission, and what is your blog’s value proposition.
Style, voice, and tone
Style is the way you use grammar, punctuation, and syntax. It’s influenced by how your words work together and what effect your writing has on the audience.
In the case of style, the devil truly lies in the details:
- How you define certain terms
- How you position your ideas
- The way you format your articles.
Voice is the personality that’s reflected in your writing:
- The words you choose
- How you communicate information
- How you make a reader feel
In every piece of content you write, you should be writing in a way that conveys your blog’s personality archetype.
Tone is the approach you take that’s appropriate for the context of your content. Tone encompasses the audience’s emotions that need to be accounted for and the resulting approach you must take.
When it comes to writing a tagline that works, I’m a big fan of the principle of KISS (keep it simple, stupid).
Given there’s limited space to come up with a complicated definition of what your blog’s about — and, to be honest, that’s what your about page/mission page is for — you need to come up with something that’s simple and concise.
A few things to keep in mind when writing your tagline:
- It has to go beyond what people can deduce from your blog’s name
- If possible, it should define your blog’s audience and also state a benefit to said audience. The tagline for the Art of Blogging is “For bloggers who aspire to inspire”
- Your tagline can be an excellent place to give potential readers a taste of your writing style, especially if your content is funny or sarcastic in nature. If you can tell a joke in 30 characters or less, by all means, go for it.
- If you have a catchphrase you often use in your articles, you can use that as your blog’s tagline. For example, our catchphrase here at the Art of Blogging is “punch the damn keys,” and I’ve been meaning to change my tagline to that.
That’s about it when it comes to taglines. Aim for brevity, for a simple and concise definition of what your blog’s about, who it’s for, and why those people should read it.
The 3 Ws
The best (and easiest) way to figure out your blog’s story, value proposition, style, tone, voice, tagline, and, I dare say, even your blog’s personality archetype in case you’re struggling, is to first figure out the 3 Ws.
Who do you write for?
Who do you write for?
Who do you resonate with the most?
What is an area of expertise where you can add value to a large number of people?
Write down 3 main traits of the communities, organizations, and tribes your content could serve.
What do you write?
What do you do to help those in your target audience?
What type of content you do share?
What is your level of commitment towards adding value?
Write down at least three different topics you plan on writing about that add value to your target audience, as identified previously.
Why do you write?
Why do you write about those topics? Think both in terms of selfless and selfish reasons.
What most inspires and attracts you to the topics you write about in such a way as to add value to others?
Describe the emotional and/or financial benefits you create for others.
I highly recommend that you do this exercise and work towards figuring out all of these crucial elements of branding your blog.
Logo and graphics
Your blog logo is the face of your brand. It's the first thing your audience sees when they visit your site, and it's what they will remember. Having a well-designed logo can help establish a strong identity for your blog. It creates a visual representation of your brand and helps you stand out from the crowd. A logo gives your audience an idea of what your blog is about and what type of content they can expect to find.
That’s how important logos are.
A logo that has nothing to do with your blog’s niche is one that will further confuse any potential readers.
For such a small detail, your logo sure matters a lot. It allows you to define your blog’s identity, to make it instantly recognizable over the web, and to place it on almost every piece of content you share on any platform ever invented.
One thing to keep in mind is that there are three types of logos:
A few tips to keep in mind as you design your logo:
- It’s best to choose a logo that defines your niche. Think a blog about writing choosing a stylized image of a pen as a logo, as cliche and overdone as it sounds.
- It’s best to have a logo that’s a combination between an image and a font. You can always use the image in certain situations; for instance, watermarking social media images or to have it act as a favicon for your blog
- A square logo, or one that is within a square frame, can prove to be quite useful; you can use it as a profile picture on every social media platform known to man.
- You might want to consider creating two alternate versions of your logo. One that works well with a white background, and one that is better suited against a dark background. It can be as simple as inverting the colors in Photoshop.
Branding your blog is an essential aspect of building a successful online presence. Branding is not just about creating a logo or choosing a color scheme; it is about creating a unique identity that resonates with your target audience.
A well-branded blog can help you stand out in a crowded online space, attract loyal readers, and ultimately, achieve your blogging goals. Remember, building a strong brand takes time and effort, but the rewards are well worth it.
So, invest in your brand, be authentic, and stay consistent in your efforts. With a little perseverance and dedication, you can build a successful blog that stands out from the rest.
4. Build Your Audience
One of the most important steps to successfully selling your self-published book is building an audience for your blog. To do so, consider:
- sharing your blog posts on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. This can help you reach a wider audience and increase your chances of connecting with potential readers. You can also try experimenting with different types of content, such as videos, infographics, or podcasts, to see what resonates with your audience.
- trying offline methods to build your audience. This might include reaching out to local bookstores or libraries and offering to give a talk or reading, or attending book fairs and events to meet potential readers face-to-face. You can also consider creating physical promotional materials, such as bookmarks or flyers, to distribute at these events or to give to people you meet in your daily life.
- creating a newsletter or email list for your blog. This allows you to stay in touch with your readers and provide them with exclusive content, such as sneak peeks of upcoming books or behind-the-scenes looks at your writing process. You can also use your email list to promote your book as it nears its release date, or to offer special discounts or bonuses to your subscribers.
- engaging with other bloggers in your niche and participating in online communities related to your book's topics. This can involve leaving thoughtful comments on other blogs, joining forums or Facebook groups related to your topic, or even hosting your own online events or webinars. By building relationships with other bloggers and influencers in your niche, you can increase your blog's visibility and attract more readers.
It's important to remember that building an audience takes time and effort, but the payoff can be significant. With a dedicated following, you can not only sell more copies of your book, but also establish yourself as an authority in your niche and attract more opportunities for speaking engagements, guest posts, and other forms of exposure.
Use multimedia content
Multimedia content refers to any type of content that combines different forms of media, such as videos, images, infographics, and audio. By incorporating multimedia content into your blog, you can create a more engaging and interactive experience for your readers.
One of the most effective ways to incorporate multimedia content into your blog is by creating a book trailer. A book trailer is a short video that showcases the tone and style of your book, and can be shared on your blog and social media platforms. By creating a book trailer, you give readers a glimpse into your book and make it easier for them to visualize the story and characters.
Another way to incorporate multimedia content is by creating a video interview where you discuss your book and provide insights into your writing process. This not only adds a personal touch but also helps readers connect with you as an author. You could discuss why you wrote the book, what inspired you, and what readers can expect from it. You can also provide tips for aspiring writers or talk about your writing routine.
Also, creating infographics can be an effective way to summarize the main points of your book. An infographic is a visual representation of information, often using charts or graphs. You can use an infographic to showcase data related to your book's themes or highlight key takeaways from your book. This can be a visually appealing way to provide readers with a quick overview of your book's themes and ideas, and can be easily shared on social media platforms.
Incorporating multimedia content into your blog is a great way to add depth and interest to your content, while also increasing its reach and appeal. By using multimedia content, you can create a more interactive and engaging experience for your readers, and help them connect with you and your book on a deeper level.
Create a mailing list
Creating a mailing list is an essential step in building a loyal audience that will follow your content for years to come. Not only can you keep your readers up to date on new blog posts, book promotions, and upcoming events, but you can also use your mailing list to offer exclusive content or promotions to those who sign up, such as a free e-book or a discount on your services.
To create a mailing list that will truly make an impact, you'll need to start by selecting a platform that suits your needs. There are many options available, including MailerLite, Constant Contact, and ConvertKit. Each platform has its own strengths and weaknesses, so it's important to do your research and choose the one that's right for you. For example, if you're just starting out and have a smaller budget, MailerLite may be the best option for you as it offers a free plan that includes basic features.
Once you've selected a platform, it's time to start building your list. You can create a sign-up form on your blog or website, offering exclusive content or promotions to those who sign up. You can also promote your mailing list on social media or through other channels such as webinars and podcasts. But building a mailing list is just the first step.
To keep your subscribers engaged and interested, you'll need to send regular updates. This could include new blog posts, exclusive content, or even a weekly or monthly newsletter. You can also segment your list based on interests or other factors, allowing you to tailor your updates to specific groups of subscribers. For example, if you have subscribers who are interested in your book promotions, you can send them a separate email with information on your latest book releases.
To make your updates more engaging, consider including images or videos, or even asking your subscribers for feedback or questions. This will create a sense of community and make your subscribers feel valued. You can also use your mailing list to conduct surveys and get feedback on your content or services.
By creating a mailing list and sending regular updates, you'll be able to build a loyal audience and keep your readers engaged with your content. With a little effort and creativity, you can turn your mailing list into a powerful tool for growing your business and connecting with your audience.
5. Promote Your Book
Once you have built up a following on your blog, it’s time to start promoting your book. There are many ways to promote your self-published book through your blog, including:
Create a dedicated page for your book
Creating a dedicated page on your blog that provides information about your book and includes a link to purchase it is a great way to promote your book. This page should include a book summary, reviews, and information about where readers can purchase your book.
Calls-to-action (CTAs) are a great way to encourage readers to buy your book. You can include CTAs at the end of each blog post, encouraging readers to buy your book. You can also create a banner or button that links to your book’s sales page, which you can place on your blog’s sidebar or at the end of each blog post.
Offer special promotions
Offering special promotions, such as a discount code or a free chapter of your book, exclusively to your blog readers is a great way to encourage readers to buy your book.
Collaborate with other indie writers
Collaborating with other authors in your niche can help increase your blog’s visibility and attract more readers. You can guest post on their blogs, invite them to guest post on your blog, or collaborate on a joint project.
Participate in book blog tours
A book blog tour is a virtual tour where an author visits a series of different book blogs to promote their book. Participating in a book blog tour can help increase your book’s visibility and attract more readers.
6. Connect with Your Readers
Connecting with your readers is an essential step to successfully selling your self-published book through your blog.
There are a variety of ways to engage with your readers and build a loyal following:
- Leverage the power of email marketing. By creating a mailing list for your blog, you can stay in touch with readers and offer them exclusive content or promotions. You might send out a weekly or monthly newsletter with updates on your writing progress, share sneak peeks of upcoming books, or offer discounts or bonuses to subscribers. By making your readers feel like they are part of an exclusive club, you can cultivate a sense of community and foster deeper connections with your audience.
- Host events or activities on your blog. For example, you might host a virtual book club or Q&A session where readers can interact with you and other fans of your work. You could also organize a writing contest or challenge, encouraging readers to submit their own work and providing feedback and support along the way. By offering these types of interactive experiences, you can build a dedicated following and foster a sense of engagement and excitement around your book.
- Leverage social media to connect with your readers and promote your book. In addition to sharing your blog posts and book promotions on platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, consider using these channels to share more personal updates as well. You might post about your writing process, share photos of your workspace or research materials, or even ask your followers for input on new ideas or characters. By using social media to give your readers a behind-the-scenes look at your life as an author, you can help them feel more invested in your work and more connected to you as a person.
Ultimately, the key to connecting with your readers is to be genuine, authentic, and engaged. By offering value to your audience and building meaningful relationships over time, you can create a loyal following that will support you and your work for years to come.
Selling a self-published book can be a challenging task, but a blog can be a powerful tool for promoting and selling your book. By building your blog, promoting your book, and connecting with your readers, you can effectively sell your self-published book through your blog. Remember, building a successful blog takes time and effort, so be patient and persistent in your efforts. Good luck!