Wednesday, December 9, 2015

How to Build Your Blog and Find Your Community by Sarah Ruut

Lately, the importance of fiction writers having a blog for their platform seems to be up in the air. Whether you've been blogging for a while or just beginning, Sarah Ruut has some great tips for the process. -- Sandy

Sarah: Do you have a blog? Have you been told you ought to start one? Maybe you have one, but you’re not sure what to do with it.

Blogs offer a tremendous opportunity to connect on a more personal level with readers as well as other authors. Other social media options are helpful, too, but you have no control over your space there. On your own blog, you control the landscape, and better yet, your community can be notified each time you post, rather than only when the stars align properly. (No one knows what works with those mysterious algorithms!)

If you feel overwhelmed or aren’t sure where to start, be encouraged. You’re not alone. One of the great things about blogs is that you can learn and change things as you go. So just do it! Here are a few tips and suggestions to get you going.


A Few Things to Know About Blogging


Be Passionate
If you’re not excited about what you’re doing, your readers won’t be either. Enthusiasm is contagious. Share yours!

Be Yourself
It’s tempting to imitate another successful blogger or writer, but don’t do it. God gave you your own personality, skills and passions. Allow those differences to set you apart as a unique voice.

It’s Not About You
I know. I just said you should be yourself and share your passions. Keep in mind, though, that ultimately it’s not about you. Determine your audience and their needs and desires, and then seek to serve them.

Interact
Blogging is community building. Your goal is to find people who want to read what you write, but those readers want to know they matter. If they take the time to comment, responding gives you the opportunity to build relationships that will hopefully last.

Don’t Be Afraid to Search
Whatever platform you choose (WordPress, Blogger, etc.), if you need to change or fix something, chances are good that directions have been posted online. Don’t be afraid to search or to find others who can answer your questions.


A Few Things to Include in a Blog Post


Photos
Photos and graphics help break up long passages of text, making the post more visually appealing. They can also be pinned to Pinterest or add images to a Facebook post or link, which helps draw interest back to your post.

Call to Action
When a reader has read your post, what do you want them to do next? Comment? Answer a question? Follow your blog? Share the post with a friend? There are many options here, but don’t be afraid to ask for the response you want.


Share Options
Make it easy for your readers to share the post, whether by email or social media. Many readers will not take the time to share if they don’t see a quick and easy way to do so. If you want them to share (which you do!), make it simple for them to do it.

A Few Tips for Blogging Success


Pick a schedule and stick to it.
Whether you post once a week or once a day is not as critical as that you do so consistently. Determine what works and stick with it, so your readers know when to expect you. When you know what is coming, you can plan ahead (and schedule posts ahead), which takes a large burden from your shoulders.

It’s not about you.
Yes, this one is worth repeating. Some bloggers only ever post about their own books. While your community will want to know about your book, they’ll want more from you than just that. Whatever focus you choose for your blog, serve the needs and desires of your community. Don’t just advertise your own writing, or your blog will become merely a commercial.

Reach out to others.
One of the most wonderful outcomes of blogging is the opportunity to build relationships with your community. Readers, writers, other bloggers – there are amazing people online who interact within this community. Don’t be afraid to join in. Blogging isn’t meant to be done alone.

Be patient.
The web is a huge world, and it takes time for your community to grow, for your space to feel settled, for your site to look like you dream. You don’t have to do everything at once.



What is your greatest blogging challenge? Share in the comments. And if you know someone who might benefit from this post, take a moment to share it with them, too!


~~~~~


Sarah Ruut is an avid reader who loves sharing about books and their authors on her blog, Fiction, Faith, and Fun. You’ll find devotionals as well as reviews of Christian fiction, interviews with amazing authors, giveaways and more at http://sarahruut.com/. You can also connect with Sarah on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Goodreads.

13 comments:

  1. These are great tips! I really struggle with posting on a regular schedule. That's something I need to work on.

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    1. I get that, Angie... Consistency is tough when there are so many things we need to get done in a day! I found planning ahead to be especially helpful. Maybe a brainstorming session to plan out posts for the next couple of months?

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  2. Sarah, thanks so much for all these wonderful ideas for building our blogs. I'm still building my audience, which I know takes time.

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    1. It does, Sandy. Wouldn't it be nice if there was a magic way to speed the process? But slow and steady wins the race. Hang in there! :)

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  3. Thanks for inviting me to share today, Sandy! :)

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    1. It was my pleasure, Sarah! You've shared some great tips. That "Be Patient" part is tough. Followers on my personal blog keep growing, so I guess that's the idea. :)

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  4. Sarah, thanks for the great tips. I struggle with finding anything interesting to tell people. I definitely attempt to be real. I hope readers can tell.

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    1. I think readers can definitely tell whether we're real or not, Terri. What to post about is probably one of the main causes of inconsistency. It's that fearsome blank screen! What are your readers sharing and chatting about on social media? Maybe you'll find some topics that interest them from there.

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  5. Thanks for your tips. I use my blog for author tours and reviews. I can't seem to get anyone to follow me and I'm not sure how to make my blog better. I don't have a follow button, like button etc. need help

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    1. Hi Deana! You're off to a great start with your blog. :) You definitely want to find a subscriber option (I'm not familiar with Blogger, but I'm sure you could search and find directions), and put it in a prominent place so readers can follow you!

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  6. Sarah, I just wrote and published my first blog post today. I appreciate your words of wisdom in making it successful. I will strive to keep it real and use relevant topics.

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  7. That's awesome, Carol Ann! You're on your way! :)

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