As if blogging isn't tricky enough, Turkish author Atulya Bingham faces the additional challenge of running a blog without a proper internet connection. Yet smart strategic thinking has enabled her to use her blog effectively to promote her fiction and non-fiction books.
“It's not often I like a blog well enough to purchase a book written by the blogger–this was an exception . . .” Amazon review for Mud Ball.
It’s always heart-warming to receive a positive review from a stranger, but it’s even better when they inadvertently offer some marketing feedback in the process. I also follow a couple of blogs, and have bought books from those bloggers. The rest? Honestly? I swipe them from virtual existence, not least because I live off-grid and only have 4 GB a month of internet to play with.
How can you create a blog that hooks new readers?
Many people are obsessed with hip web designs. Yet, attracting new readers to your blog has little to do with a swanky new website, and far more to do with relevant content. When you share a link on social media, no one even knows what your website looks like before they click through. Google doesn’t know either.
Far more important is a blog with a clear niche, genuinely useful information and a sense of community. Two questions bloggers could ask before they launch into what is potentially a lot of work, are:
- Who is your audience?
- How are you serving them?
Many authors' blogs turn into random accounts of day-to-day living (which unless your day-to-day living involves space travel or hunkering down with a pack of wolves, probably isn’t going to net you avid new readers). A thriving blog is a world that you’re inviting people to participate in, and it helps if that world is somehow related to the kind of books you write. A few examples of authors doing this well include Emily Benet (Humour), Beth Terry (Green living via My Plastic Free Life), Lisa Egle (Travel via Chicky Bus).
Another point worth considering is that people don’t read blogs for nothing. They want something, three things to be precise:
I have two websites, but the one which is grabbing me lots of new readers is my The Mud website (www.themudhome.com). The site has two elements:
- a static element full of permanently visible information (on how to build an earthbag house and live sustainably off-grid)
- a more creative blog which acts as a window to my off-grid life on a Turkish hill
Nearly all The Mud traffic comes from Google (yes the SEO makes a difference) and is sent to my free earthbag building guide. But what happens next? Visitors often find themselves drawn to my blog via some interspersed links.
To create a blog that sucks in new readers, you need to:
- Create a relevant theme for your posts (Mongolia/The Tudors/The Paranormal) that will offer something valuable to your niche of readers
- Post some genuinely helpful or fascinating information
- Write that information in a way that entertains or inspires, and intersperse it with links to your other creative written work
Would it work for fiction?
I’m also a fiction writer. I have a novel set in Turkey. I could have begun a blog with the Turkish Riviera as the theme. I considered it. Why didn’t I do it? Because most major bloggers for Turkey reviewed my book and posted about it, so it really wasn’t worth the bother. Which brings me to the final point.
Is the blog slog worth it?
I’m not on my site every day. In fact, I only post once a month, but I make sure it’s something of quality because my posts are my adverts. Just like writing books, blogging is a labour of love. I’m passionate about people building their own natural homes, and I love describing my life in the wild. Each post feels therapeutic, like a personal conversation with nature. If it wasn’t, would I spend all that time churning out posts just to sell my books? Not likely. I’d harangue a few bloggers to review instead.
JOIN THE CONVERSATION! How does your blog mesh with your books? Please feel free to share examples in the comments section – links allowed!