Best Practices for Blogging
Once you’ve decided to start a blog to promote your self-publishing endeavor and chosen a platform, you’ll need to learn the best practices for blogging and how to appeal to an audience. In the first entry in this series, we offered some general ideas about blog content. Now, we’ll walk you through the best practices for blogging, with some key tips on how to publish content that will appeal to an audience, and the nuts and bolts of your blogging routine.
Form a relationship with your audience
The more responsive you can be to what your audience is looking for, the more readers you’ll attract. Social media is ideal for this, and you can also respond directly to comments on your blog itself. If someone asks a question or expresses interest in content, it’s likely there are many more people interested in the same thing who haven’t reached out to you but may be searching the internet for exactly that kind of content. Think of your interactions with individual readers as a small sample of your wider audience, with the potential to attract new ones. But this is also doubly effective, as being responsive to your current readers will also keep them engaged and interested.
This is also one of the many reasons to never underestimate social media as a promotional tool – if you’re serious about your blog, at the very least, you’ll want to setup a Facebook and Twitter account and it keep it updated with every blog post. This is something you’ll want to do anyway as a self-publishing author, so you might as well start now.
Blog consistently and regularly
A Hubspot study found that businesses with blogs that published content regularly, at least once a week, saw their subscribers grow twice as quickly as those that only published once a month. Those that published more than once a week did even better. The conventional wisdom says that you should post articles as often as possible. And fresh, relevant content is definitely an important way to stay on the radar of search engines and draw in readers.
But at the end of the day, quality is more important than quantity. If you’re pushing yourself so hard to publish frequently, that you end up publishing low-quality content, then you’re not doing yourself any favors. The best rule of thumb is to publish regularly, but only as often as you can post worthwhile content. Many bloggers find this is more of a question consistency than frequency. All that said, if you can do this while aiming for multiple posts in a week, that’s a great place to start.
Don’t hold back (much)
Some bloggers worry about offering too much information or content on their blog. While you certainly wouldn’t benefit from publishing your whole book itself chapter by chapter, you want to make sure you give your readers something they can sink their teeth into. If you don’t offer a substantial taste of your expertise or creativity on your blog, readers won’t have any reason to keep coming back. If you only hint at what you have to offer, your blog may seem like little more than a sales pitch, and won’t appeal to readers. You’ll find the best results by being generous with your knowledge or narrative skill.
Think long-term, be patient
There’s a lot of content on the internet. Once you’re already offering regular, quality blogs, sometimes the missing ingredient is patience – simply continuing to do so for long enough to let your readers find you. For skilled authors that don’t struggle with the content creation itself, this might be the hardest part. As we’ve mentioned before in this series, the best time to start blogging to promote a book is a year, or even two, before you actually aim to publish.
Be SEO conscious
Countless articles exist dedicated to the art of SEO, or search engine optimization, and you would do well to do further research on this, and the best approach for your blogging platform specifically. But in short, this means using keywords to make your blog as visible as possible in search results. Choosing a keyword for an article is a matter of balancing broad and specific. For example, “blogging” too broad, but “SEO tips for blogs” could be just right. You can quickly test your keyword by checking how readily it autofills in Google’s search function. Once you’ve chosen one, you’ll want to make sure it appears in your page title, headlines, URL, the text of your article itself, and in any metadata for your blog.
There’s a lot more to this, and the internet is full of resources that are worth reading, but this should give you a basic starting point. And as an author, you’ll want your topics (and by extension, SEO keywords) to attract readers that would also be interested in your book itself.
These best practices for blogging should allow you to get started and gain some traction. But don’t be afraid to keep researching, staying up-to-date on the latest blogging tips, and being responsive to what actually works for you and what does not (while being patient for results, of course.) There’s no magic formula, but there are some simple best practices for blogging that will boost your chances of success.