Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The 3 Rules of Blogging: Readers, Readers, Readers

As the final post in my series about blogs, we will look at the most essential part of blogging - readers. Your readers are the reason you blog. The three most important rules of blogging revolve around how well you know your readers, how well you cater to them and how you capture them.

Rule #1 Readers - Know Them So You Can Find Them

Who is your reader? I like to tell my coaching clients to pretend that their reader is a character in a novel. This character likes your writing. They have specific reasons for liking it. What are those reasons? Do they like your sassy style? Do they need a laugh for the day? Build a strong image of your reader in your mind the way you would a character. The more you know about them the better you will be at finding them and giving them what they want on your blog.

Once you have a strong idea of who your reader is, then you can put yourself in front of them at the venues they frequent. Think about what other blogs they'd like to read or what social media they are using. This helps you to focus your marketing -- saving you time.

Rule #2 Readers - Cater To Your Reader

I talked about this in a previous post, but I can never say it too much. Cater to your reader! Take the time to know who they are and what they want, then make your blog the most inviting place for them. This is where content is king. Though here’s the tricky part: you can write the most wonderful post with perfect grammar and intelligent prose, but if it’s not what your reader wants from you then you might as well have not written it. Readers are fickle folk. Many are short on time and they come to your blog with a “what have you done for me lately” mentality. So make sure that you are thinking of them when you write.

Provide the content they want, also provide the experience they want. Help them out with useful links or tips. Find out what they want. How? Ask them. There is no harm is writing a post that asks your readers what they’d like to see on your blog.

Rule #3 Readers - Capture Them

Once you have them coming to your site, you’ll want to create ways of capturing them... or at least their contact information. Put together a sign up area and something special that can be sent to them regularly. Hey now, wait a minute, I can hear you groaning out there. Many writers I meet don’t want to send out weekly newsletters or be perceived as a spammer. Frankly, I would never ask you to do that. Still, I can’t emphasize enough how important it is for you to gather the information of your readers. Imagine the boost in sales your next book will get if you can send an announcement of its launch to a large list of people who love your writing.

So here are a few ways to capture contact information without feeling like a spammer.

  1. Offer to send your blog posts to their inbox. People who love your writing will love to have it sent to them when it is posted. Best of all, some contact management companies offer this automatically. They send your feed to your list. Check out contact management companies such as aWeber and Constant Contact.
  2. Do a monthly newsletter with links to specific posts from your blog and add in contests where your readers can win books from similar writers. They’ll appreciate the chance to win and your fellow writers will appreciate the nod (hint: let your fellow writers know you are doing this and maybe they’ll return the favor)
  3. Come up with a short but consistent item you can send. For example, a sign up for the quote of the day, word of the week or story of the month. My books deal with the paranormal so I’m starting a weekly horrorscope (spelling intentional) delivered to their inbox.
  4. If you don't want to send out anything consistently, then have an occasional contest with a prize. Readers must sign up with name and email to be entered into the drawing.

Always remember that your blog has a purpose, to attract and keep your readers so that you can sell more books.

This is my last post in the series on blogging. Stay tuned each Wednesday in January as I look at social media -- the good, the bad and the ugly.


Patricia Stoltey said...

I'm not sure my blog has sold very many hardcover or paperback books, but I do believe most of the folks who've bought my Kindle edition were blogger friends. A strong web presence with regular and a relatively predictable topic focus is very helpful.

Tamela Buhrke said...

It is hard to track sales of hardcover books from your blog. Though click thru's to your books on Amazon can be tracked if you have a good tracking software.