Blogger: Kathleen Y’Barbo, Publicist
Location: The Woodlands, Texas PR Office
Weather: Low 80s and sunny
Creating an online presence is essential for today’s author. Few would argue with this statement. Most have jumped on the Internet bandwagon with websites. Many others have created Facebook, MySpace, or ShoutLife pages and an increasing number have committed to regular Twitter posts. With all of these ways to reach your readers, one of the most popular, however, has become the blog. Consider these statistics:
- According to Blogosphere, 77% of Internet users are active readers of at least one blog.
- A whopping 133,000,000 blogs have been indexed by Technorati since 2002.
- An average of 900,000 blog posts go up in a 24-hour period.
So, given the sheer numbers, what’s an author/blogger to do to stand out in a crowded field?
Blog your brand! Or, more simply, stick with what is already working. If you write westerns, for example, create or participate in a blog that celebrates this. Petticoats and Pistols and Bustles and Spurs are great examples.
The best thing about the concept of blogging your brand is that it works whether you write fiction or nonfiction. Think of Dawn Meehan whose parenting book Because I Said So was spawned from a blog of the same name.
Don’t have a book out yet? Blogs are the best way to build readership while waiting for the editor’s call.
Find your sales are lagging? Take to the blogosphere with your thoughts, ideas, or anything else that relates to your brand and, by default, your books. Building a readership on your blog can translate to increasing interest in your other writings–namely the ones sold in stores!
Finally, a word about brand and blogs. Decide carefully and only after seeking wise counsel as to what your brand is. Volumes can and have been written on the topic of branding authors, but for the sake of this post, I’m assuming you already know what yours is. As simple as this sounds, check everything that goes out onto the Internet against your brand. Does your website fit your brand, or is it a generic representation of an author?
When Kelli Standish, designer extraordinaire and owner of PulsePoint Designs, created the Books & Such website, she put in place a look that has carried through on every page and has even reached the Twitter pages of each member of the firm. Even if you aren’t at a place in your career where you can afford to hire a web genius, there are a few things to keep in mind as you blog your brand:
1. Be consistent. Figure out what best represents your brand and use that on everything. It could be color, it could be texture, key phrases…whatever it is, be generous with it.
2. Discard anything that doesn’t work with your brand. Editing is key. You may like a page or a blog topic, but if it doesn’t fit with the web presence you’re looking to present, it has to go.
3. Give your readers a reason to return. Be it to your blog, your Facebook page, or your Twitter posts…if you’re not saying anything, there’s nothing to read and thus, no reason to stick around. With easy ways to link blog to social media, Twitter to Facebook, and all of the above to websites, there is no excuse for stale content. If you are going to have a presence, make a commitment to producing fresh material.