Author friends: Do you blog? Are you thinking about implementing it into your marketing strategy? A word of caution if you are—for your blog to be effective, the majority of your posts should not be about you or your books.
I know. Sounds kind of backwards, right? But the truth about blogging is that it does not immediately convert visits to book sales. Yet so many authors expect their blogs to perform this exact magical feat. As Jane Friedman, CEO and Co-Founder of Open Road Integrated Media (an e-book sales and marketing agency) points out, “Unfortunately, many authors pursue blogging without any understanding of the medium, and also as little more than a means to an end.”
Blogging is a long-term strategy, a round-about strategy. Its goal is to create loyalty, not purchases, and this isn’t always the easiest strategy to comprehend. No, wait … scratch that. It’s not always the most palatable strategy to implement. Think about it: You’re in it for the long-haul; you’ve got to keep it up regularly — at least once a week (more is better); and you have to be on top of your game with every post. In other words, you can expect to input lots of effort for very little immediate ROI.
Buuuut …. immediate ROI is not what you’re after. You want the long-term loyalty that blogging brings.
Have you ever heard of content marketing? As an author, that’s what you’re doing when you blog regularly. For those that aren’t familiar with the term, here is a brief overview.
The Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing as “a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”
What does that mean, though? And what does content marketing look like for authors? (From here on, by the way, I’ll use the terms “content marketing” and “blogging” interchangeably.)
At its core, blogging is the act of communicating with your present and prospective readers. But one very important point is that you’re not selling to them. You’re not:
- talking about your books
- posting about that latest, greatest review you got every time you get a good review
- focussed on you.
Instead, you’re focussed on them — your readers. What can you bring to them that they will find useful? What can you write for them that will be interesting, and that will encourage them to come back?
Author and e-book cover designer Joel Friedlander explains, “The blogs I read regularly are the ones that engage me as a reader. They leave me satisfied that the blogger has produced something useful, or entertaining, or educational, or all three. I get the feeling the blogger actually knows the kind of information I’m looking for and is working to give it to me. I trust them. And so I follow them.”
When readers follow your blog, they’re more likely to be interested, all on their own, to read your books — without you having to “pitch” them. If they arrive at the conclusion that they like you on their own, they are more likely to check out the other pages on your blog … which (hopefully) have your website, your books and your buy links prominently listed.
The main thing to reiterate is that blogging is a long-term strategy. It’s a commitment. Forbes magazine says, “content marketing is not designed to convert leads immediately. The goal is long-term, continuous engagement. In fact, many of our leads [or readers] have been in our pipeline for quite a while. And that’s fine by us—we’re in no hurry. The more time our leads spend interacting with our content, the more educated [or entertained or engaged] they become. In the meantime, they begin to see us as a credible resource [or interesting author]. That keeps us top of mind.”
For the author-blogger, this means that you want to continue to be a voice to your existing readers, and you want to attract new readers with valuable posts, not thinly veiled advertising campaigns. In essence, your mindset should be “what can I offer you that you would find interesting and useful?”
Remember, in today’s digital age, you are more than an author. You are a friend, a voice, and a source of information and input. And your blog, done right, is your medium to be all that and more.
Good luck, and happy blogging!