Blogging Workshop 101 & 201
by Lyn Cote
I want this workshop to provide info to those who are beginners to blogging and also I hope for those who've already been blogging.
Part I-Why Blog? And Blog What?
To begin with, a writer must decide what is the purpose of her blog. The most common reply would be to gain more readers. However, that is tricky since it isn't like a business which could say their blog's purpose is to sell X amount of products. The purpose of a writer's blog is more amorphous than that.
I blog for these reasons:
1-To interact with my readers and attract new readers
2-To build a supportive community of women
3-To reveal "me" not just my books (Transparency)
4-To attract more people to my website.
I was very reluctant to begin a blog because I couldn't think of anything that would be different from hundreds of other writer blogs. But last year at the RWA National Conference in San Francisco, Malle Vallik who's in charge of Harlequin's digital planning, asked me in a "Harlequin authors only" workshop, what my brand was. I said, "Strong Women, Brave Stories." Then she asked, "What on your website reflects your brand?" And a bolt of understanding of struck my brain!
Nothing on my website reflected my brand. And in the next instant, I had the answer to what to blog about. I would relate stories of strong women, from me, from other authors, from readers. Now drop by http://www.strongwomenbravestories.com (Yes, I even registered my brand as one of my domain names.) Now look for any elements which reflect my brand. See a few? Then click Blog and read what I've written by my photo.
Now I know another author has just shared her knowledge on branding so I don't want to redo her work. But to me, branding is more than what you are writing about and how, it's about who is attracted to the stories you write. I'm going to use my longtime writing friend Roxanne Rustand, as an example. We were friends working together toward publication so we still support and help each other. Rox could not think of what her brand was.
However, since I know her and her writing intimately, we talked and talked until we came up with her brand. We still haven't been able to come up with a "jazzy" tagline. But now visit her at http://roxannerustand.com/ and then click on her blog http://roxannerustand.blogspot.com/ .Her brand appeals to women who love the simpler life, in say, a setting like Wyoming and her readers and she both love animals. So Rox's blog isn't like every other writers blog. She invites other authors to talk about their beloved pets and any aninals in their stories. And pet lovers are loving her blog! A great way to tap into a new pool of readers.
Part 2-How to Blog?
I've recently read or skimmed 3 books on blogging and I'm reading a book called Social Marketing in An Hour a Day by Dave Evans. I also subscribe to http://www.Problogger.com and you should too! Here are several links that you should check out since they give you a lot info about the nuts and bolts of blogging.
Now another topic, "Tags" are what Search Engines are looking for. So when writing a blog, you should always "tag" it and try to use popular tags that are appropriate to your content. (SEO =Search Engine Optimization)
Part III-Bait & the Golden Rule of Blogging
By Bait, I mean giveaways. One way to make sure you have "followers" is to give stuff away. This is a legitimate strategy to increase traffic. But like anything else, giveaways can be overdone. I mean do you really want "followers" that only surf for free stuff? Are they really the people you want following you? So here's what I do.
Every May is MEGA MAY (since it is the month of Mother's Day and my theme is Strong Women), I ask each guest author to donate a book and goodies to one big MEGA MAY basket. The only other time I giveaway books is the month I have a new release, I give away one copy a week in a drawing from people who leaves a comment. When I have a giveaway, I notice that I do gain more followers and increase traffic. However, after the giveaway, I find that some newbies decide to stay. As I said, my goal is to form a community of supportive women. In the end, that's the CONTENT I offer my blog followers and guests.
Finally, on the developing society of the Web, there is one mistake you must not make and that is being anything less than honest. That doesn't mean you are going to post your phone number and bra size
Here's another link which will give you more about sincerity in your blog.http://www.problogger.net/archives/2009/07/12/how-to-build-credibility/
Now I've given a brief overview and some resources for blogging. This workshop is on a blog, so I want some blogging interaction. Here are some questions:
1-What is the theme or reason for your blog?
2-What in this workshop caught your interest? And can you add anything?
3-What is your blog URL and how long have you been blogging?
4-Do you have any tips on what I mentioned or anything pertinent that I didn't mention?
5- What are your favorite blogs? Please share their URL's.
6- Do you include links to other blogs on yours? Can you think why this might be a good idea?
PS: An informative video--
(50 minutes long)