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So, You Want to Be a Blogger

Kat Engh Posted by Kat Engh.

Kat used to work for Berrett Koehler as a Social Media Strategist & Communications Manager. Now she works in the fashion industry.

So, You Want to Be a Blogger

Some Basics on Establishing Your Writing Online

1. Create your own website or page that’s all about you. A personal website doesn’t have to be overly fancy – in fact, I’d advise against creating something that’s too complicated or busy for people to spend time on. The idea is that when you start blogging, people may want to know more about you beyond your blog posts, so you should have a site or page that you can link to with more info about yourself.

If the thought of doing anything technical makes you break out into a cold sweat, I’d recommend starting even simpler with something like a Brandyourself.com profile. Here’s what mine looks like, and it took about 20 minutes to complete: http://katengh.brandyourself.com/. If you’d like to do something more expanded, check out blog platforms like Wordpress.com or Blogger.com. These are both great, super user-friendly (and more importantly, beginner-friendly) platforms for creating a simple webpage.

2. Offer to “Guestblog.” You don’t have to run your own page to be a blogger. In fact, many of the top bloggers are writing for other, more established websites and blogs. The biggest benefit to the writer is that you are posting on a site with an established audience. Think about the audience for your book and create a short list of topics that you’d like to write about, and then search for blogs that frequently or solely cover these areas.

Next Steps:

  • Look for the blogger or the website editor’s contact info on the site (not everyone will share this, of course), and send a brief pitch/offer to guestblog for the site.
  • Get writing before you hear back. If the blogger or editor doesn’t reply, you’ll still have content that you can pitch elsewhere, or post to your own site.

3. Write Often, Engage Even More. Blogging is not a “if you blog it, they will come” situation. Additionally, the days of writing alone and never really hearing about what people think outside of print reviews and bookstore events are long gone.

You have to expect that it will probably take several posts before people start to connect with what you’ve written. You can build an audience faster though if you encourage readers to engage with the material – and you in turn interact with them, as well.

Easy Ways to Engage:

  • Ask a question at the end of your post.
  • Offer a giveaway associated with leaving a response comment.
  • Ask your audience to write a tweet or comment with suggestions on what to write next.
  • Post links to your latest blog posts on your website and social media profiles, and ask your followers/friends to share it if they agree with what you’ve written.

Want more on this? Here’s a great article with advice on blogging from a series of experts: http://blog.bufferapp.com/blogging-advice-for-beginners-from-16-experts

4. Write “Sharable” Content. The simpler and more accessible the material, the better. Here are 6 some examples of what people love to share:

  • Lists!: “Top 10 Reasons to Blog,” “5 Smart Ways to Ask Your Boss for a Raise,” “3 Things to Stop Doing Right Now in Negotiations.” You get the idea.
  • How To’s: “How to Ask Your Boss for a Raise and Get It,” “How to Give a Business Consultation in 30 Minutes or Less.”
  • Visuals: Here’s a funny yet true infographic on publishing that went from something shared between colleagues to a viral sensation that people from publishing remember fondly: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/15/book-publishing-infographic_n_1518948.html
  • Humor: Ze Frank’s TED Talk gives some great examples of this: http://www.zefrank.com/ted/2010.html
  • Unbelievable or Heartstring-Tugging True Stories: This story of clothier Wetseal flying out a fan with Down Syndrome to be one of their models is really about the mother’s campaign for more diversity and inclusion for people like her daughter, but it’s also a genius yet genuine example of great PR on the part of Wetseal. It’s also full of visuals, so it’s kind of a great triple whammy and not hard to see why this one has close to 600 comments and an untold number of shares: http://themetapicture.com/i-read-something-beautiful-today-story-written-by-karries-mom/
  • Stories, with statistics: “25% of the people who read this made-up statistic right now will go to bed hungry tonight. SNAP defender Senator Madeup wants to see this number go down, not just because he wants everyone to have access to food, but because he grew up on food stamps, himself.” You can probably write a better sentence than that one, but you get the idea.

5. Get writing! Blogging done sparingly will likely net sparse results, so if you love writing and this is really how to want to connect with folks, then be ready to do it often.

Remember! 5 Things Every Personal Page Should Have:

1. “About Me” page or section with a short bio of yourself and some kind of contact info.

2. “News/Updates” page or section where visitors can see what events you have coming up, links to recent articles you’ve written, your latest book press, awards received, and any other timely news that you want to share with your readers.

3. Share Buttons – make it easy for site visitors to share content they like on your website on their social media profiles –I recommend Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Linkedin.

4. Social Media Links – include links to any of the social media profiles you have so that people can follow or “like” you, too.

5. Product Info – you wrote or are writing a book, so make sure you have a page with info on that book (or all of your books, if you’re an extra-achiever) that includes links to purchase it.