Blogs—An Author’s Best Social Media Investment
by Kristen Lamb
There are few tools more powerful for creating a brand than a good author blog. The Digital Age is fast-paced, and information is fleeting. Many of us are struggling in a sea of 0s and 1s for something of substance to grasp onto.
We all know social media is vital to any author career, but we're also aware that modern audiences have the attention span of a crack-addicted Pomeranian, and social media sites are not exactly known for possessing long shelf lives.
Even the leviathan Facebook seems vulnerable to the shifting preferences of an increasingly distracted audience. What's an author to do?
Blogs Are More Resilient
Facebook and Twitter are not immune to going the way of Friendster and MySpace, and "Gather"-ing dust. It seems the second some new craze hits the scene and gains traction, the old site loses participation.
As participation declines, the "formerly hip" social site is then forced to sell more ad space to make up for losses. Distracting ads annoy remaining users who then flood to the new sparkly site with fewer annoying ads, while the old site dies a lonely death in the cold vacuum of cyberspace.
Blogs, on the other hand, can be created on the author's own web site, so the author has complete control. Even those who want to use one of the more popular blogging platforms like WordPress will still enjoy a similar advantage. Why? Blogs have a simple and timeless goal-share thoughts, information, stories and observations via words. That's it. Simple.
Notice how similar the mission is to books.
There are all kinds of blogs. Some are funny, informational, anecdotal, and some use just pictures, but they are all still basically the same, and they aren't going to change. WordPress might offer new sharing tools or plug-ins. They might offer upgrades and fancy backgrounds, but the overall experience people are searching for remains fairly unchanged.
We go to blogs to be informed or entertained.
Again, much like books…
Blogs will remain until we take them down or the Internet implodes, and, if the Internet implodes, we have far bigger problems than our author brand.
Thus, I would have to say that in a sea of shiny distractions, one of our best investments is a good blog (that leaves plenty of time for our most important activity-writing more books).
Blogs Are Built to Last
Twitter is a powerful tool for going viral, but tweets are very fleeting. Facebook posts have a bit more longevity, but most people won't see anything more than a week old unless they specifically go hunting for it.
Blogs are permanent, and this means that search engines can deliver new fans to your blog every day. Properly tagged blogs will turn up in Internet searches. I cannot count how many new subscribers I gain every week who discovered me from some random search. They read my blog, loved it and then told all their friends.
Who wouldn't love a little of that?
No one will find our tweet from three months ago and be so moved they need to buy all our books. Okay, maybe one guy, but he drives a panel van and lives in a basement. Don't accept any candy from him.
Blogs Harness a Writer's Strengths
Writers WRITE! It's what we do. Most writers are not salespeople. This is why a lot of that self-promotion stuff makes us want to take a shower. We aren't in our comfort zone. How many of you want to do this writing thing until that job in high-pressure sales takes off?
But writing? Writing is something we do well. In fact, if we are real writers, we should love writing. We should jump at any opportunity to write.
What better use of our limited social media time than doing an activity where we're already strong? Writers are gifted at elevating the mundane to the magical. We're gifted at using various combinations of twenty-six letters to captivate readers and elicit an emotional response. Blogs can do the same thing.
Good Blogs Connect to Readers the Same Way as Our Novels
Tweets are tantalizing and Facebook is fabulous, but blogs have a unique power to connect to our readers the same way as our novels. Blogs give people a chance to meet and fall in love with our writing voice. Voice is what makes each writer distinctive. No reader would mistake George Orwell for Dean Koontz or J.D. Robb for Virginia Woolf.
Voice is like an emotional fingerprint that is unique to each writer, and voice cannot help but influence our writing, all of our writing. Novels and blogs are our progeny, and they share elements of our creative essence. The key is to learn how to blog in ways which maximize our writing voice.
Like writing great novels, writing great blogs is also about technique and skill. But, once writers understand how to harness the power of the blog, there's no limit to what we can accomplish.
Blogs endure and afford us an opportunity to cultivate our future fans before the book is even finished. Blogs keep fan fires burning between books. Blogs help shape us into fitter, leaner professionals with the power to work exponentially instead of linearly. When Twitter tweets its last tweet and Facebook implodes into a black hole, your blog, your platform and your fans will remain.
Also, and this is a big point, blogs can be harvested for content and made into e-books either for sale or for promotion. Don't give away your fiction for .99. Give away your blog-to-book for .99 with purchase of your novel. If people love your blog, then having favorite posts in one e-book is valuable.
No need to hand away your art. Let your blog help you promote. Your blog is an investment that will just keep giving returns.
Kristen is the author of the new best-selling book, Rise of the Machines-Human Authors in a Digital World in addition to the #1 best-selling books We Are Not Alone-The Writer's Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It's Me, Writer. Kristen is the founder of the WANA movement, the CEO of WANA International and creator of WANATribe, the social network for creative professionals. She's a contributing humor blogger for SocialIn, a blog that reaches 2.5 million. She also blogs for The Huffington Post. Feel free to follow her on Twitter at @KristenLambTX and on Facebook.