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How to Get People to Read Your Old Blog Posts

| Posted in Blogging |

17

If you’ve been blogging for a while, your experience thus far might have been something like this:

  • Spend the first six months writing blog posts where you put your heart and soul into making them useful to readers.
  • Listen to the sound of crickets as nobody comes by to visit them.
  • Continue plugging away at blogging (and getting links to your site) and finally enjoy the reward: more visitors, some of whom even leave comments, yay!
  • Bask in new-found popularity but realize that nobody is reading those early (and brilliant, if you do say so yourself) blog posts.

While it’s nice to have readers, it’s even nicer if they stick around and explore your site.

This is especially true if you’re a book blogger doing a little affiliate marketing on the side (Not sure what that is? Make sure to read my series on How to Make Money as a Book Blogger). Say you did a wonderfully thorough review of your new $200 Kindle six months ago, and you included an affiliate link to said Kindle at Amazon so you could make a few bucks anytime a reader bought one through you. It makes sense to send new readers to that post now and then.

You can probably think of lots of posts you’ve written that you’d like folks to visit. Well, here are a few tips for getting them to read more than your most current blog entries:

1. Link to old posts from within new posts

This seems obvious, but it’s not often that I see authors or book bloggers doing this. You can see where I already did this a couple of times in this post.

If you’re writing along, and you realize you’ve written previous articles that could enhance the reader’s understanding/interest/etc. of the current post, then, by all means, link to them.

If you use WordPress (on your own domain), you can find plug-ins that list “related posts” at the end of every blog entry. I added that recently myself and it’s increased the average amount of time visitors hang out on my site (try installing Google Analytics — it’s free — to monitor those kinds of statistics).

2. Make it easy for readers to navigate your menu to find old posts

It’s possible there are acceptions, but I find it pretty useless when bloggers categorize posts by date.  I know this is a common option on Blogger, but I never surf through old posts on a blog that does this, and I’m sure I’m not alone. I have no idea if what you wrote in April of 2009 is going to be interesting to me or not, and I don’t want to click, click, click to drill down and find out.

Instead of using this feature (or in addition to), consider using categories or keywords/labels (an option Blogger offers) for creating a menu. Then, if you’re a science fiction book blogger, I can easily browse through your “space opera” category, since those are my favorite types of SF books.

You might also add a site map or “archives” page that lists the title of every post on the blog. I saw this done well recently on another site, and it’s on my to-do list to add something like this here. For WordPress users, there are plug-ins to do this automatically.

3. Promote old posts on your social media sites

There’s no rule that you can only promote your most recent blog entry. Last Sunday, for a random “inspirational” Twitter tweet, I shared a link to an old interview with an indie author making a great income from her ebooks. Several folks read it, retweeted it, and thanked me for posting it.

There may be entries in your archives that could turn new readers into fans who visit your blog again and again.

4. Do Periodic “Best of” Posts

The longer you maintain a blog, the harder you might find it to come up with fresh new things to write about every week. If you have a day where you’re drawing a blank, consider doing a “best of” post where all you do is write a quick introduction and list links to a number of your older entries. Ideally, these would share a common topic (i.e. book reviews for the best post-apocalyptic science fiction you’ve read this year), so you could give the post a good title that might earn search engine traffic in its own right.

5. Add permanent links to pillar articles in your menu

If you’ve written some informative and/or entertaining posts that you’d really like new visitors to check out, try adding permanent links to them in your menu.

Also, you can find widgets that will list your “Most Popular” or “Most Commented” posts on every page of your blog. While you may not get to hand-pick things this way, it’s all done automatically, and there’s a lot to be said for that!

All right, there are my tips for getting new readers to check out old blog posts. An additional benefit of all this intra-site linking is that you’ll help search engines find your favorite posts too. They don’t value every post on your site equally, and they’ll give more weight (meaning these posts will be more likely to appear in search engine results) to pages that are within one or two clicks of your main page than for those that are languishing in archives 20 pages from the front.

Do you have any tips of your own for getting people to read old posts?

5 Tips for Bringing More Readers to Your Blog

| Posted in Blogging |

20

Boost Your Blog ReadershipI stumbled into the #fantasychat on Twitter the other day, and the topic was “How to get more readers to your blog.”

Whether you’re an author, hoping to attract folks who might buy your books, or you’re just trying to get more people to read your posts, it’s satisfying to see one’s traffic increase from month to month. It’s nice, too, when people leave comments and you get to have conversations with someone other than yourself. (Not that self-conversing isn’t fun, but, ya know.)

Since it’s hard to impart much wisdom in 140 characters or less on Twitter, I figured a blog post was in order. So, without further rambling, I give you…

5 Tips for Bringing More Readers to Your Blog

Apply basic search engine optimization to your posts

You don’t have to become an SEO expert, but using keywords in the title and building links to your site can go a long ways in increasing the number of visitors you receive from Yahoo, Google, etc.

Thanks to Twitter, I see quite a few blog post titles, and many of them are useless insofar as attracting search engine visitors (honestly, they’re pretty useless for attracting clicks via Twitter too). This is because they don’t tell me what the post is about. “Coming soon…” or “Some Interesting Updates” doesn’t inspire me to click unless I know you already (maybe not even then!).

If you do nothing else, help yourself by making sure your post titles make it clear what the entries are about.

Don’t just write about yourself and your books

This one is for my author buddies. If you want to increase your blog readership, posting excerpts and reviews of your books probably isn’t going to do it. Likewise, posts about your life aren’t going to interest many folks unless you have a Dave-Barry-esque knack for making the mundane entertaining. Sure, when you’re a celebrity, you can blog about yourself and nothing but yourself and people will read about it, but we have to get to celebrity status first. How? By writing about things people find informative and/or entertaining.

If you’re an indie science fiction author, for example, you might review popular books in the genre or blog about the latest SF movies or television series. Think about what your target audience might be out there Googling and consider writing some posts that would answer those queries.

(I’m not a good example of this, by the way; I’m more interested in writing about e-publishing and book promotion than my chosen novel genre. W. Brondt Kamffer is an indie fantasy author who does a nice job blogging for his target audience.)

**I don’t want to give you the idea that you should never write about yourself or your books (sometimes when it’s all interviews and reviews your voice gets lost and it feels like we could be reading newspaper articles where it doesn’t matter who the journalist is), just that it’s wise to find a balance. A little personal information here and a little interesting-to-your-target-audience-stuff there.

Leave comments on other people’s blogs

I’m not as good at doing this as some folks are — it’s a time consuming promotion method, and I find myself short of time lately! — but this can be a good way to bring in new visitors, especially when you’re just starting out and don’t get much search engine traffic yet.

If you leave useful comments on blogs where your target audience hangs out, people might be interested enough to click on your name and follow it to your site. The owner of the blog, too, might reciprocate and come comment on your site (this is most likely when you’re visiting other new-ish blogs — understandably, bloggers who get 25-50+ comments per post are less likely to have time for this).

Sneaky tip:

If you can be an early commenter on a new post on a popular blog, your words will be seen by a lot of people and you’ll be more likely to get visitors. I had that happen on a JA Konrath post once (he often gets 100+ comments). I only check his blog a couple of times a month, so it was just chance that I got a comment in early, but I included a link to my site at the bottom and quite a few people surfed over to check out my blog (note: not all bloggers will approve comments with self-promotional links in them, so see what the trend is before assuming you can do this).

Use Twitter, Facebook, etc. to bring visitors to your blog

I don’t think the social media sites are particularly good for selling books, so you won’t often see me tweet sales links (if anything, I’ll usually send folks to an excerpt on my site or to Smashwords to download a freebie). I do, however, announce my new blog posts on Twitter, and this brings quite a bit of traffic, especially when something catches a few eyes and gets “retweeted.”

I’m not big into Facebook, but I do have a few blog followers via their “Networked Blogs” feature, so you may want to look into signing up for that (among other things, it automatically announces your blog posts on your Facebook page).

As you might guess, you’ll get more mileage out of the social media sites if you’re active on there and work to get some followers. Unless you have lots of free time, consider focusing on one to build up network rather than trying to spread yourself (possibly ineffectually) across them all.

Try to turn one-off visitors into regulars

Okay, last tip. While it’s great to drive lots of new visitors to your site, it’s even better to convert those one-time visitors into regular readers.

One way is to encourage folks to sign up for your RSS feed. (This is on my to-do list as my current link is not prominently displayed.) If visitors track a lot of blogs, they probably use Google Reader or another service to check all the new headlines at once. If they add yours, it’ll be easy for them to see when you’ve posted something interesting.

Another good thing to add, especially if you’re an author and you’re hoping to get readers to buy your books, is a newsletter. This lets you send notes straight to people’s inbox where they’re much more likely to notice you than if your blog is 1 of 200 hanging out in their feed reader. You can give people the option of signing up to receive each of your new blog posts in their inbox, or you can have them sign up for a mailing list where you can send them personalized messages now and then.

All right, those are my five tips. Do you have any you’d like to suggest?

3 Reasons to Interview Other Authors on Your Blog

| Posted in Blogging |

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Interview Questions HumorYou’ve published your first ebook (or you’re planning to), and you’ve decided to start a blog to help build awareness of yourself and your work. Great!

If you’re like a lot of writers, you’re blogging about…yourself. If you’re fascinating that might be okay, but let’s assume that tactic hasn’t won you a huge readership thus far (no idea why). You might try writing about other authors, maybe even interviewing them.

What’s the point in that, you ask? I’m feeling garrulous, so I’ll give you three:

1. The people you interview will help you promote your blog.

No, I don’t have a Magic Eight Ball that predicts all, but this happens a lot. You interview someone, and that person posts the link to FaceBook, Twitter, a personal blog, etc. The reason authors agree to do interviews in the first place is to help get the word out about their books, so naturally they want to help make people aware of your post. This is good for them and good for you, since you might acquire a couple of new readers of your own — especially if the people you interview write in the same genre as you do!

2. You may get extra search engine traffic down the road.

Months later, people are finding my blog via the search engines because they’re looking for information on Jason Letts, Nathan Lowell, and other indie authors I’ve interviewed. (And, to the lady who posted the comment last week, sorry but I don’t know when Book 3 in Jason’s series is coming out.)

While none of these folks were originally interested in me (depressing, yes), some might stick around and check out more pages of my site if they’re interested in the topic. (This is why it’s a good idea to have a quick “about” or “tagline” prominently on every page of your blog.) Who knows? Maybe some will even check out my books.

3. Interviews are free and easy content for you.

If you’ve set yourself a goal of doing a certain number of posts a week (it’s three for me), and you’ve been blogging a while, you might get to the point where you’re struggling to find time to maintain your blog and/or running out of ideas for posts.

With a simple email interview, you can send a few questions along, and let the guest author do all the writing for you! Unlike with a guest post, you have full control and can guide the interview to ensure the content is something you think your readers will appreciate. (If you browse through my interviews category, you’ll notice I don’t use generic questions for everyone–I pick something the author has success and/or experience with and make that the theme of the post.)

Note: Start out interviewing your peers; Stephen King doesn’t want to appear on your Blogspot blog for your three followers.

Okay, I’m done with my three reasons. Have I sold you yet? Or would you like to add another reason? Have your say below!

How to Attract Guest Bloggers (and why you’d want to)

| Posted in Blogging |

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welcome guest bloggersI’ve written about guest blogging before, and how you, the author, can use it to help spread the word about your work. You, the blogger, may want to consider inviting guest posters to your site as well.

There are lots of reasons this can be beneficial. Let’s take a look at a few.

Reasons to Consider Inviting Guest Posters to Your Blog

  • Day Off! — Unless you’re a prolific blogger who has lots to say and can whip out posts quickly, you may have weeks where you’re struggling to post regularly. Whether you’re trying to promote your books or looking to make a few bucks as a book blogger, consistent posting is going to help attract and retain readers. Other than a couple of minutes for proof-reading, guest posts shouldn’t take much of your time. In return, you get free content for your blog.
  • New Ideas/Information — We all have our areas of expertise, and we have other areas that we’re less knowledgeable on and less passionate about. Bringing in a new point of view can give your regular readers access to information and ideas they might find useful but which you weren’t interested in covering.
  • Help with Promotion — If people want to guest blog, it’s a forgone conclusion they’re passionate about promoting themselves and their work. If a lady has a post appear on your blog, she’s probably going to promote it to her blog and her social media followers. This can introduce your site to a whole new crowd of readers, some of whom might just stick around.

That all sounds good, you say (well, I hope you say!), but how does one get these lovely folks to come around, offering to submit free blog posts to you?

Let’s talk about that next….

How to Attract Guest Bloggers to Your Site

Once your blog is popular, you’ll probably get contacted by folks interested in guest posting, even if you don’t do any of the things listed below; when your site is newer, you’ll have to convince people they’ll get something out of writing up an entry for you. Here are a few ways to do that:

  • Let people know it’s a possibility — I have a “guest posting policy” in my About section, which is on the header of every page of my site. If I really wanted to attract folks (I’m just posting a couple guest entries a month right now), I’d have an easy-to-find link that said “How to Guest Post” or some such on the blog menu.
  • Make it easy for visitors to contact you — One of my pet peeves is not being able to find a contact form or the owner’s email address. Whether you’re looking to attract guest bloggers or not, it’s a good idea to make it easy for a visitor to find a way to get in touch.
  • Have an established site that gets traffic — While people often appreciate the value of a link, even on a new blogs, they’ll want to make sure the time and effort they put into constructing a post won’t go unnoticed. The reason they want to guest post in the first place is to get the word out, so you’ll probably want to wait until you’re getting 100+ visitors a day before trying to solicit guest posts.
  • Ensure the “what’s in it for me” information is clear — Since people want to guest blog for publicity, you may want to make it clear they can include bios with links to personal blogs, author pages, book pages, etc. Or, if you don’t mind them working links into the content of the post itself, let them know if that’s okay.
  • Show willingness to promote guest posts and encourage folks to comment — Remember, your guest posters are hoping to gain recognition, and they’ll know their mission has been accomplished if a) they get hits to their site through the links in their post and b) they get comments and questions from your audience. Part of the onus lies on their shoulders to create an interesting post, but you can also help promote their post. One thing I appreciated, too, when I did an interview at Alexander M Zoltai’s Notes from an Alien blog was that he emailed me to let me know when people had posted comments. That made it easy for me to know when to pop in and respond.

There we go, reasons you’d want to invite guest posters to your blog (and how to interest them to start with!).

If you’re looking to finagle guest posters to your site, leave a comment below, and maybe some will find their way to you.

How to Make Money as a Book Blogger Part 3: Content and Keywords

| Posted in Blogging |

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Blog content page performanceWelcome to part three of the series I started with How to Make Money as a Book Blogger Pt. 1 (if you’re coming in new, you may want to start there).

Today we’re talking about choosing a niche for your blog, writing content that attracts book buyers (remember, we’re making money through affiliate links, so we need people to go on and buy books after reading our posts!), and using keywords that will help increase our search engine traffic.

This post isn’t designed to tell you what you have to write, but to help you turn what you want to write into posts people will find. Clear as mud? Good. Let’s get started!

Choosing a genre or “niche” for your blog

When it comes to reading, many of us have preferences for books in certain genres or (for non-fiction) niches. Others like to read across multiple genres, selecting all sorts of books that sound good to them. I don’t want to tell you what you can and can’t blog about, but you’ll do better, insofar as building a fan base and attracting readers goes, by sticking to a specific genre.

It’ll be a rare crowd that shares all your tastes, and people won’t necessarily feel the need to check in often if they’re only interested in a handful of books you blog about. If you blog about an already established genre (and maybe it’s broad such as science fiction and fantasy or narrow such as paranormal romance), you’ve got a ready crowd of folks who already identify themselves as readers of that genre. They can land on a back page of your blog, see from your tagline that you review “cozy mysteries” or “futuristic romances,” and know within seconds they’ve found their kind of place.

With a general book blog, things won’t be as easy because people have to hunt around and see if you’re reviewing things they like, and we just don’t like to waste a lot of time figuring things out. Just think about how quickly you hit your own back button if you can’t find what you’re looking for in the first couple of seconds on a site.

A niche blog with a tagline is going to make things easier all around.

Note:

I’ve seen a lot of new blogs pop up that tote themselves as ebook blogs or indie book blogs. For my money, that’s still too general. Just because I have a kindle doesn’t mean I’m interested in all ebooks; I’m still going to be drawn to SF/F stories. If you want to specialize in covering ebooks or indie books, great, but consider narrowing it further to a specific genre or niche.

Also, with genre-specific book blogs, once you build up an audience, your site will be very attractive to authors looking to advertise. While I talk a lot about affiliate programs, selling advertising can be an even easier way to make money. And, hey, if any of you start high fantasy or steampunk blogs that become popular, come look me up. I’ll be one of your first advertisers!

What to write about on your book blog

We’ve talked about choosing an overarching niche or genre to stick with, but what about specific posts? Naturally, it’s your blog and you can write about whatever you want, but if you want to make some money, it helps to think about what will entice people to go on and purchase the books you’re linking to.

Here are a couple ideas, but don’t let them limit you:

  • Reviews are a great choice, both because they’re just the sort of content people would expect on a “book blog” and also because people reading reviews are likely looking for new books to buy, so why shouldn’t they buy them via your site and your links?
  • Posts that highlight new releases in your genre can also do well. They’re simple to write up too, since, unlike book review posts, they don’t require you to have read the book.
  • Over on my SF/F blog, I’ve had good luck putting together lists of books from specific categories. I’m still selling ebooks from a post I did months ago on 99-cent steampunk ebooks. A tongue-in-cheek list I made of ebooks to help readers survive the zombie apocalypse does well for me too.

Incorporating keywords into your titles and posts

I’ve done a lengthy explanation of keywords and how using them can increase the likelihood of folks finding your blog via search engines, so I’ll do a shorter overview here.

Keywords are the words or, more often, terms people type into search engines such as Google to find what they’re looking for.

For example, if a new book is out and there aren’t many (or any) reviews on Amazon yet, a potential buyer might search for author + book title + review. If you’ve written a post called “A look at the latest by author-name” then you’re not going to be as good of a match (in the search engine’s eyes) as someone who’s entitled their post “Review of Book Title by Author.”

It’s okay to add flair to your titles (and entice folks to click!), but try to hit on the words you think people would actually search for in your titles, and then use those terms a couple more times in the body of your post. You’ll get some bonus love from the search engines if you can get people to link to your post using those keywords (i.e. such-and-such book review), but we’ll talk more about link building later on.

You can tinker around with the Google Adwords Keyword Tool (it’s designed for businesses running Adwords advertising campaigns, but it’s a free way to research keyword frequency on Google). Don’t be discouraged if something like an author’s specific book or even an author isn’t searched that often; that usually means it will be easy to rank at the top of the search engine results because there probably aren’t a lot of people blogging about said term either (at least not people who have a clue about search engine optimization, like you now do!).

For book reviews, it’s pretty obvious what good keywords would be to use, but you can sneak those keywords into other posts as well.

Suppose you did a list of new releases of romance books available for the Kindle. The Keyword Tool tells me “romance novels” is searched more often than “romance books” so I’d probably want to use the more popular term. Stick “kindle” and “ebooks” in your title, too, to attract those specific readers.

Note:

Popular terms (like the two-word terms I mentioned) are harder to rank for, since lots of established, popular sites usually hold the top slots. Three- and four-word phrases are less searched for but easier to rank for.

This is delving a little deeper than you probably need unless you’re the type who enjoys studying statistics and fiddling with this sort of thing. If you just try to use logical keywords in your titles and blog posts, trust me, you’ll be way ahead of most of your peers when it comes to book blogging!

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