As a writer, you are encouraged by many to include blog tours as a part of your platform building and marketing strategy. Why? There are two really good reasons, but the second one is often lost on authors.
Building Your Audience
The first reason is that you are building your audience, introducing yourself to new readers, reviewers, and other bloggers. (You do have your own blog, right?) If not, there are many guides on how to get started blogging as a writer. Read them, follow the steps, and come back when you are done.
Why do you need your own blog? As you introduce yourself to readers, reviewers, and others you need to tell them where they can find you consistently. This does not just mean giving them your social media handles, though you should be sharing those too. At the minimum, you should be on Twitter and Facebook, but Instagram and Pinterest sometimes work well for writers. This is where you can share visuals like book covers, along with photos about you and your life.
Readers want to get to know you. You can put forth a persona if you wish, and are consistent. For instance, many people have the image that I drink Scotch all day, starting well before noon, and that I work in sweatpants and t-shirts. While this is not true, since I usually don’t start drinking until at least a little bit after noon, and most days I get dressed.
You can publicly portray whatever writing image you want, but readers want to know that image. They want to see pictures of you and your cat, and they like knowing your struggles, what you are working on next, where you are traveling, and more.
Digital wins over physical. You can use a bunch of methods to promote yourself and your work. Everything from business cards to posters, bookmarks, and even calendars and t-shirts. None of these things are a bad idea, in fact if you order them in bulk, you can save a ton of money. Not long ago, I ordered 6,000 business cards. It bears mentioning at this time of year that a number of these things are tax deductible (along with other expenses you incur as an author like book covers and writing courses and conferences).
But who are you going to give those things to, and how are you going to reach them? This is where your blog and website come in. This is where you keep them most informed. You can certainly do so through social media, but your website offers another opportunity: this is how you can inform your readers where to find (and buy) your work.
There are other methods to building your audience and getting visitors to your website which include email newsletter lists and of course, guest blogging.
Building Backlinks to Your Site
How Google Works. This is the part authors often miss. Your site ranks in Google according to how the search engine giant perceives it. It’s helpful at this point to understand how Google works: when you type in a search it does not search the web “live.” Instead, Google (and any other search engine) searches its own index of websites. That index is created by virtual “spiders” who go out and “crawl” websites. How often your site is updated in that index depends on how often your website is updated. Google is looking for updated information, as the goal if for it to provide the best, most relevant search for its users.
If the “spider” crawls your site, and it has not been updated in three days, it will come back and check three days later. If it has still not been updated, it will crawl it six days later, and so on. So if you post or make updates to your website once a month, that is how often Google will “crawl” your site.
If the “spider” comes back a month later and sees you have made four changes since it’s last visit, it will start to look at your site more frequently again. News sites like the New York Times and ABC can be crawled dozens of times a day, as they are updated as news breaks.
Backlinks. While frequent updates are important, equally important is how often (and how) other websites are linking to yours. First, if sites considered to be spam are linking to you on Google, it is possible that your site could be “de-indexed” or removed from the Google search index altogether. This is often called a penalty, or being penalized. This means that while someone searching your name might find your Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn, but they won’t see your website at all.
This is not only disastrous because you have taken all the time and expense to build your site, but because recent studies have shown that 64% of your web traffic comes from organic search, or someone searching for your name or the topic of your website in Google. This means that you could potentially lose 6 out of 10 of the visitors to your website.
So be careful of deals on Fiverr and other sites where individuals or agencies offer to help your website rank by selling you a block of links. Building good backlinks takes time, and if you hire someone to do it, it will probably be expensive depending on the type of links you want, another blog post for another time.
Guest Blogging. Guest blogging is one of the best ways to do this, although you do have to be careful about what sites you guest post on. Most of the time, reputable companies like Writer Marketing Services offer blog tours, and vet the blogs you are posted on.
You can set up your own blog tours, but it does involve a huge time commitment to do outreach, follow up, and research each sites guidelines. However, even if you do blog tours, you should also attempt to write for other sites as well.
This is why you see writers on Huffington Post and other sites. Often they are writing about other subjects, maybe even what they do for work. I write a lot about content marketing, GIS, sports for Last Word on Sports, and even just fun topics for sites like Elite Daily. Why? Because it creates more authority for my site, and exposes me to an entirely different audience.
Building the authority of your site does not have to be about writing, but at least a part of it should be. If you are just blogging about your interests, it is possible the readers of those articles will not even know that you write fiction.
The links you build to your site should be relevant. They should have diverse anchor text (the text that points the reader to your site) but text that doesn’t just look natural, but is. There are a number of tools you can use that will provide you with information about the backlinks pointing to your site, including Moz and SEM Rush. Both have free trial periods, and Moz has a free version that allows limited searches and some free information. (also, if you want to learn more about SEO, search in general,and marketing strategies, you should follow their blog and Rand Fishkin, their founder and an all around fun and brilliant guy)
What to Write About
One of the number one arguments I hear from writers against guest blogging and blogging regularly on their own site is simply “What do I write about?” They seem to run out of topics pretty quickly. But I call foul.
Creativity You are creative. You need to apply that same creativity to your blog writing that you do to writing short stories and novels. You have hobbies, interests, and your books are about something, someone, and somewhere.
Most of the time, writers who say they have nothing to write about on their blog are scared to write the wrong thing. There are a ton of places to find new ideas to write about, but here are a few:
- Write what readers will be interested in. Don’t just write about writing, but about things people comment on in their reviews of your books, the places, things, and people your books are about. Readers read them for a reason. Give them a reason to learn more.
- Write about your life. People are fascinated by the writing life, where you get your ideas, and how and where you write. Don’t write about this all the time, but it is a place to start.
- Share your thoughts. Don’t get overly political or religious, but it is okay to let readers of your blog know what you are feeling when it comes to current events, especially if they are related, even tangentially, to the subject of your books.
Think outside the box. You have things to say, and you certainly have enough to say for one blog post a week. I have met some of you, and you have much more to say than that. Write it down,and get some benefit from it.
Assignments Many times, blog owners will tell you what they want you to write about, or offer interview opportunities, or will put a call out for specific topics. Pay attention, answer those calls, and in short give the people what they want.
You can’t go wrong with a post a blog owner has asked for, or one you have pitched to them that they like. Sometimes you will even have posts that go farther than you imagined, and unexpectedly.
As an author, you should be guest blogging on various sites. It is one way to promote your work and make your writing more profitable. A big part of the dream as an author is for your work to be read. In order for it to be read, readers must discover it and have an easy way to purchase it.
It’s a lot of work to build your audience and find guest postings on various sites. But you should be building backlinks to your sites, and you do have things to write about. It is up to you to explore the world of guest posting, but it can be a real game changer for your work and your website.
Have questions? Want to know more? Comment below or contact me at [email protected].