Whether we are indie or traditionally published, we are responsible for getting our author name out there via the available social media. Expenses can mount up and finding affordable ways to get your name out there can be difficult.
But when it comes to having a website, don’t sweat it. WordPress and Blogger (Google’s platform) offer free blogs and theme templates. You can have a nice-looking website, with only a small amount of effort and a little self-education.
I began this site in 2011. I used WordPress’s free plan and had no website skills whatsoever. I also had a book review site, Best in Fantasy using Google’s Blogger platform. I used both platforms’ learning tools and can hold my own now.
Your website is your store, a newsletter, and is also your public presence. We want people to find and read our work. It’s a platform where you can advertise your books and have links to where they are available.
I belong to several professional organizations. One of the comments even traditionally published, well-known authors make most often when explaining why they don’t keep their blogs updated, is this:
They don’t know what to write about.
Several years ago, a well-known author told me that updating her blog is as exciting as doing laundry. This is because it hasn’t occurred to her to write about her passions.
She is an avid music fan and gets to every festival she can. I think her fans would have loved to hear about 2022’s Bonnaroo, a music festival I’ve never had the chance to attend. It sounded amazing when she told me about it, and she could have made a quick post featuring photos and tweet-length comments.
However, my friend regularly posts on Instagram and Twitter about her garden and what she had for dinner. Many authors use twitter to connect with fans, but they don’t think their thoughts are worth more than the 280 characters in a tweet.
Yet those small chunks of personal life could be stretched a bit to make a delightful short read.
A blog post doesn’t have to be long. Think of it as a slightly longer tweet or Facebook post. Just write a paragraph or two about what you are interested in at that moment. You will have 300 – 500 words written in no time.
That is an acceptable length for a blog post. My first posts averaged 400 words and detailed my experience of floundering around as a writer. I began with four followers, and while I’m not burning up the internet, I’m connecting with many more people now than I was then.
Many of us are adept at using Facebook to connect with readers. The work you put into a Facebook post for your author page could easily be turned into a short blog post.
If you fall into that category, even a bi-monthly update on your works in progress and where you will be signing books is a good option. We only need something to keep our fans engaged.
I have made a personal commitment to post three times a week on this blog. This allows me to rant about the craft of writing and gives me a place to talk about fine art – something I love.
Financial constraints mean I can’t travel the world to view great art in person. Wikimedia Commons allows me to see the works of all the artists from prehistoric times to the present. I love talking about what I have discovered at Wikimedia Commons.
Writing blog posts requires me to be a thinking author as well as a pantser. I can write using the “stream-of-consciousness” method or from an outline of whatever interests me at the time. I do the research, and the post begins to write itself.
This blog never fails to provide me with a sharp dose of reality and has made me a better writer. I proofread my work, run it through Grammarly, have the Read-Aloud function of my word-processing program read it back to me, and then publish it.
Nothing bursts your bubble of self-importance like discovering gross errors and bloopers several days after you published the post.
I do admit, finding new and interesting content can be a challenge. Sometimes, I consider cutting back to publishing only on Mondays and Fridays. I have written posts on nearly every aspect of the craft and am repeating myself.
But then, a complex subject will be raised in a forum, and I hear a new point of view on it. I see things from a different perspective, and I’m fired up again.
I know it’s hard to gain readers when you first start out. But it’s like Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook. If you keep at it, you gain readers. If you write it, readers will come – if you do these three things:
- Tweet the new post’s link.
- Post the link to Instagram.
- Post it to your author Facebook
You can set WordPress up to post automatically to Twitter and Facebook, taking the work out of everything.
I advise writing short posts, scheduling them for a particular day and time and not worrying about how many hits, likes, or comments you get. That’s a stress you don’t need.
Instead, write your posts as if every person on the planet will read them. Just post them and forget about them until it’s time to post the next one.
- Don’t even look at the stats for the first six months.
After six months, you’ll have a history of stats to look at. Use that information to gauge what topics did best. Make sure the time the blog goes live is a good slot. You want to post it when people are looking for something short to read, like when riding the bus or train to or from work.
Updating your website twice a month to discuss your writing and how life treats you will be interesting to people who read. They are your target audience.
If that’s too much work, approach it like your other social media. Any social media platform post can be converted into a quick blog post.
It is another good way to connect with your readers. And if you go the free route as I did for the first five years, it costs you nothing.