I’m a big proponent of authors blogging. That’s because a blog is truly the best way for an author to:
- Keep the site current
- Build a following or email list
- Drive traffic to the site via search engines
Many authors hear this. They know they should be blogging. What they don’t know is how to blog, or how to make sure they are not blogging “into thin air” so to speak. With that in mind, I present…
5 Blogging Mistakes Authors Often Make
1. Not blogging often enough.
Now, authors certainly don’t need to blog every day. Not even every week. But probably more than once a month. And certainly more than once a year. I’ve looked at too many author sites in which the most recent blog was posted over a year ago. That just tells me that not only is the blog not a priority for the author, but the website as a whole is not a priority. It’s almost like a big billboard to a visitor that says, “I’m not spending time here. Why should you?”
2. Not looking at their blog analytics.
Look at your analytics people! Not doing so is kind of like publishing a book and then not paying attention to if anyone is buying it. Setting up a Google Analytics account is free. You can then log into that account any time and see who is visiting your site. You can learn a lot more about how to review and interpret your analytics report, but let’s stick to the basics here. View your report regularly. See how many people actually visited your blog in a given time period. Find out how they got there. Was it via Facebook? Search? Which posts got the most visitors? Is there a trend in posts that seem to resonate? This information is key in helping you figure out what’s working and what’s not working. This will help you avoid future blogging mistakes.
3. Not optimizing for SEO.
This is yet another of the common blogging mistakes. If you’re an author — especially a nonfiction author — your blog is likely the most common entryway into your author website. But in order to do its part, it needs to be optimized for the right keywords. There are a bunch of steps that an author can take to do this, but the basics include:
- Installing the right plug-in (like Yoast, for example)
- Researching the right keyword for each post
- Working that keyword into the blog post title, URL, etc…
- Ensuring that post is submitted to the search engines
Once all of these pieces are working in tandem with one another, your blog posts can each start serving a purpose in driving traffic.
4. Not having a clear voice or message.
Contrary to what some authors might believe, a blog is not a dumping ground. It’s not where you might stick a short story one day, a personal musing the next and a firm editorial after that. A blog is a place where people come to follow your writings. So you need a consistent voice and message. For example, your blog could be a place where you post a weekly short story. Or it could be the venue through which you write a pointed editorial when an item in the news touches on your subject expertise. Or it could have a daily uplifting message — straight out of your book. There are a million ideas for what a blog can be, but it has to be one thing and people need to know what they’re getting. Otherwise, why would people continue coming back?
5. Not categorizing blog posts.
Blog post categories are a nifty, difty feature that come with every blogging tool. But they’re not utilized often enough; another of the common blogging mistakes. Categorizing blog posts allows you to break up the hundreds (or thousands) of posts you may have into logical groups. So if, for example, you’re a life coach who works with people on career success, financial independence and relationship issues, you may regularly be creating blog posts (in the same message and voice, of course!) that cover all three of those topics. But maybe a site visitor is only interested in financial independence and isn’t really looking for relationship advice right now. Or vice versa. By being able to categorize your blog posts by topic, you can allow visitors to easily sort your posts by topic they’re especially interested in.
6. Not including enough links.
One thing that you will notice when you study your analytics is something called the “exit rate” on specific pages. This refers to what percentage of people leave your site after reading what’s on this page. Blog posts, in general, tend to have high exit rates. The reason? Not enough links to other things on your site. There are several ways you can fix this common blogging mistake:
- You can work multiple links into the blog post itself. Those can be to other blog posts, your books, etc…
- You can promote other elements of your site on the blog page. For example, if you offer a free chapter of a related book, that should clearly be called out.
- You can use a plug-in that will automatically include links to other blog posts in the same category at the end of the piece. It would look something like, “Read more like this ….” at the bottom of the page, and then send people to related posts.
Fix the six problems above and you’re more likely to not only get more traffic to your blog, but ultimately sell more books as a result. That’s a win-win.