Thursday, June 7, 2012

Building Recognition: Tips for an Effective Blog

A website is sorta like the outside of your house. People drive by and say, "Oh, look. What a nice place." They note changes. "Look they've got new shutters." Stuff like that. 

On the other hand, your blog is the inside of your house where you invite company to come in and join you.This is where people can get to know more about you. Mostly, blogs are about sharing your thoughts and opinions, along with other fun stuff including your writing. If you are a writer, it is a great place to build recognition and your brand.

I have had a blog for over eight years. Maybe longer. I date back to when you had to adjust your template using html codes. So, the tips in this post are things I have learned along the way and mistakes I have made. Note: there are a lot of bloggers who are blogging as a hobby. They blog for their  family and friends and the fun of it. They are not building a brand, so some of the info below will not apply to them.

As a writer, your blog is part of your author platform. What is the one most important aspect of the platform? YOUR NAME. 

The URL/Blog name should be your name/pen name.  If you are on Blogger, Word Press, etc, set up your URL in your name. If you are blogging through your website, then the URL should be in your name already. If you have a blog URL in some cute name, like (one of my old URLs), change it to your name. I didn't do this until a year or so ago. I had always had blog with its own name and the URL was in that name, which was a mistake.

What happens is that people become familiar with your blog name and not your name. 

Your name should dominate your header. If you want to include a name for your blog in your header, make sure it doesn't overshadow your name. Also, once you establish your blog, do not change your URL. That is like moving and people have to find your new place. You can change the appearance of your blog. Leave the URL alone.

Speaking of names, back years ago, nicknames or, rather, screen names were the thing. I used Dixiebelle. I had that nickname for several years and people got to know me as Dixiebelle. I blogged as Dixiebelle. I would not do that now because I don't write as "Dixiebelle." But, I am still referred to, at times, as Dixiebelle. Use the name you want people to remember and that shouldn't be a nickname. 

What happens is that people become familiar with your nickname and not your name. 

Even if you are a member of a group blog, you still need an individual blog. Doesn't that suck?  I'm a member of a group blog where I'm scheduled to blog once a month because of the number of bloggers on that blog. Many writers prefer group blogs because they only have to blog once a week or less. You don't have the worry of maintaining your own blog. That's wonderful but it is back to the name game. 

A group blog won't build individual recognition as far as your name or your brand.

A while back, I read that in an article on author platforms. Glancing at my sidebar blog roll, which I need to update, the History Hoydens has great historical posts but I don't remember the writers associated with that blog. On the other hand, the blogger with their own blogs, I have become familiar with their names and their brand. Such as Anna Markland. I know she writes medievals. Carla Swafford has a great branded blog. Go, Carla!

One plus of having your blog in your name listed on sidebars is that a blog reader might notice your name, say to themselves 'Oh, that name is familiar. I think I've read one of her books.' and click to read your blog. How many people do you think will remember you are part of a group blog unless they are a dedicated reader of that blog and have a great memory? Nada.

That being said, you need your own blog in addition to the group blog. You can think of it like this:  instead of living in the commune, you're going to have your own place to entertain company.

Okay, so this post is longer than what I had planned to write.  Here are some other quick tips:

Keep posts under 500 words if possible. Most people scan anything longer.  Like this post.

If you can post on a regular schedule, that is great.  I haven't mastered that one yet.

Make your blog an interesting place to visit. Vary posts. Be entertaining. Your blog shouldn't be all promo about your books. Would you have a guest over and do nothing but talk about your book the entire time?

I love to visit blogs where great photos posted. I like to see how others have decorated their houses. And, I love pretty gardens, regional posts, art, history, movie reviews, author interviews, vintage photos, family stories and recipes are always popular.

Keep your background light and print dark, which is easiest to read on a computer screen. If you want a reader to read your post, you need to be considerate and make it easy on the eye. If you have a dark background, use a block post. 

Do not have music play when someone clicks on your blog or website. This could create a problem where music is an unwelcome intrusion.

Blogging can be fun and you can meet some great people by blogging. It is also a lot of work. Such is life. Happy Blogging!!!


Lesia Flynn said...

Great advice! I never thought of the branding concept in light of blogging before, but you are absolutely right! Thanks for pointing these details out. :D

Patricia Preston said...

Glad you enjoyed the post, Lesia!

Pat Trainum aka P. T. Bradley said...

Great tips, Patricia. My first blog was under a title (see I wasn't thinking ahead!), but the one I use now is under my name.