Blogging is not easy – especially if you want to use it to sell books – but these advanced blogging tips for successful authors should help you sell more books with your blog.
First, what is a successful blog?
These days, successful authors are usually blogging authors but having a blog does not necessarily mean success. Before we look at these advanced blogging tips let us define exactly what we mean by success.
Success, in our terms, has three distinct metrics.
- Monthly views
- Loyal following
- Book sales
These success metrics also count as your “business objectives”.
Success metric one: Monthly views
Success means that a substantial number of people are reading your blog. According to Curata, the most successful blogs have over 10,000 views per month. That’s 2,500 a week or 358 a day. If you divide those views among the hours of the day that you are awake, that’s 19 views an hour.
I kid you not, that is a lot of views. A person viewing your blog every 3 minutes.
That level of viewership might, perhaps, be out of reach for now but part of success is that a substantial number of people are reading your blog. Whatever your current viewership level is – and you should be monitoring that – a good success objective should be a steady climb in readership.
Success metric two: Loyal following
Here are a few bonus blogging tips – loyal followers mean guaranteed readers per new post; loyal readers can be curated on Twitter, Facebook, or via an email list; ideally, you should be curating both social media and email lists.
While a reliable following makes reaching your monthly view objectives so much easier, for an author that following is even more important. Let’s be honest, your following is your main book-buying public.
While it is not easy to measure loyalty, followers on Twitter, fans on Facebook, and subscribers to your email list are good indications. Unless of course you artificially inflate those numbers (in which case those numbers lose meaning).
Success metric three: Book sales
For a business, this metric is “leads” but for an author, the metric that checks that the other two are working is book sales. If, as the other two metrics are improving, book sales also continue to rise, then you know you are getting it right.
In most articles about blogging, they simply talk about business objectives. It is tempting to think that the only objective is book sales. While book sales matter, for a blog there are two other objectives that lead up to this one. Get those right and the book sales should fall into line.
If your readership is high (10,000+ per month) and you have a big list and a loyal social media following and yet – somehow – you are not getting new book sales then either you need to have written a new book or you want to look at other factors like blog design. Split testing your blog traffic is a topic we will look at in a future post. For now, we will just say that book sales are the final measure that goes with the other two.
12 Advanced blogging tips for successful authors
Now that we know what success looks like, we can get started with 12 advanced blogging tips for successful authors.
1. Set measurable goals for your success objectives
Attempting to be a “top 100 blogger” is a daunting task and might not necessarily enhance your book sales. I highly recommend setting realistic objectives. Be as specific as possible. For example:
- Write two articles a week that address core reader needs
- Increase my list by five new subscribers a week
- Increase blog traffic by 6% monthly
That last objective seems reasonable and yet due to the compound interest effect, you will have doubled your blog traffic in one year.
2. Come out of the closet
It is much harder to connect with a brand than it is to connect with a person. Make it easier for readers to connect with you as a person.
- Make sure you have an about page that features at least one image of you and an intriguing bio.
- Create an author box for your posts that humanizes you.
- Tell your readers about yourself in a way such as people can relate to you.
- Don’t be afraid to occasionally blog about your personal life (no more than every fifth post).
- Ask friends and family to photograph you at events and use those images in posts.
3. Get to know your readers
You cannot address core reader needs (as per tip number one) if you do not know your readers. Ask readers for their input. Identify reader “pain points” – issues that readers are looking for solutions to. The more you know about your readers, the better your understanding of that one character no one talks about.
Not only will your personal attention to readers help you foster loyalty but those interactions will quite likely give you ideas for new posts.
4. Convince readers to dive deeper into your content
Once you have a reader’s attention, draw them deeper into your own content. When appropriate, link to older posts. Unless you are talking about a whole new topic for the first time, you almost certainly have related topics to point readers back to. For example, when I mentioned an about page in tip number two, I linked to an article all about “about pages”.
Make sure you have activated related posts and that they stand out. Author Buzz blogs all have this feature available. To make the most of them you need to select both accurate and meaningful categories and sensible tags.
5. Talk to your readers
The University of Queensland’s, Dr. Stephanie Tobin found that:
Our research shows that feelings of belonging are threatened when users stop generating content or participating online, and when information they have posted does not receive a response from others.
You will improve reader loyalty by taking time to respond to reader comments. That’s why we have a forum on Author Buzz – it feels nice to talk to other people about things that matter to you.
If you have an Author Buzz group for your blog (and you really should have one) the best way to increase engagement is to add in a free forum and engage with people.
6. Frequency and size matter
According to a study conducted by Curata, the most successful blogger tended to post at least weekly. Size matters, 50% of successful bloggers had posts that were regularly 500 words or longer.
While it is possible to inflate impressions with lots of shorter posts this is not always a wise approach. All the advice that I found recommends against doing this.
However, remember we talked about success metrics? If lots of shorter posts up the impressions but the other metrics (following and book sales) do not also go up, that approach is not working. Size matters.
7. Go “off-topic” no more than 20% of the time
Studies show that as long as 80% of posts are on topic, you can get away with experimenting with anything you want. This is often known as the 80:20 rule. “On topic” in this regard means on the topics that readers have come to expect.
In practical terms, this means that as long as a minimum of 4 posts are on topic if the fifth one is “something else”, you are good.
I would suggest that you keep your experimental posts to a lower frequency than one in five but do occasionally keep it fresh with something different.
8. Appeal to egos
When you mention other people (you do that right?) email them to let them know.
Seek out bloggers within your niche – especially the lesser known bloggers. Identify quality posts that you can reference in your own posts.
Remember when you were just starting out? How nice did it feel to have a positive mention by another blogger? Yeah, that good. Just like I mentioned in “talk to your readers”.
Share some love with bloggers that are starting out (and with more established ones). Don’t pander, chose deserving writers – your readers will thank you for linking to good content.
9. Maximise your social media reach
At the very least, you should be posting your content to social media as you publish it. However, on days when you don’t have new content, showcase older content. Some social media, like Twitter, really need two or three shares to get the most out of them.
Other platforms require a more customised approach. For example, on Pinterest, curating a pinboard for your topics can generate fresh traffic.
Tumblr, as another example, is worth writing shorter summary posts (for example list posts) that link back to your content. Tumblr posts give you additional things to share on Twitter. Also, you can create a queue of content which means that you don’t need to give the Tumblr account daily attention.
If you have an Author Buzz group for your blog (and you really should have one) you can increase reader engagement by reply promptly to comments in your group. Your group can also be a great place to pre-announce upcoming posts.
10. Give away your best content
Guest posting for other blogs can be a powerful source of new readers and SEO links. It pays to put on your best face.
When you inquire about guest posting, never use a fill-in-the-blank email. Customise your enquiry for each one.
Guest posting for Author Buzz blogs can be slightly easier. Several allow contributions simply from members of the group. Author Buzz accepts guest posts from contributors but to apply, your best approach is to ask in the forums.
11. Write longer posts
According to the BuffApp Blog, posts of over 2,500 words get the most shares by a large margin.
While I have no doubt that a good image and headline make a difference the significant rise in shares for longer articles suggests that in-depth articles get far more shares. Probably because they are much more satisfying in terms of meeting needs.
As one of your measurable goals, I suggest you consider following the 80:20 rule and make at least one in five of your posts large and in-depth. Having made the effort with a bigger post, it may be worth announcing it on your Author Buzz group.
12. End with a call to action
When you write posts, the post is not finished until you have a call to action. Of all the blogging tips in this article, this is the one that will have the biggest impact on book sales.
A call to action is simply a suggestion of what the reader should do in response to your post. The call to action should be related to the subject of your post. If nothing else, you can end with a request for people to leave comments. The best way to ask for comments is to raise a few open-ended questions and invite people to answer them.
If you have just written about the process from writing your book to getting it published you might end with something like “My Amazing Book is now available in all good bookshops. Order it now on Amazon.” Of course, you’d also make the “Order it now on Amazon” a link to where people can go and buy your book.
I hope that these advanced tips will help you sell more books with your blog. If you have not done so already I highly recommend that you grab a free Author Buzz account. Author Buzz is the place to promote your author blog as well as pick up hints and tips on how to sell more books. If you do not yet have an author blog, you can create one for free.