Should I Have a Blog?

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woman computer1 Should I Have a Blog?I get asked Should I Have a Blog? a lot and my answer is more frequently becoming “yes.” Here are the top 12 reasons I tell authors and others who are trying to promote their web site to start a blog.
  1. Your information gets into the feeds, meaning Google is scanning them for content and will pick it up much faster than a regular web site. I have Google Alerts set up for about 20 phrases and when I blog on that topic, it catches it immediately. As we planned for National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week, we multipled our efforts by creating the “I’m Blogging for Invisible Illness Awareness Week Badge,” creating multiple streams of feeds going out in Google Alerts each day.
  2. If you don’t know HTML, you’ll find blogging software pretty easy to use. You can always have someone build you a web site and then have your daily/monthly, etc updates done by you on your blog where you communicate with your audience. it will cost you much less and you can gain better exposure faster.
  3. Blogging encourages participation. Ask readers to leave their comments, ideas, suggestions. In a regular HTML web site all of this takes special programming.
  4. It’s easier to ask someone to add your blog to their blogroll than it is to get another web site to “link to you.” Linking HTML web site to other HTML web sites is still very popular and it’s what has actually created the internet. But if someone asks me for a link, I may be able to quickly add them to my blog roll if I like their blog, style, and beliefs. If they asked for a link on my web site, it could take 1-2 months for me to go in and actually update that web page. I just have other priorities.
  5. Blogs can have more personal layouts than in the past. You aren’t limited to a big blue box at the top with the title of your blog in white font. In fact, if you want to stick with a free template from Blogger, WordPress, Typepad, etc. just be sure to choose one that has a “header” as an option and then you can personalize it a bit more without a lot of work. You can see I do this frequently at my sites: Chronic Illness Pain Support, Scrapbookmyadoptionblog.com and youcansellmorebooks.com all have the option to add my own personal banner, which I’ve done.
  6. You can quickly organize all of your posts into categories so people can find information quickly. Whenever a thought hits you that doesn’t seem to have a category, just add a new one. Is there a hot new topic that pertains to your web site that just hit the news stands. Just add a category and blog about it. Are you having a book signing? Besides just keeping a calendar of your events (perhaps on a “page” not a “post”) write a couple of paragraphs about your experience. What would you do differently? What went great? Want to give a public thank you the bookstore that hosted it?
  7. You can set up a blog and start getting the feed out there within a few hours. In just a weekend I created Scrapbookmyadoptionblog.com and it’s sending traffic to my main web site!
  8. You can write posts for advance publishing. This wasn’t an option just a few years ago and when I asked a staff member at an internet marketing training seminar if this was possible she said “No…” and then smirked that “it never will be!” –because the whole idea of blogging was to be spontaneous. Well, that didn’t last. Now when you know you will be on vacation, having surgery, focusing on other ventures, you can write in advance and have it post whenever you want. If you are someone who has a lot going on, this is extremely helpful to make sure you have any holiday- oriented promotions ready to go well in advance too.
  9. You can “feed” people little bit sizes of information at a time. As we worked our way up to National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week, we had lots of ways people could get involved. Previously, I had worked frantically to send out a weekly newsletter of things people could help out with, such as write to your local editor at the paper, mention the week in social networks, etc. I was overwhelmed and so were the readers–too much information at one time. This year, we sent out 1-2 ideas per day to get people involved and 1 guest blogger article (which people loved too. It made them feel like the daily posts weren’t just all about what they could do for us, but how we could serve them as well.) This was much more successful, plus, I was able to blog in advance so my timeline was a bit more organized. Next year will be even better!
  10. adopt hotel where we stayed Should I Have a Blog?
    Hotel Where We Stayed – Adoption Transparency

    Searching for blogging material keeps you active in your subject matter. I suggest signing up for Google Alerts so you know what is being talked about online. What is the top story of the day? What are other people blogging about? Your blog posts don’t have to be long; oftentimes you can pass along an article, statistic, personal experience someone had, and add your two-cents. I guarantee you that you will find yourself interested and blogging about topics you never would have considered or even thought of before your Alerts. And for many people, their blogs begin to form a series of articles and subject matter that can become a book. And you already have readers ready to buy that book too! (A publisher’s dream!)

  11. Lastly, you may find a niche area that you didn’t know existed, or another way to expand your own speciality. With scrapbookmyadoption.com I create transparency overlays for new adoptive moms to make recording their children’s baby book or scrapbook easily. I don’t want to become an adoption expert. I just want to help people create special books for their kids like I did for mine. To get the word out there, one of my best options was to blog about it. So at least once a week I am doing a post where I highlight different people impacted by adoption and something they wrote that touched me, and then I post a photo of the overlay that best relates to this topic. As I do this, I am finding more and more subject matter for new transparecies too.
  12. People love it when you blog about them. If you are quoting anyone who is a professional in their area of expertise, it doesn’t hurt to drop them a line and say “I am blogging abour your new book on this date.” But if you don’t, they may even see it in their Google Alerts. You also have the option to add their web site into the “Trackback Link” so they are notified someone has blogged on them. Wouldn’t you love waking up to notifications that people were writing nice things about you or your book last night? It’s a nice way to introduce yourself and even your product without a sales pitch. For example, many of the adoptive moms-to-be are happy to see I’ve blogged about their web site and am sending visitors over to it. And I happen to be selling a product they just may be interested in. But no sales pitch, no breaking the rules. It’s all just telling your readers about people, products, blogs, etc. that you believe in and then waiting for relationships to build.

Because of the ease of use, the ability to update the blog fast, the control over layouts that the lay person has, the lack of expense, and of course, the endless social networking possibilities, blogging is something every author should consider adding to his web site if he has one; and if he does not, he may want to start with the blog and then later add the web site if he still considers it beneficial.

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Responding to News Fast

Have you signed up for Google Alerts yet to help market your book? How fast do you typically find news stories about the topic of your book?

Go to www.google.com/alerts and put in your main key words of the topic of your book, so that you will get a message each day with any news stories on the topic of your book.

My example for the day… I just scanned through my alert for “chronic illness” (I have about 15 alerts) and one of the news stories from a newspaper in Wayland, MA was, “Course on ‘Being a Friend to Someone Affected by Cancer’” I clicked and it discusses an entire class a high school had on how teenagers learned how to encourage, relate, talk to, etc. someone with a chronic illness or cancer. Bingo!

As the founder of National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week and author of Beyond Casseroles: 505 Ways to Encourage a Chronically Ill Friend, I couldn’t find a more appropriate person to send off some information to. I couldn’t track down addresses for the 3 people who actually led the course, the but Dean of Students, who was quoted was a perfect source. The article quoted him as saying, ”The ‘Being a Friend’ class was a wonderful program for the students of Wayland High School because it addressed important issues that many Wayland students have to face during their school years and throughout their lifetime.”

I looked up the school address, wrote him a letter commending him for having such a course and what a difference it would make in these student’s lives for the rest of their life. I also told him about II Week and Beyond Casseroles and I included 3 copies of the Beyond Casseroles books for the course leaders.

I included II Week brochures, II Week stickers, Beyond Casseroles bookmarks (that have 13 ways to encourage a chronically ill friend). I also added 3 white silicone bracelets for Invisible Illness Week, offering to send more if they’d be interested in acknowledging the week in September or in case they had the class again.

All from one little Google Alert. Trust me, I would not have been reading a newspaper from Framingham, MA today!

What’s in your email today that is the perfect match for your book?

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Lisa and Joel Copen have a variety of experience in founding a nonprofit that receieves over 80,000 visitors per month, music and sound editing, web design, and book marketing and publishing. They look forward to your ideas to make the series of ebooks on book promotion a practical tool to help you sell more books!

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