So what is this "blog factor"? Well, what a few thought was a novel idea some years ago has now morphed into something no one expected. There are currently nine million blogs out there with 40,000 new ones being added everyday. Some are informative and some are just downright a waste of your time. And while we hear a lot about blogging these days, what is blogging *really*? Blogging in its simplest term is like an online journal but much, much more powerful. Blogs (short for Web log) is a place where surfers can get up to the minute information on a topic or voyeur into someone's life. Some blogs are nothing more than a daily glimpse into someone's life, while others are so sophisticated, it's hard to tell them apart from an online news service.
Why Blogs Matter
Google, the #1 search engine on the net, loves blogs. So much so that if you do it right Google will spider the heck out of your site. What does it mean to "spider"? Well spidering is when Google, or the like, searches your site's content to establish ranking, and the more content you have (i.e. fresh content) the more Google will do its magic and push your site up the search engine. Another reason blogs matter is that they are interactive and, if you blog on your book's topic, it will help to further your expert status on a particular issue. When we plan "Virtual Tours" for our authors, we include as many blogs as we can into a tour. Why? Because if you can get into a good blog that's seeing a lot of traffic, you can really start to gain some exposure for your book.
What Would You Talk About?
This is the question we get asked most often. "If I start a blog, what on earth would I talk about?" Well if your book is non-fiction it's pretty easy to figure out what your topic would be, but if your book is fiction it could get a bit tricky - but not impossible. An author I work with has a series of books starring one character - a private detective. I recommended that he "blog" this character, meaning that the character (not the author) would have the blog. It could be the character's diary or adventures and stories - a glimpse into the life of a private detective. This would give the reader (and fans of this character) a reason to return to the blog for an update on this ongoing adventure or story.
In another instance, I work with an author who wrote a fiction book about right and wrong with a new age/spirituality spin. I advised him to blog on issues related to that - right and wrong in our society and his own personal "spin" on these issues. Some of his blogs might be controversial but that's okay, you want to create your own "voice," your own take on a certain issue and if that opinion is controversial, all the better for exposure and for getting people to interact on your blog. Getting readers to respond to your posts is a great way to gain interest and momentum for your blog and (more importantly) getting people to talk about it will grow your blog like nothing else!
How to Start a Blog
Starting a blog is super easy. All you have to do is register at a blog site (like http://www.blogger.com) and get started. It's that easy. The blog service will link to your site; you'll need to ask your Webmaster to add a button to your home page so people can find your blog.
How to Blog Effectively
The best bloggers know that the more you add to your blog, the more traffic you'll drive there. Some bloggers I know post daily, sometimes even multiple times a day while others post weekly. How much you post will probably depend on how much time you have to dedicate to this. The challenge will be that if you want to keep driving people to your blog, you'll want fresh content. This doesn't mean you have to create this all yourself, in fact you can invite people onto your blog and interview them, or you can just post a one paragraph "thought" on your topic. It doesn't have to be complicated or long, it just has to be fresh. Also be innovative, as we discussed earlier, be different with your blog, have fun with it. It might seem complicated at first but once you get the hang of it, you'll quickly become a blog expert!