Breathe. Write. Breathe. - 18 Energizing practices to spark your writing and free your voice by Lisa Tener

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18 Energizing Practices to Spark Your Writing & Free Your Voice

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Guest Post: Four Ways to Give your Blog New Life

Rusty Shelton
Rusty Shelton, Shelton Interactive

by Rusty Shelton

Of all the social media tools available to an author, a blog is one of the most important, and frequently misused resources.

If you’re reading this and thinking, “Yeah, I tried that,” the key is having the right strategy for your blog. Most authors who have blogs use them only to update readers on upcoming events or announce that their book is for sale—a duplication of information your best readers already know—which makes them both ineffective and boring.

It is important to think about your blog as a relationship-builder within your topic area—in many ways it is your media outlet (think of it like your newspaper) and the best way to approach it is to consider how you can provide value to both current readers and others in your topic area. The best sign that you are providing value is when people want to share the link to your blog with others in their network. So, how should you approach your blog?

  • Create an editorial calendar. If you don’t develop a plan, the blog will simply get stale over time thanks to a lack of content. Create an editorial calendar that allows you to plan ahead for upcoming posts and keep the blog fresh. If possible, post it somewhere visible in your house or office.
  • Start an interview series. As you create your editorial calendar, think about starting an interview series. Are there key authors in your topic area you could interview as part of an interview series? The topics could focus on new trends and breaking news related to your shared area of interest. These interviewees could be people you already know…or not…the important thing is that you target those who you want to build a better relationship with.
    Think about it…how many times have you been asked to do an interview for a blog? It doesn’t happen very often and, when it does, we are very appreciative and look for ways to reciprocate. Another way to target interviewees is to think about upcoming conferences or events in your local area and interview those putting on the events—from writers conferences to local literary festivals.

    The more frequently you update your blog, the better search engine optimization it will have. The higher profile the people you interview have, the more traffic you will drive to your blog. The better the interviews are, the more likely people are to share them. It works on so many levels and, best of all, these interviews are a great networking tool for you.

  • Start reviewing books. As a new author, one of the best ways to catch the eye of key agents, publishers and authors is to write smart reviews of the books in your topic area that everyone is talking about. Most have Google Alerts, and a review, particularly a well-written review with insight only a fellow author in this topic area could offer, is likely to catch their eye and start a relationship. Such reviews also bring in organic searches from readers looking for well-known books and, if you are writing reviews in your topic area, you are pulling in like-minded readers.
  • Think like a reporter. We are often drawn to headlines that showcase “5 Ways to Do X” or “Top 5 horror films of the 90s.” We like such posts because they are quick, easy to digest and fun to read. Think about your topic area and how many top 5 lists you can create based on the research you have done. When you are searching for a potential post, this can often be a great way to cure writers block.

  • Recommended reading: One of my favorite clients, Steve Denning, wrote a great piece recently on how he grew his readership more than tenfold over the past year. Here is the piece he wrote for Forbes on how he did it.

    Rusty Shelton is the founder of Shelton Interactive, a digital marketing agency focused on helping authors and publishers reach their audiences and grow their platforms online. I’ve known Rusty since my first book came out when he and his colleagues helped us get tons of national publicity on TV, radio, web, magazines and newspapers.  Since then, I’ve watched him help dozens of books climb the bestseller lists (New York Times, USA Today and other top lists) using the digital media strategies he’s developed. 

    Lisa Tener

    Lisa Tener is an award-winning book writing coach who assists writers in all aspects of the writing process—from writing a book proposal and getting published to finding one’s creative voice. Her clients have appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, CBS Early Show, The Montel Williams Show, CNN, Fox News, New Morning and much more. They blog on sites like The Huffington Post, Psychology Today and WebMD.

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