This week’s blog is posted on my own site, because the Huff Post don’t do blogs about blogging (coals to Newcastle etc).
‘Blogs are nonsense,’ I say to my friend Gigi back in May this year. ‘They’re for loudmouths with no mates, who have to vent their opinions on-line.’
‘Not necessarily,’ says Gigi, pouring me a second cup of tea. ‘Want to know why?’
An hour later - after another cup of Yorkshire Gold and a cheese sarnie - my view had changed slightly. A good blog, according to Gigi Eligoloff, who’s been the online editor of three successful websites for the past seven years – is about connecting with your peers, sharing information, inspiring people and giving something back.
What are your passions, she asked me. So I told her – books, films, British bulldogs, bees, wild swimming, 2CV cars, Tunnock’s Tea Cakes …and of course, beautiful and quirky cinemas. Within half an hour she had nailed it. The main blog (which she advised me to pitch to Huffington Post) would be on self-publishing, helping others to get their books out safely – and visibly - into the world. Then, given that my novel was about a cinema with one seat where you are shown a film of your life, the second one should be about … (you guessed it) beautiful and quirky cinemas.
Although the launch was over four months away, Gigi suggested that I get cracking immediately. I should also connect with others passionate about similar themes through Twitter (see next week’s blog for top Twitter Tips) and build up my ‘network’. Of course I didn’t do this and instead left it to the last minute. Ho hum.
To host the blog, Gigi suggested Wordpress (although I ended up choosing Squarespace which I’ve found to be fairly simple even for a techno-dunderhead like me). Before we ended our session, she gave me two very useful ‘how to blog effectively’ websites – Mumsnet and another American site The Blog Builders
So here it is - Seven Steps to Blogging
1. Whatever your schtick is, be it self-publishing, saving the bees or the films of Alfred Hitchcock, give it your stamp. Make it funny, quirky and unique.
2. Make it snappy - around 500 words. Once a week is fine, more is great (but don’t get weird and post ten times a day)
3. Share as much information as you can – websites, articles, interviews, podcasts… This is your chance to give.
4. Use key words - otherwise known as labels or tags - which will help readers to find you. So for this blog, key words would include: self-published books, first books, debut novels, indie authors, (see what I did there?).
5. Use hyperlinks, which makes it easy for the reader to click through to the relevant website/podcast etc.
6. Use relevant pictures to break up the text. Ideally you’d take these yourself, but if you’re a shoddy photographer like me, you can get reasonably priced snaps off sites such as www.freeimages.co.uk
7. End with a Call to Action (what you want reader to do): buy your book / save the bees / watch Vertigo.
NB If it’s too daunting to start your own blog just now, you can always blog for other sites. Whatever your passion is, there’ll be a site for it, so come up with an interesting angle, do your research, and pitch it. Here’s how www.girlcareering.wordpress.com
This week it was a toss up between signing off with a picture of a cheese sarnie or the Serpentine Lido, following what will probably be the last swim of the season. Went for the lido.
Next Week. Back on Huff Post with Marketing Your Book with Twitter.