The Benefits of Blogging
by Katrina Shawver
[NOTE: This is post represents its author’s opinions – it does not necessarily represent the opinions of this blog’s editor/coordinator.]
A regular blog can help increase traffic to your website and increase the odds that Google will rank you higher in searches. I have blogged from my website for the past four years, long before I finished my debut book, Henry: A Polish Swimmer’s True Story of Friendship from Auschwitz to America, and I learned a few things along the way.
Blogging regularly does require a time commitment, one which many authors are reluctant to invest. I’ve spent as little as two hours, but usually four to six on a single blog post by the time I add photos, optimize for SEO, and proof/rewrite about three times. The rewards are not immediate, cannot be measured against sales, and the art of drafting a meaningful post in 500 words is an acquired skill mastered through practice.
So why do it?
Think credibility, traffic to your website, content you can post across social media that establishes your brand – and most importantly, visibility. Each blog has a unique URL, which greatly increases your presence on the internet.
There are a few practices that will keep a blog interesting. It should NOT be about you, unless you have a significant announcement, like a book launch, fabulous review, or you won the Pulitzer Prize. When you to publish anything, whether it is a blog or novel, know your audience. Then write content that will be interesting to your market, and readers will begin to follow you. Have fun with it.
Blog posts should be a minimum of 300 words, and no more than 600 or so. The first sentence should summarize the entire post in as few words as possible. Photos and/or graphics are essential. We live in a world of readers with limited time, short attention spans, and who are visual. Do respect copyright and avoid just downloading images from the internet at will without verifying the ownership and right to reprint. I like using images from Wikipedia because they are generally licensed as Creative Commons, have an expired copyright, or are licensed for public use with attribution. I check every image before I use it. It’s a good policy to not post a photo of anyone who has not given their consent for that specific photo to be published, even friends. It could save a friendship. Several websites offer free images, or images for a minimal subscription fee.
More organized bloggers will suggest that you write several posts ahead and set a social media calendar or schedule. I do not have that much time. However, I do keep a list of blog “ideas” that I refer to when I am running short on time or creativity. Ideas for content? Write on your topic and subject matter. Have fun with it. Consider book reviews of other authors in your genre. Much of my book takes place in Poland, so I have written about notable Poles, Polish history, and stories from my book. I have learned to avoid all current events for a key reason – keep your posts timeless in case they show up on a Google search two years later. One of my most successful posts recently, was the result of a YouTube search for ideas. I found a fun video of a 2011 Les Misérables flash mob at a Warsaw shopping mall. I had visited the same mall in 2013 so I had my own photo to use. I wrote a short paragraph, posted the video for fun, and so many people enjoyed it and shared the post across social media that this post got more hits than many of my more carefully constructed blogs.
The more often you blog, the easier it will become. It may not be for everyone, but I encourage every writer to at least try it.
In the spirit of fun and smiles, I am including the Polish flash mob video I mentioned above. Enjoy. I wish you a peaceful holiday however you choose to celebrate it.
Katrina Shawver is the author of Henry, A Polish Swimmer’s True Story of Friendship from Auschwitz to America, officially released on November 1, 2017. The book is published through Koehler Books and is available in hardback, paperback, and ebook formats on most book sites worldwide. Visit KatrinaShawver.comwhere she blogs regularly.