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How to Create & Maintain a Blog to Build a Readership: Part 1

Savannah asked, Do you have any tips for people who are new to blogging or would like to start?”

I began my blog, Christ is Write, over six years ago when I was 16-years-old. My intention going into it wasn’t to build a readership. I simply wanted to have an outlet where I could share my faith-related reflections and the insights I was learning on the writing craft.

Within the first few months, I reached 100 followers and regular blog visitors.

Creating my blog was one of the best decisions I’ve made so far in my writing journey. Not only has it advanced my career by helping me to establish a readership (which generated book sales), build a brand, and network with other writers, but it’s also granted me the satisfaction of instant publication for my writing.

I’ve grown as a writer through the weekly discipline of maintaining my blog and writing on specific topics. Simply put, there are far greater to blogging other than building a readership.

But as I mentioned in a previous post, agents and editors are becoming more and more strict about platforms. It’s reaching the point where they won’t even consider signing with a fiction author unless he/she has developed a healthy online following.

And one of the best ways to do this is through creating—and maintaining—a blog.

So if you’re an aspiring author hoping to create a blog for the purpose of building a readership, ask yourself . . .

1. What is my brand?

What is the specific impression you’d like to leave on your readers? An author’s brand is the image and/or type of book your future readers will think of when they hear your name. It combines the author’s genre, personality, and unique characteristics in a way that sets them apart from other authors.

What image (theme, mood, layout, colors, fonts, picture, etc.) would best portray this brand and represent your work/personality?

2. Who is my target audience?

Be specific about this one as well, because each post you write will be catered toward this group of people. What is the target age group? Gender? What interests/hobbies do they share? If you’d like to see a flock of readers who consistently return to your blog, as opposed to random spurts of readers, then it’s important to narrow your audience focus by creating a well-defined target audience

3. What kind of posts can I write that will reach this audience? 

For instance, if you want to start a lifestyle blog for teen girls, then you could write posts that are popular amongst that age group. (Specific topics that come to mind are prom, makeup tutorials, college advice, developing a healthy-self image, etc.) The key here is to figure out how you can reach this audience through only blogging about topics you’re passionate about.

4. What is the overall theme of my blog?

Choose 1 – 3 topics that are frequently covered on your blog. (For instance, I like to blog about faith and fiction.) This will create the umbrella that all of your sub-topics will be placed beneath. It helps to create a narrow focus for your blog—which, in return, will contribute in establishing your consistent readership.

Eventually, you may feel as though blogging is cutting into your writing time. But as long as you invest more time writing rather than blogging, you’ll be fine. In fact, blogging enhances your writing. Anything that requires the discipline to write will improve your writing. (Yes, even essays!) You’re also practicing writing on a deadline and brainstorming new ideas.

And the best benefit, of course, is attaining a readership for your future books.

In the next post, we’ll delve a little deeper into how to maintain a blog once it’s created.

If you have a blog, what has been the greatest benefit to come from it? If you don’t have a blog, do you think creating one would help to establish a following?

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11 comments

  1. Cherrilynn Bisbano - Associate Editor A3
    Cherrilynn Bisbano - Write With You: Magazine and Article Writing

    Great advice. I started my blog out of obedience to God. That was December 31st, 2014. He wanted me to start it the next day. Blogging has helped me heal and in the process, given me ideas for my book. Thanks for sharing.

    • Thanks, Cherrilynn! Blogging is similar to journaling in the way that it can serve as a form of therapy. It gives us a platform to share what God is teaching us–which, in return, can help others as well. That is probably one of my favorite aspects of it. =)

  2. I have had a love\hate relationship with blogging since I first heard of Blogger (back in the old days). I’ve tried different things to attract readers. My Friday Top 10 list was my most succesful. That’s a lot of pressure. I don’t know how David Lettermen’s stable of writers pulled it off.

    No I’m posting my series on “the science of God,” which is also posted on Wattpad. I also love history, so I harp on that from time to time.

    So you see the problem. I’m all over the place. That’s reflected in my novel writing, too. My YA series has some sci-fi elements, while my middle grade novels are currently of the historical variety. And yes, I like to switch back and forth between the two.

    I’m shooting to post once a week. Even that’s a struggle. I’m sure I’m not the only one here who would prefer to spend any time writing on my novels. I know, suck it up and do it.

    Thanks for the post. You’ve given me a kick in the pants to be more consistent. Maybe I’ll have a top 10 list up this Friday.

    • As far as the fiction writing goes–I don’t think it’s a bad thing that your writing has a blend of those genres. In fact, that may appeal to some publishing companies who are searching for a unique twist.

      Have you discovered Edie Melson’s blog, TheWriteConversation.blogspot.com? If not, I highly recommend it. Much of what I’ve learned about blogging as come from her advice, including her book, “Connections”, which gives tips for on social media and blogging for writers.

      It is hard to be consistent in blogging, but the payoff comes as your readership starts to expand. It’s now become something that I look forward to, because it gives me the chance to step away from my story world and connect with other writers and readers.

      Thanks for commenting!

      Tessa

    • Tessa Emily Hall - Dear Young Scribes

      As far as the fiction writing goes—I don’t think it’s a bad thing that your writing has a blend of those genres. In fact, that may appeal to some publishing companies who are searching for a unique twist.

      Have you discovered Edie Melson’s blog, TheWriteConversation.blogspot.com? If not, I highly recommend it. Much of what I’ve learned about blogging as come from her advice, including her book, “Connections”, which gives writers advice on social media and blogging.

      It is hard to be consistent in blogging, but the payoff comes as your readership starts to expand. It’s now become something that I look forward to, because it gives me the chance to step away from my story world and connect with other writers and readers.

      Thanks for commenting!

      Tessa

  3. I started blogging a couple months ago and have really struggled to narrow my focus. For a while I just blogged about random things, then I did devotionals, but the time it ate into was ridiculous. Finally I switched it up and focused solely on writing craft. As a develop my own writing skills I blog about the topic and it helps me process and grow. I also post a weekly book review. However, I find I have no readers. It is a topic that comes easy to me and doesn’t really cause me angst, but I am discouraged by how few people it reaches. I wrote historical fiction, but the time it takes to research and post things related to what I write is a severe time killer, especially when you take into consideration I am raising a family and working. *Sigh* I am looking forward to your next post. I am hoping to learn more.

    • The key is trying to write on topics that you are passionate about, but ones that readers want to hear as well. It’s also important to be specific about your audience and readership—that way, every post you write is geared toward them. This prevents your blog from building a sporadic readership, and instead it allows the same group of people to return to your blog every week.

      Does your blog cover multiple subjects? If so, I recommend sticking with only one or two main areas. For example, my blog covers topics in faith and fiction. Every post that I write falls under one of those two categories.

      For more blogging and social media advice, I highly recommend http://www.TheWriteConversation.blogspot.com, as well as the book “Connections” by Edie Melson, which is available via Kindle on Amazon.

      Let me know if you have any more questions!

      Tessa

    • Tessa Emily Hall - Dear Young Scribes

      The key is trying to write on topics that you are passionate about, but ones that readers want to hear as well. It’s also important to be specific about your audience and readership—that way, every post you write is geared toward them. This prevents your blog from building a sporadic readership, and instead it allows the same group of people to return to your blog every week.

      Does your blog cover multiple subjects? If so, I recommend sticking with only one or two main areas. For example, my blog covers topics in faith and fiction. Every post that I write falls under one of those two categories.

      For more blogging and social media advice, I highly recommend http://www.TheWriteConversation.blogspot.com, as well as the book “Connections” by Edie Melson, which is available via Kindle on Amazon.

      Let me know if you have any more questions!

      Tessa

  4. Tessa, I’m on the brink of launching a blog myself, so I’ve found this very insightful. How often do you expect a blog to be updated? And does it vary depending on genre?

    • It’s advised that blogs are updated 1 – 3 times a week. There are many writers who prefer to write short posts 3 times a week, while others (including myself) would rather spend more time and thought into crafting one longer post. It doesn’t necessarily depend on your genre, though.

      For more blogging and social media advice, I highly recommend http://www.TheWriteConversation.blogspot.com, as well as the book “Connections” by Edie Melson, which is available via Kindle on Amazon.

      Hope that helps!

      Tessa

    • Tessa Emily Hall - Dear Young Scribes

      It’s advised that blogs are updated 1 – 3 times a week. There are many writers who prefer to write short posts 3 times a week, while others (including myself) would rather spend more time and thought into craft one longer post. It doesn’t necessarily depend on your genre, though.

      For more blogging and social media advice, I highly recommend http://www.TheWriteConversation.blogspot.com, as well as the book “Connections” by Edie Melson, which is available via Kindle on Amazon.

      Hope that helps!

      Tessa

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