We are now turning our attention to the topic of blogs, and we’ll spend considerable time on these as they are vital as landing pages, as fan builders, and as center points for the rest of your campaign.
Now you can do many of the things we will talk about in the coming weeks with other mediums such as websites. So if you learn something here that translates to something else you’re doing, FANTASTIC! Go for it!
The neatest thing about social marketing is how when you learn something one place, it transfers to other sites and makes understanding new things that much easier. So even if we’re talking blogs, always ask yourself, “How else is this relevant? Where else can I use this?”
Blogs first burst onto the scene as kind of personal journals. They were at first called weblogs… web logs. A log of what you were doing or whatever you wanted to write at the time. Most of them were much like Facebook pages–a place to let your friends and family know more about you.
However, like everything else, they morphed into something much bigger and broader than that early definition. Two of the big blog sites: Blogger and WordPress became dominant names on the ‘net. With their relative ease of setting up, low cost (how can you argue with “free,” and eventually dynamic and flexible layouts and concepts), blogs soon took over as websites for average people who didn’t want to spend $1,000′s on their site.
Many people now use blogs exclusively as their website. In fact, when I set up Ebook Romance Stories, I never even considered doing it as a stand alone site. WordPress was so much easier, and I could do it all myself. There are some drawbacks to using a blog as website. With a great designer, websites can be far more flexible for example. However, for ease blogs simply can’t be beat.
When you design your blog (and yes, I know some of you already have so read this as what to do in the future if you design another one), here are some elements to consider:
Name of the Blog: Will it be something incorporating your name, or something more generic? If you are trying to come up with a name, please go back and read the lesson on Adwords. This will help you find a name that might get you noticed on Google.
Tag for the Blog: I am far more familiar with WordPress than Blogger, and one of the things you should pay attention to. The “tag” is the few words that describe your blog at the top under the name. For this blog, the tag is: Helping you jump start your marketing efforts! If this blog was for more than the G&F gang, I would probably change it to include more Adwords like: Helping authors jump start their book marketing efforts! (adding authors and book to marketing). Think this one through as it’s a great place to add some easy keywords.
Pictures & Graphics: If you use pictures and graphics on your blog (which you should), please note the Alternative Text option when you are putting the picture up. This is another great way to get in some keywords!
Posts & Pages: One of the things I didn’t learn until about six months ago was the difference between posts and pages on a blog. This is important especially if you are planning to use the blog as your website. Put simply: Posts all go in order on the main page while Pages are separate stand-alones in addition to the top page.
So for example, on my Spirit Light Books Blog, I have the Home page where I write new posts about Christian Living. Then I have the Pages: Contact Staci, Spirit Light Blogs, Staci’s Biography, Staci’s Bookshelf Each of these is a stand alone page, not affected when I update the main page.
One interesting thing that WordPress allows you to do can be seen on the Ebook Romance Stories blog. I have made the top post on the main page “sticky” so that it is always the first thing you see on the Home page. Because that blog is set up so that that pages lead you to the posts (i.e. the first chapter of Cowboy is a post that’s linked from the First Chapter Page), I don’t have to showcase each post.
Widgets: There are a ton of widgets that you can use to make your blog informative and user-friendly. One of my favorites on WP is “Follow this Blog.” You drag that into a column on your blog, and instantly people can sign up to follow the blog–no other feeds necessary. There are many other widgets as well such as BlogRoll (for listing other blogs you love), a calendar to show posts by date, categories, even Twitter and Facebook. The options are incredible.
As you are setting up your blog, think through your options and set it up the best you can. With a blog, you can always update it as you learn more!