Are you a blogger gone wild? Do your posts wander from topic to topic? Do you know if your posts are even striking a chord with your readers?
Blogging is like writing a novel. Some people are plotters and some pantsers. Some people know what they want to write and they just dig right into it. Others see a stretch of blank page and feel overwhelmed. Some blog a few times, then give up because they didn’t achieve instant fame. Other despair that they don’t have time to write. Often, blogging gets out of control. It’s like the middle section of a novel. That area in your manuscript where you just want to give up because the plot no longer makes sense and you just know you’ll never make a success of it.
We’ve all been there.
Unfortunately, most authors-turned-bloggers live there permanently. Probably because bloggers don’t treat blogs like a novel, but as a weekly regurgitation of their thoughts and experiences. That is perfectly understandable, since blogs started out as online diaries.
Unfortunately, these unfocused ramblings do little to inspire fiction fans. If we want to turn readers into fans then our blogs need to be less self-absorbed and more thoughtful, planned and reader-driven.
So let’s look at how the tools of novel writing can help get your blog back on track.
#1 Identify your reader
Stop for a moment and think about who would read your writing. If you are already published, you should have a good sense of who likes your work. If you are not published, then look at similar authors and see who their readers are. Are they primarily male or female? Do they like humor or serious work? Optimists or pessimists?
A great way to really know your ideal or targeted reader is to think of them like a character. They are the main character in the novel that is your blog. Your blog is the adventure. A clearly defined character will drive the adventure. Outline the type of “character” that you think you’d like to have as a reader of your blog. Who are they? What do they want? What kinds of things do they like? Create a clear picture of who this person is. Don’t know? Make it up. If you have a type of person you think you’d like to have as a reader, then write as if you are talking to that person.
#2 Determine what your reader wants
Now that you know who your readers are, next you’ll want to determine what they want. If they are reading your work, or similar books, then they are getting a need met by this type of writing. What is that need? Is it escape? Adrenaline rush? Intrigue?
If you are not sure what they are getting out of it, then here’s a hint: ask yourself why you write it. What do you get out of it? What jazzed you about writing this particular story? Think about ways you can give your reader a taste of that experience. For example, many fantasy lovers are into swords and costumes. Blogging about swords is fine, but what the reader really wants is the experience of being the dashing hero. So when you blog about swords, make them feel like they are holding it in their hand. Tell them what they can do with it and how much power they’d have wielding it. Put them in the experience.
#3 Re-evaluate your posts
Now that you know who your reader is and what they want, take a look at your blog. Are you giving them that experience? For example, if your books are filled with suspense and intrigue but your posts are about your frustration with the publishing industry, then there is a disconnect for your readers. If your novel is a romance and you review romance novels, that is helpful but see if you can bring your type of romance directly into their lives. When readers go to your blog, it’s because they are thrilled by something in your writing. They want that feeling to continue. Find a way to keep that going for them. Get creative.
#4 Take a stand
Even the most frivolous novel has stance. It looks at the world through a certain set of goggles. Anyone who likes your work will have similar goggles. So don’t be afraid to take a stand on your views. Be controversial. For example, I write vampire books. But my female characters will never date vampires. Is it because I’m a vampire racist? Hell, yes! Vampires are predators. I don’t want to encourage women to lust after predators. That’s my stance. The sparkly-romance vampire people will disagree. Fine. They are not my readers. Taking a stance will ensure that your blog readers are true fans.
#5 Build Tension
Once you have all four of the above, you can create a plan that grows your readership, rewards your fans and keeps them coming back. How? If we go back to the idea that a blog is like a novel, then remember that building tension, suspense or intrigue should be your primary goal. Create tension between posts. Give them a taste of what is coming next. Get your readers (aka your character) involved. Stir up controversy. Build your blog like a novel with peaks and lulls and comic relief, and when your reach your climactic ending…. start over on the next line of topics and do it all again.
Have some ideas? Post them below and I’ll give you feedback on how you can add oomph or target a specific type of reader.