Monday, July 7, 2014

Marketing Mondays: What's in a Blog?

Marketing Mondays is here again! For those of you just tuning in, we've covered author brands, Facebook, and the rest of the social media world. Today I'm going to blog about blogging. Mind blowing, right?

So what's in a blog? Well, that depends on who you are and what you want to write about. You don't always have to write about writing. Sure, you can write about that. But I'm sure there's more to you than being a writer. Maybe you like to get crafty or love to workout. Are you aiming to be on the next Top Chef or just like to cook like you might? Maybe you're a super fangirl and want to squee about the latest episode of Teen Wolf or shake your fist about Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Image from DNAIndia
Whatever you choose to write about, let it be something that means something to you. I'm writing about marketing right now because it is a very big part of what I'm doing with my books right now, and something I am thrilled to still be learning about and expanding on. But I'm also writing about my journey to become physically fit, and I post blog tour stops and book reviews. Sometimes I participate in blog hops too, but we'll get to those later.

What should I write?
For now, let's focus on what you can write about and how often you should do it. I'd suggest making a list of the things you are interested in and deciding what you'd like to write about from there. Keep in mind that your posts don't have to be long, and try to be yourself as much as possible. In my opinion, the whole point of blogging as a writer is for people to get to know you and your voice. So don't be afraid to let the snark out, and if you think something is clever, then say it. Even if you think you're the only one snarfing at your jokes, make them. Because why not? It's your blog. Be you!

Just like with social media, you have to strike a balance. You don't need to blog every day or even every week. Writing up a blog can take time, and for a lot of authors, time to write is precious and you might not want to spend all of it blogging. I have two weekly features on my blog--my fitness challenge and Marketing Mondays. But that's because those two topics work well for a weekly blog. If you are blogging about new knitting designs you are working on, it might be more of a once a month or once every other month (Can you tell I don't knit anything more complicated than scarves?) kind of topic. New recipe? That could be every week, every other week, every month--whatever you choose. Don't let it get overwhelming and don't try juggling too many topics per week. I actually had to cut down on the amount of blog tours I host for this reason. Blogging was taking up too much time, and none of it was personal. Balance in all things, right?

Which brings me to the topic of blog tours and book reviews. First, let me say that I love hosting blog tours and reviewing books. I love it so much that I have a really hard time saying no when asked (please don't test this). I'm a lot more choosy now with books that I review or blog tours that I host stops for simply because I don't want my blog getting overrun by blog tours and because there aren't enough hours in the day for me to get through my To Be Read list as it is.
So many books, so little time...
Image from Drugs Called Books
What about blog tours?
First, you might be asking what a blog tour even is. When I first started out in the writerly world, I had no clue. The basic gist of a blog tour is that it is essentially a virtual book tour, where an author goes from blog to blog promoting their books and their work. There are different kinds of posts for tours, like author interviews, character interviews, guest posts where the author discusses a topic of their choosing or yours, review stops, excerpts, and promotional stops that simply have the cover, blurb, purchase links, and author info. Tours can last anywhere from a week to a month. I've never seen one longer than a month, but I guess it's possible. AToMR book tours actually has a great post about what blog tours are, and you can check that out here.

So how do you get involved with blog tours? Some tour companies might have criteria such as having a certain number of followers first, but others don't. Your best bet is to run a search for blog tours or blog tour companies and go through the list, picking out ones that seem like a good fit. You don't exactly want to sign up for a romance blog tour company if romance isn't even a genre that you read (Yes, I did that). I host for Bewitching Book Tours, and I can vouch for how excellent Roxanne is at running things. I've hosted for other companies before and it's been a bit chaotic, but Roxanne is very organized and gets everything to you in a timely manner. If Bewitching Book Tours doesn't look like a good fit for you, there are lots of others you can check out. I already mentioned AToMR, but there's also Xpresso Book Tours, Book Sniffer Review Tours, and New Adult Blog Tours just to name a few.

What's a blog hop?
Blog hops are themed blog posts, essentially. A group of bloggers all write about the same topic and link to the other bloggers posting about the same thing. It can be something like My Writing Process, Introduce Your Main Character, or What's Up Wednesdays, where you post about what you've been up to that week. I've also seen blog hops in the form of blog awards like The Next Big Thing and the Liebster Award, which are set up to have the blogger answer the same questions, thus giving the readers some insight into who the writer is.

So basically...
When deciding what you want to blog about, don't overbook yourself. If you want to do What's Up Wednesdays, don't feel like you have to join in every Wednesday. Especially if you don't have anything new to catch your readers up on. If you want to have a weekly feature, like a blog promotion or specific topic (like talking about marketing every Monday even if you feel like you've barely scratched the surface of what's out there...*ahem*), don't book blog tour stops for every other day of the week. And keep in mind that just because you want to blog about a topic doesn't mean it needs to be a weekly or monthly feature. It can just be a one-off type thing, or something you do when the topic comes up again (like new recipes). Having a feature is a great way to get people coming back to your blog to look for content, but it isn't a sure-fire way to gain followers, and it certainly isn't the only way either. In fact, I'd recommend that you don't even pay attention to how many followers you have because that's a good way to add pressure to something that should be easy and stress-free.

There are many things that you can do with your blog--some things you can do might not have even occurred to me. Get creative. Have fun with it. The point of a blog is to get to know you. And not to overwhelm you, which is the most important thing to keep in mind with all of these marketing tips and tools. They are just that--tools meant to help you, not to hurt you.

Next week is the cover reveal for Soulless by Crystal Collier, and then we'll be back for Marketing Mondays to talk about Facebook and Twitter parties and giveaways.


  1. I have never participated in a blog tour but it sounds like a good way to spread the word about your own blog and meet other bloggers. Great tip.

    1. Thanks! I've been pretty pleased with my experiences with blog tours so far. I wouldn't recommend doing a long one, though. I'll be talking more about organizing your own blog tour in another post over the coming weeks. =)