Yesterday, I started a series on blogging for novelists. Judging by the comments, looks like I hit a nerve!
In the coming days, I’ll be giving you one tip per day on blogging. Today’s tip is about hosting your blog. A blog has to live somewhere on the web. You have two choices:
1) Use a free blogging site. (This is dead easy.)
2) Put the blog on your own web site. (This takes work.)
Let’s talk about the pros and cons of those two options.
You can easily set up a blog at blogspot.com or wordpress.com or one of the other free blogging sites. But here’s the problem. If you do that, then everyone who visits your blog will be reading pages on Blogspot’s web site or WordPress’s web site. Which means they won’t be visiting YOUR web site.
“What’s wrong with that?”–you may be asking. That depends on what your goals are.
If you just want a little notoriety or you just want to express yourself, then there’s nothing wrong with that. Use a free blogging service and save yourself the trouble.
But if you want to build traffic to YOUR web site, then it’s far better to host your blog on your own web site. That’s what I’ve done here. Look at the top bar of your browser. It starts out “http://www.AdvancedFictionWriting.com” which is MY web site. This blog gets about 500 page views per day. That means that this web site gets an extra 500 page views per day that it would not get if my blog were hosted on a free blogging site.
That is an enormous advantage to me. Why? Because higher traffic to my site translates into better rankings for my site on the various search engines. (There are a variety of technical reasons for this.) That translates into more traffic to my site from people who are searching for stuff on writing. And that translates into money. (I won’t tell you how much money, but I will say that it’s worth my time.)
I can give you some hard numbers though on traffic to this site. I launched this blog in mid-April of 2007. In the first 11 days of April, my site was averaging about 687 page views per day. Not bad at all. But not great. In the last 16 days of April, the site averaged 1416 page views per day. So my traffic doubled practically overnight after launching this blog. It has continued to grow and in the first 14 days of 2008, it has averaged 3398 page views per day. Some of that traffic is due to blog readers, but much of it is due to the search engines bringing me more people, because of the increased relevancy of this site, due to all the extra traffic and the increased content here.
Just as a simple example, search for the phrase “fiction writing blog.” This blog currently ranks #4 for that search phrase on Google, #4 on Yahoo, and #1 on MSN. That brings people to my site, where they subscribe to my e-zine and sometimes buy my products. I’ve not spent hundreds of hours or thousands of dollars to make that happen. It happened by itself. All I did was blog on fiction writing and the search engines noticed. There are a number of other search phrases for which they rank me #1, #2, or #3. Part of the reason for those high rankings is this blog.
Your next question may well be, “OK, if I want to blog, I should put it on my web site. How do I do that?”
The answer is that you’ll have to work just a little harder than if you used a free blogging site. But that effort will pay off forever, so it’s well worth it. You’ll need to upload the blogging software to your site and hook it up to a database. This is not particularly hard. Some web sites make this a 5 minute operation. The software I use, which I got on www.WordPress.org, gives you step by step instructions in how to do it. Millions of people have done this, so it’s not a terrible ordeal.
You may be the ultimate non-techie and you may find it too daunting. No problem. Any competent webmaster can set you up with a blog hosted on your site in an hour. That shouldn’t cost you much. If you don’t have a web site, then you can create a new site that is NOTHING BUT your blog. Thiat is an entirely reasonable thing to do. For example, my friend Chip MacGregor has a site that is just a blog. He blogs every few days on the publishing industry, especially as it relates to agents. Chip is a top-notch agent and is well qualified to talk about all that.
That leads us to the next subject, something which a number of you posted comments on today: What will you blog about? That is actually a branding question, so tomorrow we’ll talk about “Branding Your Blog.” I’ll address many of the issues you all raised in today’s comments. See ya then!