How to Make your Blog Visible – Platform Building

You have a blog and now you wonder if anyone will read it? With over 7 billion people onmake your blog stand outearth and millions upon millions of those people have access to the internet daily, how many of them are hungering for your message? How many think similarly about the things you are passionate about sharing? Your message resonates with someone else somewhere…but how do they find you? Here are a few tips of things you can do that will help your blog be visible to your audience:

Create Heading Tags

Heading tags are nothing more than a way to use HTML (fancy geek word for techie language that computers and search engines read) to mark headings as “special”. If you use WordPress or Blogger or some of the other “package” webdesign programs heading tags are usually found in the visual menu bar at the top of the editable page where you create each new blog post. it will either appear as a large H in the menu or heading tags will be found mixed in with “Paragraph”.  They will be marked Heading 1, heading 2, etc.

  • When heading tags are used to break up a post it makes content easier to scan and read as well as making your content more readily searched by Search engines.
  • Use H1-H3 tags. If you get more granular than that and you will bog down the reading of your content.

Keyword in Headlines and Content

Use keywords in titles and headlines as well as sprinkled in your content. Don’t keyword stuff as that will result in pissing off the big boys like Google and Bing and even result in getting you “slapped” (banned) from their directories. Do a little research around the keywords you think that your audience is searching. Google has a free tool set (Google Keyword Tool is a good one as is Google Insights) for researching keywords for actual numbers. Using these tools will tell you how accurate you are in thinking like your audience when they search by particular terms and phrases.

Content is Still King

Content must include not only your keywords used in natural readable language, it also must be readable text style! That means no funky fonts and colors, lots of white space to entice the eyes to scan for the important parts. Bullet points are a great way to break up huge pieces of content and to emphasize the critical elements of your post. But most of all make your posts pertinent, interesting, enthusiastic, positive, and targeted to your audience. You don’t have to be a Polly Anna but you don’t want to be a raging angry lunatic either!

Name Those Graphics

Quality graphics are important as pixelated photos will make the reader click off your site faster than a ladies temperance society member will run from a fridge full of beer. Label your images with keyword rich alt attributes or what are sometimes called alt “tags” that are content related. In other words, if you post a blog about Monet’s work and techniques and the impact of his cataracts on his work you choose some of his work to use to embellish the post. Perhaps your are trying to get words like “impressionist art” and “impressionist artists” to rank as this is the focus of your blog. You will want to use a picture of a Monet painting (or two) to illustrate your points. So make those those photos ‘searchable’ you assign them alt attributes.

  • If you have the images on your computer, rather than randomly assigned numbered file names, give it a specific name like impressionist art Monet so you incorporate your keyword in the file name.
  • This can also be done when you insert an image directly from the internet in the html editor when you insert the photo link into your blog post’s insert photo tool. Right click on the image in it’s current online library location, select “copy image url” and then go back to your blog editor and insert that link in the url line on your blog’s photo editor, then just below it will ask for alternative text. This is where the selected keywords go!

Et voila! Not so difficult! This will boost your site with the search engine spiders.

Advertise!

Advertise – shamelessly! Promote your blog and individual posts on social communities like:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Digg
  • Buzz
  • Technorati
  • Del.icio.us, etc.

List your blog in directories, create an RSS feed, post your blog link on your signature line of your emails, put it in your newsletters, book backs, and in anything you send out related to PR (like in your media kit). No one will sing your praises if they don’t know you exist!

Interaction and Link Exchange

Comment on interesting blogs related to your topics hosted by others, encourage and monitor comments on your own blog, participate on forums.  Read, post reference posts to other blogs and by posting a link to their site they will be more apt to cross reference their mention on your site!

how to make your blog visible to search enginesBlogging is not hard work. It does require imagination and a good work ethic. Blog passionately about your passion. It really raises your online visibility and helps to create that all important platform that attracts amazingly enthusiastic audiences. You can be one of a million rather than one in a million!

Posted in author marketing tools, author platform, Author Promotion, blog content, blog entry, blog headlines, blog size, blog subheadlines, blog titles, blogging, Blogging Rules, social network, social networking, strategic marketing, Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Author Platforms -Simple Website Designs Targeted to Your Audience

So you have a website. Good…But do you have a home page that works for you? Is itauthor platformattracting your target audience? Does anyone know what to do once they get there?  Are you real clear on the purpose of your website?

It is easy to get caught in creating a website with all the bells and whistles and end up with a crappy cluttered site. You know the type! You land on them and they are so tacky and burdened with the sound and the fury of all that is amazing technology and you have to click off the site to prevent sensory over-load. Obviously I am not their target market? Or was I?

Who is your target market? What do they like? What are they expecting? How do you most effectively communicate with that audience? What does that communication “look” like? Is it soft colors,rounded edges, and landscapes or is it edgy, filled with music, and pulsing gyrating images? You better be clear on who and what your audience are and work from that frame of reference to create the look and feel of your site.

Basically you need to analyze your market for four things:

  • Who is your prime audience
  • What are they expecting
  • What goods/services do you have that they want or need
  • What benefits do your goods/services deliver to them

Easy huh? Yep, it is. It does not have to include whirly-gigs and flummer-diddles…unless that is what you  are selling or promoting! If you are promoting romance writing book critiques you probably want to have a softer more feminine appeal to the content and visual design elements. If you are a wild west author whose specialty is speaking to writers on the importance of research and authenticity of the weaponry associated with the genre. You want to appear at the top of your game…so your site might feature artwork of the era depicting the men and women and the weapons of the western frontier.

  • Get a domain name that goes with who you are and what you do
  • Get rid of the junk no one knows what to do with, is unrelated to your work, etc
  • Don’t use excessive graphics, avoid flash as folks in the heartland are still on dial up
  • Have a call to action if you want them to sign up for a class, exchange an email for an ebook, etc.

Think like the consumer and then give them something unique that provides just what they were looking for in a website. With some imagination and simple design you will have the beginnings of a simple but effective website to act as a critical element in your author platform.

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Elements of an Author’s Platform

author platform elementsWe hear so much in author circles today about how you need to have a platform to capture the eye of a publisher, editor, or agent. What the heck is a platform? What make up the parts of an author’s platform?

  • Know your expertise, your niche, and your audience. Then create a “brand”identity around it. Keep in mind your brand is not a symbol or logo; it is what you deliver!
  • Create a website with blogging elements that promote who you are and what you write and then optimize the heck out of it. Search engine optimization (SEO) is not some woo-woo science project that only techie-geeks can master. The internet runs on words and authors KNOW about words. Learn about SEO and what you can do to make it a part of each element in  your author platform (another blog or 7 or 8 to follow on this subject soon!). To drive traffic to your site you have to think like the reader…just like you do with plot development!
  • Make your blog visible. Work really hard and really smart at promoting your blog and creating interesting audience centered content. Content is king! Keep readers coming back for more and wanting to share your site and your content with others.
  • Create a Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn page. Facebook for advertising and promotional purposes, Twitter for getting the word out and making connections, and LinkedIn to connect with other professionals in the writing industry, in your niche, and to join the largest social web presence in the world.
  • Learn how to target online and offline media. Write press releases, hit the online radio stations, podcasters, blogs, etc and do interviews, ask for book reviews, and plan monthly virtual book tours for the first year of publication at the very least!
  • Speak publicly. Teach, talk, present, emcee events, get out there and get involved in places where your market gathers! Do public readings and teach paid and free workshops.
  • Write articles or short stories about material related to your niche, about your passions, and publish them with boilerplate that sends readers back to your blog, your website, and to ultimately buy your books over and over.
  • Get busy learning how to work Amazon. Ask for reviews on Amazon, get people talking and buying your book.

Building an author platform is all about getting out there and getting noticed. You can’t be a wallflower in the publishing industry. You have to grow a spine and learn some shameless self promotion techniques.

Posted in author marketing tools, author platform, Author Promotion, blogging, brand marketing, marketing, publishing | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Get a Blog and Hang out with All the Cool Kids – Or – How to Build a Relevant Author Platform

Greetings Walmart Shoppers! On aisle four we are trying to be all things to all people so we have a smattering of this and a smathering of that and we want you to buy it ALL! Is that your audience target? Everybody and anybody? Golly gee…you and Dorothy are on the Yellow Brick Road to nowhere but home if you follow that method of author platformAuthor Platform Development building! Face it, you can’t be all things to all people. Successful books and their authors have a highly targeted audience.

Take romance novels for example…who is the audience? People seeking escape, an romp in other folks’ libidos and maybe a good bodice ripping or two. At the very least they are expecting well…romance! They aren’t expecting a three page dissertation on what they should do to make their own bosom heave or loins ache on the author’s blog! Yep, they go to the author’s blog to find out more about the author, new books coming out, fun facts about their writing life, etc and not for a session on a relationship couch! Know your audience!

Wondering how to get started blogging on relevant ‘author’ stuff? Look up some authors you admire on the internet and find out what they write about and share with their readers. Susan Wiggs (romance author) shares photos, stories of writing on deadlines, awesome recipes, stories about her dog Barkis and gorgeous photos of the Puget Sound. True crime author Gregg Olsen has a huge following on Facebook and his website. He blogs at http://www.crimerant.com where he is faithfully followed by his fans. Children’s author Anastasia Suen has published over 115 books, teaches writing classes, critiques and reviews books, and maintains several blogs. Her classes are highly sought and her books are widely read by kids, librarians, and adults who love kids and kid’s books. Now that is a platform!

To build a relevant platform that helps promote your work as an author you have to hang out where your “peeps” are hanging out. If they are on Twitter…then join in and start tweeting. If they only hang out on Facebook and Gowalla then you better figure those places out quickly. Build an interactive community that gets excited about the same things you do.

Word of mouth marketing is critical to building a web presence that results in a powerful author platform. Today’s quirky market is about the speed with which you can make your message go viral. Cultivate your author visibility just like you cultivate the plot and characters in your book. Get known, make your presence seen and heard. Now get out there and build your soap box and start beating your drum so you can get known!

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Galileo, Yard Art and Author Platforms

I recently went on a chicken coop tour hosted on our island by the local feed store. Now if

Author Platform Mosaic

Mosaic Chicken Coop

you are familiar with our island then you will totally get it when I tell you one of the coops had Pella windows and doors, most had curtains, and one coop was a mosaic artist’s master piece. I think the winner of the day for me was the gentleman farmer-sometime cardiologist manse and traditional coop. Across from the coop with requisite 38+ setting hens and cackleberries in the nesting boxes was the galvanized Galileo. A 5 foot rooster in plume who guarded the hen house and driveway beneath a lovely old oak tree.

Author Platform Bainbridge Island

Galileo in Yard Art

How the heck did a great piece of yard art get named for a famed astronomer who was executed by the Church for heresy (the whole earth revolved around the sun thing got him!) and then had his body parts chopped up and scattered around in mysterious places. Ironically, I recently read that they found a few of his fingers and other parts as well. Glad he wasn’t found in sausage casing with Nostradamus’ lips and …

Back to Cackleberry Farm and the tin art Galileo, how the heck did a noted astronomer, cutting edge theorist get memorialized in yard art? Not sure but either someone thought it was a cool name or they were a backyard astronomer by night and metal artist by day. Authors without platforms are kind of like Galileo the dead dismembered scientist and the rusty rooster: scattered, barely known, vaguely remembered for their work, and tucked away in some obscure place.

Tour de Coop Bainbridge Island

Galileo in Profile

Authors today can’t afford to be scattered and randomly found in pieces and parts down a narrow lane. Authors have to create a real presence and put themselves out there  on the web. Get a website or a blog, open up Facebook and create an author’s page, talk and be seen. Otherwise you will only be found in relics on sale racks for second hand out of print books and quite frankly, there are no royalties to be had there! Don’t just be a piece of yard art. Make your presence known.

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What To Do With Constructive Criticism

When you get feedback about your writing, share it with your trusted mentor or “inner circle” of fellow writers. Is the criticism or elements of it valid? Can you use it to help improve your work or website? This feedback can give you more insight on how to increase coverage of a subject by adjusting the quality, content, and relevance of your material. Use this information to help improve your work.

What are the Characteristics of Good Constructive Feedback?

Good constructive feedback is

  • respectful
  • clear
  • specific
  • objective
  • supportive
  • motivating
  • solution-oriented

What is Destructive Feedback?

Destructive feedback is

  • malicious
  • personal
  • judgmental
  • subjective

You have to hope for constructive feedback that you can use to guide changes. Helpful feedback can give you the nudge to create new content that really zings. If what you get is highly personal and really negative take it with a grain of salt. Consider the source, shrug it off, and take any kernels of good feedback (if there is anything worth salvaging), and then file the rest in the Hogwash file. Keep pushing. Keep writing. The journey is worth the blisters you get along the way.

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Dealing with Negative Press: Stinging Slap of Criticism – or – Everyone Has an Opinion

Negativity, I am an author and a parent and have dealt with my share of it. I too sat through the boring meetings of the PTO where debate droned on and on over the merits of Hi C versus those of Hawaiian punch. You sit there thinking, “Who cares? It’s all sugar infused bug juice for the masses of thirsty little devils after recess.” Then the uber-classroom-helper mom and the anti-bacterial anti-milk mom go to battle over this nothingness  and take the discussion all out of context. It can get ugly in those meetings. I have come away worried my car would be keyed by some over zealous parent who did not like my point of view. Why do we waste time over such pablum? Does it really matter which version of punch you serve in the big scheme of things?

Critical reviews of your work can be seen in much the same light. Some will like you and be your biggest fans. Some won’t. Simple? Maybe but until someone rips your work (or your blog post or your about you page) apart and you get the review sent to you by the well intended (I hope) author you have no clue how personal it can get. If you write you will get criticism. Some of it will be useful, some of it delivered with a positive effective tone, some of it will be a stinging slap. Just remember, consider the source. Everyone is entitled to an opinion but no one is entitled to be rude and disrespectful.

So if you get a stinging slap…go blog about it! Just be ultra polite and show them you DO know that well…some opinions are like…ok I won’t go there. Really. I won’t. Instead I will go eat a bag of powdered donuts and wash it down with Hi C or is it Hawaiian Punch? Oh hell! I have completely forgotten which one had more “real” sugar in it? Maybe I will test them both and write a review of them later because we know that is the stuff in life that really matters!

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