So You Wanna Be A Blogger?

Blogging is a great way to connect with a target audience on a somewhat personal level on one condition… you actually BLOG. It sounds great in theory – start a blog, write about a cool topic, get a bunch of readers to follow you, and BOOM! All of a sudden you’ve graduated to Perez Hilton status, with 14,500,000 estimated monthly users. Who wouldn’t want THAT????

But you need compelling content that people crave. It doesn’t happen overnight and it definitely won’t happen unless you do a few key things right up front.

Your first step is to figure out your topic and blog name. It can be your name or something that is related to the type of content you want to write about. When I created my blog, I knew I wanted to write about innovation, entrepreneurship and startups. So I agonized for DAYS and finally came up with The Idea Mama. It’s catchy, right??? =)

Once you have a name, you’re ready to roll! So here it is… my top 10 list for starting a new blog! These steps come way before your fingers hover over the keyboard, itching to type that first entry. There’s a lot of prep that goes into the setup. Don’t rush the process. Take your time, think long and hard about your goals with the blog. These tips will help you get started.

Group of BLOG related 3D words. Part of a series.

  1. Buy the domain. You can’t have a website without a domain name. It’s your home address… on the web. Go to http://www.godaddy.com and find out if it’s available. If it is, GRAB IT! If you want to test the waters, buy it for one year instead of three.
  2. Select a blogging platform. I use WordPress and I like it. I’m not wild about TypePad. I’ve used that in the past and found it to be extremely frustrating. One of my other sites, Author Navigation, was built with Weebly. They have a free trial available. Weekly is very intuitive. You can drag and drop components onto your page according to the theme you select. Easy to use and very reasonably priced.
  3. Get a logo for your website. Fiverr is THE place to go for a cost-effective graphic. It’s one of my favorite places on the web. It’s a community of freelancers who offer gigs for graphic design, online marketing, advertising, music and audio, writing and translation – all starting at $5. You can always beef up your gig for an additional amount but let me tell you, I’ve gotten kick ass results with only $5. Go. NOW! If you need a recommendation, I’ve got a guy… =)
  4. Create a Twitter handle…I have a couple… @kristen_luciani, @theideamama. Use your new blog name and if it isn’t available, come up with some variation. Then, HAPPY TWEETING! You’ll share your own content, as well as content you come across on the web and with your fellow tweeps. We’ll get to that in the next tip…
  5. Create a CrowdFire account. This will help you find the right target audience to follow on Twitter. It helps to grow your following, which you NEED to grow. You’ll also be able to find INFLUENCERS using this tool. Influencers are people who are subject matter experts in your topic and have a large following, which represents a large opportunity for consumption of quality content. Establish relationships with a few key influencers. Retweet and comment on their content and hopefully, they will eventually return the favor.
  6. Create a Facebook page for your blog and start to get likes. Make sure you post to it several times daily. You can post images, links to articles or anything else that is relevant to your blog. The purpose is to engage with your fan base and sharing compelling content is the best way to engage. Videos are cool too. People really appreciate the personal interaction, so get out of your comfort zone.
  7. Set up an Instagram account. You can post images or 15 second-long videos. AND you can link your Instagram account to Facebook and Twitter, so any of your images will post to all three locations.
  8. Establish a Hootsuite account. This is a tool that allows you to consolidate all your social networks and post to all at once. TIME SAVER!!!!!!
  9. Register an account on Quora. This is a great way to get exposure to a new audience. Establish yourself as a subject mater expert on your topic by answering questions in that category. It really helps get your voice heard and people will start to become familiar with the value you bring to the table. AND, you can always use those questions/responses as blog posts!
  10. Subscribe to a photo site. I belong to Dollar Photo Club. It has great images and is extremely cost-effective. $99 per year entitled you to 99 images. Each additional one will cost only $1. There are plenty of other sites, but this is my preference. You can’t post random Google images on your blog, even if you credit the website. If you get caught, you’ll get a nasty letter warning  you to take the image down or else legal action will be taken and you’ll most likely be threatened with a fine.

There are also a ton of informative books on blogging. Here are a few of my faves:

Feel free to browse other titles…just be careful that the book wasn’t published too long ago otherwise the industry will have changed too much for the information to be really relevant. Sometimes, though, you can find diamonds in the rough.

Okay, I’ve gotten you started. Next steps?

WRITE, then SHARE!!!!

Social Media Ideas Designer Desk Architectural Tools Office Concept

Social Media Ideas Designer Desk Architectural Tools Office Concept

Launch Day For Author Navigation Is Finally Here!!!!!

I used to think writing a book was the hard part…

But then I did it…once, twice, a third time…until my precious manuscript was finally finished. That’s when the real work began.

Endless amounts of research, trying to find the right editor, formatter, cover artist, promotion company, and on and on. Ugh, not my favorite part of the process at all. I really wanted to keep writing but I had to plow through pages and pages of search results because there just wasn’t a one-stop shop for all the resources I needed to evaluate. Until now… =)

My dear friend and fellow author Ryan Ringbloom and I identified a gap in the market, one which if filled, would enable authors to spend more time honing their craft instead of Googling.  I’m a writer; I want to spend my time messing up the lives of my characters and then figuring out how to fix them while weaving in a few scorching love scenes along the way. =)

The literary world is absolutely saturated now so authors need their work to stand out as much as possible and finding the right “team” is challenging, to say the least. Hence, the birth of Author Navigation, the online directory of vendors who can help authors prep, polish and perfect their manuscripts for the masses.

For a small fee, vendors can submit a request to have their company represented in our brand-new directory, available to the rapidly increasing number of authors who need to assemble their own teams.

A unique promotional opportunity for vendors hoping to score more clients, a greatway to maximize efficiencies for authors seeking experts who can help take their book from good to great…

Author Navigation…Navigate Your Way To Success!!

ANFACEBOOK12

Rejection Never Felt So Satisfying

Like all authors seeking validation by gaining acceptance to an exclusive publishing house, I submitted “Unlikely Venture” in hopes of scoring a lucrative contract and promises of making the bestseller lists.  Fortunately, like a Band-Aid being yanked from a wound, two out of the three I submitted to rejected it right away, for a variety of reasons that were kind of evasive and basically not very constructive.  Part of this was my error, as I submitted to the wrong imprints with the publishers.  Oh well.  That’s when my Type A alter ago stepped in and convinced me to self-publish.

Courtesy of writersontheend.com

Courtesy of writersontheend.com

But what about the third publisher?

Well, the third one was a little behind the 8-ball. The editors requested the first three chapters after FINALLY approving my query. That was a couple of months ago, when I was on the path toward self-publishng.  I sent them anyway…couldn’t hurt, right?

Fast forward to this morning.  I scrolled through my emails to find a reply from the publisher. Here’s what I read:

Kristen,
Thanks for letting us take a look. Unfortunately, we have to pass. There’s something in the tone of the heroine that’s just a little to gritty for our contemporary line. We do wish you the best in placing this work.
Gritty?  According to Dictionary.com, “gritty” means “resolute and courageous; plucky.”
Hell, that kind of rejection is AWESOME!  I hate pathetic, damsel in distress heroines.  If that’s the kind of girl they want, yeah they’d be barking up the wrong tree with Jessica Latham.  It wasn’t meant to be.
But shame on me for not doing the correct research.  You see, I was embarking on a new business venture, seeking an investor without knowing if our end goals were in sync.  I assumed an established publisher would be able to reach my target demographic, just because they have deeper pockets and a larger distribution network.  But that’s not necessarily the case.  We don’t share the same vision and strategy.  They are looking for something I don’t offer.  Their response is very clear on that fact.  And the submission turned out to be a wasted effort on my part.  We wouldn’t be compatible business partners because we aren’t aligned in our objectives.
Lesson learned…resources alone do not guarantee an effective business relationship and researching potential business partners will ensure your product or idea gets a fair shot at evaluation.
And as for me, I continue along my path…as a sole proprietor. =)