PRILL’S BLOGGING BASICS
Blogger and author of Defying Gravity.
WHY A BLOG?
serious Why do you want a blog? Do you have something to say that others
might want to hear? Do you have some expertise or experience you’d like to
share? These are important questions. If all you want to do is sell a
product or promote a book, there are easier and better ways to do so.
YOUR BLOG VOICE
The blogs I like best have a strong point
of view and distinctive voice. Both what you have to say and how you say it
should make your blog stand out from the multitude. Be clear about your
niche before you begin. Generally, the narrower, the better.
Both Blogger (www.blogger.com)
and WordPress (www.wordpress.com)
offer free, easy-to-set up blog templates. With almost no effort at all,
you can be up and running in five minutes. Ten tops. Once you’ve created a
Blogger or WordPress blog, you can link it to your Web site, Amazon, Facebook,
HOW TO KEEP POSTING WHEN YOU’RE OUT
OF TOWN OR NOT IN THE MOOD:
The more you post, the more traffic you’ll
get. To gain a following, you need to post at least once a week. If
you can’t or don’t want to blog that often, consider writing several entries
at once and post-dating them to space out their publication. In Blogger,
here’s how to post-date entries:
While in either the "Compose" or "Edit Html" mode of
Blogger, click on "Post Options" at the bottom left of your screen.
In the "Post Date" and "Time" blanks, fill in whatever
date and time you'd like your post to appear.
Now click on the "Publish Post" button. Your post will
not be published until the date and time you've specified.
TRACKING YOUR VISITORS
If you're already taking the trouble to
blog, it’s worth the extra effort to install StatCounter or Google Analytics
to find out how many people are visiting your site, what they’re clicking on
to get to you, which state or country they’re logging on from, how long they
stay, what they download, etc. You can also track how many unique visitors
you have versus returning ones. All this information is invaluable in
terms of creating content to maximize your readership.
To install StatCounter, go to statcounter.com and sign up. It’s a free service with easy-to-use
To sign up for Google Analytics, you first need to create
a Google account. Go to Google. com
and follow the directions. Or Google “Webmaster
Tools” to access the site and proceed from there.
PROMOTING YOUR BOOK, PRODUCT,
Add a link to the sidebar of your blog so
that people can easily click on a picture of whatever you’re selling and
purchase it. If you have a business, write some advertising copy and post
it in the sidebar as well. Make sure to provide contact information so that
visitors can easily reach you, keeping in mind that whatever you post will
be available for anyone to view.
Note: Be clear that a blog provides some
sort of ongoing narrative. Its primary purpose is not to sell goods
Give visitors a reason for coming to
your blog. You might install a Shelfari widget to display recommended
books, provide exercises of some type, review articles related to your
topic, etc. Put yourself in your readers’ shoes and ask yourself what
information they might enjoy receiving from you.
Making your blog visually interesting and
fun to visit will also increase traffic. Add photos to your posts, insert
YouTube clips, create Flickr slideshows, etc. In Blogger, you add page
elements by clicking on the “Layout” tab of the Dashboard. To add photos to
your posts, click on the “Posting” tab.
Blogger makes it easy to do almost
everything listed above, except for creating slideshows. Here’s how to do
Go to www.flickr.com and set up an account.
Once you sign in, you should end up at your home page.
Click on the "upload photos" button. (Note: Photos in your Flickr
Photostream will appear in the order of the date you post them. So if
you want a particular photo to pop up first in your slideshow, post it
Now go to http://flickrslidr.com and fill in the blanks
to create your slideshow. For the URL of your set, copy and paste the
URL from your Flickr Photostream page. Leave the Tags and Text blanks
Press the "Create Slideshow" button. In the bottom half
of the screen, you'll see an "embed code"--the html code youl'l need to
cut and paste into your blog.
NOTE: I cut and paste all these codes and links into a
Word document so that I don't have to keep going back and forth,
searching for the right pages, etc. as I try to post all of this on my
Now...go to your blog "Layout" page.
Click on the "Add a Gadget" button.
Scroll down the gadget list until you get to "Slide
Show" and click on the button.
Fill in the blanks:
Title the slideshow whatever you want.
For "source," use thge drop-down menu and click "Flickr."
Under "option," click "user."
And for "username"--and this is the trick--you need to
use a number like this: 89979909@N00. To find the number that
corresponds to your slide show, go back to the Flickr Slidr html code
you created (and saved in a Word document) and look for something
similar in it. Then copy and paste it in the "username" blank.
Then...finally...press SAVE. Your show should appear on
In general, keep your postings short
on-line is different than reading hard copy. Less is more. People are
busy. Do them a favor and be concise.
Be smart about titles
of the keywords people will likely type into a search engine to find the
topic you’re addressing in your post. Use those words in your post titles
and, even more importantly, in the title of the blog itself.
Hyperlink to any and everything you
to any person, place or thing you possibly can. In Blogger, you’ll find a
link button in “Compose” mode. Just click on the button and type in the
address of the Web site to which you want to link. Whatever you link to
connects you to that entity on search engines.
Link to your Web site. (This goes
without saying, I hope.)
Encourage people to comment on your
Activate the “comments” feature.
Consider forming of a group of like-minded bloggers to comment on each
others’ posts. Comments increase your search-engine rankings.
on Other People’s Blogs
Google your subject and see what
sites come up. I signed up for a Google Alert (if you don’t know
what this is, Google the term) for the phrase “late bloomer” so that I’m
notified when others post on this topic and I can what they’re saying. I
frequently end up commenting on others’ posts this way. Keep in mind that
your comments on others’ sites will often appear in search engines when
people type in your name. If you use Analytics or StatCounter, you’ll see
firsthand how much commenting brings traffic to your site
Link Your Blog to Others with Similar
Reach out and invite others to do
Invite others to do guest posts.
other authors or experts in your field write a guest-post—a win-win
providing exposure for both of you.
Consider teaming up with others to do
If you have a team, everybody shares the
responsibility. In other words, each person can post less often.
Maximize Social Networking Tools
Install a FeedBurner subscription
Feedblitz.com and follow directions. (Note: I like FeedBlitze
because it gives me statistics on my subscribers.) You can also use
the handy subscriber "gadget" that blogger/blogspot. provides.
List your blog in blog directories
blog in common directories helps increase your search engine ranking and
bring more visitors to your site. Start with the following ones:
Blogarama: Go to
www.blogarama.com and click on the words “add yours now!”
BlogCatalog: Go to
www.blogcatalog.com and click on the tab titled “Submit Your Blog”
Blogged: Go to
www.blogged.com and click on “Submit a Blog,” (at the top right of
the home page).
Technorati. Go to
http://technorati.com and click on “Blogs.” Then click on “Claim
Your Blog” and follow directions from there. (From their Web site:
“Technorati was founded to help bloggers to succeed by collecting,
highlighting, and distributing the online global conversation. As the
leading blog search engine and most comprehensive source of information
on the blogosphere, we index more than 1.5 million new blog posts in
real time and introduce millions of readers to blog and social media
Put a Facebook badge on your blog
Go to your Facebook profile
Scroll down to the very bottom of the profile page and
click on "Create a Profile Badge."
Wait a few seconds for the embed code to appear in the
box. (It should start with <script src="http".)
Highlight the code; then go to "Edit" on your menu bar
(at the top of the screen) and click "Copy."
Open up the Dashboard of your Blogger blog.
Go to "Layout"
Go to "Add a Page Element"
In the Page Element box, type "Facebook" in the Title
box and paste the code in the Content box.
After you click "Save," your personalized Facebook badge
should appear your blog
Note: If in the
process of going from your Facebook page to your Blogger page, you lose the
code you've highlighted to copy, just repeat the first four steps and save
the code to a Word document. Then you can paste the code from that same
Word document into your Blogger page.
Use Blogcast to publish your blog on
Simply go to
your Facebook page, add the Blogcast application, and follow directions.
If you have a book on Amazon, publish
your blog on their site as well.
Go to Amazon and
find and AmazonConnect. (Note: First you need to
sign up for an Amazon customer account.)
If you’re on LinkedIn, add a
LinkedIn button to your site so that visitors can have access to your
If you’re an author, consider
sharing the first chapter of your book
This works best
with self-published works because the rights are exclusively the author’s.
www.startatbeginning.blogspot.com and follow the directions.
Install an “AddThis” button to your
people share your posts with others and gives your writing a chance to
potentially “go viral.” Go to
addthis.com and click on “Get Your Button.” Select the option for
the particular button you want to appear at the bottom of all your posts.
Add labels to your blog and sidebar.
Labels make it easier for visitors to
navigate your blog and find postings on subjects of interest to them. A
list of labels in your sidebar becomes an index of sorts.
To create labels in Blogger:
Create labels in either the "Compose" or "Edit Html"
After you finish typing a post, simply fill in the
"Labels for this post" blank at the bottom of the screen. Keep in mind
that any label you choose will end up on your label list. I believe
that it's best, therefore, to put yourself in the mind of your readers
and think about what labels would be useful to them.
you've created a few labels, there's a second, amazingly useful tool that
you can use to add to, subtract from, and/or change both your list and your
your list, do the following:
On the Blogger Dashboard, click on the "Edit Posts" tab
near the top of your screen.
On the left-hand side of the screen, you should see a
list of all the labels you've created. To the right of this list,
you'll see an inventory of all the posts you've written arranged from
newest to oldest.
To delete a label from your label list, click on the
Then on the list of postings that appear, select any or
all of the ones you no longer want to have that label.
In the drop-down menu box titled "Label Actions," scroll
down to "Remove Label" and click on the label you want to remove. It's
Play with this same function to teach yourself how to
add labels or change them. (It's a similar process for both.)
Once you're happy with the list of labels
that appears on the left side of the "Edit Posts" screen, you're ready to
create a label list that will appear on the sidebar of your blog. Here's
how to do this:
To creating a Label List/Index on your
Go onto your Blogger dashboard.
Click on the "Layout" tab (at the top of the screen)
Click on "Add a Gadget" (on the right-hand side of the
Scroll down the list of gadgets until you see "Labels."
Click on the "Labels" button.
Cross promote! Link to
your blog from your newsletter, columns, e-mail signature, Web site, WikiHow
article—any and everything you can.
Here’s what Carolyn Howard-Johnson
(http://carolynhoward-johnson.com), author of The Frugal Book Promoter,
has to say about newsletters (much of which applies to blogs as well):
Why have a newsletter?
Because regular newsletters build loyalty. To an
organization, to an author, to a product. They do that by offering
content that their subscribers want..
Because newsletters educate. They give information to
subscribers that the sponsoring organization or editor wants them to
Because newsletters can actually recruit. (By the way,
too many newsletter editors are too eager to trim away subscribers who
are not also active participants. In this electronic age, it costs
nothing for a newsletter to go to people who once showed an interest;
that person's interest might be kick-started again by a new project
featured in the newsletter or by the subscriber's own personal needs.
Let the subscribe opt out! Don't just trim them away!)
Because the content in newsletters can be the seeds for
publicity in other places. Local newspapers, other organizations, etc.
might be interested in articles published in your newsletter.
Because newsletters can bring a group together by
offering interactive opportunities. In other words, subscribers who are
encouraged to participate in the workings of a newsletter can help
others while branding themselves and marketing their product or
Because newsletters encourage frequent contact with its
audience. In marketing, frequency counts.
Here’s what Carolyn Howard-Johnson has to
say about self-Googling:
myself this morning, just for the heck of it, and found more than 30 pages
of Web sites, articles, discussion boards, blogs and other places where my
articles appear or where people are talking about me.
Googled a few of my competitors to find out where they're showing up and I
discovered some places I should be targeting. It was an interesting
exercise--one you should do too. If you're trying to position yourself
(your book), your CEO or your client as an expert, try the Google
experiment. “Are you ‘all over the Internet’ or do you still have a lot of
work to do when it comes to spreading the word about your product, service,
cause or issue?”
FOUR VERY DIFFERENT AUTHOR SITES TO
Mary Carroll Moore’s blog:
http://howtoplanwriteanddevelopabook.blogspot.com/ (MCM is a novelist
who is also a writing coach, workshop leader, etc.)
NY Times bestselling novelist Jane Green’s
A very personal blog about Jane’s life. She
has a distinctive voice and point of view.
Novelist Ann Patchett’s Web site:
www.annpatchett.com. She doesn’t bother with a blog and it doesn’t
seem to have hurt her sales. (Patchett wrote Bel Canto and won the Penn
And, of course, check out my blog:
(I try to practice everything
I’ve preached above.)
Boyle is the author of Defying Gravity: A Celebration of Late-Blooming
Women. Learn more about her at
www.prillboyle.com. Check in on her blog at