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Chris is co-founder of Prolifiko, writing productivity coach, writer and content consultant.

Having an author blog is a super-important part of any writer’s marketing toolkit. Your blog is a place where you can test out your writing, get noticed by publishers, engage with readers, build a following and in some cases – sell your work. Whilst it’s great to blog purely for fun and creative expression, if you want your blog to help your writing career then it’s time to get yourself a blogging strategy. So how do you start?

Why are you writing an author blog?

Thinking strategically about your blog means knowing why you’re doing it.

After all, you’re spending all that time at your computer rather than doing something else with your life so you may as well know what it’s all for.

TAKE ACTION: Write down what you hope your blog will achieve. And if you don’t know, now’s the perfect time to have a think!

For example, are you writing it to raise your profile? Do you want to engage a specific readership in some way? Do you want to help other writers? Perhaps your goal is to get noticed by a major publisher or agent?

Think about your writing like a business and be specific as you can here. In what way do you see your blog helping your career, life or writing goals?

It’s absolutely fine to blog for fun and for self-expression – but don’t be disappointed if your posts don’t get read. If you want your posts to get read then you need to know what your blog is for and why you’re writing it.

>> Read more: How to get funding to write

Who are you writing it for?

Key to having a blog strategy is to understand who you’re writing for.

Without knowing your audience, your blog will lack focus and you’ll waste lots of time writing posts that nobody reads. If you want your posts to get read and shared – which I’m assuming you do – then you need to know who you’re writing for.

TAKE ACTION: Ask yourself this: in an ideal world, who would read your author blog?

It might be helpful to visualize your reader and give them a name and an identity.

What do they do each day? How old are they? What interests do they have? What frustrates them and what makes them happy? Don’t write for multiple people; write for one person – it really helps to have a focus.

Once you know who you’re writing for then it becomes a lot easier to think through the topics that will and won’t interest them. For example, will they be interested in your life or the process of writing? Are you going to help your reader do something because you’ve been through a similar experience yourself? What are the insights or nuggets of fresh information you can give your reader that that they’ll be grateful for?

>> Read more: Prioritize your writing – make writing matter and make it happen

The golden rule: be useful

There’s one golden rule that anyone who wants to build a blog readership must have seared on their brain – and that’s be useful.

That doesn’t mean writing about topics you think your reader should be interested in (like how amazing your book is) but rather writing about things they would find genuinely beneficial in some way.

TAKE ACTION: Thinking strategically means focusing on the reader and that means that all your posts must inform your reader of something, persuade them of something or just delight them in some way. What are you going to give your reader?

Think about the kinds of blogs you read – either to help with your writing or just for fun.  You’d never keep reading posts that weren’t in some way valuable to you.

You wouldn’t keep reading that book if it wasn’t giving you something – whether it’s practical information, intellectual stimulation or just sheer enjoyment. Neither will your reader.

>> Read more: How to make time to write – 4 approaches to finding time in busy schedules

Having a strategy for your blog benefits both you and your readership. If you write posts that truly interest people, it’s far more likely they’ll get read and shared.

Getting more reads will boost your motivation to continue too. Finally, you’ll stop wasting time writing posts that few people want to read.

So if you want use your blog to help with your writing career, go on, get a strategy – your blog will thank you for it!

Before you start an author blog, ask yourself these 5 questions first:

  1. Why are you writing a blog? Ask yourself where you want your blog to take your writing career.
  2. Who are you writing for? It might help to visualize who your ideal reader is – give them an identity and a name.
  3. What interests them? Ask what challenges or problems you can help your reader solve or what fresh insights you can give them.
  4. Is it useful? Every post must inform, persuade or delight your reader in some way.
  5. What’s the value? Each post must give your reader something – a new perspective, some new information or a new insight.