5 Ways Blogging Sells Books

FIVE-_#5_OpMany of you don’t believe it’s true, that blogging can sell books and further your career. And you’re right, in the sense that blog posts should not be used as a direct-sale tactic for most authors. But I’m here to argue that a well-written, consistently updated blog can help novelists make sales.

How? Blogging makes your name, your voice, and your product recognizable, and builds a community that will help support your efforts. In addition, adding content on your blog delights Google, and when Google loves you, the search engine brings visitors to your site so they can see what you have for sale.

There is no doubt in my mind that blogging can be a value-added marketing strategy. True, you have to work at it, and it can take time to build traffic. But when readers start to find you – and they like what they see – you’ll make sales. Here’s what I think blogging can do for an author …

1. Blogging sells “you”
Professional commission-based sales reps who market any product or service know that selling is all about building relationships. The more interesting, engaging, helpful, encouraging, inspiring, and solution-oriented the salesperson, the better their chances of pulling down big commission checks. That’s why the best salespeople understand and nurture these qualities.

It’s similar with authors. Your blog gives you an opportunity to share with real and potential readers. Your blog is your “voice.” Who you are shines through. When people like you, they support you – and one of the ways they do that is by buying your books and spreading the word to other readers.

2. Blogging enhances your writing skills
Over time, once-a-week blogging just hands-down improves a writer’s skill in all areas of the craft, including fiction. And as we all know, the better the quality of our work, the better the word of mouth, the better the reviews, and the better our titles will sell. I published my first novel mid-2012 and didn’t get my second fiction title published until late 2013. What did I notice after two years of blogging? I wrote faster, better, and with more confidence. Better writing = better books = more sales.

3. Google Rules, and consistent blogging makes Google happy
Anybody in business nowadays pretty much has to have an online presence so people can find you. Your goal is for your website to show up on page one of Google search results, right? If you have an unusual name, that’s relatively easy (as long as people know how to spell it). But do you know how many Molly Greenes there are in the world? And famous ones, too. It was an uphill battle for me to eclipse the most popular, but after only one year of blogging, there I was.

Every time you publish a post, the search engines come to your website to check it out. So if you want Google to be your friend, consistent updates via regular blog posts will keep them coming back. You’ll be easier to find, and people will learn about you and see how cool you are, and, eventually, buy your books. Blogging will help accomplish this.

4. Blogging’s hidden payback: Repurposable content
Personal essays, short stories, how-to’s explaining subjects you’re passionate about, nonfiction subjects you explore in your novels. Nearly every blog post you write can be repurposed into something else if you have a plan. Is your main character a cosmetologist? Write a 10-chapter giveaway outlining how your readers can create time for themselves in their own home spa, and offer it as a freebie for new subscribers. Each chapter can be a blog post. Or, compile your best essays into a small volume and put it up on Amazon or give it away.

Get my drift? Be really smart. Leverage your blog so that nearly everything you write has a dual purpose.

If you’re repurposing blog posts, your return on investment (ROI) goes through the roof because posts are moving other projects forward. And the undeniable truth is that free giveaways used as a subscriber incentive will build your email list faster, and more titles help sell more books.

5. Blogging builds social authority
Blogging gets you out there in social media in a way that doesn’t scream “BUY MY BOOKS!” By now I think we all know that loading Twitter and social media with aggressive book-buy demands just turns off potential readers and supporters. On the other hand, a well-written blog can build credibility and “social authority,” which just means people know who you are, and, if you’ve done your homework well, they respect your work. And when all these things come together and people are interested in you, they’re more inclined to buy your stuff. Put in the time, write good books, be positive and engaging, and a community will successfully be built.

Last but not least, your blog will familiarize you with life online. Blogging throws you into the world of social media. You’ll learn to navigate popular websites, interact successfully with others, gain tech education by managing your website, and get comfortable with putting your writing out in the world on a consistent basis. In other words, blogging helps you build confidence and other beneficial skills. And the more comfortable you are, the better you get at book promotion and sales.

I’ll concede that blogging isn’t for everybody, but I’m delighted that I spent time writing blog posts and promoting my blog online. Anne R. Allen agrees and has a great post about it here:  How to Blog your Way out of the Slush Pile and onto the Bestseller List.

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35 Responses to 5 Ways Blogging Sells Books

  1. Anne R. Allen January 20, 2014 at 3:28 pm #

    So true! Excellent points, every one. Without my blog, I’d have no career. Blogging does sell books, but not by direct sales. By slowly building your online presence and credibility. Great post, Molly!

    • Molly Greene January 20, 2014 at 3:30 pm #

      Thanks so much, Anne. You’re my heroine!

  2. Toby Neal January 20, 2014 at 4:52 pm #

    Fabulous post, Molly. So much of what you’ve shared on your blog I wish I’d known before I started, and I had to learn by bumbling along-fortunately, I kept falling in the right direction! But I love these points and agree with them totally. I learned I’m not bad at humor writing through blogging, though my fiction is “serious” in tone, my essays and articles have become lighter.
    Also, I met you–online first, then in person. What a gift!
    Toby Neal, http://www.tobyneal.net/

    • Molly Greene January 20, 2014 at 5:26 pm #

      Thank you so much, Toby. I actually wish I’d known a lot of this before I started, too – like you, I fell in the right direction. Blogging and social media opened up a world I never could have imagined, introduced me to magical people and concepts, and taught me lessons that have changed my life. And I’m so happy to have met you and to call you my friend!

  3. Michelle Grogan January 20, 2014 at 6:12 pm #

    Hi Molly!! Just after publishing my first book in 2011, I started blogging. At first I was blogging every day, but then pulled back to once a week. I started out on blogger where I had a pretty good following and comments, then I moved to WordPress where I’ve barely had a following and comments are scarce. My second book came out in 2013 – almost exactly 2 years after the first. I find that I struggle with knowing what to blog about. Not only do I share my writing – i.e. excerpts from my WIP or pieces from my current novels, I also try to do book reviews as I’m a big reader and we all sharing what I am reading and what I might be celebrating, but sometimes I get bored with those topics. I’ve shared short stories as well. I have not been blogging lately, at least not on a consistent basis. Working full time and commuting an hour each way every day is bogging me down – but I know I have to get back to writing in general. Thanks for the advice!!!

    • Molly Greene January 20, 2014 at 6:18 pm #

      Thanks, Michelle! I think topics are the biggest sticking point for most authors – I hope you’ve had a chance to check out my article 101 Fabulous Blog Topic Ideas, it might help. Anything you do can be turned into a post with the right spin. And just a suggestion, but have you tried recording your thoughts for articles via tape recorder during your commute?

  4. Subbareddy January 20, 2014 at 7:09 pm #

    Nice and interesting words by the author ,I took keep loving writing for my blog

    Hope your words helps me to sell my own products in my website.

  5. Elizabeth Ducie January 20, 2014 at 11:28 pm #

    Another great post Molly, and especially the reminder that these things take time. I used to check all my stats on a daily or weekly basis (site hits, Twitter followers etc) and sometimes felt I was getting nowhere – but then I switched to a six-monthly or even annual review and the progress is much more obvious.

    • Molly Greene January 21, 2014 at 11:52 am #

      Good for you Elizabeth! I was also guilty of obsessive checking of stats, but that’s diminished for me over time, as well. Best to you!

  6. MM Jaye January 21, 2014 at 12:13 am #

    Great post, Molly, and most of all, inspiring to us new bloggers. What I’ll take away from it is “Be really smart. Leverage your blog so that nearly everything you write has a dual purpose.” After just reposting my Goodreads reviews with no visibility, I wrote a post about my two-month presence on social media in my author platform building effort and got amazing feedback, follows, comments that really boosted my self-confidence as a blogger. My only concern is that the people I find it easier to connect with on Twitter and through my blog are new writers eager to connect (so am I) most of whom are not my genre (I write romance and most of my new social media friends are fantasy or sci-fi writers). I have wonderful ideas as to how to connect with even more, and I know my followership will increase, it’s just that I know all these wonderful and creative people are not my target audience. They might appreciate me as a blogger and friend, but the bottom line is they won’t buy my book. I could eventually turn my blog into a hub for my WIPs with excerpts of my first contemporary romance novel (will publish towards the end of 2014), giveaways, contests so on and so forth, but I feel that would disappoint my current friends and readers. So there you have it.

    Anyway, the journey is wonderful, the people I meet (people like you) warm my heart, and I feel the whole experience will make me a better person even if I don’t become a best-selling romance author. It’s totally worth it.

    Regards from Greece!

    Maria (MM Jaye)

    • Molly Greene January 21, 2014 at 11:57 am #

      It’s a common issue for writers who are new bloggers – and as you can see, that’s what happened to me: our posts about writing get the most hits, so that’s what we do most of. What I did early on (and have lately done much less of) was to write essays about my life and experiences – and being in Greece, this might work well for you, too, Maria. I’d love to hear some stories about your world. Best to you!

    • Jack Egan March 22, 2014 at 1:51 pm #

      Hey, don’t discount us SF&F types yet, MM Jaye. We read your stuff!

  7. Wendy January 21, 2014 at 2:04 am #

    Hello Molly
    I now keep returning to your site because of your brilliantly sound and inspired advice. I particularly love your cheerful attitude to what what some people see as a long haul.Lovely stuff. Posting mustn’t seem like a chore or that will show. For a writer they can be a great end in themselves. I see you call them ‘essays’ in this post. That’s how I see them and they are fun to write.Your suggestion about collecting them and offering them free is enticing.
    Thank youi for cheering my morning/

    • Molly Greene January 21, 2014 at 12:04 pm #

      Thank you so much, Wendy! You just cheered my morning 🙂

  8. paulinebarclay January 21, 2014 at 3:43 am #

    A great post with useful tips. I admit to enjoying blogging. Thanks for sharing so much information. Have a great day.

    • Molly Greene January 21, 2014 at 12:07 pm #

      Thanks Pauline, Jennifer, and Lissa! I so appreciate that you took the time to tell me my posts help – that’s the #6 reason to blog. It doesn’t sell books, but giving back brings its own sort of payday. THANK YOU!

  9. Jennifer Melzer January 21, 2014 at 6:34 am #

    I discovered your blog last week and have been returning regularly for the great content! Love all the stellar tips. Thanks for sharing your experience and tips. It’s much appreciated.

  10. Lissa Johnston January 21, 2014 at 7:50 am #

    Great post. Now I won’t feel so guilty when about enjoying blogging more than the ‘real’ writing 🙂

  11. Faith Simone January 21, 2014 at 7:50 am #

    As usual, great content Molly. I totally agree about the part that blogging makes your writing better. I see that after only a few months of blogging. Also, putting my writing out there has indeed made me more confident. People actually like what I have to say and come back to read more. Awesome! The same is true for you: I keep coming back for more. Keep up the great work!

    • Molly Greene January 21, 2014 at 12:08 pm #

      Thank you so much, Faith! I used to shudder every time I hit the “publish” button on a post, and I agonized over edits. Confidence is priceless, isn’t it?!

  12. Ellis Shuman January 22, 2014 at 1:19 am #

    Thanks Molly for another great article! You have given me encouragement to keep on blogging!

    • Molly Greene January 22, 2014 at 11:47 am #

      My pleasure, Ellis, thanks so much!

  13. Doris Heilmann January 23, 2014 at 8:06 am #

    Great Post – a MUST-READ for every author (or artist, entrepreneur, self-employed … you name it).

    And if the blog post is pasted into your Google+ page it goes DIRECTLY to Google. No need for search engine to find it!
    One more reason why it is so important to be on Google+ and to top it: on Google+ communities as well.

    When I am researching a topic on Google, I often find my own blog posts or Google+ community post on page 1.

    Cheers, Doris

    • Molly Greene January 23, 2014 at 10:16 am #

      So true, Doris – thank you so much for pointing that out!

  14. Terry Tyler January 24, 2014 at 9:09 am #

    So true, all this! Since I’ve been blogging regularly, several people have told me they’ve bought my books after enjoying my blog posts – which probably means that others have too, one I don’t know about!

    The way in which I find blogging most beneficial is for networking, like you mentioned in your last point. My ‘online presence’ has really changed since I started to blog, and I get asked to appear on other influential blogs, too – not least of all yours; thanks again, Molly! I think it’s so important to participate in the whole blogging world, too, by reading, commenting on and passing on others’ posts. MondayBlogs on Twitter is terrific for this, of course!

    Sooooper post, as usual!

    • Molly Greene January 24, 2014 at 9:39 am #

      Thank you, Terry! It’s great to hear that blogging has worked its magic for you, too. I understand how daunting it can be to start a new blog and wait for people to show up and read it – but it happens, and your comment is a welcome testament for us to be patient and trust the process.

  15. Joel Arnold January 24, 2014 at 12:02 pm #

    Nice article, Molly – great tips!

  16. Pamela January 27, 2014 at 3:29 pm #

    Yes, yes, and yes. I agree with all of your points. I have inched up to almost 350 followers on my blog, starting from 4, two years ago, I think it’s great. And so many of my followers comment on my posts, which keeps me writing – I never run out of things to write about, which helps. Seeing which posts I get the most comments on also helps me know the topics my readers like. I haven’t seen a huge increase in book sales from my blog, but I do believe my blog gives me good cred (is that a word?) that will follow my writing life for years to come. Thanks, Molly!

    • Molly Greene January 27, 2014 at 3:51 pm #

      Thanks, Pamela! Yes, good cred is the correct term – and a well-written blog will do that for you over time, just as you’ve said!

  17. Lisa Orchard February 11, 2014 at 2:31 pm #

    Great post Molly! 🙂

    • Molly Greene February 11, 2014 at 3:05 pm #

      Thanks so much, Lisa!

  18. Jack Egan March 22, 2014 at 1:56 pm #

    Picked up your blog book after reading your material here on your website, Molly. Proof of the pudding! Engaging, informative… you cannot be thanked enough for taking the time to share. Thanks.

    • Molly Greene March 22, 2014 at 3:14 pm #

      Thanks so much, Jack. I’m so happy if it helps!

  19. Ryan Biddulph May 17, 2014 at 6:25 am #

    Hi Molly,

    Power points! Blog, brand you, prosper. Stand out from the crowd.