You may or may not be familiar with the ‘10,000 Hours’ principle, which posits that it takes 10,000 hours for a person to practice any kind of cognitively demanding skill to the point of becoming an expert. Many people first heard about this concept in Malcolm Gladwell’s OUTLIERS book, back in 2008. The principle has its detractors, but let’s just say for the purposes of this article, it’s completely valid and applicable to us: writers.
Okay. How does blogging have anything at all to do with writing books? If you look at it through ‘10,000 Hours’ principle glasses, a lot! Yet, many writers don’t blog for various reasons: no time, lack of focus, and even lack of technical skills. I hear this every day.
Even if all that’s true (and it is for many of us), there’s one important reason you, my writer friends, need to blog: SEO (Search Engine Optimization), aka Google ranking.
Let’s deconstruct how this applies to you.
Google loves fresh content. If you don’t blog, you have a static site without anything new or fresh, which translates to a lower search engine ranking. You don’t have to write 1,000 words for every post. In fact, the best posts have 300 to no more than 500 words (with regard to ranking).
None of us has enough time for all our marketing, so ask for guest bloggers, or participate in memes like #WordlessWednesday (share a picture), or #ThrowbackThursday (share a line or two about an old photo) as your blog post, and share on Twitter, Facebook, or Google+. These are short posts that take very little time to create. Just be sure the topics are within your brand.
When you have fresh content (and by that, I mean even just once weekly — more is better, of course), you will improve your Google ranking because when people search for you, your latest blog post will come up and link them back to your site, improving traffic. Why should you care about that? More visitors = more comments = more interaction = potential sales/readers.
Tip: Be sure you’re signed into your Google+ account and post there regularly. Google ranks Google+ accounts higher.
When authors tell me they don’t know what to blog about, I suggest they take two or three words from their book — genre, categories, keywords — and make that a regular blog topic. (My latest book is about real-life experiences, so non-fiction is a topic for me.) Add to that subjects you are genuinely interested in (basket-weaving, motorcycle maintenance, whatever), and you present the multi-dimensional you, but with more intense focus.
The definition of branding (from David Vinjamuri, Forbes writer, NYU professor and author of Accidental Branding):
Branding is the discipline of positioning a brand in the mind of the target consumer. Strong brands have positioning that is authentic, unique and consistent. Brands exist because there is too much choice: consumers pay a premium for brands in order to avoid having to repeat difficult buying decisions over and over.
If you’re really stuck for technical advice or topics, check out the excellent Molly Greene’s Blog It! for specifics on building a successful blog and tons of ideas.
Some writers tell me they don’t blog because their book isn’t out yet, and they need that time to write the book! I get that. But, you need to start marketing your books and building a solid base before your book comes out. Blogging is an excellent way to establish your presence and to start identifying readers.
So…how does all this relate to ‘10,000 Hours?’ Easy — you become a better writer through blogging. You also connect with people on a deeper level by sharing real-life experiences, areas of expertise, and topics of interest. The authentic YOU.
All of this activity contributes to something tangible: your author platform, which in turn, leads to sales.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic and why you do or don’t blog. Thanks for reading!