Blogging to write a book

The Art of Branding a Blog to Write a Book 

Branding a blog to write a book makes perfect sense because blogs are an integral part of brand building. Regular posts function to establish the authority of a business or person within a given marketing niche. So why not transform that established expertise into a book that could eventually be self-published to sell online or offer at speaking engagements?

A focused blogging path is one where what is written frames a discussion important to building a brand. Over time, a thoughtfully branded blog will contain regularly scheduled posts under a subset of topic categories. Consistency is important in meeting subscribers’ expectations.

Creating a Rough Draft

Gathering related posts into a rough draft of a book is a great way to re-purpose content. Blog content can also be repurposed by packaging related posts into informative pamphlets to sell or to offer as a downloadable sign-up incentive for new subscribers.

If posts tend to get written on the fly, a blogger has more work cut out for herself with this less focused approach, but it’s not an insurmountable task. It’s okay to take inspiration from timely news items or trending topics, so long as the content works to engage the blog’s community in an ongoing discussion that establishes the blogger’s expertise.

However, proceed cautiously as a higher proportion of posts will need major revisions or cut entirely from being included in this more haphazard approach to branding a blog to write a book.

In the beginning, a blog might lack a clear focus, especially if the blogger has never blogged before. It took me three years to find the right groove for Word Bank Writing & Editing’s blog Make Every Word Count. It then took another year to further hone the types of posts that appeared.

Only now in my fifth year, have I devised a posting schedule I feel fully supports my brand. I prefer an eclectic mix of topics related to my niche, and I am well aware no books will likely ever be born from my posts. On the other hand, I am utilizing a monthly newsletter to create content that will become an author’s guide to book clubs for current and new subscribers alike.

It’s possible to develop a blog post editorial calendar that allows sections of chapters or even entire chapters to be drafted. It only makes sense that the more posts you write, the more quickly you can turn these into a book.

Getting Started

It takes time to write a blog and distribute it to social media networks to attract new readers and subscribers. The blogger also needs to respond to comments.

My advice is to start small, especially if just starting out. Be patient and do the necessary research to see what others are blogging about in a given niche while also devising a workable editorial calendar.

As much as we all long to be considered experts in our field and even thought leaders, bloggers are only mere mortals and occasionally have the all-to-human need to go off topic. Consider this an opportunity to take up a signature cause.

For instance, I proudly support national park conservation efforts and the Humane Society of the United States. These are causes I am just beginning to include in the conversations that relate to my brand as an author an editor.

It’s undeniable that people connect via stories, but the stories shared on a blog should ultimately support the brand. If a blogger is compelled to share pet and vacation photos, by all means do so if the content can be woven into the blog’s brand. If not, a second and more personal blog might be the best fit for those types of conversations.

Have you ever considered branding your blog to write a book? How have you noticed some of your favorite bloggers handling the occasional off-topic post?

Truth really is stranger than fiction, and it’s a long damn story. Jeri Walker’s short stories, creative nonfiction, and psychological novels (in progress) show the influence of being raised by a bipolar mother in the eccentric North Idaho mining town of Wallace as well as the trauma of being abandoned by her Jekyll-and-Hyde ex whom she fell in love with while working in Yellowstone National Park.Jeri Walker She and her demanding pets call the Pacific Northwest home. In the continual pursuit of finding herself, she plans to someday live in an RV or a tiny house. She dwells online at Word Bank Writing & Editing, grateful to be charting a course as a freelance editor and writer. . Connect with her at JeriWB.com or browse her books.

 

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Comments

  1. Hi Jeri and Jeanette, so nice to see you here in Jeanette’s site, Jeri. Oh yes, i have seen others of my favorite bloggers writing off topic posts and yep, I’m one of those that will occasionally veer off topic. It’s hard sometime when something is really weighing on your heart and mind and you just feel like you need to express yourself, regardless of whether the subject matter is right. So I definitely know the feeling. It is a constant adjusting and staying of the course that is needed. Easier said than done. 🙂

    • Susan, you post such a wealth of posts that I think the occasional post on a topic you are passionate about just helps readers get to know you better. Just think too how we’ve figured out there are enough story posts on your blog for three more volumes of stories not to mention all the possibilities for recipe booklets. You are a content powerhouse. I’m glad I can help wrangle that content a bit.

  2. Jeri, thanks for writing this. I like the idea of being focused although my blog certainly isn’t. I just write to share things that happen in my life at any given time or that are of interest to me.

    I think I’m going to try to decrease my categories to 5 topics and write blog posts that fit within those topics. It will be interesting to see what develops.

    I’ve printed this article and pinned it to my bulletin board for reference.

    Thanks Jeannette and Jeri for a post that really sparked my interest.

    • Lenie, decreasing the number of categories is a great step in bringing more focus to your blog. I tried out so many categories over the years as I found my blogging niche. I still have a few more categories than I’d like, but I think I’ve found a good eclectic mix that allows me to be informative at times and more casual at others. I am planning to launch a bona fide author blog, but know this time not to put the cart before the horse when it comes to content.

  3. What a great post Jeri, and very appropriate for Jeanette’s very informative site. Without planning , posts do tend to be ad hoc , though I know from experience it’s easier said than done. But I think the key really is to hone in on what is the specific topic you want to be the ‘expert’ on. It sounds easy enough, but the Practise can be something else. My own advice would be to keep persevering, as you have done, and you will eventually find the true focus that you want to hone into. And then, hey , you have a book!

    • Kathy, finally coming up with an editorial calendar really helped me get a handle on the various categories I’ve come to love over the years. For now, I’m happy the newsletter content can be re-purposed as a sign-up booklet at the end of this year. As for posts, I’ve been doing more that serve as tutorials for clients since I often find myself explaining the same handful of things over regarding manuscript submission and using the tracking feature in Word, etc.

  4. Great guest post from Jeri.

    Yes I would brand my blog to write a blog.

    My blog covers a range of discussion topics which gives me the freedom to write about most subjects. Originally I started out as a “mummy blogger” but my heart was not in it. I became bored of my posts and found it limiting only to write about family life.

    • Phoenica, with the blogging your path on now, I can see the potential for compiling helpful posts as an eventual sign-up incentive booklet perhaps.

  5. I right with you on this one Jeri. As it did with you, it took me a while to find my footing with my blog topic/s and schedule. In fact I’m still finding my way, ?. As for books and products created from a blogs content – we, you and I are working on that. ?

    • Susan, it was a wise move though to go down from three posts to two posts a week. Plus, you’ve done a lot to look at your analytics and take into consideration how to best serve your readers. I was amazed that you pulled off as much as you did for so long. The story with the vector images you draw on top of associated audio and video recording as enough for an entire lifetime of blogging in and of itself. Luckily, those stories exist now and we are so close to the re-release of the first three books to be followed by others. You’re a fantastic example of a blogger who’s created content that can be used in other mediums.

  6. Thanks Jeri for a great post. Timely info for this new author and sometimes-procrastinator still trying to piece together the necessary elements of blog creation. Now, to find the time …

    • Julie, building an author platform definitely takes time. Now that you’ve released a book, you might want to start with a website and sign-up for for a mailing list for author newsletters. You can always add a blog later.

  7. Great post, Jeri. As you and Jeannette know, I have expended a huge amount of effort to rebrand my blog and combine my former 3 sites into one that supports my brand. I have lost a few subscribers who were here only to read the writing related posts, but most of my readers have stuck with me and enjoy the chocolate travel journeys I am taking.

    • Doreen, your blog is a good example of how an author can undertake branding your blog to write a book. Bringing your three sites together was such a great move for the bigger picture.

  8. I actually built my blog around my first book. The book has since been updated a couple of times, and the blog continues to evolve, but the basis for everything I write remains connected to the original theme. A couple of strategies I use that serve me well include keeping a spreadsheet that lists my blog posts which helps me to stay on topic and avoid getting stuck in a particular category. The other thing is using Feedly to follow my competitors so I can see at a glance what everyone is writing about and avoid getting lost in the pack. Then if / when I do write about similar subjects I can be sure to come up with a different perspective. Thanks again for the inspiration and advice Jeri.

    • Marty, you are definitely on top of things. Only this year did I buckle down and make a proper editorial calendar for my blog. I follow a lot of blogs in feedly as well. Doing so has been a great way for me to get ideas for post ideas, which I then jot down in my OneNote.

  9. I have to admit to being the poster child for unfocused blogging. Just in the last two weeks, I’ve added posts about dog rescue, ancient Roman ruins and the business practices of banks. So branding it into a book isn’t really an issue for me although I can appreciate the value of the advise here and could easily imagine following that path with a more narrowly defined blog topic in the future.

    • Ken, your blog definitely is one of a blogger following their passions. Sometimes that is purpose enough. Even then, you do have some core subjects you come back too. If you ever get the urge that content could be re-purposed for various formats. I’m most thinking about your dog rescue pieces, but mainly because that is a subject near and dear to my heart. Now I am wondering what resources are available for download on that front…

  10. Great tips, Jeri. I love that you mentioned about repurposing blog content into a sellable product. I hope to do this someday soon. I have the ebook completed (well, completed for right now) but am having issues with how to market it and where to sell it. Any ideas on where to sell a checklist ebook for retirees?

    • Sabrina, finding readers for a niche market always involves some creative thought. Online discussion boards and blogs would be a start. Retirees are likely less apt to download an e-book as opposed to a print book though. Have you considered a print book? A physical copy can serve as a great calling card to hand out when giving talks. If I was working on such a book, I would look into the possibility of giving a nightly talk at various KOA campgrounds and the like. You’d find a wealth of retirees there.

  11. I do love the idea of one in a while, veering off brand to support a cause or even the occasional odd thought:) But that also goes back to a theme for a blog, or in some cases themes. So I guess, maybe start at the beginning is always the best approach? I never have given much thought to re-purposing blogs into a book, though I am aware that it has been successfully done:) Great post Jeri!

    • Jacquie, with the wealth of posts you have amassed around the topic of justice you could consider turning them into a book. I for one would love to purchase such a book, and I can bet other fans would as well. After you release your next book, you could publish your posts in book form between that and the next book, or maybe use it as a free incentive to drive readers toward your novels. There are so many possibilities.

  12. This is a great post.
    We often think of marketing as a shotgun approach, hoping to get a wide audience and this by shear numbers increase sales.
    The opposite is true, you need to focus on specific targeted audience. It is easier to focus interest on a specific target then trying to carpet bomb everyone with a message.
    Thanks for sharing this with us.

    • William, I wish I could remember what the title of the book was, but when I was at a PNWA conference, I remember hearing about a guy who started giving readings of his books at bars. They sold like hotcakes. Never underestimate where readers might be found.

    • Meredith, it’s important to note too this is a better tactic for those who know they are going to self-publish to take. Many traditional publishers are turned off by this, but then again, if the numbers are there for readers, it’s a different story. The Martian is a good example of a blogged book of fiction that ended up becoming a traditional publishing success story. Those are much more rare. In any case, being able to hand someone a book is a great calling card with a certain amount of cache.

  13. Agree with you, Jeri. Did something like that a few years ago when I used posts from my blog as a basis for writing a book on How to succeed globally.

    The reason it was never published it was because of how difficult it was to learn how to use SIGIL to layout it for Amazon.com. Maybe you remember that I asked around and nobody knew how to do it. To pay someone to do the layout of the book was an expense that was a questionable if it was a good idea to invest in. So I hence never published it. But I still have the book and could, if I wanted to, give it away as a pdf.

    • Catarina, I do remember. Like you mention, you could give the material away as a pdf. Yet, with minimal formatting you could format a Word document to the standards needed for an Amazon e-book. I’ve been using Scrivener to make .mobi and .epub files. It’s pretty straight forward after the initial learning curve.

  14. Good information about branding a blog to write a book. Developing a clear focus makes a lot of sense but isn’t always easy to achieve. Conversely sometimes the idea of a book develops after the posts have been created. I’m working on compiling a section of my blog into a book, but the idea came after the blogging, not before. If I had started on that path I might have approached my posts a little differently, but I’m not sure if that would have changed them too artificially or not.

    • Donna, you’re a good example of what a good number of bloggers experience. At first, the intention isn’t there to use the posts as a basis for a book, but after a time, it just makes sense. Even though they might need more more reworking than if you had planned to blog a book initially, you still have a wealth of material to work from, and that counts for a lot.