Find your voice, live your story…is the foundation of Edie Melson’s message, no matter if she’s reaching readers, parents, military families, or writers. As an author, blogger, and speaker she’s encouraged and challenged audiences across the country and around the world. Her numerous books reflect her passion to help others develop the strength of their God-given gifts and apply them to their lives.
She’s a leading professional within the publishing industry and travels to numerous conferences as a popular keynote, writing instructor and mentor. Her blog for writers, The Write Conversation, reaches thousands each month and is a Writer’s Digest Best 101 Websites for Writers. She’s a board member of the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, the Social Media Director for Southern Writers Magazine, as well as a regular columnist for AriseDaily.com, Just18Summers.com and PuttingOnTheNew.com.
Caleb: Does every writer need to have a blog and be active on social media?
Edie: Unless something bizarre happens, we all need to have a presence online, whatever that looks like. If you’re already a bestselling author, and you’ve hit the New York Times bestseller list, then of course you’re going to have fans and connections that the rest of us don’t have. But for the rest of us, our fans and our readers are found in the digital universe. With a little bit of qualifier, yes, everybody needs to be online somehow.
Caleb: What are the different types of blogs writers should consider?
Edie: You need to do something that people would be interested in. You also want to choose a topic that’s sustainable. The point of a blog is for name recognition and to build a tribe. You’ve got to have that community base, and a good way to build that is through a website or through a blog. I like to warn people that blogging is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. Some people hate blogging. It’s important to have a presence online, and if you’re somebody who cannot sustain a once a week schedule for blogging, maybe your best bet is to be on a group blog.
Caleb: How do you go about starting a blog?
Edie: I recommend brainstorming some things that you think you might like to write about, and then writing about 30 posts. And don’t limit yourself in those posts. Just every day write a blog post, and see at the end of those 30 posts what focus you’ve ended up with. Then I recommend starting out with a free site – the WordPress free site or the Blogger free site.
Caleb: What is the general structure of a blog post?
Edie: It depends on the type of blog you’re writing as to how long it should be. If you’re writing a really deep subject – like I have a friend of mine who lost a daughter to teenage suicide, and her blog is all about preventing suicide. So her posts tend to be 1,200 to 1,500 words long, because you kind of need that much to get into that deep of a topic. I have another friend who writes very pithy interesting takes on the world, and her posts are 300 words. So it really depends on your voice.
As the person who owns the blog, you are the host. So it’s up to you to make the posts easy to find in search engines, make it easy for people to comment and reply. So you want to use an open-ended question or a call to action at the end of every post to get the conversation started. Keep in mind that everything you write is for the reader. So we want to try and avoid using words like “you” when we say “you should do this” or “you should do that.” It comes across very preachy and almost condemning. Instead what we want to say is “well, I’ve found in my life it works better when I do this.” You want a very open and safe place for people to come and interact. You want to make them feel valued and engaged.
Caleb: How is writing for a blog different from other kinds of writing?
Edie: People read very differently on the internet or on a digital screen than they do in person. They read about 25% slower and they read for a different reason – they read for information. You need to be able to format your blog in block formatting, which means no indention and extra space between paragraphs. You want to make sure you’re using a sans-serif font. Truthfully, about 65% to 75% of your readers are going to be reading your blog posts on their phones, so it’s got to be easy to read. You want to familiarize with keywords, you want to make sure you know how to do correct titling for blog posts so that it shows up in a search engine. I teach weeks long seminars on how to do blogging. And everything I teach on how to have an effective blog you can find the information for free on my website www.thewriteconversation.com.
Caleb: How do you avoid copyright laws with images?
Edie: You can never Google an image and use that image for blog posts. Copyright infringement is not based on whether or not you earn any money off of what you borrowed. It has to do with whether or not you have used something or stolen something that it not yours. So you want to make sure that you only use reputable sites. I recommend Pixabay.com and Unsplash.com.
Caleb: How should someone’s approach to social media change when moving into marketing and branding?
Edie: The biggest thing is that you want to make sure that whatever you’re putting out there isn’t self-serving. In other words, I shouldn’t always be tweeting “buy my book…read my blog…here’s a new article…come to my book signing.” If somebody goes to my Twitter page and those are the types of updates then my Twitter page is nothing but a running commercial for me. There’s nothing of value for my readers. I try to be a resource for the people who follow me on social media. I don’t want to be asking them to do something for me without having done a whole lot more for them first.
Also, people think that social media is a great way to sell books, and it’s not. Social media is not advertising. It is building relationships. Marketing is advertising, and you do some marketing on social media but you build the relationships first.