How to Make Your Author Blog Stand Out Among the Millions

Carol Tice

How to Make Your Author Blog Stand Out Among the MillionsBy Ollin Morales

If you’re a fiction writer with a blog, you might have noticed that there’s millions of author blogs out there with the exact same message as yours:

“Hey, I’m a new author! Follow me as I write my first novel!”

Now, Carol and others have famously said that you can’t be successful at blogging if all you talk about is you. They’ll point out that many blogs that focus just on an individual’s journey fail miserably.

That’s mostly true.

But in my experience there’s one exception to that rule, and it’s the secret that has made my author blog stand out among the millions of others—launching me from obscurity to Top Ten Blogs for Writers status in less than year.

Here’s the secret to making a blog that’s “all about you” successful:

You need an angle

There’s something about your journey that’s different from the millions of others. The difference is that your journey is yours. Focus on what makes YOU so interesting. What challenges do you face that make the writing process exceptionally hard for you?

Your angle could be a combination of personal interests

For instance, my angle is looking at the intersection between writing and life. The reason why this works for me is because I’m constantly reading writing and self-help literature. I combined both of these loves and voila: Courage 2 Create was born.

You need to have passion

I’m deeply passionate about writing and life. If I didn’t care much about either topic, I’d be less driven to write great blog posts.

You need to be willing to “go there”

Many “writing journey” blogs fail because all they do is scratch the surface of anything real.

So, if you want to be successful, you need to be more open and vulnerable about your personal life.

Even though your blog APPEARS to be all about you—it’s still all about your reader.

Even though your blog will focus on your personal journey, you still must have your readers in mind every step of the way.

Your personal journey is a metaphor for your reader’s journey, so make sure to share a personal story only if you think it’ll be helpful to a broader audience.

You need to be an exceptional writer and storyteller

I’ve studied storytelling with one of the best writing mentors in the world. That’s why I’m so great at what I do. If you struggle with this, I provide a writing consultation service that both tutors writers and edits their work in order to drastically improve their writing.

You need to be active

Lastly, if you want to make your author blog successful, you have to put yourself out there by writing guest posts, entering contests, giving your readers challenges, and marketing yourself like crazy!

Because if you truly want to stand out above the rest, then you’re gonna have to stop just standing there—and get yourself some stilts.

Ollin Morales is a writer. His blog, Courage 2 Create, chronicles the author’s journey as he writes his first novel. The blog offers writing advice as well as strategies to deal with life’s toughest challenges.

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  1. Jeffrey Kang

    Hmm that’s an interesting take on the make money writing topic. Instead of the rank high, you’re saying to make it a great experience so that more people will keep coming back for more, even if you don’t rank #1 in the search engines for your keywords.

    • Ollin Morales


      I stopped caring about “ranking” a long time ago. I’m a big believer in deep, long-term connections. Spikes in traffic come and go, but I have a great loyal following who will always be interested in taking my services and in the future: purchase ebooks, etc.

      My recommendation is to build trust, build loyalty, build a great sense of community, and build a deep connection with your reader.

      It was only a year after I started my blog before I had clients. That’s huge compared to many others who don’t turn their readers into clients for years.

      Good luck to you!

    • Carol Tice

      I’ll let Ollin weigh in on this too, but I’d say there’s no crime in ranking high! But there are also many, many blogs where the owner is making a decent living off it with a niche audience, and they don’t necessarily rank highly for their search term…word of mouth can really help grow your audience.

      And if you have services like classes that you sell, you can make a good living from a pretty modest-sized (but enthusiastic) audience…I think that Stone Soup Virtual Cookery School is a great example.

      • Ollin Morales

        Sorry, didn’t mean to sound like I was against ranking high. Or that you should avoid trying that. I just meant that my blogging strategy does not involve that–as its focal point. Of course all bloggers want to rank high and get traffic. Nobody wants zero readers, lol.

        But at a certain point you have to decide where your focus will be. You only have so much time and energy. So I spend my energy developing a loyal fanbase, as opposed to SEO etc. Although I have to say I have been working that into my blog strategy as well.

        I just have experienced building a small loyal fanbase with far more success–far more IMMEDIATE–success than trying to get tons of traffic. Sometimes the spikes in traffic happen randomly. For instance, I had a HUGE traffic spike last week from Stumble Upon. Didn’t see it coming, but then it capped off days later.

        I know that most of those people just came in for the day and wont’ be back. What they saw didn’t speak to them. But for those who it did, I know they will stick around, message me, recommend me, and campaign for me. Because they believe in what I stand for. They feel strongly about it.

        In my opinion that’s what you need. Readers who will go above and beyond for you. That’s the sign of true success for me, at least.

  2. Danielle Lynn

    Aw man… you mean I can’t just talk about my fantastic writing!?

    When I try to figure out what would bring eyeballs to my blog, I stop and think about what draws me.

    Generally, it’s intelligent new ideas on a topic, and a sense of personality. Great tips Ollin!

    • Ollin Morales

      Great additions Danielle!

      Yes, I agree with you. You have to be willing to bring in some smart ideas. And by smart I believe you mean unique and refreshing? Because bloggers have to be SMART. There’s TONS of other people writing about the same topic and the likelihood of subject overlap is huge. So you have to be smart enough to pull of a unique post that stands out every time.

      And yes, that also means bringing in your unique personality which will also make you stand out among the millions of others. My recommendation: just be yourself. That authenticity seeps through the screen and your readers will take notice. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  3. Ahnalira-Connected Counsel

    I recently went to Abadiania, Brazil to experience John of God and did a daily VLOG… doubled my blog traffic. I can definitely attest to the value of making a personal journey interesting to develop a following:)

    • Carol Tice

      Jon Morrow did a great post on Copyblogger once about how if your blog is boring, you probably need to get out more, so you have more interesting things to write about! Sounds like you really took that advice Ahnalira — I’ve seen that guy on TV, I’m sure it was a VERY interesting trip.

      • Ollin Morales

        Exactly. I’ll often use my experiences traveling to make things exciting for my readers.

        That’s a great idea.

        But for those who don’t have the extra cash to go travel the world, I encourage you to read some of my posts and see how I make my “internal” journey the exciting one. I’ll talk about the emotional, mental, physical and spiritual limitations that I face as I write my novel. Obstacles and journey’s don’t always have to be outside of us, journey’s can stretch inside of us and still be just as exotic and fascinating.

  4. Barbara McDowell Whitt

    Ollin, thank you for this. You wrote, “Many writing blogs fail because all they do is scratch the surface of anything real. So if you want to be successful, you need to be more open and vulnerable about your personal life.”

    When I read that I thought of what Margery Williams had the Skin Horse say to the Rabbit when the Rabbit asked What is REAL?” in her children’s novel, The Velveteen Rabbit, published in 1922.

    “Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become REAL.”

    Since January 2010 I have been posting daily entries from the diaries I kept on a nightly basis while I was a high school student in the 1960s. I will continue doing so through 2015, 50 years after I graduated from colllege.

    As I continue to work with my blog’s growth and development, I will know it is real.

    • Ollin Morales

      That was beautiful Barbara.

      I’ve been meaning to re-read that novel. My readers recommended it. That quote just made me want to pick it up!

      Here’s the thing. I have learned that when you go deep, you are going UNIVERSAL. I have people from Greece, Australia, Turkey, Brazil, India, Canada, England all over the U.S. who will tell me they all strongly identify with my posts. It’s amazing how much alike we really are when we go below the surface.

      Listen, this not only validates peoples experiences. It changes people’s lives for the better. It’s important work and I take it seriously. Good luck on your journey “making it real”!

  5. Karen

    I think I know what you mean when you talk about a blog that appears to be about you but is really all about the reader. I tend to blog about my learning process, so I’ll write about books I’m reading, courses I’m taking etc. but I’ll try to boil it down to tips/info that will be useful to the reader. So the post may appear to be about ‘what I’ve learned/done’ but really it’s “Here are some things you can learn/do’. It’s tougher for fiction writers to build a platform (they’re not providing hard information people can useto achieve something like many other bloggers) but it can definitely be done.

    • Ollin Morales

      I told my readers a while back that you really have to be your own guinea pig.

      Bloggers are people who TRY stuff. Carol wouldn’t be successful if she hadn’t actually TRIED to be a freelancer writer, and then TRIED to make a living out of it, then TRIED to make a great blog about freelance writing.

      I wouldn’t be successful if I hadn’t TRIED to write a novel and TRIED to make my blog successful. By trying things we actually have a lot of lessons we can teach others. Writing a book is not as easy as it looks, in fact, its nearly impossible. So my readers find great use in my blog, because I teach them how to start writing and how to stick to a schedule and how to deal with life as it continually gets in the way of the process.

      In the end, this serves a dual purpose. Helping writers, but also it serves as a metaphor for anyone who is not a writer who is trying to accomplish a goal or achieve a dream and has to contend with all the challenges getting in that person’s way.

      I would recommend that with any personal blog you really give it some sort of broad appeal, like I have. This strengthens your brand and actually avoids what you mention: not having anything useful to give readers outside your niche.

      Writers have tons of important things to share and teach, that people desperately want to learn, as long as writers remember they are human, and remember that all human beings have a vital wisdom they can share with others–that no one else can share but them.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

      • Carol Tice

        I’d say it’s beyond trying. Lots of people try. Then they give up.

        It’s trying and then KEEPING ON TRYING.

        A while back, one of my mentors told me he wanted to give me free advice on my site.

        I was like, “Why? Why would you help me?”

        He said, “Because your blog is going to be big. You just need to do a few things different and you’ll convert better.”

        I said, “How do you know that it’s going to be big?”

        And he said, “Because you’re willing to work HARD on this blog and keep improving it.”

        I see that as pretty much the secret. People discount how much hard work this is going to be — everywhere on the Internet are people trying to sell you stuff about making money on autopilot, and then many are disappointed and give up. It’s all about caring. Just keep trying to do it better. That’s all I’m doing.

        • Ollin Morales

          Great point Carol! I completely agree.

  6. Joseph

    I really like this sentence: “Even though your blog APPEARS to be all about you—it’s still all about your reader.”

    It seems that people want to make a personal connection so putting your personality into a blog is a good idea, but in the end, it’s still all about the reader.

    This was a great post. Thanks, Ollin. And Carol, too. 🙂

    • Ollin Morales

      That’s the key Joseph.

      It’s sort of that intersection between those who believe a blog is not successful if it’s all about you, and those who try to make a blog all about them successful, but fail.

      But that’s the thing. I looked at what the professional blogs were recommending and I realized that it would just not fit for me to not write about me–to not tell a story. I’m a fiction writer, I love to tell stories, I love to think about life and I love to look for meaning, I love to write metaphors. This is a talent of mine and many fiction writers, and if they go out to the pro blogs they would be recommended to silence that talent.

      This is not good advice. Ficiton writers should be encouraged to use their fiction writing talents in their blog–that is their strength. And their passion for this style of writing is what will help them build their fanbase.

      But really its not the problogggers fault. They are built more for business people and companies than for individual authors. That’s why, whoever you are, you need to make sure not to take other advice at face value.

      Take what works, but then mash it all up with what strengths and talents you naturally have. Don’t hid those talents, find a way they can work for you. That’s what I did.

  7. Rabbi Issamar Ginzberg

    Fantastic post, Ollin!

    If you are going for repeat visitors, then think about it this way: not ranking high will make you harder to find, that’s true. but once they find you and like you, they come back to you. and when that’s the angle you take, your rank is irrelevant, as long as you have word of mouth and devoted followers.

    Ranking high in the search engines is a great way to get blog traffic, but it is one way of many, many ways. and every writer and author should be making a conscious decision what THEY want to focus on to achieve a loyal following as they start.. they can always work on more new entry points (be it SEO, PPC, guest blog posting, or any of a myriad of others) to their business later!

    • Ollin Morales

      Great point Rabbi! Wait are you really a Rabbi? Awesome!

  8. Karen S. Elliott

    Brilliant piece, Ollin, and nice to see you here at Make A Living! I too like to compare this-to-that from experiences I have outside of writing. I also use references to other interests in my life.

    • Ollin Morales

      Good to see you here, too. Karen. Thanks!

  9. Pinar Tarhan

    Hi Ollin,

    Loved this post. At first I was a little afraid it was going to be just about fiction author blogs, but then I realized it was filled with brilliant tips for all writers with blogs:) While I also write fiction, I am more focused on writing non-fiction at the moment.

    My writing blog is fairly new and has a long way to go but I found my angle. I focus on the fun of writing and blogging. Sure, I write about many aspects of writing and blogging, including productivity, social media, dealing with jobs, favorite resources and more. But there are so many great blogs out there that focus on how to write better or how to make money writing or both.
    I believe that writers should enjoy their profession. Writing should never become a drag, or a nightmare.
    So it balances successful writing career management with having fun. Obviously writing and having a great time interest me a great deal:):)

    • Ollin Morales

      Hey Pinar!

      Of course. My tips are for everyone. You’ll find that even my blog appears to be just for writers, but really it’s for anyone who lives life and is chasing after a dream. It’s a great trick that establishes a niche but also leaves it open for people outside of my niche. I have many many non-writer non-artist followers who use the blog to help them in other aspects of life.

      Another tip: pay attention to what kinds of books and magazines you enjoy reading. Integrate some articles and lessons learned into your posts. Your voice will slowly come out of this. Because it is what we enjoy reading that tends to be what we enjoy writing about.

      And you also have a lot of authority on the subject because since you’ve read so much on the topic–you’ve likely become an expert on it without even realizing it!

  10. Pinar Tarhan

    Thanks for the extra tips, Ollin:) Will make sure to take advantage.

  11. Krissy Brady, Writer

    Love this post, and love your blog! Your blog and Carol’s were two of the first blogs I began reading when I decided to launch my blog in December. How does that movie quote go? “You complete me.” LOL, *snorts. Seriously though, I am in total agreement with being vulnerable to your readers, and I especially like how you put it: your journey is metaphor for your reader’s journey. I have always found this the best way to connect with my readers, and it’s a lot of fun! You can cheer each other on as you work towards becoming successful writers. It’s like having your own virtual cheerleading squad.

    • Carol Tice

      Each time I’ve put something really naked on this blog — say, How I Make $5,000 as a Paid Blogger — it’s been hugely popular. The trick is for your vulnerable stuff to also be really useful stuff. Otherwise it’s just like uhhh…put that back on please!

      I was told early on the unique factor here is that so many teachers about freelance writing USED to be freelance writers…and the way media is changing, their knowledge goes out of date pretty fast.

      I still earn the bulk of my living that way, so I’ve got fresh info about what’s going on out there.

      That’s so funny that you were reading me and Ollin. We’re in very different parts of the writing spectrum, but Ollin always has something to say that helps you down the road, doesn’t he?

      • Ollin Morales

        What Carol just said is ABSOLUTELY key.

        The big secret I gave you guys here is the “seems” quote.

        It’s all about appearing to be very personal but really all about the reader.

        This is a fusion of those traditional personal blogs you see that are the stereotype, and what you see Carol doing here on her blog.

        In my opinion it’s the best of both worlds.

        Never just do something like: “hey my life sucks. The end.”

        That’s such a downer and many many many beginning bloggers do that and make that mistake.

        But even the MOST successful personal blogs I’ve seen in some ways help the reader and really allow the reader to see the writer’s journey as their own.

        • Krissy Brady, Writer

          It’s so true Ollin: I’ve seen so many blogs that have the “me me me” posts and not much else to offer. I immediately click over to other sites. I love the personal anecdote/constructive advice hybrid; I feel as if I already know the blogger, and it inspires me to reach your own goals in the process. Joanna Penn’s blog, as an example: I love how she documents the process she goes through to promote her e-book, and she even mentions the things she would like to do differently next time. It helps me in a huge way to learn, while still connecting with her experiences as if they are my own.

      • Krissy Brady, Writer

        I completely agree! I like throwing in personal anecdotes here and there in my blog posts, but only as learning curve examples if I feel they will help other people. Plus, it gives me the opportunity to document items on the agenda for myself as well, to keep me on track with what I want to accomplish, and how I hope to help other writers.

        Both of your blogs offer such great perspectives, and I agree with you about Ollin’s insights. He’s always putting into words what I can’t express myself. 🙂

  12. Sarah Allen

    Fantastic advice here. Some of these things I do alright with. Others, however, I could maybe improve. For instance, I’m not sure I could define a “unique angle” for myself is someone asked me too. I should think about that…

    Sarah Allen
    (my creative writing blog)

  13. Ollin Morales

    Think about a hobby you love to do, or thing you love to see or read. Pay attention to all of those personal loves. Then just intersect that with your writing journey. Good luck!


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