Guest Post from Rochelle Melander
Imagine this. You are completely confident that you will write and publish a blog post each week for the next year. You already know the topics you will be writing about. And here’s the best part: at the end of the year, you will collect all of those blog posts into a book that you can use to earn extra income or attract new clients.
This vision may seem like a fantasy. Most of us have difficulty coming up with post ideas and put off writing blog posts whenever we can. We’ve heard that we need a content strategy, but we don’t know how to create one. We’re so busy running our business and serving clients that any kind of marketing, especially writing a blog post or newsletter article, usually falls to the bottom of the to-do list.
But the vision I laid out for you is doable. Blogging your book—writing your book as weekly blog posts and then gathering them together into a product you can sell—will actually save time. It might even end up being a profitable venture.
Why Publish a Book?
Let’s start at the end game: why publish a book? With the growth of self-publishing, it’s easier than ever to publish a book. But aside from bragging rights, how could a book benefit your business?
Over the ten years, I’ve worked as a writing coach, I’ve seen clients take books and use them as:
- The core guide for a workshop or home study course
- A giveaway for people who sign up for their email newsletter
- A bonus gift for a webinar, teleseminar, or speaking gig
- A gift for new clients
- A tradeshow gift or raffle prize
These books have helped my clients land speaking gigs, newspaper and blog columns, podcast interviews, new business and more.
How to Blog a Book
So let’s say you’re interested in blogging your book: where do you start? This article will lay out a step-by-step plan to help you move from choosing a topic to creating a writing schedule:
Step 1: Analyze your market
Your blog posts and book need to resonate with your market. Use the following questions to discover potential topics.
- What questions do clients and potential clients frequently ask you?
- What topics do people raise in your coaching, consulting, or speaking?
- What are your most popular tools, programs, talks, and blog posts?
- What content gets the most engagement?
- What do people in your ideal market complain about online?
Action step: Once you have a list of topics, review them for common themes. Perhaps you’re a dentist and have a large number of topics that could be grouped under the heading, “teeth appearance.” Or you're a garden designer, and you’ve got lots of ideas for home lawn and garden care. You might have several themes including “lawn care” and “creating gardens.” Group your topics under the two or three most common themes.
Step Two: Consider your purpose
We've already talked about the many ways that businesses can use a book to attract clients and gain sales. But deeper than that, business owners need to consider the purpose of their book: How do you want your book to benefit your readers? Here are three potential purposes for your book:
Books teach clients about your business. A book can educate potential clients about how you might help them. People might know your profession, but they may have no idea how you support clients. For example, a meditation teacher might write a book of essays on the benefits of meditation and the various ways they work with clients to help them access these benefits.
Books teach basic skills. Books can offer information, tools, and tips that support clients in working through basic questions and allow us to sell our upper-level services. A career coach I know requires that clients have a basic resume before they begin working together. He created a book that walks people through the resume writing process and sets them up for working with him.
Books build relationships. Books help us build relationships with potential clients. They read about our experience and wisdom and it helps them to feel comfortable with us. I recently had a new client tell me that he found me through a book I’d published back in 2006. He’d read it ten years ago, and seeing it on his shelf reminded him that he wanted to work with me one day.
Action Step: Write down your answers to the following questions:
• What purpose will your book serve?
• How will your book help your customers or clients?
Step 3: Choose Your Topic
You may already have an idea of what you want to write about and how it will help your clients. But if you’re still debating between two topics, here are three more tests of a good book topic.
A topic that works will:
- Meet the needs of your clients. Books can help people solve a problem, understand a situation, or transform their experience of a difficult situation. What topics will support and help your clients? If you don’t know, ask them. Interview 2-5 clients about what they’d love to have a book about.
- Highlight your unique brilliance. Writing a book will reveal and highlight the education, expertise, and experience you’ve gained in your field. What have you been studying, teaching, and writing about for years? As you look at your work, what are your core topics or areas of expertise?
- Ignite your passion. When we write about a topic that excites us, people are engaged. They want to read and hear more. What topics are you passionate about?
Action step: Now that you have a list of potential topics (the themes from #1), know the purpose for writing your book (#2), and have figured out what topics meet client needs and highlight your brilliance (#3), you can choose a book topic.
Step 4: Create a Book Outline
Whenever I say, “outline,” people think about those horrible long research paper outlines they wrote in school, with a complicated structure of Roman numerals, capital, and lowercase letters. When I support clients in writing a book outline, we most often create a list of topics.
Although there are many ways to structure a book, I encourage most of my clients who will blog their book to create a collection book. A collection book collects a series of short pieces of writing—essays, exercises, or stories—around a theme.
Action step: Using your themes and topic list, create a book outline. Because you are creating a book that is a collection of essays or stories, your outline will simply be an expanded list of the topics you created earlier (see answers to #1). Now that you have a better sense of your book’s purpose, you can expand the list.
Pro Tip: People often ask: How long should each essay be? And how many of these essays do I need to make a book? When it comes to answering both questions, consider your audience: what do they need? What do they have the time to read? What will help them? Generally, a good length for an essay is 750-1000 words. People can read it quickly, maybe even as they sip their morning cup of coffee. When I think about how many essays make a good collection, I recommend that people aim for at least 25 essays. At the top end, I’d recommend no more than 50, unless you are creating a daily or weekly meditation book.
Step 5: Schedule and Write
Now that you have a book outline, you can create a schedule for your blog posts. You don’t need to blog your short posts in the order they’ll appear in the book. That frees you up to schedule your posts around your availability to research and write about a topic, what’s going on in your business and community, and what’s happening with your clients. I’m often inspired to write about a certain topic because of an experience I’ve had with a client or at a training event.
But it does help to have a schedule. Set aside a regular day each week to publish your blog post. Then schedule time each week to write your post. Later in the year, you’ll need to block out time to organize and edit your book, getting it ready for publication.
It may seem like a big step to write a book. But if you blog your book, it won’t feel like that at all. Instead, you’ll be taking tiny, manageable steps toward your goal. And along the way, you’ll be providing regular, helpful content for your clients and potential clients. It’s a win for everyone!
About the author. Rochelle Melander is a speaker, certified professional coach, and the bestselling author of twelve books, including Level Up: Quests to Master Mindset, Overcome Procrastination and Increase Productivity. Through her writing and coaching, Rochelle Melander helps writers, creatives, and entrepreneurs overcome distractions and procrastination, design a writing life, turn their ideas into books, navigate the publishing world, and connect with readers through social media. She is the founder of Dream Keepers, a writing workshop that supports teens in finding their voice and sharing their stories. Visit her online at writenowcoach.com.