What is a Virtual Blog Tour? How Do You Set One Up?
Book promotion coach, campaign manager for #1-selling authors, Lynn Serafinn, explains what a Virtual Blog Tour is, how to create one and the benefits of a VBT.
When I organise a book launch campaign for my author clients, I always include a Virtual Blog Tour. Every time I start a new campaign I am invariably asked, both by my clients and by their Joint Venture Partners (JVPs), “What exactly is a Virtual Blog Tour?” I thought it would be a good idea to write an article explaining what it is, and why it is a great promotional tool when properly organised.
What is a VBT?
A Virtual Blog Tour (VBT) is an online “event” wherein an author “visits” a different blog each day during a specified period of time, generally 2-4 weeks in duration. For instance, if your VBT were 2 weeks long, there would be 14 blogs, and each blogger would be assigned a specific day on the tour. In selecting blogs on which to appear, the author would seek out bloggers who have good traffic aimed at specific target audience(s) congruent with the topic of the book.
Technically, the author doesn’t “visit” these blogs. Rather, on the assigned tour day, the blogger would post a blog about the author’s book. Some blog platforms (such as WordPress) allow you to schedule a post in advance, making it more convenient for the blogger by automating the process.
The content of the blog could be an article about the author, a book review or an interview. When I organise a VBT, I generally prefer to use interviews, which are organised in advance between the blogger and author.
Organising a VBT
The way I organise the interview is to provide a good selection (10-20) of sample topics or story angles on which the author could answer questions. Then, each blogger provides (well in advance) 3 original questions he/she would like to ask the author, aimed at their particular reading audience.
Recently I designed a VBT for a book on the topic of OCD. Here are some of the sample topics I provided my bloggers:
- What OCD is and what it is not
- What doctors know or don’t know about OCD
- What parents need to know about OCD
- What teachers need to know about OCD
- Being a parent with OCD
- OCD in personal relationships
- Having OCD in a work environment
- OCD and health issues…
And so on.
When I send the sample topics to the VBT bloggers, I ask them to formulate 3 questions based upon a topic (or topics) they feel would be of greatest interest to their readers. The questions are sent to the author several weeks in advance of the tour. The author provides written answers to the bloggers’ questions, and together we assemble the “virtual interview” into a structured format, so the bloggers can more or less copy and paste it into their blogs (of course, they can edit it as they choose).
The format we provide the bloggers goes something like this:
“Today I have the great pleasure of being the host on Day 4 of the Virtual Blog Tour for The Super Duper Book by author Mary Jones. Yesterday, Mary visited John Smith’s blog at [link to John’s blog]. Below is the great interview I did with Mary about how to be super-duper.[Interview]
I hope you enjoyed this interview with Mary Jones and that you’ll check out The Super Duper Book by Mary Jones coming to Amazon on [date]. You can receive a collection of great gifts when you buy her book on the day of her launch, including one from me: [name of blogger’s gift]. To find out how to buy Mary’s book and receive these gifts, go to [link to author’s sales page].
Be sure to follow Mary tomorrow when the next stop on her Virtual Blog Tour is Charlie Brown’s blog at [link to Charlie’s blog].”
Promoting a VBT
When I organise a VBT, I create a “Tweet” for every stop on the tour, and give them to all bloggers and JVPs well in advance, asking them to post at least one update per blogger. That means, on their designated day on the tour, dozens of people would be sending out updates with a link to Mary’s blog post to potentially hundreds of thousands of people on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. (depending upon the size of your campaign team).
Additionally, the author would post the tour calendar, with all the links, on his/her own blog.
Being a blogger on a VBT has many benefits:
- It provides bloggers with easy, original content for their readers.
- Because an organised team of networkers is sending out updates for each stop on the tour, it has the potential to drive 1000s of new readers to each blog.
- It helps increase search engine rankings for the blogs, as the blog is linked to, both forwards and backwards, the other blogs on the tour.
- Bloggers on the tour get to connect with new bloggers who share common interests and speak to similar audiences.
Of course, for authors, a VBT is wonderful because:
- There is a diversity of content going out about their book during a concentrated period of time.
- The content is easy to create.
- It expands their network.
- They get their book promoted to 1000s of people every day for the duration of the tour.
- The content you have created could be reused for other purposes.
And don’t forget, if a blog post is particularly interesting, both the author and the blogger can “reTweet” about it every now and then after the tour.
I hope you found this information useful. Please do feel free to leave your questions or comments below.