In WordPress, the Blogroll is a widget that appears in a side column on your blog page. How does a blogroll work? It provides a list of links to blogs (or other websites) you think your readers might be interested in. A blogroll is your personal endorsement of websites – the places you recommend someone visit for related content.

To add a blogroll to your WordPress.org website, go to Appearances > Widgets. Locate the Blogroll widget and simply drag and drop it into the sidebar area where you want it displayed. To add content, copy and paste URL addresses in the available text field to share your favorite websites with your blog readers.

Developing your blogroll is another step forward in social media marketing and audience platform building. In order to build an audience platform with social media, you want to create connections and links between yourself, your subject matter, and the interested audience. Creating a blogroll fosters connectivity.

So how do you know which websites to include, and why should you add them to your blogroll? As an author, you are the authority on your subject matter. So, where do you find reliable and authoritative information on the web? These websites are where you begin to develop a list of URLs.

Start with a list of six to ten URLs for your blogroll. Visit these blogs and subscribe, comment, and follow. Converse online with bloggers by leaving comments. Contact bloggers directly to let them know you are including them in your blogroll. Tell them who you are –  an author with a forthcoming book in a subject area of shared interest – and provide your contact information. Be friendly and never, ever behave like a blog troll.

Take your list a step further by including the blogs or websites of authors with current bestselling books in your subject area. Find a few who share your audience, and endorse them as experts in the field. And if you disagree with some of these experts? All the better. Controversy creates connectivity online and engages readers.

For every website you visit, don’t forget to see who the blogger is linking to in his or her blogroll. Click on the links and see if any interest you; you may stumble upon a more useful site. Try to connect with others who would link back to you on their blogroll, in a blog post, or during a social media shout-out like Follow Fridays (#FF) on Twitter.

If you value a blogger or author, you want her or his endorsement. A link back or a shout-out tells fans, “Hey! Check this person out! Let’s bring him or her into our online community!” When you reach out to a blogger, don’t fret if there’s no immediate response or endorsement. Most bloggers will wait to see if your site contributes to their blogosphere and adds value to their network.

Keep in mind that the links on your blogroll aren’t set in stone. You can change your links at any time, adding or removing websites as you see fit.  Generally, your blogroll shouldn’t be more than a dozen links.

I remember many years ago when I complained I never got any mail in the post box. “You won’t get any letters unless you send some,” my mother wisely informed me. The same Golden Rule operates in the blogosphere for authors. If you want to make friends, get out there and play nice.  Leverage the “social” in social media.

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