Blogger: Mary Keeley
A client and I occasionally converse about the benefits, or not, of author blogs. Many writers among our blog community love blogging and can’t imagine not doing it. Others aren’t so excited and are looking for a valid reason to focus their attention on other social media. Let’s do a quick analysis.
Some writers are naturally gifted by God to be able to whip up well-written posts that interest their audience seemingly effortlessly. They always have something to say that relates to their brand or the next book. They are blessed. It doesn’t come so easily for others, but there are several important reasons for any unpublished author to work at growing a successful blog. It’s a great way:
- To practice your craft and develop your voice
- For agents to read samples of your writing to observe consistent quality and if you are developing brand identity
- To grow an audience
I blogged about the benefits of writers who start out as bloggers a few months ago. Admittedly, it isn’t as easy for new bloggers to attract an audience as it once was. Authors who started their blogs years ago had an easier time growing an audience simply because there were few blogs competing for followers. Think Michael Hyatt and Ann Voskamp, who started blogging and growing an audience long before she wrote a book. Today, there are millions of blogs competing for followers’ attention, but still only 24 hours in a day to read them.
Royal Pingdom’s survey of 2012 worldwide Internet usage offers some eye opening statistics. Here are a few:
- 634 million websites as of December 2012; 51 million added from 2011
- 59.4 million WordPress sites
- 3.5 billion webpages run by WordPress viewed each month
- 191 million visitors to Google Sites, the #1 web property in the U.S. in November
Data like these make it harder to support the argument that established authors should continue to maintain a moderately growing blog–a blog that requires just as much time every week…every month…as a highly successful blog. Time is precious. Unless your blog is thriving and you can’t imagine giving it up, you might be better off using your time to:
- Write more articles for specific publications that reach thousands of readers
- Write guest blogs for other authors or groups related to your brand and genre
- Build and nurture relationships with your Twitter followers and Facebook fans
It pays to analyze your social media stats once or twice a year. Where is your greatest growth? Next greatest? Least fruit bearing? How much time do you spend on them? Which ones feel like the best fit for you? Remember, they are tools for growing your audience. I used blogging as an example, but the same approach can be applied to all your social media. There’s no unwritten law that you have to use social media when it isn’t working for you. On the other hand, sometimes, the one that is the most fun isn’t the most productive but still is worth keeping for the non-calculable benefits and encouragement you get from it. Lots to weigh in your analysis.
What has been your experience with your blog this year? With your other social media? Is there something you can do differently that might reap more benefits for you?
How is your social media working for you? Maybe it’s time for adjustments. Click to Tweet.
Your blog pays you for you efforts in numbers. Is your payback worth your time? Click to Tweet.
When was the last time you examined your social media stats? Time for a check-up? Click to Tweet.
I recently read Seth Godin’s “Permission Marketing.” He cited similar staggering web stats, but also said you don’t need all the readers, just “enough.” Vague, but marginally more encouraging than the “billions of webpages” stat.
I originally started blogging to “practice the craft” and “find my voice.” My posting frequency has dwindled to once a month, but I enjoy posting and getting reactions from friends and family.
Since then I have also begun to think of it as an “online office” where I can “file” published articles or guest blog posts. However, my blog content is quite different than my WIP and tends to have a personal flavor.
I’m starting to wonder if that personal, non-WIP-related content will actually harm my agent-finding endeavors?
Shauna, you do need a separate author blog (and website), where you focus on your professional writing voice, interest, and brand development. That is what agents want to see. You also need to post blogs at least once a week, preferably several times a week, because the more often you post the faster your following will grow–and stay with you.
Jennifer Zarifeh Major
This sounds so awful, but I’m not such a fan of Twitter. (Ducks from the rotten tomatoes being tossed my way)
My blog is growing at a nice, steady pace. I’ve done some interesting author interviews (and no, there weren’t any UN-interesting authors, they were all quite nice) and even interviewed a sorta famous actor who’s done a few very cool things here and there.
Yes, the numbers went INSANE that day!! Utterly insane. I could not believe it.
But, it might be a day, or two, or you know, 500, before I swing another Hollywood interview.
I’m on Facebook alot and connect with people through there vs Twitter.
The only thing I’d change right now is limiting my time on Facebook, as it can be a time vortex.
Dividing writing time, social media time and Major time has to be something I nail down this Fall. Because I can’t make time, I can only waste it.
*throwing tomato…no, just kidding* Twitter is something you either love or hate, I think. I love it as a way to link people to cool posts on writing or marriage/parenting or reading…that kind of thing. I look at it as a small blip that reaches a LOT of people. I look at my blog as my “home base.” If people want to know about me, check samples of my writing, know what books I have out (um…I finally WILL have one out this November! shameless plug there), they’ll find me at my website/blog.
But I think the majority of my interaction takes place on my FB Author Page. It’s where I throw ideas out to my future readers and they always have SUCH great thoughts and instincts for what is most marketable. And the interaction is more immediate, compared to a blog post people may not check till days later, or a tweet that is easily overlooked. I think most of us get on FB every day, even if we don’t have time to check blogs or our twitter feed. In the end, that’s probably my fave social media…though there is MUCH to be said for Pinterest. You can tap into people who *love* your time period/genre very easily.
Heather, Facebook is obviously a natural for you. The interaction you have with your FB friends and the useful feedback they give you is an example of Facebook working at its best for an author. Time well spent.
Twitter isn’t as relational as Facebook, but it is the most time-efficient way to get the word out to a vast number of people. About two years ago an author told me he sells more of his books through Twitter than anywhere else.
Heather, I liked your FB author page. How long have you had one? Do you throw out your ideas on a scheduled basis? Are your posts geared toward your writing journey, or do you intersperse links to other author’s work?
And I concur with your compliments about Pinterest. I need to look you up.
Jennifer, you’re savvy. You’ve done some great things to boost awareness of your blog, show your voice consistently, and talk about what you write. All the right things a new author should do to attract an audience. And it’s paying off in your steadily growing following. Bravo!
I blog because I enjoy it. I always failed miserably at keeping a personal journal–turns out I do MUCH better if someone is reading over my shoulder! I recognize, however, that if my career ramps up the way I hope it will I may have to cut back because it isn’t THAT beneficial.
I think it would be hard to maintain a blog just because you’re “supposed” to or because you hope it will boost your career. Those can be very nice bonuses, but if you don’t enjoy blogging, I think that will show and can ultimately do more harm than good.
Don’t do a blog “just because you’re ‘supposed’ to.” Good point, Sarah. If, after having given yourself time to feel comfortable with a particular social media network, it isn’t working for an author, it will be reflected negatively in your writing, blurbs, etc., which carries the potential of doing more harm than good. The exception is that unpublished authors really need to have a blog for the reasons I mentioned in the post and to learn the discipline of meeting deadlines.
Heather, I enjoy your posts! I like hearing about your day-to-day life, and I love the geographic flavor that resonates. I believe you’re “a natural” when it comes to branding because I don’t know that you even realize you’re doing it. 🙂
I meant “Sarah.” (But waving to Heather, too!)
See why I need that second cup of coffee now?? 🙂
Ha! We’re both WV gals, brunettes…so you were very close, Cynthia. I’m on the second cuppa joe myself.
These are wise words indeed. They drew me up short as I fretted over my dismal blog stats this morning. I find that blogging and other social media can be a mode of procrastination for me. I fix my layout, find more appealing pictures and yet am still terribly behind the times. I took a hiatus from blogging and realize that now that I am back it is much harder to attract readers and followers. Still, I began blogging again because it ignites that side of my brain that notices details and that hunts for good words. I believe that setting time boundaries about blogging is crucial. Thank you for bringing this to the forefront of my musings.
Kate, all good reasons to blog. Here are several suggestions that might help get things going. Make sure your blog is linked to your other social media accounts so your blogs will get greater exposure. You could also do some creative activities, like quizzes and contests to earn a $5 Starbucks gift card or a copy of a friend’s book you are helping to promote. Always relate these to the kind of books you write. Blog consistently on the same days every week.
@Mary Keeley I will certainly be trying all of your suggestions. Thank you again.
Also, on a side note, why do some profile pictures show up with the person’s comments and others (like my own) only have a faceless grey reader? Just curious…(I hope it is not a terrible faux pas to ask about tech stuff)
Our webmaster took care of that for the agents. Thus, I can’t give you how-to steps. Can anyone else answer Kate’s question?
If you create a Gravatar it links your profile photo to your posts. Go to http://www.gravatar.com and follow the instructions. Free and easy.
I think I figured it out. Thank you so much for your help.
Shauna, thanks for suggesting Gravatar. I signed up. Now, let’s see if it worked…
Kate – To get your profile picture to display when you leave a comment on someone’s blog (or your own blog), create a “gravatar” (Globally Recognized Avatar) at https://en.gravatar.com/. Be sure to associate the picture you upload with the email address you use to leave comments (you can create multiple gravatars for different email addresses if you wish). It works like a charm, and a gravatar is a wonderful, subtle way to brand yourself.
You’ve given me some good things to ponder, Mary. I began blogging in February of this year. I’ve enjoyed it, and it’s been fun to get to know people I otherwise may never have met. I cut back to once a week for the summer, but will probably go back to two days a week after ACFW next week. It’s been good for helping me meet deadlines, and to stretch myself creatively. I’ve been surprised at some of the followers I’ve gained. Still scratching my head at some of them. 🙂
I enjoy FB and interacting there. I should start an Author page and will do that within the next month or so. I get onto Twitter, but I’m not as consistent with it, because i haven’t figured out how to make my time there meaningful and impactful. And Pinterest? I know if/when I begin an account there I’ll have to really guard against getting sucked in.
I’m going to think on what you’ve shared to determine what I can do differently to reap more benefits.
Jeanne, congratulations on the success you’re experiencing with your blog. As you increase the days per week that you blog, so will the rate of new followers increase.
It sounds like you are wisely factoring in the time commitment of the other social media options. Your family and your WIP will appreciate that.
I blog because I enjoy it. I’ve been blogging for about six years. There are pockets of time when I shut my blog down because I’m just too busy to blog. I’ve noticed when I’m shut down for long hiatuses that my blog interaction and stats don’t necessarily pick up right away when I start blogging again. Also, the comments dwindle, and I’ll post for several days with NO COMMENTS. Any ideas about how to fix this?
When I first went onto Facebook, I didn’t know about the option of having an author page. So, I had a regular page with a profile and I had friends. I’ve noticed that most of my friends are writers, published authors, or people seeking publication – most are members of one of one of the professional writers groups like ACFW or RWA.
I started an author page and it gets ZERO interaction from others. I’ve noticed most tend to “friend” me on my regular profile page.
Any hints on how to use Facebook to attract more READERS? From my current Facebook interactions, I kinda feel like us authors (and unpubbed writers) are merely marketing ourselves to each other – which is not a bad thing, but, I’d think most of us would want to branch out and attract more people outside of our literary circle?
Lots to ponder here, Cecelia. First thought: don’t go on long hiatuses if you want to maintain your blog following. While you’re gone, they’ll find someone else to follow regularly. Have quizzes with one of your books or a small gift card as the prize. Get them to interact by having a contest in which they offer ideas for a character or scene in you WIP.
Consistency is equally important for the other social media networks you use. Yes, it’s important to find ways to connect with potential readers there, not just other writers.
Cecelia, I’d just suggest to be sure to link to your FB author page through your blog. In other words, install a FB widget that makes it easy for your blog readers to follow your page. Also, follow other FB author pages or pages of those you like and comment on those–often, that will help people know who you are. But really, telling your regular (personal) FB friends and your blog followers how to find you on your author page usually helps tremendously. Also, ACFW periodically lists author pages in the loop, then everyone posts them and likes everyone else’s. It’s a great opportunity.
I want to start blogging. In fact I am working on a piece right now. I also want to write another piece or two before posting. Once all three are ready, I will post them over a few days time.
I found that after designing and building a butterfly labyrinth that people need hear my voice about it. They can see somewhat my voice with what has been exhibited and they hear some of my voice already a short piece I wrote for the foundation’s Web site but I need to express my point of view in more depth and blogging I think will do it. What is on the Web site is the point of view of the foundation where the butterfly labyrinth is in place at. It will be quite different then what is already out there and will be going out there.
Lori, yes, you need to have your own blog, separate from the foundation. But, unless I misunderstood you, your blog needs to encompass the larger scope of what your write, only the butterfly labyrinth.
I am planning to. Right now I am focusing on one thing. More will eventually follow. This is just one aspect of my creativity and my life.
Excellent post, Mary. As you know, I ponder the return on blogging, although understand the return on facebook and twitter. Pinterest is another one that falls flat for me, although I think I’ve just figured out a way to use it productively. And YouTube has been great so far.
(BTW, I read a statistic yesterday that said there were five million tweets a day. Try standing out in THAT market with your 140 characters.)
I went into this gig expecting to have to market, which I’m very comfortable doing. My concern is that I don’t want to get get sucked into a parallel universe — one filled with activities that promote my work, and primarily other people doing exactly the same thing — at the expense of developing my craft. This environment can get cozy and insulating, and dull my momentum to the point of complacency.
If marketing is all about the target demographic, then the viability of these media is really all about how many “targets” are present in any one, something I don’t see addressed often. How many people in my facebook/twitter/pinterest/youtube/blog universe will actually BUY A BOOK? Only when I have that answer will I know if my social-media efforts have been well-invested, or if I’ve been “marketing in the wind.”
Thank you for this post, and to everyone else responding. It’s interesting to read other people’s perspective on this issue.
“How many people in my facebook/twitter/pinterest/youtube/blog universe will actually BUY A BOOK?” That is central in a social media check-up. Thanks for making that marketer’s POV point, Norma.
Publishing is a business. Since authors need to guard their time for writing, you need to be strategic about focusing on the social media that gives you the greatest return for your efforts.
One way authors can test the benefits of your social media networks is to run promotions on each of them after your book’s release and then again several months later.
Norma, “marketing in the wind” is precisely what I don’t want to do. The conversation here today is very revealing.
Norma – It’s difficult to tell how many people actually purchase your book as a result of your blogging and social media efforts. I prefer to approach blogging/social media from the perspective of developing solid, long-term relationships with prospective book buyers.
The way it has worked for me: people start following me on Facebook or Twitter or LinkedIn or Pinterest. If they like what they see, they subscribe to my blog. After following my blog for a while (weeks, months, or even as long as 2 years) the trust level builds between us. At that point, they’ll contact me, ready to buy my books and/or services.
It’s almost impossible to predict that if you blog twice a week, you will sell X number of books. But you WILL establish those all-important relationships with your readers, which is critical to the long-term success of your writing career.
Thank you for this great perspective Laura.
You are not acknowledging the wild card of differing demographics, and appear to believe mine are like yours. Quick research indicates yours are American, primarily female, and CBA. And your product is social-media support.
Of my 45,000 followers (up from 3,400 in March), more than half are international. My largest following is from the Middle East. The largest religious group is Muslim. More than 60 percent of my followers are male. (And my product is fiction manuscripts in the family drama genre.)
Regarding marketing to these amazing individuals, many of whom are in life-and-death situations, one size does not fit all.
I can understand how your facebook/twitter/linedin/pinterest/blog formula works in your situation and field. But the assumption that every other target market is the same as yours mimics Christendom’s tendency to “preach to the choir” already at church. (After two-plus decades in marketing, I received a masters from seminary. My worlds often collide.)
My point is that we’ve all been given the same advice: you need to do this and that and the other. But now there are several hundred thousand people doing the very same things. And doing what everyone else is doing cannot create a competitive point of difference — which, in all my experience, is what generates sales. Of anything.
For some, it may all be about relationship. For me, given what I write and my followers, it’s about a unique international voice with the street, professional, and academic creds to support the opinions; a professionally written manuscript that fills a void; a good marketing campaign; and the power of the Holy Spirit.
My experience with my blog this year has been tremendous. It’s definitely true that growth doesn’t happen overnight, but when it does it can be such a blessing. Blogging is about so much more than numbers. I have developed many online friends (one of whom I’ve met in person and others I would meet if I’m in their part of the country), and those friendships have carried over to Facebook where we check in with each other throughout the day. I’ve also become comfortable with my voice which, in turn, gives the added blessing of just becoming more comfortable in my own skin. In yesterday’s blog comments, I commiserated with another commenter about parents that don’t support our writing efforts. My blog readers have unwittingly taken over that role with their encouragement, and I find myself looking for ways to bless them and minister to them. (Mary, your suggestion of a giveaway above is a wonderful idea!)
Concerning other social media, I’ve finally taken the time to explore HootSuite and instantly regretted I didn’t do it a year ago. I can’t say I’m truly interactive on Twitter, but I do glance at the feed in HootSuite when I’m there, retweet every now and then, and tweet myself, albeit scheduled.
Meghan, congratulations on the success of your blog. You’re right that it’s about building relationships, and you certainly have done that. But the numbers do matter as well. Agents and editors see them as an indicator of the potential for sales of your book. This is the difference between a personal blog and the dual purpose of an author blog.
As I was browsing the blogosphere today, I realized one thing about my own blogging: I would have an abundance of time if I didn’t do it. 🙂 Part of that is because I went from focusing on me to becoming an outlet to promote other authors, so I have a small group of blogs (some dedicated to specific genres) that I populate multiple times a week. I know how hard it is to get noticed, so I rarely say no to opportunities to share information about others’ books.
While I’ve definitely developed a voice through my blogs, it’s very different from what I am writing for children. And even my own projects vary a lot lately: some message-driven and others for entertainment alone.
This has been a year of soul searching for me. What do I want from my career? What goals do I need to set in 2014 to move in that direction? How do I support my family and still follow my dream? I’m still in the planning stages, but I see 2014 being a reduction in blogging time because I want to better focus my attention on moving my career forward.
Good for you, Cheryl. I recall you bringing up your blogging situation before. It’s kind and generous of you to promote other writers’ books. But not at such time expense to your own author blog presence. It’s good you have begun your soul searching now, giving yourself 4 months for prayerful planning and preparation.
Oh, Mary… where do I begin? I LOVE that you spoke to this today!
I enjoy blogging! Two years ago, I blogged five days a week. I’ve now scaled back to two because that’s what works best for my schedule just now, but I may eventually return to a three-day-a-week format in a month or so.
Since blogging, I’ve become more disciplined. I’ve honed my skills and I’ve met self-imposed deadlines. To avoid burn-out, I take necessary breaks once in awhile.
So I’m not wandering around aimlessly all over the map, I focus on these areas: encouragement and Christ, slice-of-life nostalgia and inspiration, and the Ozarks–where my stories are set. Sometimes, I relate life experiences back to writing, but actually, the posts that receive the most views are my blogs on encouragement.
In the last two weeks, 80% of my page views have been from the U.S. 6% in the last few days have been from Singapore (relating to my posts on encouragement.) Who knew?
My other social media loves are Twitter (adore it!) and my FB author page (which I started early on to keep my personal profile a little more private.) I still keep the same “flavor” of who I am on my FB page and I interact daily with folks via a “question of the day.”
I will delve into Pinterest someday (and I’m filing away lots of great ideas for that!)
For now, I’m focusing on areas I’m comfortable with and do well while still WRITING. 🙂
Prolific author Tricia Goyer is a wonderful example of someone who has separate niches and is superb at it. Her author website is a treat, and she also connects with folks at Not Quite Amish for those interested in the Amish way of life, but aren’t Amish. There, she focuses on faith, family, recipes, and fun. Two separate sites, but each with a unique flavor.
Have a super-blessed day, Mary! (Whew! I’m tired–where’s the chocolate?!) 🙂
Wow, Cynthia. Congratulations, you’re the poster girl for successful management of blogging and other social media today. Thanks for the great examples and suggestions.
The chocolate is on its way…can you smell it yet?
Yes. (Because it’s very close to my mouth! LOL)
I started blogging almost two years ago, and post 3x a week. I’ve noticed a lot fewer people commenting these days, although the numbers mostly hold steady in terms of readership. I myself am commenting on fewer blogs simply because I don’t have the time I used to in the mornings. I’m not really sure how to go about growing it beyond what I already have, but have definitely diversified by having a Facebook author page and a Twitter account that have continued to grow. I’ve contemplated cutting back on blogging, though I do enjoy it. I think when it becomes a burden, I could see myself cutting back to two days a week. Right now I’m one of those lucky ones who can typically pump out a post in half an hour if I know the topic ahead of time.
Hoping to meet you next week at ACFW, Mary! 🙂 You’ve been oh-so-helpful in your posts this year especially and I definitely appreciate that.
Lindsay – I’ve heard that less than 1% of the people who read a blog post take the time to comment on it.
Just because they’re not commenting doesn’t mean they’re not reading. Hang in there!
Lindsay, it sounds like you’re on the right track and monitoring the increases. It isn’t surprising that comments are down lately. Summer vacations and school starting have had people otherwise occupied.
I look forward to seeing you at ACFW too. Hard to believe it’s just a week away.
I blog to build an audience but also because I enjoy the “teaching” aspect of a blog. Teaching is one of my spiritual gifts, and my blog allows me to mentor people I would otherwise not get to. It also helps me grow as a writer, and as you said, find my voice. I thoroughly enjoy the conversations that occur in the comments. Thanks, though, for giving us permission to cut back. I sometimes wonder if my time is more spent elsewhere and this is something I need to pray about.
Karla, if your blog time is infringing on your writing time, whether your WIP or article submissions to publications that have large readerships, it’s worth praying about making an adjustment.
Mary, you always ask such great questions! The topics of your blogs are “right where I live.”
For me, at first the time spent with blogging, Facebook, and Twitter seemed to derail efforts to build time on my “real” project, my book.
But I have so many ideas that pop up, I can’t keep up with writing them. So I’ve grown to appreciate social media. Blogging keeps my readers connected to the messages I share on a regular basis(forgiveness, encouragement, & prayer),complete with photos. Facebook is a great forum to connect relationally. I enjoy listening to & viewing others’ updates on FB; our friendships are 2-way streets. I like Twitter because it’s a great place to express, and read short snippets.
I’ve been blogging for 2.5 years. I’m at the stage where I’m seeking help developing a brand. The two years’ material will (I hope) make it relatively easy to define the brand, since my voice & message are firmly established.
Lynn, it sounds like you already have a good awareness of your brand. The feedback you’ve received from your blog and social media followers will give you further insights from how they perceive you. You are in a great place.
As a former newspaper reporter who always wanted to be a columnist, blogging is perfect for me. I don’t have particularly large numbers, but I like the writing, the discipline and the opportunity to voice my thoughts.
I use the blog, though, as a way of verifying I’m a legitimate author to people I correspond with about all sorts of other issues. When introducing myself, I often will include a link to a pertinent blog piece they might find interesting.
For example, I wrote a letter to the authority on my subject matter and included several links to my blog where I wrote about his area of expertise. I wanted him to understand who I was and that I was honoring his area.
He read those posts, but went on to explore my other subjects and wrote back quite complimentary on my John Wooden (late UCLA basketball coach) because he’d just made a movie about him!
Since many of my posts come out of my historical writing, particularly my genealogy, I’ve shared pertinent ones with genealogists and today have two emails to answer from people who came to know me through blog posts related to them.
So, it legitimizes me as a writer, researcher, genealogist and Bible study leader. Has it sold any books?
I ran two weeks-worth of interviews with my co-authors from A Pioneer Christmas Collection, with them linking to me as well as my own social media links. We’ll see if we sold any books, but my blog provided a resource.
Also, sorry this is so long, when our church took a 10-day mission trip to Nicaragua,I wrote up the experience in 17 post posts. Those posts are now used to prepare other short-term missionaries for experiences in the Rio San Juan area, the poorest part of central America.
This week I’ve been writing about my mother’s yearbooks and what to do with them? You can check it out at http://www.michelleule.com! 🙂
I love to write.
Michelle, with your broad base of interests, you’ve maximized your blog and social media reach. Laughing with you…yes, obviously you love to write! And you put your pen to good use, I might add.
Rebecca Barlow Jordan
Mary, I appreciate your post, and the comments today were all so very helpful. I’ve been blogging for almost 3 years. I enjoy it as a way of encouraging others, which in turn, has complimented what I write in books. (Although I have done book reviews and giveaways as well on my blog). My blogs do take longer to write (I’m working on shorter ones!) So maybe I should be sending them to other places instead of writing them on my blog as you mentioned above. I’m open to that.
I’ve seen a slow, steady growth in blog subscribers, but in terms of unique visitors, I’ve been amazed how God has been bringing the world to my doorstep! This past year the visitors tripled. Scores of countries and territories are now visiting. I don’t really know why. While this may or may not increase book buyers, it has definitely developed more relationships and ministry opportunities to touch people’s lives. My blog is on my wordpress website, and I think that helps to have it on the same site.
I am planning to work some more on the social media aspects of writing, and these suggestions helped. I’m working on both a new non-fiction and my first novel, so it’s a challenge to try to balance the social media I am involved in with the writing time. I can identify with the struggle others have.
Thanks again to everyone for the helpful tips.
This one hit home. I have a group readers and writers blog I post on with my critique partners and a “ministry blog” I write for solo (with the exception of a few guest posters). The group blog does well, but the ministry blog’s stats, though growing, are slow. Every now and then I consider ditching the ministry blog and then I get that comment, email or tweet that reminds me why I do it. Not for the stats, but the ministry. Even if it reaches fewer readers, I need to remind myself there are other goals. So I keep laboring on with that one. I have to say, additionally, that blog has also connected me with a lot of really wonderful people, both authors and readers and just people in need, wanting prayer.
Connie, I hear you. Since God is confirming the fruitfulness of your ministry blog, it’s an offering of your service to him. And since we can never out-give the Lord, you can be confident he will help you with everything else you are doing.
I have been struggling with this very thing. I have a very (very!) modest following on my blog, but I enjoy writing my posts enough that I balk at the idea of giving it up. I have decided to do as you suggest – reanalyze in a few months and go from there! Thanks so much for the advice 🙂
Ashlee, your blog is still worth your time if you are developing your voice and growing in your writing craft and learning the discipline a writer needs. Have you thought about increasing the number of days per week that you blog? Be sure to always blog the same days every week so followers won’t have to hunt to find you. Little adjustments like that might help to grow your following. Also, quizzes and contests for prizes, mentioned before, can help to increase your following.
Today’s post and comments have confirmed that nagging voice inside that keeps saying, “You’ve got to get involved in social media and make it work for you or you’re not going to make it as an author”. Ugh.
For years, other than reading blogs, my only motivation with FB and the like was to keep tabs on my kids’ communications. But, as I sit here today, with a polished, 93,000 word manuscript, my queries ready to send, synopsis tightly written, and my outfits chosen for the ACFW conference, I feel somewhat deflated.
Will all my effort, my heart and sweat and a few tears be demoted to 1st runner up in the category, “Landing your dream agent” due to my lack of online prowess?
I have started the process – baby steps, mind you. Meager Twitter account, an empty blog just thirsting for a post, and feeling around the vast, darkness of the web to see where I will fit in. I feel like I did on the first day of seventh grade, walking into the lunchroom with no one to sit with.
Is there any hope in catching up to y’all???????
Karen, your honesty is refreshing. Even though I’ve ventured into the glossy world of Pinterest and started an author page on Facebook, I’ve struggled to blog consistently. I want blog posts to be an offshoot of my fiction writing, not scattered and vapid.I use Squarespace to host my website now, but think it might be better to switch to WordPress.
Also, have a great time at ACFW. I hope you share about your adventures post conference.
I thought my experience with my blog this year had been great until this week! I’ll share what happened, as it might be helpful to others in terms of numbers.
I finished my first book proposal (non-fiction) last month and had an unusual opportunity to get it in front of a publisher directly (the only place I have submitted it thus far). Yesterday, it was declined. My contact was extremely generous to offer feedback via a call. He explained the need to continue building my platform to further establish credibility in the area of Christian parenting (the topic of my proposal).
I felt until yesterday I had been pretty successful in building my blog! Over the last 1.5 years, I’ve grown to 5,300 Facebook fans and email subscribers (combined), optimized my blog for search engines to get about 2,000 people per week landing on my site, achieved the number one result in Google when you type “Christian parenting blog,” and have had more than 50,000 unique people visit in the last 12 months. I hoped this was sufficient for getting my proposal out, but I learned yesterday (fast and furious!) that when publishers say platform, they mean PLATFORM! lol It was extremely eye-opening to have this conversation, and very humbling. I’m not sure if all publishers have the same benchmarks in mind, but I’m guessing that is the case.
FYI – For those who are interested, you can do Facebook advertising to targeted groups of people (e.g., fans of related authors) and get new (quality!) fans for about $.20-$.40 each (depending on your strategy and ad effectiveness). I have invested in Facebook ads in part to build the fans I do have. Once you get to a certain “critical mass,” it’s much easier to build your base through organic (unpaid) growth – it’s like a snowball. 🙂
Natasha, I’m glad you shared this info. In my mind, the stats you listed above show amazing success in your reach. It’s wonderful that you got feedback from the contact.
I know that NF writers are required to have a PLATFORM, but man does that piece of reality smack of hard work.
Do more of what you’ve been doing, because it looks like you’re establishing a great foundation for your writing career.
Jenni, Thanks so much for your encouragement! That is very kind of you. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t highly discouraged yesterday, but I am trying to keep my chin up and decide on next steps. Thanks again. 🙂
Natasha, parenting is one of the toughest genres to sell. When you realize that your book has to compete with Kevin Leman, Jim Burns, MOPS, Focus on the Family books, and others, it gives perspective on the PLATFORM you need to compete, which also includes a robust speaking schedule like these others have.
While you wait for the field to clear a little, you can start seeking speaking opportunities locally and build from there. Include a speaking section on your website and list different topics on which you speak. Mention you are seeking opportunities to your FB and Twitter followers. And keep doing those ads on FB to continue growing your following.
As with all genres, the demand is cyclical. It’s just taking longer in the parenting genre. But if you keep your momentum growing, you’ll be ready when the time comes.
Mary, Thank you so much for that feedback and your suggestions on speaking. Your comments definitely help put further into perspective the competitive nature of the Christian parenting area. I really appreciate the insights you shared here. Thank you!
I agree, it was much easier to attract a following when I started blogging in 2008 than it is now. By even new blogs can gain a following and grow over time.
(Plus, every post I write now, can be used for something else later!)
Excellent point, Peter. Blogs can be turned into articles, adapted for your book, tweeted, and discussed with Facebook followers.
Janet Ann Collins
I’ve enjoyed blogging twice a week for over four years, though my posts aren’t very long. Many of them are reviews of children’s books. My posts show up on my Facebook page where I have over 1000 friends. I started an author page, but very few people have “liked” it. I’ve considered switching my blog posts to that page, but doubt that many people would see them there. Any suggestions would be welcome.
Janet, if your blog is your professional author blog, it should be linked to your author page on Facebook. Try to lure your friends over there by offering them something: “First 2 friends to switch over will receive a $5 gift card (free book, whatever).” It might take time for them to switch over, but you also can be attracting other followers by commenting on other author blogs, tweeting about your WIP. Think creatively.
I do blog, Mary, and my website/blog consistently receives a large number of page views per month. I enjoy connecting with readers, but I must admit that I’d love to have more “writing-books time”. Nonetheless, social media of all kinds has simplified the writer’s life in many ways. This summer I participated in a tradition on-the-road author’s tour for a university press. Wow! I’d forgotten how tiring that can be.
Via my blog this August: 16,000 individual contacts. The same time on the road: about 160 contacts. Hmmmm…. (But the road tour was so much fun and so exciting.)
Sue, you can attribute a big part of the reduced number of contacts not only to the time you were on the road trip, but also to vacation time of your followers. Summer is like that. It will be interesting to see if it comes back up quickly now that people are back to normal routines.
I started blogging about two years ago and enjoy it although I don’t always find the time to keep up with it. I’m going to read through everyone’s comments here. I read a few and already see great advice offered. Maybe if everyone who commented here would visit each other’s sites, it would be a big boost.
Good idea, Linda. Did everyone read Linda’s suggestion?
David A. Todd
Almost six years, two blogs, and somewhere north of 1,000 posts later and I have (I think) two or three people who comment on my blog. I gave up checking stats a long time ago as I have enough other things in my life to be depressed about. Clearly I don’t have the magic touch with building an audience.
So why do I do it? It’s an outlet, I know I should, and someday, perhaps, someone will be interested and think it’s a treasure trove.
David, here is where I remind writers of the hundreds of rejections Jack London received before he hit it big with Call of the Wild and White Fang. Is you blog linked to your other social media?
I started my blog at the start of this year and have a steady following, which seems to have slowed when I went to writing once a fortnight instead of once a week, yet I am concentrating on my picture book. It is hard to relate every blog to my book, so instead I write about the journey of minuscule moments of inspiration. I find building good relationships with my readers is important although I am finding it harder to comment on other bloggers sites as mine grows.
The slowdown is understandable, Kath. One factor involved in attracting a following is that blogs naturally grow proportionately to the frequency of posts. Blogging definitely is a time commitment that needs to be weighed against the benefits you reap.