~ One of the biggest questions about blogging is how often does one need to do it to be effective? Daily? Almost daily?
While there are advantages to blogging daily (the more often your content is updated, the higher up on the search engine returns you are placed) in terms of building and connecting with an audience, consistency is probably more important than volume. Blog every Monday or every Tuesday & Thursday, or whatever works for your schedule. But be consistent.
~ Tagging your posts with labels and subject tags is another good way to get them picked up by the search engines and included when relevant text strings are searched for which help drives traffic to your blog. It is also a great way to index your archives for your blog readers—something that is absolutely on my To Do List here at SVP.
~ There are lots of opinions out there on the advantages of having short posts, with the general feeling being short and sweet captures more readers. But personally, I don’t ascribe to that. (Clearly!) ☺ Some of my entries are like magazine articles and others are essays and others still are only a few paragraphs long. I think you should use however many words you need to make your point but also know that sometimes people won’t have the time to read the longer posts. However, if your content is consistently good, they will.
~ Pictures and graphics are a great way to help capture people’s attention, and there are a ton of places on the web where you can access free public domain, or creative commons licensed images. Here are some sources:
Public Domain Pictures
You can also buy credits at a place like iStock Photography or Getty Images.
~ While we’ve spent a ton of time thinking about and identifying core content messages, but it is also okay to change the subject once in a while and announce your book sale or reveal a new cover, or talk about upcoming appearances.
~ A really important part of blogging is interacting with those who stop by and engaging with them in the comment section. That might seem like a no-brainer, but when I first started blogging, I was told by a number of different ‘experts’ that authors shouldn’t respond to comments because there simply wasn’t going to be time to do that. My own feeling is that it depends. Many hugely popular authors don’t even have the comment function turned on. Others ask questions and have ongoing dialogs with their commenters. I think when you’re just starting out, unless you’re swamped with 100s of comments a day, it’s much friendlier to respond to comments and it could very well end up being that connection that brings people back.
The thing to remember is that most social media rules are a lot like writing rules—they don’t have to be religiously followed, you just need to understand what you lose/gain by not following them.
Each of us get to create and define our own social media parameters and boundaries. For every wildly successful blogger who got a book deal and hit the NYT bestseller list because of their huge online platform, there is a matching introverted, hermit of an author who barely has an online presence that has equally impressive sales.
A lot of introverts don’t care for small talk and find surface chit chat tedious at best. (And that’s not to say it’s either of those things in an absolute way, but it is for some). Because we move in an extroverted society, we’ve come to think of our interests as being out of the norm. One of the key things is to give yourself permission to talk about those things that ARE interesting to you and trust that, with a little bit of work and effort, you will be able to connect with similarly inclined souls.
But that’s the amazing, wonderful thing about the internet. We are not limited to our geographical sphere any more.
While I will be talking more about followers and such later, I will say that whenever I think of myself blogging or tweeting to connect with a huge group of people, I freeze. I get stage fright because I am certain that nothing I can say will be interesting to that many people. But when I think about talking to fellow introverts, or sharing a writing epiphany with a handful of other writers, or talking about the puzzling intricacies of human relationships with others who are equally fascinated by those interactions, that barrier disappears. It’s kind of like Elizabeth Gilbert talking about the writing of Eat, Pray, Love and telling the story to ONE person, one of her friends that she thought would get a lot out of it. If you blog and tweet like that, it will come across as authentic and real. Because it will be.
And lastly, I want to direct you to a DYNAMITE post about marketing called SHOULD I TWEET? from Betsy Lerner, former Houghton editor and author of the highly acclaimed, THE FOREST FOR THE TREES. It’s a terrific essay about marketing in general that is an absolute must read, but here are my three favorite excerpts:
It’s about finding the nerve your book strikes and going after it.
Maybe the best way to market your book is to send a hand written letter to every pastor in the country, or create a hoax, or stage a spectacle in Herald Square. Or maybe it’s just to write a book that will take everyone’s breath away.
Whether you should tweet is a little beside the point. The task at hand is to decipher what is most powerful in your work and connect it to every person, institution or media outlet who will listen. It’s not the form, it’s the content. What do you have? Why does it matter?
Which brings us to this week’s exercise. Can you name what is most powerful about your book/work and why it matters?
Commenters will be entered in a drawing for a copy of Brene Brown’s The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are. (This week’s winner can choose that book as a prize instead of MADE TO STICK if they want.)
And speaking of this week’s winner—Kimberly Lynn! Step right up to the podium and claim your prize. Or, you know, email me. ☺