Recently a site, The Digital Reader (morning coffee – 1 September 2017) picked up on a blog I wrote in 2014, 7 key things I’ve learnt from a year of blogging. To my pleasant surprise this has created a lot of traffic, so I assume people are interested which is great. That got me thinking, three years on do I come to the same conclusions, what else have I learnt:
1) The first thing listed was: Blogging does not sell books
I still hold with that, mostly. I think this to be the case with most blogs. However, it is possible to tailor at least some of your blogs to help promote your work. You can discuss the subject of your work, the locations, what makes your characters interesting etc. At least then the reader will get to know a little more about what makes you and your writing tick. Make it interesting and If they like what you’re saying they may then take the time to look at your books. I don’t do it all the time, I think this would get boring and there are other things I want to discuss.
2) Getting traffic to your blog.
Yes, getting mentioned in other blogs helps, but that’s not always easy. However, simply getting a following is part of it, which speaks to point three below. Then there’s identifying facebook sites, and other sites where there are like-minded people who will be interested in what you have to say. Increasing your twitter following (and people who will retweet you) and identifying good hashtags will also help.
3) Keeping going
I’m still blogging, so by definition I’ve kept going. As an author I want to keep people visiting my site. As an independent author it’s an important tool in keeping in contact with potential readers. I’ve revised my site recently to push my work more to the fore, not least in offering a collection of short stories for free. If this is going to work I need the traffic and one way to do this is keeping it fresh with new blogs. However, after a few years I admit I found blogging once a week a little too onerous and it was eating into my writing time, so now it’s every two or three weeks and following on from point one more of those blogs relate to my writing. I don’t think the traffic across my site has suffered. If anything it is better than ever. Perhaps that’s because of the volume of posts I now have and people keep discovering “old” ones.
Additionally, I now put all my posts on Niume, a blog site and have a Google Blogger site as well as occasionally reworking one as a guest blog elsewhere. So each blog is working harder for me. Also, I now have other things that bring people to my site such as the free stories and the free Bleak prequel on Amazon.
4) Try out crazy idea / topics
Yes, essentially write whatever comes into you mind that you think others might find interesting. Actually, just write about anything you find interesting. Preferably write in the first person. Be provocative and make it personal i.e. your thoughts, experiences and opinions. Engage, ask questions, ask for comments, start a dialogue. Reply to comments, start a conversation. Those people will return and you can learn from them. It’s also fun. As I say above if you can tie it into your work so much the better, but don’t fret if it doesn’t always do that.
5) What works in a blog
As in 2014 my conclusion here is: who knows? I mentioned then that I wrote a series of blogs on “Robots, Android and intelligent machines” along with “Robots will they make is lazy” that kept getting hits months later. Three or so years later they are still attracting lots of hits (several yesterday!). Perhaps their popularity means they now crop up at the top end of searches, or they’re being shared in places I don’t know of etc. As I say, you never know. It also shows the value of keeping going. Oh, and which chocolate biscuits are good for writers, also still gets hits.
6) Give them added value
Yes, I still hold with this. A marketing course I’ve taken recently puts a lot of store behind giving people added value. You can’t just hit people with “buy me, buy me” why should they? However, if you’re offer things of value for free hopefully they will think better of you. A teacher of a group of students in America recently got in touch to thank me for my “For Writers” page. They’d found it very helpful and liked the fact that it wasn’t pushing something. If nothing else that makes it worthwhile.
7) Is it worth it?
Well I’m still going, so it must be. As I say above it is my shop window so it’s important if I want people to read my work. However, I also enjoy writing the blog, exploring the subjects. It makes me think about what I’m doing. I enjoy getting the comments back. Whether they agree with me or not, or just want to offer their experiences or thoughts it’s all valuable feedback. The bottom line is I am hopefully building those relationships, people are getting to know me. All of which must help in the long run which I think is one of the key learnings. You have to be in it for the long run. Blogging is no quick route to success (or at least in most cases) but it does have its own rewards.
As always comments are welcome