Thursday, June 4, 2020

Blogging for Fun and Profit - #SocialMedia #Marketing #AmWriting

social media image
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay
Sometime in the last few days, this blog hit a million views. That seems like a lot - until I remember that I created Beyond Romance more than ten years ago!

Still, an average of one hundred thousand views per year... not too bad for an obscure author of smut. Some people, at least, are paying attention.

I’m always trying to figure out, of course, how to attract more of them.

Blogging is my primary form of online promotion. I don’t do Facebook or Instagram, and spend only a few minutes per day on Twitter. This is partly due to privacy concerns, partly because I’m in a different time zone from most of my readers, so real-time engagement doesn’t mean much. The blog lets me accommodate my irregular work and travel schedule by setting up posts in advance. It also permits me to be as long-winded as I desire. No obscure, hash-sign-laden snippets for me!

These days I know that some people view blogs as incredibly antiquated. The typical attention span seems to have decreased to the point that nobody wants to read more than headlines. A few thousand words is just too much work. The Oh Get a Grip group blog recently shut down after more then ten years, because we felt like we were writing for nobody but ourselves, and I suspect that other authors are considering whether blogging is worth the effort.

For me, the answer is obvious. Aside from the convenience issue I raised above, blogging offers many advantages not provided by other forms of social media.

Blogs are persistent. If I post an excerpt from one of my books, I can link to that material in the future, for instance when I release the next book in the series. When I post a review, I can include references to previous reviews by the same author. It may seem like a lot of effort to create a blog post, but once it has been created, it doesn’t evaporate into cyberspace.

I can blog to suit my mood. If you browse Beyond Romance, you will find a wide variety of different material: essays reflecting on my life or my writing career; discussions of sexuality and society; articles about the writer’s craft or about publishing; humor and parodies; flash fiction, short stories and poetry; posts about my favorite charities; book reviews; and of course promotional posts highlighting my books. The blog is my personal notebook, my soapbox, my playground. The content and format are totally up to me.

The blog helps me network. I usually host two or three guest authors and promotional tours per week. This gives me the chance to connect with other writers, who are often willing to reciprocate by helping me promote my work.

Hosting other authors brings new readers. Every time I share information about a colleague’s books, that becomes an opportunity to draw her fans to my site and introduce them to my work.

Syndication increases the blog impact. A standard Internet protocol called RSS (Really Simple Syndication) makes it possible for other sites to easily republish blog content. In my case, I use RSS to feed my blog to my Amazon Author Page and my Goodreads Author Profile. I also use Triberr to extend the reach of my posts. This is a collaborative social media platform where “tribes” (in my case, groups of authors) commit to sharing each other’s content. Beyond Romance feeds to all my eight tribes, so my blog posts get liked and shared on many people’s Twitter and Facebook streams. As far as I know, no other form of social media provides this sort of syndication.

Blogging can earn you money. I don’t have ads or affiliate links on my blog, but many authors do. I have no idea how lucrative this might be, but if you couldn’t make some cash, nobody would do it!

Of course, blogging requires a certain level of commitment. You don’t need to post every day, but you have to post regularly. Go a week or two without any posts, and readers will lose interest.

Hosting other authors adds some stress. It’s awful to realize that you’ve scuttled a colleague’s tour by forgetting her post, publishing it on the wrong day, or messing up the format.

However, blogging allows more flexible time management than other forms of social media. As long as you plan ahead, you can set up your posts during the days when you have time, and let them do their work for you while you’re busy with other things. Since I’m quite busy Monday through Friday, I usually spend Sunday preparing the week’s posts.

Are there other, more effective ways for me to be spending my scarce marketing time? Maybe. If you know of any, I hope you’ll share! For me, blogging seems the most practical way for me to have a presence in the online world, while still managing the demands of my real world existence.


Fiona McGier said...

I really miss the diverse voices of Get a Grip. I bared my soul there a lot, and hope my family never finds any of those posts! But I also faithfully read your words here. I've enjoyed your books immensely, and feel like we're friends. In a lonely business like writing, it's nice to have friends.

I don't do twitter, because I don't know how. I do FB, more now that I've been at home so much. I don't know what else to suggest. I was just talking about this with my husband last night. Other authors insist that you'll never sell anything unless you do FB, twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Tik-tok, and whatever new thing "the kids" are into these days. First of all, I don't write for kids. And if I did all of that stuff, I'd never have time to write!

Ditto with conventions, since I'm usually working during the week, and I can't afford to attend things like that. I've been published for over 10 years, but don't make enough to claim it on my income tax. So I can't "write off" the cost of anything.

So I blog, as you do. I try to do a post as often as you, but I'm not always that good about it. But I watch and learn.

Lisabet Sarai said...

Hi, Fiona! I miss the Grip, too. But when it started to become a grind, that was time to stop.

It's simply not possible to be present, and genuine, on every social media platform. You have to choose the platforms that suit your style, and your life. Aside from Facebook, I don't think most of my core readers are that involved in social media. Unfortunately, I don't trust Facebook with my information - even less recently since they've showed no spine calling out the lies of the orange one.

Twitter is actually very easy. Mostly I use it via Triberr, a platform that lets groups of people share eachother's posts very easily. I actually have about 3000 Twitter followers.

Kayelle Allen said...

Good info here -- I agree. Like you said, it doesn't disappear into cyberspace. If Facebook or Twitter shut down tomorrow, my blog will still be there. It's the closest thing to online real estate you can get.

JL Peridot said...

This is great advice, Lisabet. Whenever I go through periods of doubt about blogging, I always forget one big pro is that blogs persist where social media platforms can be unpredictable. Thank you so much for the perspective and reminder!

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