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.