Writers are often encouraged to enter the world of social media. I was slow to open a FaceBook account. Then, prompted by the desire to see photos of distant family, I finally did. I found many writer friends on FB so I started adding them. I now have 356 FB “friends.” Whenever I post a new blog, I create a link on my FaceBook page. I don’t expect everyone to open the link but when the topic is intriguing enough, some will.
Twitter took me longer. The idea of tweeting confused me. Birds tweet. People talk. Writers write. Last month I opened an account. With few exceptions I avoid adding FB Friends to Twitter. After a month, I have 86 followers; most have some shared interests. As with FaceBook, whenever I post a new blog, I tweet about it on Twitter. Some posts are re-tweeted, which spreads the word.
I started this Stringing Beads blog three years ago. I’ve had long spells when I haven’t blogged regularly. Readership suffers when people can’t count on a regular column. A good blogger must post regularly and about topics a reader finds interesting.
Overall focus is important. Solo blogs written by a lone blogger especially need this focus. Define your purpose in writing the blog then find a niche and fill it.
Are you blogging about the craft or business of writing? It may be mostly writers who read your blog. If that’s what you want and you’re good at it, fantastic! I’m grateful for blogs like J.A. Konrath’s Newbie Guide to Publishing and those wonderful writers at Writer Unboxed.
Some writers draw readers by focusing on something that complements their writing, either in style or content. In Casey Comments, Casey Clifford shares snippets of her life that could easily be found in her women’s fiction or suspense novels. Mary Stella’s Postcards from Paradise goes well with her fun contemporary romances about the Florida Keys. Beth Ciotta’s Blog is providing perfect introductions to her upcoming Cupcake Lovers contemporary series as well as to the much anticipated steampunk series, the Glorious Victorious Darcys.
Frequent, meaningful blogging isn’t easy. Time is precious. As a result many readers band together to write a blog with each writing every few weeks. Two remarkably successful group blogs with high readership are The Goddess Blogs and Magical Musings. Both have amazingly creative writers who write on a large variety of topics.
Successful bloggers always reply to comments left by their readers. Along with it being good etiquette, this helps create more interaction and reader interest. They also post interesting pictures. And they never delve too deeply into plot lines of their own works, but rather into life itself.
A successful blog also looks professional. Bloggers must learn and understand the program they are using, whether WordPress (my favorite), Blogger, Live Journal or some other platform. Set up and regularly test links that add to the blog, little extras in the sidebar. As your posts grow in number, occasionally link back to ones that were popular. Proof-read incessantly.
Read and comment on other blogs but not in a way that screams “read my blog” or “read my book.” Comments must be genuine and relate. Readers look for a connection.
Keep track of readership statistics. While you can’t tell exactly who is reading your blog, you can track numbers. WordPress has Site Stats on the dashboard that gives lots of data, including what search terms people are using to find you and what posts are most popular. A useful tool to install in your sidebar is StatCounter.
In her blog Write to Publish, Robin Sullivan talks about the importance of connecting with readers. You should make it easy to pass your blog on to others. Post Share links to Facebook, Twitter, StumbleUpon, and others. Include an e-mail link so the reader can send it to a friend. On WordPress, these links are found on Dashboard under Settings then Sharing. See below for my Share buttons. (Hint: If you liked this article, please pass it on! :smile:)
Click onto Blog Tips for a list of other helpful tips. Finally, please share a comment on what has worked for you. Thanks! ♥
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P. S. See also this recent post in Savvy Self-Publishing for more helpful ideas. Thank you, Lindsay!
P.P.S. – Another incredibly helpful post on this topic is Jim Murdoch’s guest column on Audacious Author called How to Get People to Read Your Blog. He mentions it in the comments below but I wanted to bring it up to the body of this post. Thank you, Jim!
Deb, you have been the single most inspirational coach for me as I move forward writing publicly. I have been a shy author, but every time I see you take a leap of faith I crawl behind you. I have long had a Facebook account and a Twitter account, but never considered using them to publicize my writing blog. Today I connected Twitter to my WordPress blog and am contemplating the same with my Facebook account. Thank you so much for sharing your talent and your ideas so freely. Also, because of your encouragement I have renewed my SCBWI membership and joined the GLVWG; I will attend the October meeting as my first. It’s scary putting myself out there, but knowing your journey is extremely helpful. Thank you so much!
Rose, I’m so happy you are joining GLVWG! There is nothing like a good writers’ group for support, friendship, and networking and GLVWG is a great one! As one of the earliest members, I truly believe that its founders (Anne & Lorraine) and all those who came after have created a strong local group. Keep writing and going forward. Thanks so much for your comments. Enjoy the meetings!
What a great blog. I just started blogging myself and got lots of tips from this blog. I never knew about site stats and was glad to see them. Thanks very much for a wonderful, helpful. blog.
Cynthia, I’m glad that the post was helpful to you. A lot of people I’ve talked with weren’t aware of the site stats on WP, or StatCounter. I’ver found both incredibly helpful. One thing I did when I started using WordPress.com was to spend a few hours and open each and every item on the Dashboard to see what it did. Learned a lot that way. Best of luck to you and hope you stop back. I look forward to watching your blog.
Thank you for the tips. I’ve been blogging sporadically for years, but am just starting to get really serious about it. Hope to start blogging on a more regular basis once we move to California and settle in.
So glad this was helpful, Judith. A move to California…wow! Blogging about your move could be interesting…sort of a week by week as it happens. Enjoy the adventure!
Really helpful post on blogging, Deb, not to mention all the cool places you suggest. I’ll be checking those out. I don’t have a blog as yet, but do post on several. I have to watch myself, because I could spend the day going from site to site, posting. They’ve generally ended with a question I am compelled to reply to or there is something that I identify with I believe I can elaborate on in a helpful way. (Maybe not so helpful this time, but you get the compulsion thing. LOL) Marsha
I agree, Marsha. It’s easy to get lost in the blogosphere…so much good stuff out there. 🙂 Even though you don’t have a blog yet, I would guess you are gathering lots of ideas of what makes a successful one. Do you have any favorites?
You MADE me blog and I’ll never forget the evening in Portland when we first set it up. I still have a lot to learn about blogging and feel very hesitant to set up a twitter account.
However, I do blog every Sunday though my comments and readership has not grown much. So thank you for the blog promotion for Casey Comments. I really appreciate that. 🙂
So…I MADE you blog, ‘eh? 🙂 I’d say “encouraged.” You’ve done a tremendous job digging in to learn what you need. I REALLY admire how regular you’ve been. I know that come Sunday there will always be a fresh column waiting (even if I don’t always comment). Keep blogging, my friend.
Good info, Deb. Blogging is such a commitment – I just can’t force myself to stay with it — YET! I’ll just keep reading yours!
Wow…what a great comment, Kathye! Thank you for reading, and let me know when you resume blogging, won’t you?
Great information! I’ve found my responses are better on my blog when I blog regularly. I’ve just started Twitter (not sure why yet) and am working on my Facebook author page. I appreciate your tips.
Jennifer, yeah, I’m still not sure why about Twitter either. I guess I just wanted to understand what it is all about and that’s easier to do if a person tweets. 🙂 I’ll look for your author FB page! Keep writing.
I think the things that have worked for me are posting regularly (but not so regularly that I exhaust myself or become a burden on my readers – you want them to be looking forward to your next post and not groaning because they still haven’t read the last two), sticking to topic (nothing worse than a literary blog where the author is always drifting off to talk about his health or his cat’s health or the state of the economy), writing quality articles (and that takes real time so you need to treat it like a job of work and budget sufficient time to do the job properly), not plugging your latest book at every opportunity (yes, a bit of self-promotion is fine but no one like – or responds – to the hard sell) and taking the time to respond properly to every comment left. Another thing you need to do is promote your blog. Too many people start up a blog, do nothing to pull in readers and wonder why they only get half-a-dozen hits a day on a good day. No one is looking for you, no one knows you’re there to look for. You have to go to places where people are and do something to attract them. Commenting on other people’s blogs has been, for me, the most effective way to do this but you have to leave meaningful and sincere comments for that to work, Facebook groups are a good way to connect quickly and sites like Stumbleupon and Digg can bring in a surprising number of hit but not so many hang around without the personal touch.
Excellent suggestions, Jim! You nailed it about the fine line between not enough posts and too many, as well as being too wordy and rambling. And hard sells definitely turn people away. 😡 Great reminders about commenting, too. Meaningful and sincere wins every time.
I appreciate the suggestion about Stumbleupon and Digg. I put them on this site because WP suggests it but am not really too familiar with either. Will have to look deeper. Thanks for the ideas! This is why I love the miracle of the Internet. It’s a tremendous tool!
One of the hardest things is to attract new readers. The Internet is like a dictionary, if you know the word you want to look up it’s simply wonderful but if you know the definition and are looking for the word then it’s not so great. I wrote a guest blog a wee while ago which you might find of some interest in which I talk about all the things I do to promote my blog and how successful I’ve been. It’s called “How to get people to read your blog”. I talk about Stumbleupon amongst other things. As a case in point I recently reviewed an Italian literary novel about billiards and God alone knows what attracted people but I got 150 hits from Stumbleupon alone. Granted I suspect most only hung around for a few seconds once they realised what the book was but that’s still 150 opportunities to snag a regular follower.
An incredible guest blog, Jim! You’ll note I posted a link at the end of this column. And, I posted a link on my FB. Such things should be shared. 😉 Thanks so much! Keep in touch.
Thanks for the mention, Deb!
I was slow getting into Facebook too (finally made an author fan page last month), as the interface kills me, heh. Clunky! But with six hundred million people using the platform, you know our target audience is there, so there we must be. 😉
Lindsay, I LOVE what you’re doing with Savvy Self-Publishing – the way you are taking a reader through the process of publishing. You have an organized mind and a great way of passing on what you’ve learned. I’m so glad to have found your column!
Just in my head,Deb, but your question made me realize I should write the ideas down. Guess I need a new folder. 🙂 Thanks. Marsha
It’s a good time to start, before you have the blog. I kind of created mine as I went along but it would have been nice if I would have had a file of notes. 🙂 Keep me informed of your progress, Marsha.. I’ll look forward to seeing it. First step is a name. Simple but unique is always good.
Deb – you are amazing in your selfless way of sharing your journey in life and writing with all. Thank you for the insight into writing, blogs, publishing, conferences, your stories and what inspires you. I am not a writer, but all your “work” does spill over into the visual arts. Thank you – Linda B
Sorry to be late in responding but thank you for reading! I look forward to the day when you (or you and a group of your friends) tell me you’ve started a blog or website. The world needs to see your art! “Art as Inspiration” – the post I wrote about your paintings – continues to be the most viewed of any on my blog; You’re quite an attraction!
Hope your fall weather is as beautiful as ours this weekend. Lovely day! – Deb
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