This is probably not the type of writing advice you were looking for, for those of you who said they liked the writing advice blogs, but some people have mentioned looking into establishing themselves online. Online presence has been very much on my mind since I decided to go indie. I’ve been doing more research this last year into blogs, Facebook, Twitter and even Pinterest. I’m by no means an expert or even very good, but I have a few tips that might help you if you are in the beginning steps.
Before I get into it, I want to say that your story writing should always be top priority. If you are pressed for time and need to skimp on something, skimp on your online presence and write your stories. If you are an indie author, especially, you need to get more and more titles available so if a reader likes one book, they might buy the next and the next and so on.
I believe in getting new titles out so much that I almost quit blogging entirely. The reason I decided not to kill my blog was Spark Tally. I don’t talk to writers in person much, so Spark Tally has long been my connection to other people doing the same thing. I couldn’t visualize it as an email group or a Facebook thing, so I decided to keep blogging.
But now I’m all in with the blogging.
So here are my tips:
1. Use your blog as your anchor. In other words, your blog should be the place for your most profound commentating. Facebook and particularly Twitter are the frosting on the cake of online presence. You can’t write very much on Twitter, and if you write too much on Facebook, people won’t read it. On a blog, I think people pretty much expect to read between 500-1000 words.
2. Blog regularly. When I first started blogging, I tried to do twice a week. Monday was my long blog, Friday my short blog. Then I tried to add guest bloggers on Wednesday. I actually enjoyed that, but the arranging became too time consuming, especially with Photo Flare going on. If you’re going to blog, do it at least once a week. Any less than that and it’s really hard to grow an audience. I think the optimal is 5-7 times a week. A daily schedule keeps your blog in the Reader feed, at least for WordPress. I don’t know about the other blogging platforms, but I imagine they have a similar feed you can customize to follow blogs and discover new ones. I discovered a few blogs that posted several times a day, and that got annoying fast. Twitter is where you should be if you feel like posting all the time.
3. Tag, tag, tag. If your post is even remotely related to something, tag it. So long as you keep it below ten tags. My understanding on WordPress is if something has over ten tags, it won’t go into the reader feed because it’ll get marked as spam. I imagine other platforms are similar. When I first started blogging, I used maybe one tag a post. So if I tagged something “writing” but I also talked about Hemingway, Austen and Rowling I missed out on people searching for Hemingway, Austen and Rowling finding my post. Tag.
4. Schedule blogs in advance. Or at least have a rough idea about the theme a month or so ahead. Blogging by the seat of my pants is fun, but if I take a day to write a bunch of blogs and schedule them in advance, I don’t have to worry. And I can write my stories. Of course, sometimes something major happens like you get a call from an agent and that will be your new post for the day.
5. Visit other people’s blogs. This has always been a hard one for me. There are a few blogs that I go to regularly, but you really have to get out there and network to get your blog noticed. With Enchanted Spark I at least had a base of friends and family to start with, but with my pen name, I didn’t have that base. I’m not going to tell my aunt she should check out my smutty blogging. So I have struggled getting an audience there. Recently, a woman has been coming by and “liking” my serialized story. I checked out her blog. She has over 5000 followers and she has only been blogging for three months. Every post has over 100 comments. I asked my sister, who’s my publicist, to check it out and tell me how she did that. To me the content was nice, but not any greater than similar blogs with fewer followers. Heather checked it out, and came back to me with the question, “How many blogs do you “like” follow and comment on?” She thinks the blogger built up the mass by spending all her free time visiting other people’s blogs. I don’t have that kind of time. Plus, I would feel disingenuous. But I do think I could “like”, follow and comment more than I do, so I’m striving to schedule time for that.
6. BE YOURSELF. I’m not saying tell the nitty gritty of your daily life. That type of oversharing drives me crazy. But whatever you’re going to blog about, be genuine. Use your unique voice. The first year of blogging, Julie kept telling me to use more contractions. I always sounded stiff because I was writing like an essay all the time. You can use your blogs for essays, but I think the formal quality of an essay puts people off if used too much. So relax and have fun.
I’m sure I have more to say about blogging, but that’s enough for this post. For those of you who blog, what advice do you have? For those of you who are interested, what questions do you have?