Wednesday, 22 September 2010

YAY! Get your blog to go bananas!

- we have the lovely and talented Shelli Johannes Wells with us today, with an awesome post on marketing yourself through your blog!

Take it away, missus!

Getting your Blog to Go Bananas

Before I got an agent, I started my blog in 2006 and did sporatic posts - on and off. But I was frustrated because no one was visiting and I wasn't reaching anyone. Except my mother and my critique group. :) Then, once day after being interviewed on marketing and seeing all the comments/questions, I got the idea to refocus my blog on marketing. I realized I could give back and help authors by giving marketing advice. After doing some research, I quickly realized that there weren't very many marketing blogs for authors. In addition, I came to the conclusion tha authors strugggled iwth marketing, not knowing where to start or what to do.

So I decided to not only provide that advice but to get information from publishing professionals such as editors, agents, or authors.

In Jan 2009, I started Marketing Monday. Every Monday, I would publish an interview with publishing industry professionals asking them for different ideas/advice on how authors could better marketing themselves as writers and their books.

After that, my blog ended up taking off more than I imagined. Since then, I've gone from about 10 followers and about 5 hits a day to almost 1500 followers and over 60.000 vistors a year. Crazy right? I was shocked and still am. But I love my readers and love knowing that I am helping them in different ways. Not to mention, they all help me too.

When I started my blog, I made some rules for myself so I could be sure I was making a REAL CONNECTION with my readers. I would be authentic and utilize my voice. I would do contests to help people get free marketing or get seen by agents. I would make it a point to respond to EVERY comment in some way (either visiting them, commenting on my post, or emailing them back), and I would post on the week days to ensure frequency. I still do all of this today. (90% of the time :)

So as an author - I think there some things to think through is you want to get your blog to go bananas!

1) Who are you targeting? Writers or readers? Those are different audiences that read different things.

2) Decide what kind of blog you're going to have? What will you talk about? How will it differ from others?

3) Determine the voice of your blog and be sure it shines through.

4) "To get, you must give". Go comment on other blogs to create a 2 way street. Eventually they will comment on yours. Blogging is about connection.

5) Try to post frequently and pick a schedule to follow (every other day, weekdays, MWF) Be sure to let your readers know so they come back.

6) Create your own rules. What is your blog-iquette for commenters or followers? Will you comment on your comments blog, will you email them back? will you respond to every comment on your blog. will you follow all that follow you (there are constraints to this number though) Decide how you will build the relationship between you and your reader?

7) What can you speak about that might be different. What is a niche or style or voice you have that no one else does?

8) What is your policy on promoting others? Cross linking?

9) offer to guest blog

10) Create a good blog roll to promote other blogs. People will come back to use it as a resource.

Blogging is a great tool in social networking. But if you are going to do it, you must do it well. Don't blog if you don't want to just because others are doing it. YOu have to love it and commit to it or it doesnt reach anyone and is a waste of time.


aspiring_x said...

wow! there's a lot more to think about than i ever guessed! i just blog to learn about writing and chat with all the smart writer folk. i had no idea there was so much to it! thanks for the education! :)

Patti said...

Great advice. I totally agree with not doing it, if you don't want to.

Heidi Willis said...

These are great points, Shelli. I think when I got published I lost my focus on my blog, and now I really don't know what I'm doing with it. I stopped writing so much about the writing process and more just about my life, and I'm not sure if that's a good thing or not.

I think you do a great job with your blog, and I've found some valuable advice there as well. Keep up the good work! (and it IS work!)