Aargh!!! My Blog is My Platform? Now what? by Beth Camp

 

Have you ever faced a blank page when writing your blog?

As we set goals for each round of ROW80, our blogs become a very real way to assess and report our progress and stay connected with others committed to writing. Even the process of setting goals has me (as many of us do) thinking about and balancing my writing goals with those for marketing, deepening my understanding of craft, and publishing.

Some writers have no problems in coming up with content for their blogs, or they may schedule a certain kind of writing for a certain day of the week by writing book reviews or participating in a blog challenge or blog hop.

My day begins with writing on my novel. Sometimes, I feel like my blogs (all three of them – a writing blog, a travel blog, and a ROW80 blog) waver with the topic of the day, falling back on poetry when all else fails.

Not to say anything’s wrong with poetry, but . . .

Our blogs are supposed to be an important part of our marketing platform. So now the challenge is: What do we write about on our blogs that will appeal to our readers – and that potential agent or publisher?

Think content: I’ve been reading Joanna Penn’s helpful e-book, How To Market A Book, and found this very useful advice: “Blog around your writing journey and/or research to start building audience.”

Somehow this advice resonated with me. Simply stated, it means I can write about my own writing journey, and I can write about the fascinating research I find. Both of these shoes fit nicely.

Here’s an example of what this looks like: Jeanette Harvey’s blog, “Sisters of the Bruce” writes fact-filled posts supporting her current work-in-progress, complimented with photos that draw you into the history she’s exploring. Once in a while, she’ll also write a ‘how-to’ article. Her June 24 post, “Ten Amazing Tips for Writing Historical Fiction” reaches out to other writers.

One of my favorite bloggers, K. M. Huber, writes about an entirely different genre – meditation. Yet I come away from her blog refreshed — and perhaps more thoughtful about my own writing.

As a sponsor, I’ve committed to read at least 10 other ROW80 blogs each week, those who post on the Linky and those posting on Facebook.  Each time, I pick up helpful ideas. This week’s gems included:

  • Fast drafting for a minimum word count.
  • Meditating before writing (even 5 minutes is good).
  • Deciding on a blog topic for the week and write it!

Participating in ROW80 and similar blog hops leads can lead us to many new connections. I confess I also read blogs by marketing gurus, Joel Friedlander’s The Book Designer and Katherine Logan Lowry’s Notes from Tabor Lane are two of my favorites for their encyclopedic resources.  Friedlander’s post today (July 8) just happens to be “Top 7 Strategies for Blog Marketing”!

Wait! Wait! There’s more!

We may be dismayed by some of the tricks that marketing people use – and wonder IF we should be using some of these strategies in our own posts.

Consider using some organizational tools on your blog posts.

ü  Catchy titles can intrigue the reader,

ü  Shorter, more readable paragraphs  are easy to read (that computer screen is pretty small);

ü  Key word highlights focus the reader’s attention,

ü  Descriptive headings and titles help people find relevant information quickly,

ü  Lists can break up the text, and

ü  Vivid photographs are typically noticed first.

Have you noticed how many marketing specialists use numbers? “Twenty-five ways to tie your scarf in 4.5 minutes” or Karen Woodward’s “Four Ways to Motivate Your Reader to Keep Turning Pages,” or Marya’s “Four Ways to Write Your Next Blog Post Opening That Works.”

This use of numbers inspired me to write a rather long post on 75 ways to create more time for writing, thankfully retired to that Recycle Bin on my desktop, though it was fun to write.

But what’s most important in writing your blog?  When Joanna Penn encourages us to write about our writing journey and/or research, she’s asking us to write about what is closest to our heart. We can do this. If we invite our readers to consider our writing projects, our characters, our stumbles and our successes, then we are building audience interest authentically.

Reach out to your reader: Adding a question that invites a reader response – or some kind of action – can increase a reader’s interest in you and your blog.

So I invite you to face the challenge: What marketing strategies do you consider (if you do) when you’re writing your blog?

~*~

Beth Camp

9 comments

  1. Beth, thanks so much for this important post. I never thought about my blog being part of my platform or marketing program. That’s going to change my post for Wednesday, for sure.

    I think I’ll talk about the real-life historical event that was the seed for my WIP, “Whirlwind.”

    Thanks!

    1. Thank you, Lara. As I work on understanding what marketing involves, the list just keeps getting longer and longer, and, in some ways, a little more intimidating. The blog, seems to me, is just about the most personal way to connect with readers and others who care about writing. I’m looking forward to seeing your Wednesday post!

      1. I got a little sidetracked on Wednesday, Beth. If you’ve been to my blog, you’ll have noticed I had a bit of a crown issue, along with a huge amount of pain. So I’ll be able to get that up for you tomorrow, I hope.

  2. I’ve had a blog since 2004, at http://www.ravensview.ca, but only started writing – novels and short stories – in 2010. My focus previous to that was on social issues, especially graffiti murals as a tool to build stronger communities. Plus, I posted in there jokes, recipes, funny links I found – in other words, a blog about me. Once I decided to leave retirement for the job/passion of writing, the blog took a more ‘writerly’ bent, with my Flash Fiction stories, ROW80 status, and articles on writing, but much of the original focus – or lack of it – is still there, I still just post about me.
    My publisher had me create a separate author page, to highlight myself and my book(s) – draft is here – http://www.ravensview.ca/mikeyoung/ .
    Which one is now my author platform?
    Do I start posting writery topics to the new page and build a following there? Or do I leave it as is, keeping with the main one and the followers I’ve built up over the years?

    1. Hello, Mike. I’ve enjoyed reading your blog since meeting you at ROW80. I think BOTH your blogs are part of your marketing platform. Maybe my sense of blogs has morphed into something new — but part of blogging is simply sharing. Your older blog (like my travel blog) brings readers close to you, your writings, activities, interests. This new blog introduces potential readers to you. Right now, the new blog is static. You could link from the ‘author’ blog to your ‘daily’ blog. Then you’d keep that formal ‘author’ blog as another way into your less formal (and friendlier) personal blog for those folks who want to visit you there. Some suggestions: Get your name on the ‘daily’ blog somewhere it’s easy to see. Maybe Ravensview doesn’t let you personalize so much, but you could consider putting your new book cover on your ‘daily’ blog as well. Blog on! I’ll enjoy seeing both of your blogs as you continue to tweak.

  3. As scary as it is (and for me, blogging drifts between scary, annoying, and absurd), I get what you’re saying here, Beth. Sometimes we forget that whatever we’ve chosen to present to the world is marketing. We’re always offering a sample of ourselves for the perusal of others…

    Thanks for the reminder.

    1. Thank you, Eden, for commenting. I agree wholeheartedly and veer between the personal (poetry, writing about my own research and writing projects that I think no one else in the world will care about) and connecting with readers by sharing book reviews and snippets I find on the web that I enjoy. But it is about community — connecting with other writers and readers. If I think about marketing in that way, then the process becomes more accessible — and maybe less scary. OK, still scary.

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