Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Blogging: Improving Your Visibility

Laurie Creasy continues her series in promoting your writing through social media. This installment talks about how to improve your visibility and cement your presence through blogging.
You can find her first article here: Part One: Using Social Media

OK, you’re no longer a newbie. You’ve written enough to query an agent or editor; maybe you’ve even e-published something.

And yet … and yet … the mojo just ain’t there. You’re getting a few hits on your blog – and of course you have a blog – but it’s nothing to write home about. No one’s breaking down your doors and demanding more, and you’re not the overnight success you always dreamed you’d be.

Here are four steps you can take to improve your visibility and cement your presence:

Analyze. (Just start every list of things to do with this word – it makes things much simpler.) Yes, yes, every the, a, an, and that is deathless prose. You couldn’t possibly change a word.

Here’s a checklist to help you analyze your blog:
n      Which posts got the most hits?
n      Which got the fewest hits?
n      What do the popular/least popular posts have in common? Length? Topic? Tone?
n      Are you using tags and categories to improve your search engine rankings? If you aren’t, read up on why search engine optimization matters.
n      Are you getting linkbacks and pingbacks? If you aren’t, you need to begin linking to helpful articles.

Once you figure out what your audience wants from you (i.e., the popular posts), give them more.

This doesn’t mean every post has to be a breathless monologue about, for example, the hot embroidery details on Regency gowns year by year, but maybe two out of three or three out of four should be.

Your posts showcase your writing. Don’t stint on the time and effort you put into them. It may be the first introduction others have to you.

You plan on writing stories aimed at certain audiences or publisher’s lines, right? So why would you want to flit all over cyberspace with topics on your blog?

Separate personal from professional. Not everyone agrees on this, and in the end it’s your call. But do you really want your editor or agent to see into every corner of your life?

Yes, people should accept you the way you are … but if you worked in an office, rather than at home in your PJs, how much would you tell your boss about your problems with hubs leaving the seat up? How much would your co-workers want to know about your sexual preferences?

Let’s face it – you aren’t selling your real self on the Internet. You’re selling a persona. No one wants to read about Jane Doe, housewife up to her eyeballs in dirty jock straps. But they may want to read about Desiree Divine, author of the steamiest sex scenes romance readers ever panted over. And Desiree Divine does not deal in dirty jock straps.

Think before you post.  And before you e-mail, tweet, Tumbl, Pinterest, or anything else on the Internet.

If it’s on the Internet, it lives forever, even if you take it down. So go ahead and type that rant about Nora Roberts not paying her dues or that acerbically brilliant response to a bad review … and then delete it.

Never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever (are you seeing a pattern here?), ever snark on the Internet. To anyone, at any time, anywhere.

Believe me, your sins will find you out. Ask the guy who got his whole agency fired from a job with Chrysler for tweeting improperly. Ask the guy who lost his job at Columbia for making snide remarks about the CNN reporter who was sexually assaulted in Egypt.

Help and share. Support other writers. Support other bloggers. Help newbies navigate the labyrinth of the publishing world. Encourage new and old writers. Give positive, constructive feedback.

In short, spend time building your reputation as a go-to person on certain topics, as a professional who can set and keep boundaries, as someone who can stay silent at the right time, and as someone who’s generous and kind.

Yeah, it’s kind of old fashioned.

Then again, maybe everything old really is new again.


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