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.


Readers you might also like:
Spunk On A Stick's Tips
Discussion - Length of Blog Posts


Hilary said...

Hi Sia .. good to meet Laurie .. and this is such a relevant post for anyone on the internet .. so much sensible advice in here .. thanks .. Hilary

VA said...

Crap! I didn't recognize half the terms you used; therefore, oversharing is not likely to be a problem. I do appreciate the concept of one's blog as part of branding. You are not you, but what you write.

I have a question: How critical and useful for an author is all the social media hype (Twitter, Facebook, etc.)? Can one get away with a single well-done blog?

Anonymous said...

Hi Laurie. Lots of great content in this single post. I like your point about boundaries, though the social media world sometimes seems to want to smash them. The blog writer IS a persona -- there's so much on the personal side that really must be left out. And the analysis part you mention often is left by the wayside, but can help build the blogger's brand.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Think I figured most of that out last year. Maybe I need to work on better tags, though. I get an average of eighty comments a post but not as many visitors as I would like.

Sheila Deeth said...

All good advice. I think I'd need more viewers to do any sensible stats though, so I must be missing an earlier step on the path.

~Sia McKye~ said...

I've been noting my stat info and the tags and traffic sites that bring in my readers. I've adjusted tags. Since I have about 7 networks I can send a blog link to, I've also been paying attention to which ones seem to work the best.

Sheila, you can still pay attention to what readers you do have and what they seem to respond to and note where they're coming in from.

Helen Ginger said...

No snarking. Got it. Very good advice. Write what you want to be known for and what you want people to think of when they see your name.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I'm usually professional on my blog - it's rare now I post anything personal. The Weekend Sillies don't count!

Laurie said...

Hi, everyone! Sorry -- got swamped at work and ambushed by a meeting someone else had agreed to for me. (Grrr.)

VA, start with a blog. Concentrate on it, make it the best you can. The blog is the most important part of your social media presence. Once you have it, you can use it to feed your Facebook page and Twitter stream.

I always think that you need to use the platforms that fit your personality best. If you hate something, it's going to show (in my very humble opinion), so play to your strengths.

Sheila, listen to Sia. :) That's great advice.

Try being a little controversial -- write something that's against the common wisdom. For example, the old chestnut of "show, don't tell" -- is that ALWAYS right? Aren't there times when you need to get over rough ground fast and telling is the only way? Write a post about things you disagree with and why, then work on getting into discussions with the people who comment.

Experiment, because you never know what will kick start people's imaginations.

On my Tumblr blog, I post photos I've taken of flowers. My personal favorite was a baby turtle on a water lily. I thought for sure it would take off. Alas, everyone else liked a pretty dull photo of climbing roses on a trellis. My new motto: No baby turtle photos without a recorded quote from the turtle.

But you can post photos, run giveaways, hold photo caption contests -- we can get so involved in writing the blog that sometimes we forget we can do fun things, too, that will attract visitors/readers.

Helen, exactly!

Again, my apologies for not being social before this. I'll be around tonight, though, for a while, and I'll make a special effort to be more visible tomorrow.


Laurie said...

James, thanks for the props!

Jo said...

I imagine a lot depends on the reason for writing a blog. Not being an author, I write a blog for the purpose of writing a blog. I don't claim to be a very successful blogger, but I do have a few loyal followers but few of them comment.

Nancy J. Parra said...

Hi Sia,

Thanks for this series. I have found I get more hits from my personal blog on the view from my window than I do on my writing craft/book review blog. While writers and readers love the craft info, they don't seem to love it enough to come back every week.
It is so interesting to see how everyone's audience differs.

Anonymous said...

So good to see you here on Sia's blog, Laurie. Such excellent points!

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