Author in training check list:
1. Created blog – check.
2. Customized blog – check.
3. Written effective blog content – check.
For those of you who have done all the above steps, and done them expertly, you may still be wondering when the fans will start flooding in and offering you praises for your authorial brilliance. (I know I am.)
Unfortunately, that isn’t how it works. I think that whoever came up with “if you build it, they will come” didn’t know what they were talking about. No doubt, if you wrote the most brilliant prose in the world eventually people would discover you. The key word being - Eventually. Sort of like dinosaurs eventually end up as fuel in my minivan.
Not only do you need to be entertaining, but you need to go out and let everyone know that you’re entertaining. And in order to demonstrate how to effectively do this I am going to direct you to Shelly Brown’s blog.
Shelly has impressed me with how well she promotes her blog. She is witty and amazingly fun to read. However, if she hadn’t made an effort to draw people to her site I wouldn’t know that and possibly neither would you.
What follows are my observations of how she does it.
Social media is all about – being social. The promotion process starts here. It’s like attending a party in order to meet potential clients. This is how I first noticed Shelly. She tweeted me on Twitter. Noticing that I existed and being friendly to me got my attention. At that point she had an opening to plug her blog.
I like using Twitter because it’s been a decent platform for me to meet other people with interests similar to my own, but I expect that whatever social media you are comfortable with will work just as well. Get out there and start meeting people. Attach yourself to groups that will appreciate what you’re writing about on your blog and start conversations.
Interact with people; don’t just plug your blog. As soon as your posting becomes nothing more than ads for whatever you're writing about your posts turn into white noise that is lost amid the vast ocean of more persona and more interesting bits that are available to read. When you finally do direct them to your blog, make it special. Make it alluring.
In Shelly’s case she drew my attention to her Poetry Schmoetry blogfest because it sounded fun. Also because she offered a chance to be the subject of her blog for an entire week. You will want to develop a style and method that works for you. Do some research and see what social media bites grab your attention and then adapt them to fit your needs and personality.
Another thing that I noticed about Shelly is that she is active in the other blogfests that are out there. She participates in them and promotes them on her blog. This works for a couple of reasons.
The first reason this works is an application of the “golden rule.” If you participate on other blogs there’s a chance that they will participate and possibly even support your efforts to be noticed. Not to mention that you will start establishing yourself in the community you’re involved with. Through my efforts so far I am gaining a greater involvement with the LDS writing community.
Also, getting involved in what other people are doing on their blog will likely let them, and their fans, know who you are. Even by just posting comments you will register on the radar of anyone who follows these other websites. If they enjoy your comments they may follow the link back to your site.
Shelly started a poetry blogfest. Even though poetry may be a tough sell, for many of us, she was able to pitch the blogfest in a way that made it sound interesting. You’ll need to do the same with whatever idea you come up with for your blog activity.
Offer an incentive to participate. Give your readers a reason to join in. And not just any old reason, make sure it’s an offer they won’t want to refuse. Published authors often do this by offering free copies of their books or even autographed bookmarks. Unpublished authors will need to be a little more creative. You could offer to write a person into a short story or even write the story to their specifications and put it out – in serialized form – on your blog. (Maybe I’ll try that.) Be creative.
Once you have an idea and have properly incentive-ized everyone it’s time to get them involved. Have them “Follow” your blog, or on Twitter, as a condition for entering the contest. Give them the opportunity to do more in order to increase their chances of winning. The following is what Shelly did for her poetry blogfest:
1 Point - Follow Blog
1 Point - Follow on Twitter
1 Point - Follow on Facebook
5 Points - Post a poem on your blog
1 Point - Post about the blogfest on Twitter, Facebook, your blog
2 Points – Post the Poetry Schmoetry button on your blog
2 Points – Add Shelly’s blog to your blog list
The above activities all help promote your blog. They create followers and offer the opportunity that anyone following them may start to follow you as well. Brilliant.
Then once you’ve gotten around and gotten creative go back to getting out. Let the people on social media know what you’re doing. Talk it up. Make it sound exciting. Get them involved.
When you check out Shelly's blog keep an eye out for these things that I think are noteworthy.
Shelly’s Picture – Very stylish. A good picture of the author really helps.
Event Button – The Poetry Schmoetry blogfest button can copied and posted on other blogs to direct them to Shelly’s event. It also looks cool.
Follow Text – Shelly has changed the standard text for the gadget that allows people to follow her blog so that it says, “Awesome People.” How’s that for making a person feel welcomed.
Blogfest Promptings – Shelly doesn’t just post her blogfest and then let it sit. She has included a writing prompt to help jump start anyone who doesn’t know what to write a poem about – thereby taking away an excuse not to participate. After all, who can resist writing a poem that involves a penguin, a Jedi, and effervescence?
Other Events – I’m reading Shelly’s blog because she has me hooked on the poetry blogfest and then I see events that she’s participating in on other sites. Wow. That looks like fun too.
Pictures – Some very interesting pictures get posted on Shelly’s blog. Just looking at them stirs my creative juices. I like visiting a blog that makes me itch to get back to writing.