The Biggest Blog Mistake

There are plenty of articles out there to tell you how to blog. They offer advice on how to decorate your blog, what links you should include in the sidebars, how to make your blog easily navigable and searchable. There are articles that give you ideas about how often to write, how long the posts should be, what the ideal time is to post, and even what your posts should be about. However, all of this is meaningless if your readers can not subscribe to you.

The point of posting a blog is to get people to read it, and if no one can read it then you’re wasting your time.  You want to make your blog as easy to get access to from as many devices/subscriptions types as you can. It takes a couple of seconds, and there’s no excuse not to.

Most blog hosts offer a default RSS subscription service. All you have to do is make sure that the link to it is visible in your toolbars/widgets.  RSS isn’t the only subscription route. For example, I don’t use RSS and the sad fact is that if I can’t subscribe to a blog via email, I don’t bother, no matter how interesting or entertaining it is. I simply don’t have time to book mark it and randomly check back. I’m not the only one.

If your blog host doesn’t offer an email subscription option (wordpress does – just go to your widgets and drag it over to your widget area), you can use feedburner.com to create one. They will generate code that you can paste into your blog’s sidebar (if you want to see it in action you can check here – look to the right). Feedburner is pretty easy to use, so I won’t go into details unless someone wants me to.

Remember, the point of blogging is to be read – so make it easy for your readers to read – and subscribe – to you, or they might not bother.

An Article About Balancing your Social Media Efforts

I’m one of those people who are out of balance in the social media forum. Maybe I’m not utilizing them very well, but then again I think it’s a nearly impossible task without repeating over and over again the same message and run the risk of being removed from our readers/followers media streams. No one likes spam and when you use the micromedia forum, that about what you have to be to stay on top.

I joined Twitter, Digg, Stumbleupon, LinkedIn, Tumblr and Facebook because I was told by other writers that these were the places to market and promote on. I had to have these accounts because it would help me succeed. I’ve since removed my accounts from all places except Facebook and Twitter, neither of which I update all that often, usually because I forget or I’m really busy with my other efforts, like writing and publishing a book.

I found this article Expand Your Social Media Mix: Twitter Alone is Not Enough by Jeremiah Owyang who briefly mentions that all our efforts maybe out of balance if we only use micromedia places like overloaded Twitter to market instead of focusing our efforts on things that should be longer lasting, higher impact, and larger form content. These would be better places to focus our efforts (ie writing new books, blogging, and/or article writing) and balance it with the micromedia of our choice. And lastly he calls for a Mindset Change and a way to rebalance your social media mix. This leads me to the second article.

Why 150 Followers Is All You Really Need  isn’t the original article I found, but I like it just the same. The gist of the article talks about devoting  most of your time to creating a backlist of books, then to your blog, and lastly choose one social networking site and utilize it to the best of your ability. If that site is Twitter, then focus on following the rules of Twitterverse. If it’s Goodreads, make sure you participate in an acceptable way. Facebook the same, etc.

Spreading yourself all over the different networking sites means that you’re less effective in your message and connecting with people. The article went on to say that we can only have meaningful relationships with about 150 people, not sure how true that is, but I know from experience that having a relationship with more than 20 starts getting hard for me.

What do you think about your social media efforts?  Do you have any articles that you would like to share on social media?

Daily Samples

In the spirit of sharing the Indy Love, several authors have come up with an idea called “Daily Samples” (hashtag #DaSample on Twitter) where we post samples of other authors work on our blogs – and I’d like to invite you all to join in!

What do you need to do?Send me (or other authors) your excerpt, along with relevant information like buy links, your bio, or even a blurb for your book.  Excerpts should be between 500 – 1,000 words. Having a hard time choosing what to send? Edie Ramer posted a blog with some great advice on how to pick your excerpts!

Not interested in submitting, but you want to read the posts? you can find them listed here on the mysterious paper.li (I call it mysterious because as of this posting I know nothing about it, but intend to look into it further)

For more info on submitting to my blog check out this post.

Other participating authors as of this posting:

Here’s hoping everyone has a Great New Year!

 

 

 

The Writer’s Business Plan: The Marketing Plan

Some of you know that I live on a Ranch and occasionally I throw out a ranch analogy. This is going to be one of those rare occasions.I was out with my husband and kids feeding the cows on a cold and foggy morning. I now understand the mean of “thick as pea soup.” Heavy, wet, cold, and blinding. Now usually when we feed in the winter time the cows come running and occasionally fight over small piles of good hay. And from the start, we watched these three “old buggers” fight. Around and around they went, neither gaining nor losing ground, and all around them the other cows munched away on the hay. They were making quick work of those piles, while those three fought.

Cows fighting during a foggy, winter morning

I’m standing in the back of the truck, just shaking my head and wondering what they could be thinking. What benefit is it for them to fight? And it suddenly hits me. These cows remind me of marketers. You know the kind. The ones who fight and wave their product in the faces of everyone they meet. Those who throw a party every time someone gives them a good review and splatters it across the webverse as if anyone is paying attention—this does not count if this is your first review for a new book, we all understand and indulge your excitement. But there are those who state their stats and ratings every week. Those who flood our inboxes and make us cringe every time we see their names, until we eventually shy away from them as if they have the plague. There are those that give the rest of us bad name. Marketing is a fine line between sharing what you have and stalking to the people who don’t care.

The more I read about business the less I want to be involved. I’m not a pushy or competitive person, and publishing can be a competitive, cutthroat business. A writer is told not to cross-promote unless it benefits them, but I don’t agree. Creating a group of writers to help each other sale books does more good than bad. The thing about Marketing is in order for it to be successful, you need to test a few different things and see what works and what doesn’t. I’m not going into a detailed list of marketing ideas. But here are a few to get you started:

•Build your Author Platform. This is your readers and fan base, your author identity, and your message –what you are about, your tone and style of writing, what you write, etc.

•Try Social Networking at places like Twitter, Facebook, Digg, Reddit, Goodreads, etc. Post reviews of book sites but keep your interaction low. Readers are used to the marketers I mentioned above hounding them. On places like Twitter and Facebook, interact and make friends. Don’t be all about your book. Show that you are a human being.

•Blogging. Either blog for others, or blog for yourself, but only blog if you like it, otherwise you’ll hate it and people will feel it in your writing. You can always join up with other writers in a joint blog and pick a day to post. It’s been suggested by professionals that you choose three subjects upon which to blog that deal with your writing (i.e. genre, writing tips, self-publishing, marketing, etc). One suggestion was to use a blog as an announcement board, but I wouldn’t suggest it. You’d do better with a newsletter.

•Newsletters should not flood the inboxes of your readers or they will groan every time they see them. Newsletters should be sent out to your mailing list when you have a giveaway, contest, coupon, sale, or new release. It should have an opt out option too.

•Forums are not a place to promote, unless the thread specifically asks for the information you can provide. If someone asks a question about your book, answer briefly. Have the one-sentence explanation of what the book is about and link to find out more.

I know there are more ideas, but this post would go on forever than. I just want to say that this is the place in your Writer’s Business Plan to explore new marketing ideas and when you plan to execute those plans. What marketing technique do you want to try? How do you want to gauge it’s helpfulness to you? Do you want to have a giveaway? A contest? A sale? Post a short story on your website? Go wild with ideas and then pick a few to try.

The Writer’s Business Plan: An Introduction

The Writer’s Business Plan: Parts of the Writer’s Business Plan

The Writer’s Business Plan: Creating a Budget

The Writer’s Business Plan: Building a Production Schedule

The Writer’s Business Plan: Setting Daily, Weekly, and Monthly Goals

Don’t use Twitter for Marketing?

Lately, I have seen a backlash against using Twitter for marketing. The main complaint is that after they develop a large group of followers, that many start to leave. They blame the people on Twitter. They call them fickle.

The problem is, most of the ones that are saying don’t use Twitter, don’t understand Twitter.

I like to compare Twitter to a large cocktail party. You come in, you find a small group of people to talk to, but around you other conversations are happening. As you move through the room. You catch snippets of some of the conversation. You repeat them to your core friends. They pass the snippets along if they think they are worthy.

Old style marketing comes to that same party and starts harking. “Roll up, Roll up!” They don’t engage with any of the groups. The only shout to get your attention. Is it any wonder that they are left standing alone at the end of the night.

Another group of people sees this happen. They do engage with other people at the party, but they only have four or five stories to share. They repeat them over and over again, then try to sell you something.

The harker and the repeats don’t understand the basic rule of Twitter. Be Social.

The first people I don’t follow (if they follow me) or drop are the repeaters. On Twitter they will tweet nothing but quotes, or links, or other tweets. Nothing original. If they are marketing, they never got their foot in the door.

The second group I don’t follow are the harkers. All they do is sell. It becomes boring.

Why do I bring all this up? Because there is a way to market on Twitter. The trick is to find your comfort level. The first thing you have to do, is engage with the people on your list. Respond to them, retweet the cool tweets, and comment to them on the Twitter feed if you followed one of their links and enjoyed it.

While you do that, slip in a mention that you have a book. Don’t be pushy. I send out about four tweets a day promoting my book. That’s it. Most of the other tweets are comments about what I am writing about, something on TV, complementing another writer, etc.

I was told once a good rule of thumb is one promotional tweet, then three non promotional. I suppose it could work if you like the number crunching. I send a link to your blog or your book, the next tweet better be a reply to someone, or a retweet. Because I have seen too many people use that rule of thumb this way:

  • Promotional tweet
  • Stupid observation.
  • Stupid observation.
  • Stupid observation (repeat)
  • They never look at their feed and respond to the people that follow them. There’s the mistake.

    So my feed might go this way.

  • Promotional tweet.
  • Reply to someone
  • Stupid observation.
  • Retweet
  • Stupid observation.
  • Reply
  • Post a link to a video I like
  • Reply
  • Retweet
  • Stupid observation (repeat)
  • Of course I don’t get bogged down in following that list to the letter, depends on what is happening on Twitter. You have to be fluid, you have to adjust to change. Tweeting about your book, when some horrible disaster has just happened, might not be the best plan, for example.

    Should you market on Twitter? Yes.
    Does it work? Yes.
    Then why do some people fail. Because they forgot the social part of Twitter. Be social, and you can sell.

    Addendum:
    There is a certain Twitter feed that breaks those rules. The ones run by business that want to inform you of events. So it is okay for a restaurant to post nothing but tweets about daily specials. Because you are following that feed for that information. You wouldn’t expect your favorite restaurant to respond to your comment about your cat.

    Social Media: Friend or Foe?

    Recently, someone sent me an article called Why You Should Consider turning Your Back on Social Media. The article is geared towards small businesses, but what are independent authors if not the smallest business unit there is?

    The gist is that in some cases the time spent updating Twitter/Facebook, including commenting, making connections, and creating content can sometimes take more time than they’re worth in terms of sales.

    When I first published Shades of Gray over a year ago, I jumped on the Facebook (and to a lesser extent Twitter) bandwagons. I spent hours setting up pages on facebook, making “friends”, commenting on their stuff and trying to come up with clever advertising techniques.  I generated a few questions, like “Wow, I want to get published too! How do I do it?” and several “congratulations” or “Your book sounds interesting”, but if it resulted in any sales I’d be surprised.

    MySpace, on the other hand, did generate sales because of the blog. Though as far as I know I could count the “random” sales on my digits. Mainly, I was able to sell to people I  already interacted with on more personal levels, such as reading their blogs or because we were in poetry groups together.

    Oddly, Flickr (a photography site) has generated several random sales. In fact, my newest Amazon review came from a new Flickr contact.

    So, I wondered how it was with other authors. Have you found a great success with social networks? If so, were the sales generated worth the time it took to set up the pages, get the contacts, keep the contacts by being friendly (eg commenting on their statuses/photos/tweets/messages and such), etc. ?

     

    Follow Friday a Necessary Evil

    When I first started Twitter, I would dread Fridays. What the heck were all these people doing filling up my stream with names? I really didn’t like it. But as I started to watch and realize, they were shouting out to me too. So I had to rethink my attitude.

    #FollowFriday is a must if you want to show your followers that you think they are special. That is why it is a necessary evil. It’s easy to do when you have a few hundred or less, but what happens when you hit over a thousand? It suddenly becomes a chore. I have figured out a way to make the chore easier, and doing so without flooding the streams of my followers.

    To start, you need to sign up with two services. http://followfridayhelper.com and http://www.socialoomph.com

    Follow Friday Helper is a great way to sort the people that actually interact with you and send them a thank you. The interface is easy to learn, I won’t cover that here. All you have to do is pick people out of your list (I do recommend for your #FollowFriday shout outs you sort the names under ALL). And click on their names. The application does the rest.

    Most people stop there. They will send the tweet from the page, then move on to the next bunch of folks. Please don’t. You end up filling others feeds with the #FollowFriday and it can be annoying. That is why you need Social Oomph.

    Social Oomph is a tweet scheduler, you should be using it already if you are promoting anything, organizing tweet chats, and is handy for other things. I only use the free version, so don’t worry if you think it costs a lot. On Fridays, or Thursday nights for me, I schedule my #FollowFriday tweets. I use Follow Friday Helper to set up the tweets then I copy and paste my tweets on to Social Oomph.

    I sometimes schedule one an hour, some weeks one every 30 minutes. There are weeks you are more active on Twitter than others. I suppose you could skip this step. But think of your followers. You might have a few hundred people to thank on a #FollowFriday and your followers could be under a lot of tweets in a short time. This spreads the tweets out and it doesn’t look like you are blitzkrieging them.

    With Social Oomph you could set up special #FollowFriday tweets for people, for what ever reason, you always will want to give a shout out for, but they are not active on Twitter (such as friends and family). You could set up those tweets, save it as a draft. Then schedule them to repeat every Friday.

    Add to this a #TY on Saturdays. Using the same steps above, except on Follow Friday Helper you set the sort to Mentions and sort the list by Last Tweet Date. This will give you everyone that shouted out your name on #FollowFriday. Now you can make sure you thank everyone and won’t miss anyone.

    At this time, pay attention to the little blue links by the persons profile. There is one that says either follow or unfollow. If it says follow, click on their picture and see if it someone you would want to follow back.

    Be careful, some spammers will copy #FollowFriday tweets hoping that you will follow them blindly. They hope you are thinking, “They mentioned me, they must know me.” The other ones come from people that thank the person that sent their name up in a #FollowFriday by copy and pasting the original #FollowFriday tweet. I have found some great followers that do that, so not everyone is out-to-get-you in that respect.

    Total cost of my time, with over 2000 followers, a little more than an hour spread over two days. Not a lot. At the core of Twitter is interaction. Even if you signed up to use Twitter to promote your book. The biggest mistake you can make is NOT thanking the people following you. So those of you that think #FollowFriday is a waste of time. You are missing out on one way to prove to the people you want to reach that you care.

    Blogging How-To’s : Automated

    Stephannie has posted some excellent articles chock full of blogging tips from a writing point of view, so I thought I’d take a little time to discuss the more technical aspects of blogging with some handy tips I’ve discovered.

    In the spirit of short blogs, I am breaking this up.

    Automation:

    Most WordPress bloggers know how to write engaging posts, embed photos, videos or even polls in their posts, but did you know that you don’t have to publish the post right away? I’m not talking about the save as draft option, I mean that you can set your blog up to post a blog on a specified day, at a specified time, while you’re not even near the computer.

    Yeah, I’m doing it now. As this blog is posted, I have no idea where I’ll be, or what I’ll be doing, but WordPress will be auto-posting this for me. Pretty cool, huh?

    To post your blog on a future date, simply edit the post date like so:

    And then, you walk away, and it posts for you. This can be especially handy if you’re doing a series but want to sit down and write it all in one day, or you’re posting a long piece – like a book chapter – in pieces.

    Want even more automation? How would you like some, automatic system to post an update to your Facebook and Twitter that lets the world know you’ve posted?  Sound like an impossible dream? Well it’s not, thanks to TwitterFeed.

    How does it work? Go to http://twitterfeed.com/, make an account, and set up a new feed. Name it and then enter your feed address ( the RSS feed address for my WordPress blog is: http://joleenenaylor.wordpress.com/wp-rss2.php – copy this and change the joleenenaylor.wordpress.com to your url  ). Twitterfeed will authenticate it, and then continue to step 2 where you can choose to use this with Twitter, facebook, Stautsnet, Ping.fm, and Hellotxt.

    The extra cool thing about this is that you can have more than one feed. Facebook only allows you to sync your account with one blog. For instance, I have it linked to my personal blog, which meant I had to manually post links to my author blog, but now I could actually let twitterfeed handle them all, if I wanted to, or even add another blog.

    So, how well does it work?  As of my writing this, it’s posted two posts to my facebook wall, but I imagine there will be more by the time this is posted. (If you want to see for yourself, you can go check it out – http://www.facebook.com/joleene.naylor ) It does put a little yellow icon that says “posted via twitterfeed” after it, and it doesn’t have the thumbnail image that you get when you post the link manually:

    a Twitterfeed posting of a link Vs. manually posting the blog link

    And here’s the result on Twitter

    Lookin' good!

    So far, I highly recommend it!

    Have you discovered any “automated” services? If so, what are they, and would you recommend them?