Thursday, August 21, 2014

Boost Your Blog's Presence

Want to get more readers, more followers and more comments on your blog?
Michelle Hauck has one of the most interesting and thriving blogs around. I asked her to share how she does it and this was her response. 
Blogging. Everyone in writerland tells you that you should be doing it. But there are so many blogs, so much content. How does one go about driving readers to your blog? Is it worth the time and trouble?
The answer, of course, is it depends.

By the time I was writing my second manuscript, I’d gotten this same advice and fumbled my way onto Blogspot, totally unsure of the technical aspect or even what I was going to do with a blog. My early attempts at posts revolved around funny things that happened to me at work. Not exactly a crowd pleaser.

The only ones visiting my blog were other members of my writing group at Agent Query Connect and spammers. I posted when I felt like it or when inspiration struck. I began doing a series I called Getting the Call in order to bring more established writers to my blog with stories about their success with agents. That helped a little, but really, my range of friends was small, and these posts were tough to find.

Blogging wasn’t really high on my to-do list. I did it because it was sort of expected. The post bounced around from subject to subject as I had no particular readership in mind. Then that second manuscript got an offer of publication from a small press. Suddenly I had rather a bigger reason to blog. I had to get myself known. Marketing would be up to me.

That’s when two lucky things happened to me, and they made my blog take off in a gradual upward climb. First, I joined twitter. Like blogging, twitter was more miss than hit. I stumbled around there too, getting to know the ropes, slowly building up a following. But there I met other writers and I learned, learned so much about the business of writing.

I could now do more of those Getting the Call posts because I knew more people. I added posts about editing and helped people with their cover and release day posts. My pageviews began to climb.

 The second lucky break was when SC and Mike asked me to be part of a contest they’d invented called Query Kombat. None of us had done a writing contest before. None of us had agents. I didn’t even have Kindar’s Cure out yet. Happily, we gathered a group of gracious agents willing to join the fun. That first contest was a modest success.

After the contest, I did a string of query critiques on my blog with queries offered by people I’d met on twitter. My blog began to have a direction, an audience. I cast around for more ideas to fit that audience of newer writers. Agents had been very kind about the contest, maybe they’d be up for being interviewed about query slush. Turns out they were. I started by asking agents I saw often on twitter. Interviews began to roll in.

My pageviews climbed steadily upward, becoming regularly a hundred views a day. Mike and SC and I hosted other contests. I did giveaways with agents of query critiques. Then I had the great fortune to accept an offer of representation from Sarah Negovetich a few months after Query Kombat. My pageviews went to three hundred a day and then six hundred. But I was posting something pretty much every week day. My blog was busy. I began to add a few book reviews, trying to keep to speculative fiction, to direct my audience more toward readers.

I discovered that I really loved blogging. I loved interacting on twitter. The two were one and the same for me. Keeping up a steady stream of blog posts was fun, and I enjoyed it. And here we are today barely a year later and my audience continues to grow. (I hope.) It’s great to meet new people and to help other writers in any way I can. Giving back is awesome. For me it’s all about the fun! Thus my blog title and my twitter handle: Michelle4Laughs.



So what do I think are the keys to successful blogging?

—Have a specific audience in mind and give them something they can’t get elsewhere. Whether it’s romance readers, travel stories, or beginning writers, come up with unique ideas and see if you can’t create a series of it. One thing I’ve seen recently from Dan Koboldt is bringing in experts to discuss aspects of writing, such as people who know horses to help writers with truths about horses in their books. That’s a fabulous idea.

—Use twitter. Use it to meet people for guest posts and use it to pimp your blog posts. Twitter can bring people to your blog. Or Facebook or Tumblr if that’s your thing. (I ignore my Facebook too much.)

—Don’t bother unless you enjoy it. There are all kinds of social media out there. Blogging may not be your thing. You may not have the time. That’s fine. Go with what you like. I started a Tumblr and decided it wasn’t for me.

—Post regularly whether that is once a week or every day. Have some kind of schedule.

—Be positive, but let your real voice come through. Let your personality shine in your posts and don’t be afraid to be a little silly, or exuberant, or sarcastic if that’s your thing.

—Don’t be afraid to try new things and take chances. I’ve recently added a newsletter to my blog, incorporating giveaways to get it started. I was pretty nervous about trying that, but it worked out well.

—Don’t expect to be an overnight success. A good blog will grow slowly. Do things to bring people back.

I learned by trial and error, and I hope some words from someone still learning can help. Come visit my blog, I’d love to see you.

What are your favorite things to write about on your blog? Do you have any tricks I missed?


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Michelle Hauck lives in the bustling metropolis of northern Indiana with her hubby and two teenagers. Besides working with special needs children by day, she writes all sorts of fantasy, giving her imagination free range. A book worm, she passes up the darker vices in favor of chocolate and looks for any excuse to reward herself. Bio finished? Time for a sweet snack.

She is a co-host of the yearly query contests Query Kombat, Nightmare on Query Street, New Agent, PitchSlam, and Sun versus Snow. 


Her epic fantasy, Kindar's Cure, was published by Divertir Publishing. Her short story, Frost and Fog, was published by The Elephant's Bookshelf Press in their anthology, Summer's Double Edge. Elephant’s Bookshelf Press also published another of her short stories, The Unfinished Task, in their winter anthology, Winter’s Regret. She’s represented by Sarah Negovetich of Corvisiero Literary.

Goodreads: Kindar’s Cure




   

14 comments:

  1. I just posted a blog hop meme on writing and blogging that included this:When I first started blogging, it was more popular. It’s sometimes harder to justify now, but it still has the benefit of providing a forum and an incentive to write. It’s been a great venue to repost my published writing and give it a longer shelf-life, and I’ve met some very good virtual friends from all over. I like the directness and self-sufficiency of not having to submit work or look for publishers. It’s like having my own magazine that I can post to every day, a poem, a photograph, a commentary, a formal or informal piece of writing.

    One of my favorite things about blogging is that it acts as a writer’s filing cabinet. I can access everything I’ve written by searching a word or clicking on a category or date. I’ve called my blog a virtual scrapbook, a writer’s petire dish, a canvas and a one man band, and it can be all those things. http://www.looseleafnotes.com/2014/08/writers-talk/

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    1. So true. It is a scrapbook. I can throw a link for an editing post I wrote a year ago, back out on twitter and get new readers.

      And it is a really good way to express yourself and be creative.

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  2. mine is just fun things no real commentary

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    1. It should be fun and be about what you enjoy talking about.

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  3. Some good tips. I participate in four regular memes each week, two of which are photo, one book related, one anything goes. I'm a walker, so share a lot of the photos I take on my outings. This week: In Search of Sunflowers

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    1. I enjoy reading about your posts and viewing your pictures.

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    2. Photos are great! I should have made that a tip! Include photos as often as you can.

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  4. Don't get me started on blogging. I could fill a list of 13 ;)

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    1. Ha! I bet you could. Thanks for stopping by.

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  5. My blog tends to go with toward a stupid-funny tendency. Stories of my former coaching days, motivation, stories about fatherhood, family, and even a post about how to be a fire baton dad. It has taken years to build up an audience through steady and consistent content. Now I get daily hits from football coaching related searches and have a growing follower list.

    I really like blogging and feel it helps me develop my fiction voice. Thanks for sharing the knowledge!

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  6. Did you know you can shorten your urls with AdFly and make $$$ from every visit to your short urls.

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