Writers Who Blog: Spread Your Net Wide

I got a Facebook memory a few days ago that made me smile. It was a post I made about reaching my first 100 blog followers. While I don’t post nearly as much as I used to, what I did in the beginning gave this blog a good boost and has established a system where the blog receives views and new subscribers daily. I am thankful.

I credit a lot of things to that (to include the support of fellow bloggers who share my posts).

I also credit the diversity of what I post and this is what I want to talk about today for those of you who are writers looking to use blogging as one of your author platforms for networking and meeting new readers.

Everyone has to find that thing that works for them. If you are struggling, consider spreading your net wider by diversifying your content.


This isn’t my first blog. This is actually my third blog.

I started my first blog in 2012 and my second blog shortly after that. I named my first blog after my first novel, The Aftermath, and the second one “A House of Poetry,” I dedicated exclusively to poetry. Neither of these blogs did very well, and I eventually deleted the second one after transferring the poems over to this one.

These blogs were dedicated to one kind of content. On my poetry blog, for instance, I posted poetry and nothing else. I did not talk about myself, my life, my likes or dislikes. Every post was a poem. Some of them got good feedback but mostly, the blog sat there. Lonely. Thirsty. Empty.

When I started this blog, I changed my perspective on blogging. While I did not do a good job with naming it (named this blog after a book I was writing…authors…not a good idea…chances are you will write other books…name your blog after yourself), I decided I would widen my net and diversify my content. Every day I was posting something different. News, music, random thoughts, poetry, quotes. I took part in challenges (like Colleen’s Writer’s Quote Wednesday) and took the Writer’s 101 Blog Course offered by WordPress.

I was posting five and six days a week, following other bloggers and commenting on their blogs. I met blog and author friends I am still in touch with today. I reblogged other people’s posts and promoted them on my social media. I followed the blogs of people who had been blogging for a while and applied their advice. Jason Cushman’s Opinionated Man blog was a huge help in understanding things like hashtags and such.

In the beginning, I was obsessed with growing my blog. I was nominated for blog awards so much that after 13 nominations I stopped doing the Blog Awards (you can still find them on the blog awards page up top).

Before I knew it, three months had passed, and I was over 300 subscribers in.

After a while, I switched it up and started sharing blog tips with others so new bloggers can level up their blog too.

I also started sharing writing tips based on my experiences that may be helpful to others and publishing book reviews.

I was eventually included in Reedsy’s Best Book Review Blogs list where I remain today.

My rate in the beginning was about 100 subscribers a month.

As the blog grew I did away with the WordPress part and upgraded to a plan that would allow me to use a dot com domain name for a bit more professionalism (I was never interested in going self-hosted).

Writers, Spread Your Net Wide: Diversify Your Content

I don’t have millions of followers, of course (I still consider this blog one of the little guys …I should be much further along by now hahaha). But what set the stage for this blog’s foundation in the beginning was being myself, posting about more than just my writing, interacting in the blog community and celebrating every step of the way. Most importantly, I actually enjoy blogging so I was learning and having fun.

Now, I have to say it. It’s important that writer bloggers are authentic. A different topic every day was something that worked for me but that doesn’t mean it will work for you too. Post consistently and be authentic with your content. Talk about the things you like, your life, the things you are passionate/knowledgeable about. Don’t try to mimic someone’s style or repost information from other people too much. Be yourself.

What I’m saying is, there is more to blogging than drafting a post and hitting the publish button.

If you are struggling with your author/writer blog, consider diversifying your content. Spread your net a little and try to understand how to blog outside of posting your stories. What are tags? How do we use them? How does pictures enhance the post? Is my follower button visible so people can follow me? Am I following anyone else? Have I supported someone else blog? How does my blog platform (in this case WordPress) work?

…and so on

Just something to consider.

My Top 5 Email List Building Mistakes

I believe we Indie Authors have to stick together people and that is why I am sharing some of my top email list building mistakes. Before I jump to the conclusion that email lists don’t work, I am going to identify some of the things I am doing or have done wrong. Before finding solutions, we must identify the problem. Sometimes it is not that something is not working, we are just doing it wrong.

Problem#1 – Randomly Asking People to Sign-Up

When I started focusing on building my list, I didn’t pay attention to who was signing up. I just wanted the numbers up. I had heard the hype about getting email list subscribers and how helpful it was to authors. By just asking people to sign-up, people subscribed who were not part of my target audience. This means that when I came out with a book, they weren’t taking action. It wasn’t because they didn’t like me or thought I was a bad person. It was probably because they didn’t read the kinds of books I wrote!

Lesson: I should have been seeking targeted readers (readers who like my genre/topic) and not everyone. Just like a target audience isn’t everyone, my email list is also not for everyone.

Problem #2 – Hard selling to my list

In other words, selling my books directly to my email list. I just thought, what’s the point of having an email list if you can’t sell your book to your readers? Isn’t that what the list is for? To help authors to sell books?

bitmoji-20180426030336

Lesson: I should have been nurturing the list with reading material, short stories, etc, giving away copies of my current works and hoping for reviews (this helps if I’ve learned lesson one).

Problem #3 – Not Focusing on Core Fans

I was too busy trying to build my list and increase my numbers that I didn’t pay attention to the few people that were engaged and reading and responding. These are my core fans. They are the ones who will buy, leave reviews and communicate consistently.

Lesson – Not everyone will respond and interact with my list. This is the hard part and I am still trying to figure how to get people to simply communicate with me. But, there are core fans and when broken down, this is a more realistic number far as readership is concerned. It starts to matter little how many people are subscribed if the people subscribed aren’t readers interested in the kinds of books I write (again, goes back to number one) or intrigued enough to interact with me.

Problem #4 – Not collaborating with other authors in my genre

This one is kinda not my fault. Kinda. OK it is, whatever. The point is, I am finding it difficult to find Indie Authors of black historical fiction. I hate to have to add the “black” part but there is a difference between the historical fiction I write and the historical fiction novels that come up when I put Historical Fiction into Google or Amazon’s search engine. There probably shouldn’t be a difference but it is. I have to put in Black Literature or something to find books like mine. Needless to say, I am not interested in just any historical fiction but historical fiction as it pertains to the African American experience. While Romance and Urban Fiction writers are abundant, I am having a hard time finding Indie Authors to connect with of my genre. I participated in a writer support thread on Instagram for example and stopped when I realized the people following me were Romance writers. I enjoy Romance and I support Romance writers but it doesn’t really help me on the flip side.

bitmoji-20180426025707

Lesson: Find more writers in my genre? Interact more on Goodreads maybe? I don’t really know what to do here. Where are y’all at? Lol.

Problem #5 – Not making use of Giveaways (using my book or books in my genre so that the readers who enter are my targeted readers)

I have not been taking advantage of giveaways as much as I know that I should. Giveaways work when it comes to building an email list. I know this for sure. I don’t like to keep talking about my books over and over again. I do not think it works very well. Probably because I assume people have already made up their minds as to what they choose or choose not to support and I don’t like the idea of begging people to support me (which is the image I get when I think of constantly pushing books in peoples faces).

Lesson: I should use giveaways more as a way to build my email list and promote my books. Update: I forgot to mention that when it comes to giveaways or contests in which people subscribe to your email list as a form of entry, for a contest or giveaway to be successful, the prize must be relevant to your niche. And since the goal is to get new subscribers, what you give away should attract people who are interested in what you write about. And as always, I am talking to myself here. I am trying to learn this too.

And there you have it. My top 5 mistakes. Now, don’t make them!

bitmoji-20180426025841


Enjoy Black History? Literary Fiction? Historical Fiction as it pertains to the Black experience in America? Poetry? Young Adult / Coming of Age stories? Subscribe to my email list HERE. (get a free book when you do!…I also dabble in Sci-Fi!)

Easy Blogging for Authors: 10 Tips for a Successful Author Blog, Anne R Allen

Anne is at it again with a most excellent article on Blogging for Authors. If you’re an author and you’re looking to learn more about how your blog differs from a business blog, check out this post. She talks being true to your brand, not defining your blog success by numbers, networking and not sacrificing your WIP (work in progress).

My biggest mistake was that I didn’t see that an author blog has a different purpose and goal from a business blog. Author blogs aren’t about making money directly with ads or sales.

Instead, they provide a platform for your writing and a way to communicate with readers and fellow writers. An excellent one. In fact, a blog is still the best platform-building tool for authors, according to agent Laurie McLean of Fuse Literary, (Laurie will be visiting us in January.)

Good writers don’t need gimmicks. We only need to entertain and inform: content really is king. Be accessible and be yourself. Nothing else matters. (Well, correct spelling and grammar help too. 🙂 )

Click through to the ORIGINAL POST HERE to read the entire article.

How to Flip those “20% Blog Scrollers” into “80% Addictive Readers.” (1 min read)

Insightful read on writing Blog Post Headlines that hooks readers.

Millionaire's Digest

1. Trust

Your goal is to inform, help and inspire your audience. If you overplay the headline, your audience will feel misled and skeptical of your next headline. Be useful, and never waste your reader’s time.

View original post 223 more words

What Keeps You?

First, let me just take a few seconds to thank everyone who supports this blog for doing so. For reading, commenting, liking, re-blogging, and overall being apart of this journey with me.

As I sit back and I reflect on this part of my writing life, I know it’s not easy to endure with someone, be it a part of their blog or other more important aspects of their lives. That said, I am always thinking about growth, expansion, and elevation. Part of that process is to notice deficiencies and to admit mistakes. Even in blogging, without an acknowledgment of failure, no one can grow.

That said, my thoughts went on and I thought, when a blog grows, do the people who follow that blog ten and twenty followers in still find the content worthy three hundred and four hundred followers in? When your favorite blogs grow, what keeps you coming back? That said, what keeps you supporting this blog? What can I do better far as content is concerned that will keep you tuned in? I’d love to hear your insight!

In case some of you don’t want to comment, I’ve designed a poll. Don’t get me wrong, you can poll as well as comment but I have to have the poll as a back-up in case yall get all shy on me! Just choose the category that most intrigues you and that you’d like to see more of:

Staying Humble

il_570xN.685825868_abhz

Humility is not something that someone does once, but that one must strive to maintain if it is to be a consistent part of that individual’s life. As I thought of this, I also thought on how arrogance is not always boastful or typical of what we commonly associate with pride. There are many subtle ways to which a person can display a characteristic of pride.

Humility – a modest or low view of one’s own importance; humbleness

Assumption

It is a mistake to assume that people do not know what you know, or that they are any less intelligent than you are. Even if you are wise, remember that even a fool is considered wise when he just stops talking. I am sure we all have our own stories concerning people who were surprised to discover that we knew more than what was perceived by way of our silence or decision to withhold certain information. Assumptions cover a lot of ground as they are always based on preconceived notions and unanswered questions. It is always best to communicate with others to learn more about them, than it is to assume something about them. It may seem odd at first, but asking questions is a good thing because it helps us to understand and to get to know the individual.

Acceptance

This is a tricky one and comes through very subtly. At any time in our lives where we fight against acceptance, then we exhibit a form of pride. We must understand that stepping stones exist for a reason; they are bridges to the next level of our growth and for that we may not understand it when we first encounter it, whatever it may be. People who struggle with acceptance also have a habit of disagreeing with every single thing. This too is a form of pride. The person may not realize it, but they are expressing a form of arrogance. Why is it that you have something to say about every thing? How is it that everyone is wrong but you? That person needs to sit back and ask themselves why.

The thing to remember is that all is not meant to be understood in the moment, but to be accepted. In the words of Rainer Maria Rilke, “Do not now look for the answers. They cannot now be given to you because you could not live them.” Sometimes we are not in a place in our lives to understand, no more than a five year old understands how to safely handle a weapon, and for that we must accept the place we are in now until we can grow into the person who could. “At present you need to live the questions. Perhaps you will gradually, without even noticing it, find yourself experiencing the answer.” (Rainer Maria Rilke)

Asking

No, begging is different. But seriously, being afraid to ask for help is another subtle form of pride. It stems from our fear that others will either judge us or think that we do not know something. But you know what? So what! So what if you don’t know? No one knows everything and everyone has something to learn from someone. If you are afraid to ask for help when you need it, now is a good time to ask yourself why. Why does it matter how others perceive you? People talk a lot about keeping it real but being afraid to admit our wrongs, or our mistakes, or ask for help is not being real. That’s being fake.

Contentment

This one is like acceptance. Once you’ve accepted what is, then you can just be. Another subtlety, people who are not content express a form of arrogance. What you’re essentially saying is that what you have is not enough. I’ve learned that discontent is also a triplet, she has two identical sisters who accompany her everywhere that she goes. Now, I actually have a twin sister and though we look alike, we are also very different. For that, discontent has two twin sisters and although they can be very different, they are also very connected. Their names are covetousness and complaint.

When you’re not content in your present situation, you can be sure that a lot of complaining will accompany it and leading you to ultimately covet what you do not have. However, I’ve also learned that contentment is like this undercover miracle worker. When you are truly content in your life, all worry, stress, and depression leave you. I know that many of you are off on weekends and especially on Sundays.  Just take some time today and embrace the stillness, and to practice being content in all that you have.

Contentment #MayChallengeDay22

mug-bedroom-unsplash-1024x683

Contentment is defined as the state of being contented; satisfaction; ease of mind.

It’s so easy to be down, to be depressed, and to be so very unappreciative of this moment. So easy to worry about what bill needs to be paid next, what the work schedule is looking like for this week (even though this week has not come yet), what the children are going to wear to school (even though its Friday night) or how many blog followers I do not have (even though there are people praying for your numbers).

I’ve been doing quite a bit of self-reflection and one thing I’m learning is contentment. I am learning to be content with where I am right now. Right this very minute and it is paying off. There’s a calm, tranquil to my days when I don’t have to bunch so many of them up into one. I take risks because right now may be the only opportunity I have. As the saying goes, it doesn’t matter how many resources you have, if you don’t know how to use them they’ll never be enough. Likewise, it doesn’t matter how many doors open, if you’re too afraid to walk through them it doesn’t matter. It’s not because I know it all (because I don’t). It’s not because I have thousands of followers or get millions of views (because I don’t), and it’s most certainly not because I don’t make mistakes (I make plenty). It’s not because I don’t have down moments. It’s because I have this moment. This one right here and there’s no telling if I’ll have another one. In this fast paced world of ours, we tend to worry about tomorrow as if it’s promised. We don’t have the time to appreciate where we are because we’re usually focused on the next place. Even in typical conversation we do not listen to understand, we listen to reply. We hear words and we subconsciously search for the ones that will trigger a response in us. Listening. It is a lost art. We hear a lot, but rarely do we understand what we hear and it is because we are not content with being still. I’ll bet there’s a lot going on around you right now, even if you are sitting alone. I’ll bet there’s a lot that you haven’t noticed, even in a small room. You’ve been in that house for years and rarely have you noticed the bird on your windowsill and seldom do you hear his singing. We have to learn to be content with where we are in our lives. Not in the sense of laziness or the unwillingness to work or to change, but content as in appreciating the moment for what it is without constantly thinking about the next. Today is not Monday and you are not at work so stop thinking about that. It’s a nice day out today, take a walk, or take the children to the park. Homework is tomorrow but tomorrow is not here yet. Focus on today.