Social Networking

Tips For Gaining New Followers on Your Blog

If bloggers all share one common conceit, it’s that we’re hungry for followers. We like the idea that people are reading what we post on the Internet, and we’re always looking for ways to make sure that plenty of people discover our work and that they keep coming back. And while there’s no correlation between the number of followers and book sales (I wish there was, though), having followers can lead to some book sales on occasion.

Here are some tips I’ve found useful at one time or another for gaining followers on my own personal blog. Now, there’s no guarantee that any of these tips will be helpful for your blog. At best, a combination of these might be helpful, but that’s for you to find out. Like any technique in this business we try to increase sales and readers, it’s all trial, error, and learning from the past so we can learn from the future.

DO NOT ask for people to follow you! I know some people really want followers, but asking for other bloggers to follow you, especially in a comment on a blog post, sounds a little desperate, which can be a major turn off to some bloggers. There’s a better solution to get a blogger to check out your blog, especially if it’s a blogger you really would like to follow you.

Converse. If you read a post by a blogger or really like their blog and you would like them to follow you as well, then talk to them. Have a lengthy comment conversation where you go over issues or points made in the blog post. Engage them, and let the comments you leave speak for themselves. I’ve been drawn to certain loggers just by a single conversation we’ve had over comments on their or my blogs, and vice versa (I think. Maybe once or twice). If your comments really resonate with a blogger, then they may be drawn to look over your blog (if they’re not already reading your blog at the moment) and maybe then they’ll click the Follow button.

Also…

Blog often. I think a lot of us at first only blog when we feel we have something important to say. But that only increases the pressure to have something relevant to say, and may contribute to us blogging less, which may lead to readers not finding us because we have a small body of work. So instead try blogging more often. It doesn’t have to be big or groundbreaking or important. It can be a small revelation you had about a character, or how a day with your kids inspired you to write a story, or even the frustrations you have with your old computer and how you can’t wait to get a new one. I have a couple of friends who blog once a day every day, and they have a lot of followers, blogging on things going on in their lives, sharing excerpts from their WIPs, and the latest in STEM accomplishments and science fiction, to name but a few. You don’t have to write a post every day if you don’t want to, but writing often, even on the little things, can help people find you.

Blogging often also makes us better bloggers. We get a feel for it, like how we get a feel for fiction writing by reading and writing a lot. We learn how to write a compelling blog post from blogging often and from reading other blogs. And that brings me to my next point.

Always be on the lookout for an interesting blog. I love Freshly Pressed on WordPress, because I’ve read really interesting articles and bloggers through it (I actually discovered this blog through Freshly Pressed, by the way). One should always be on the lookout for an interesting blog or blog post, not just on Freshly Pressed but anywhere else you may run into them. And if a post really catches your attention, don’t just Like it, comment on it. Likes are nice, but comments really engage.

Tags! Tags help readers find your blog articles just as much as keywords do. So make sure you have a tag for most or all of the points covered in your blog post and maybe it’ll help people find your blog, or even get Freshly Pressed (in which case, I might become jealous of you).

Stay consistent to the main theme of your blog. Most of our blogs revolve around our writing careers, so we should keep our posts revolving around writing, our respective genres, the latest updates of our books, etc. Sure, it’s okay to maybe talk about something interesting in your life or maybe a political issue you feel passionate about, but don’t do it so much that you deviate from the main theme of your blog more often than you actually write about it. Otherwise you might lose followers who signed up to hear about you and your writing, rather than twenty posts about your job or church and then maybe one about your book, over and over again.

Use pictures. A WordPress administrator actually wrote a post a few years back and published it on Freshly Pressed. One of the tips he or she (I can’t remember which) gave was that one should try to use pictures, as they can spice up some blog posts, especially ones where it might seem to the reader as just one long list of text without end and they might lose focus.

Maybe I should use a picture in this article…

Remember your grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Just like readers hate horrible grammatical errors, typos, and things of that nature in the books they read, they get really annoyed with that in blog posts. So try and keep grammatical rules in mind, make sure you’re spelling that word correctly, and don’t use a semi-colon when a period or comma would do just fine.

Have fun with it. The main thing with blogging is that you have to enjoy it somewhat. If you treat it as a chore, it’ll come off that way in your blog posts and people might not want to read your work. But if you like it and get into it, that feeling might reveal itself in your blog posts.

 

Like I said, these techniques don’t always work for everyone. These are just ones I’ve felt have helped me. But in our line of work, where we experiment as we write and publish and market, you never know. These tips, as well as those from other writers, could prove extremely helpful in building your audience.

What sort of tips can you give other authors on building audiences and gaining followers?

Categories: Blogs & Websites, General Writing, Grammar, Marketing & Promoting, Social Networking, The Writer & Author, Writing as a Business | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 39 Comments

The Phoenix Conference: Buildin’ the Dream

Janet, Ruth, Judy, and Rose

From left: Janet Syas Nitsick (me), Ruth Ann Nordin, Judy DeVries and Rose Gordon

Flying away to Phoenix for a writing conference was one special time not only in what the conference offered but also in the flying experience.

Never before had I flown first class. Dreamed about it but did not believe I would do it. However, the trip to Phoenix changed that.

I experienced a full-course meal, including wine and dessert and bags arriving first in the baggage terminal. It was a great and sure beats my last time flying where my youngest autistic son ran out the plane while waiting to take off from Omaha Eppley Airfield. You can read about this in my first book, Seasons of the Soul.

Of course, Phoenix’s scenery was spectacular. A little too hot in late May for even this cold-blooded individual with temperatures around 107 degrees. But, the sand domes in the horizon took your breath away!

But I digress. What I liked about the Buildin’ the Dream Conference was how you got to interact with fellow authors, publishers and workshops speakers. It was more informal, where you could enjoy eating in the hotel’s breakfast buffet where conferees gathered and intermingle with them or in the lobby area.

You were not going from one workshop to another in rooms so packed you barely could breathe. In addition, you did not walk a mile in high heels to find food. Everything at the hotel was at your finger tips.

The nice advantage of attending a conference like this one was the wonderful speakers, such as USA Today best-selling author Rose Gordon, a top, book-cover designer Anya Kelleye and a Phoenix attorney, Megan D. Scott, who is an entertainment and copyright lawyer.

Gordon gave two presentations. Her first was “Mistakes Authors Make – Historical.” Gordon knows how to sell and make money, thus she knew of what she spoke so you listened.

She writes Regency and American historical romances. Gordon said for you to think of the setting as your wallpaper where people wear clothing and interact to those time-period dictates. Remember, however, to focus on the romance so do not get caught in details which overshadow your storyline. Your office needs to include a dictionary, access to Web resources, a book on that age’s idioms and a trusted friend who knows more than you about the period, she said.

Adding to Rose’s last point, I have a friend who read my Lockets and Lanterns and my novella, She Came by Train. She is knowledgeable about farms, farm animals, reading by kerosene light and attending a small country school. This friend is an excellent resource. I cannot tell you how many times she caught something wrong.

Her second workshop was “Your Books, Your Business.” Gordon told attendees to write with their hearts but think with their brains. Thus make sure your book is done, edited, formatted, has an attractive cover which sells and is marketable. Study your genre, engage the readers, condense descriptions to a sentence or two and become visible like through blog tours, giveaways, promotional items and advertisements, she said. Each piece, though, has its pros and cons. An author blog, for example, is where people interact and learn about you. The con is the time involved in doing one, she added.

Anya Kelleye showed us some of her cover designs. A good book cover needs a strong focal point and must evoke emotions. She cautioned against using a script font. Instead, keep it simple. Too many images or text overtake the cover, she said. Remember, she added, your cover does not need to tell the novel’s whole story.

The lawyer, Scott, also was a great resource. Each state is unique in its own laws, she said. No matter, however, where you live when you bring your idea to physical material it is copyrighted even before it is published and recorded with the United States Copyright office, she said.

In addition, there were many other wonderful workshops. The smaller arena gave you time to talk to the speakers for a short time after their workshops. It also allowed you space to sit and take notes.

But, downfalls did exist. One was the Buildin’ the Dream author conference, and the Arizona Dreamin reader event shared the same Web site page. The two headers used the same colors and unless you paid close attention you could easily sign up for the wrong event. On their feedback form, I alerted them to this problem.

Would I go again, you ask? You bet, in a heartbeat. It was a wonderful trip. The conference was fantastic and it was awesome meeting people you interact with on the Internet, such as Lauralynn Elliott and Judy DeVries. It also was great seeing Rose Gordon again. laughing with her, Judy and Ruth Ann. They even taught me some new words. It was a lovely trip and traveling and sharing a hotel room with Ruth Ann Nordin made it the best. God bless.

 
Categories: Blogs & Websites, Book Covers, Book Formatting, Book Promotion, Business Plan, Copyright, General Writing, Marketing & Promoting, Self-Publishing, Social Networking, The Reader, The Writer & Author, Writing as a Business | Tags: , , , , , ,

Facebook Party: A Great Way to Get To Know Your Readers

Quick intro

Janet Nitsick and I just ran a week long Facebook Giveaway Party. This was the first time I ever did something like this, and to be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I see authors running Events that typically last for a few hours. Since my schedule is hectic with kids and such, I couldn’t set aside a specific block of time.  I needed to have at least one full day to be able to hop on Facebook and catch up with the discussions that were going to take place.  So Janet and I opted for 8 days.  Actually, 9 if you count the final day to “catch up” and tie up any loose ends.

As a disclaimer, I want to say that Facebook parties are not about selling books.  They are about mingling with your readers and giving something back to them.  They are a chance to get to know them, something that we don’t often do given the very nature of our work (which is to sit at the computer and write our books).  So if you do this, go in with the mindset that you’re going to socialize and hang out.  It is a relaxed and informal way to get to know your readers and for them to get to know you.  It’s a place where you can establish friendships.  If you understand this is the purpose of the Facebook party, you’ll have a great time.

Now having experienced this, I thought I’d pass along some things I learned about hosting a Facebook Party.

1.  Let people know you’re going to have it.

Yes, it sounds basic, but if they don’t know the party is going to happen, how will they to show up?  My method was to post the information on my blog and my Facebook timeline, my Facebook Author Page, and on Twitter.  I thought about emailing people to invite them (and this is fine), but I decided not to do this because I have some authors in my friends’ list on Facebook and figured they’d be busy enough with their own stuff so why bother them with another email they didn’t need to wade through in their inbox?  But I see nothing wrong with sending out invites through Facebook to people on your friends’ list.

My advice is to let people know at least a week in advance.  Then follow it up with a reminder 1-2 days before.

2.  Plan out the party.

Are you going to have special guests?  Are you going to have giveaways?  What questions will you have to help break the ice?  On what hour or day will you do what?

To give you an example of what Janet and I did, here was our schedule which we came up with 2 weeks in advance of the party:

Day 1: We had Rose Gordon as a special guest.  We gave away some of her books to the giveaway winners and talked about how we met her and opened the discussion to any questions.  She also came in and mingled with the people there.  This was a special treat.

Day 2: “Romantic Memories”: On this day we posed the question to the group what their most romantic memory was.  All entrants were entered into the giveaway for the day.

Day 3: “Loving Those Heroes”: On this day we posted the question about the best qualities in a romantic hero.  Again, all entrants were entered into the giveaway for the day.

Day 4: “Small Treasures”: On this day we posted a question about something small (but meaningful) people owned, along with a giveaway.

Day 5: Another question with a giveaway.

Etc. until Day 8 which was the final day of the giveaway.

Day 9 was a wrap-up day so we could go in and answer any final comments that had come in late on Day 8.

Day 10: We deleted the group page, which officially ends the party.

3.  Allow for some impromptu moments.

This was more fun than I thought it’d be, and it was totally spontaneous.  Based on some discussions in the threads, we realized that some people either needed or knew someone who needed ereaders.  So we decided to run a giveaway on the spur of the moment that was for a chance to win an ereader.

Two other impromptu moments occurred.  One was when I invited Stephannie Beman to join us and talk about co-authoring books with me, and that turned into a very fun discussion.  Two, I invited my husband to join us and they got a chance to know something about him, which I think was fun for romance readers to get to know the author’s husband.

Impromptu moments are flexible and based on the discussions you’re having.  Sometimes they can be more fun than the planned stuff.

4.  International readers need more time to enter giveaways.

This was brought to my attention before the party began, thankfully.  Because one of my readers mentioned that people who live in other countries need a full 24-hours to get caught up on the party and giveaways, we posted every giveaway and question the evening before we picked the winners.  (We picked the winners using random.org, by the way.  It’s a great site to go to for picking giveaway winners.)

Since ebooks are going global, I think it’s important we reach out to our readers in other countries.  It amazes me how many people in other countries read English.  I’m impressed by this because I have a horrible time learning other languages.  One of my readers in India told me that they’re encouraged to read fiction in order to learn the English language.  How cool is it that we get a chance to help them learn English?  You just never know who is out there reading your books, and I think these people should be included as much as possible into our giveaways and parties.  Yes, sending paperbacks can be costly so specify if you’ll only gift ebooks.  But I would encourage you to consider sending at least one paperback to an international reader.  A signed paperback is a special and unique gift to someone who loves your books.

  5.  Show up

Yeah, I know.  This is a “duh” moment, but you will only get out of a party what you put into it.  Set aside time to go there.  Try to answer all comments if possible.   I know real life can come in and prevent this, but try to answer as many as you possibly can.  I did very little writing during the week in favor of hanging out on Facebook and getting to know the people who took time out of their own busy lives to attend the party.  If they are willing to attend your party, then show them they’re important by showing up, too.  Readers want to know authors.  This is a relaxed way of doing that.  Plus, they get to know each other.  Who knows what friendships will form because of these parties?  Some readers seemed to connect really well, and I suspect they friended each other on Facebook and might become friends down the road.

You just never know what will happen if you show up somewhere.  I have developed friendships because of social media.  Even if we’re at a computer (or other device), we’re still human and can develop friendships in the most unlikely places.  Case in point, I will get a chance to meet Lauralynn Elliott next week at a writer’s conference, and I met her because she has been commenting on this blog for years.  And Stephannie Beman and I met through LiveJournal when it was popular and now co-write books together.  I met Rose Gordon through the forum we had (for a very short time) on this blog, and she and I became friends and met last year at a conference.  We will see each other again next week.  Then there’s a reader (Judy) who emailed me and became my friend and now edits my books.  I’ll be meeting her, too.  These are four people I would never have known if I hadn’t been on social networking sites.  You just never know what the future will bring if you simply “show up” somewhere.

Categories: Marketing & Promoting, Social Networking

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