Friday, April 18, 2014
Blogging as a Promotional Tool by Jannine Gallant
Blogging--does it help promote our books? Editors and agents tell us to get out there and blog our little hearts out. People pay good money for blog tours to promote their books. I've done blog hops for prizes, and I guest blog on occasion (i.e. when I have a new book out or a freebie or a sale). Once in a while I even slap something up on my own blog. (Yes, I'm the first to admit I'm a bad blogger. Bad. Bad. Blogger!) Except here at the Roses of Prose. Our lovely group blog. I never miss my days mainly because I try to plan and prepare my posts ahead of time. And I like to throw down my opinions on everyone else's posts.
So, back to the original question--is all this blogging successful? Or is it a time-sucking failure! I guess it all depends on how you look at it. Let's break it down by types.
Blog Tours: The last one I did, I had almost no comments from readers. Even the hostesses failed to chime in at several stops. I have a sneaking suspicion many authors sign up to be blog tour hosts, post the blogs they get, then forget all about them. In other words, they don't bother to advertise. Don't get me wrong, I think there are some hosts out there who really try. It's a mixed bag, and you just don't know what you'll get. Most authors favor the blog tours that include reviews. I'd love to hear opinions about this.
Blog Hops for Prizes: I did one of these not too long ago. I chipped in my share and got quite a few comments. You had to comment to be eligible to win. However, when all was said and done, I didn't sell one book. Most of the other authors had the same results. Frustrating.
Guest Blogging: When I have something to promote, I'll frequently ask friends if I can guest on their blogs. Since they're my friends, they generally promote my appearance. I enjoy visiting them. My only issue is I have a sneaking suspicion I'm not reaching anyone new. Our writer community tends to move in circles--the same circles, reaching the same people. I've been told (repeatedly!) I should branch out to find new blogs with similar interests to mine and ask to guest. Not so easy since I'm not good at pushing myself on people I don't know. I need to work on this one!
My Personal Blog: (sigh) I gave this a real shot. I set it up with a theme. I like to cook, so I posted recipes weekly along with posts about books, etc. I kept at it...and at it...and at it...and then gave up. Everyone says you have to keep posting and eventually your blog will attract followers and grow. My question--how long is eventually? After a year of posting, I was averaging maybe 20 hits on days I posted and zero comments. Maybe patience isn't my strongest virtue, but I threw in the towel. Now, I use it once in a blue moon (sorry for all these cliches!) when I have a free or sale book to push. I know, pathetic! So, can anyone tell me how long eventually is? Did your personal blogs gain a strong following after a while?
Last But Not Least--Group Blogs: We have a wonderful group here. I only have to post twice a month. Everyone is friendly and supportive. We comment on each other's posts. We each bring different readers to the blog (I hope). Instead of my feeble 20 hits a day, here we get a couple of hundred. These are all good things. Do I sell more books on my days to post. Honestly, no. But since I like being part of a group, and I see value in cultivating supportive relationships and being available to readers on a regular basis, I feel our group blog is a success!
One final thing that makes most of us batty! Comments. Seems like the only people who leave comments are other authors. The number of comments never correlates to the number of daily hits. What does this mean? I think it means that there are actual readers out there who drop in occasionally or regularly to see what we have to say. Either they're shy and don't feel the need to comment, or they don't have blogger accounts. I think that's the key. If you aren't actively promoting, would you go to the trouble of creating an account? If it were me--I wouldn't. So, despite all this, I'll keep on blogging and hope someone out there is reading it!
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I so wish I had something to add, but truly feel you've said it all. Is it a bad thing I agree completely?
Oooops. Forgot, best of luck with the sale. ;-)
Oooops. Forgot, best of luck with the sale. ;-)
Blogging...one of my downfalls as well. Several years ago (maybe 10?), I told a non-writer friend that I was going to start a blog. She asked, "What's it about?" I said, "Uh...I dunno. Just stuff." After a long pause she said, "I find that unless you're addressing a specific need or audience, you're just one of the thousands shouting into the wind. Everyone has a blog." I was a little insulted (I mean, who wouldn't be interested in my ramblings??), but after thinking about it, I had to agree. Think about what blogs you read (i.e., devote your limited time to). I think you have to provide content not only of value but that people are looking for . If an author blogs about his/her writing tips, who is the audience? Cooking is good and universal, but there are so many out there, it's hard to get attention without narrowing to a specific niche or target group. For authors, I think the main point of blogging is to give readers a sample of your writing--your voice, what interests you. But still, you have to write about something that others will find of value. I tried doing the blog tours when I first published and so no benefit. (I think only other authors are reading them most of the time.) Yet still, all the marketing experts say you have to blog consistently to get your SEO numbers up and ... blah, blah, blah. We just want to write stories. :-) I wish I knew the answer!
I don't have anything to add, either. I blog a lot, though not on my own neglected one, and belong to two group ones. I don't know that it does any good or sells any books, so I've just pretty much decided I'm going to do it because I like it. I was a newspaper columnist before I wrote books, and I think blogging replaces that in my mind.
Great post, Jannine. I agree about commenters. When I run a contest (or am part of a blog hop), I get new visitors. Are they the hit & run type or will they come back? Will they buy my books? Who knows. I love this group because it is so supportive. I guess we keep throwing ideas out there and hope they have some effect.
It's never a bad thing when people agree with me, Margo! LOL
Leah, I know exactly what you're saying. I've been told that too. Find something you know about and give good info. Hmmm, let's see, I write about small towns and stalkers. How much can you actually say about those topics. After a while, even I might run dry on small towns. AND, while I really enjoy getting into the mind of a killer, I'm not going to claim to be an expert!
Liz, we sound like clones. I neglect my personal site and enjoy my group one. There's something to be said for doing what you like!
Diane, I always fear contests with great give-a-ways strictly attract the drive-by commenters. Maybe they glance at your books displayed on your blog, but their purpose is to sign up not to gather info. Sigh. It is hard to know what to do.
I agree with your points. I just recently started my own blog because of the same advice. My most popular posts are the ones where I rant about things like how heroines lose their v cards in YA. Does it translate to sales? No idea. I think it has helped with my exposure since I'm a new author, but how do I measure the impact of my blog versus my presence on twitter or Facebook? I find it very time consuming and it tends to sap my writing mojo. But i do enjoy it...I'm left exactly where I started-on the fence!!
Hits pretty close to home, ugh.
Nicely put, Jannine.
I started a blog for the exact same reason--because you're supposed to. But then I found that I enjoy blogging. I like writing funny stories and having a sort of professional journal and I like having other authors on their as well because I love books.
I realized some time ago that my audience is other authors and I've decided to just accept it and move along. It's not going to stop me from blogging but it does influence the types of content I post. Lots of writing and promotion articles in addition to the book stuff.
Anyway, sorry for babbling. Great post! Thank you for discussing it. :)
J.C., thanks for stopping by. That is a concern with blogging vs. FB or twitter promo. It takes a lot of time, which could be spent writing. Glad you're enjoying yours, even if you're on the fence about the value!
Thanks for the support, Kathy. I have a sneaking suspicion many of us feel this way!
Melissa, great attitude! Yes, we attract other writers, so why not just go with it. Writers are readers too.
When I started this writing journey about 5 years ago, I visited blogs and left a comment as a way to get my name out there. Sadly, I now have time to read more than one blog a day.
I love blogging. Love twiddling with the appearance of my blog, but I lack the "theme" experts talk about. I've had my blog for 4 years and only have 286 followers--and God love everyone.
I've paid for blog tours with zero results. I've asked other writer friends if I can come blog on their sites to do promo and am always welcomed, so why spend the dough?
I love blogging. I've met so many delightful writers that way. Not so many readers though. But I feel most of my readers are other writers and I love 'em to death for their support.
Some experts claim blogging is now out of style. Gee, I hope not. I feel I'm just now getting the hang of it.
It is so nice to learn that I am not the only one who is "blob" illiterate! Now, I don't feel so alone. I had to join y'all because I can relate. It's really nice to know that I am not alone!
Vonnie, blogging is out of style? What next! LOL Don't worry, like hip huggers and bell bottoms, they'll come back eventually.
Darlene, I'm glad you feel like you're in good company! We're always happy to have new visitors.
Blogging truly is a mixed bag. It helps us get the word out and keep out names before potential readers, ostensibly. I try not to go overboard, but I do try to do some. Thoughtful post. Barb Bettis
This makes so much sense. Are the people out there telling us to blog just media types selling their wares? Do blogs help build email lists and does that help sales? How can we tell? Someone, please do a PhD on the subject! But I love reading some blogs, like this one, so keep going please xxx
I'm with you all the way. The only time I've seen actual sales result from a guest appearance was when I visited a specialty blog just for Western romance with my first book. Otherwise, zip. I know for a fact that many (most?) non-author visitors have no reason to have a Blogger account so don't comment. Conclusion - a lot blogging is simply wasted time. HOWEVER, I love the ROP and wouldn't give it up for anything! It may not sell my books, but it gives me something at least as valuable.
Barbara, name recognition is a big reason to blog. It's the reason I keep at it. I hope that when I have a sale or a free book, a potential reader will remember seeing my name before and be motivated by that to download.
Frances, I think editors and agents and other authors are such proponents of blogging because they don't know what else to tell us to do. I think we're all scratching our heads when it comes to how to attract readers.
There you have it, Alison. A theme specific blog helped net you a sale. But even with a specific topic, how many times can you talk about one subject--whether it's a historical setting or a serial killer? I have a new historical I intend to publish soon. I can come up with a few posts on the topic of Salem witches, but the well will run dry fairly quickly. Then what? And how do I find blogs with followers devoted to that topic? Google I guess. It's a dilemma.
I agree wholeheartedly about the Roses. This blog rocks!
I was a newspaper columnist for 15 years, under my own name, and never had any difficulty expressing an opinion, libelling my family, or complaining about life in general in 500 words. I suspect such topics will not hook readers of romance and help sell books. However, the advice I read is not to blog about controversial subjects. Blogging about writing feels bland and that translates into uninteresting prose. As Jannine says, it's a dilemma.
Madeleine, good advice. I avoid controversial topics (politics, religion, etc.) like the proverbial plague. Definitely guaranteed to alienate at least half your readers! Writing topics do get old after a while, but they do seem to interest writers--who are the only one leaving comments! A dilemma indeed!
I'm inclined to agree with what everyone else is saying. Blogging seems to increase your visibility/familiarity in the local author community but sales seem to be more about packaging, price and content.
I say blog for fun. Enjoy yourself. If someone happens to buy your book, bonus!
Such good points. Thank you!
Melissa, I think you hit on it. Packaging, price and content. Now that sounds like a worthy blog topic to interest--who else--other writers!
Thanks for dropping by, R.T.
Well--I must I have thought all these thoughts about blogging myself and I Think you are spot on with every point. Any way to make the work of blogging pay off in sales? Maybe a professional blogger if there is such a person, could answer our questions as writers.
That would be interesting, Susan. Lots of people are out there organizing tours and hops for a fee, but I'm pretty sure no one guarantees any results. Now I wonder why that is...
Excellent post. I have no magic answers nor do I have anything to add. I've also come to enjoy blogging, and even though having other authors comment on your post doesn't attract readers or book sales, it gives me a warm fuzzy that I have that kind of support. :) I get a LOT more hits than I do comments, so someone is reading. And, you never know when something is going to click. I do try to do a few niche kind of blogs, but it's not easy thinking of the NEXT GREAT IDEA. Thanks for the thorough commentary, Jannine.
I agree about the warm fuzzies, Ally. It's nice to get comments from all my author buddies. I also like hearing that other blogs also get more hits than comments. It means someone is out there reading them!
I have a sadly neglected blog and a group one I post on. Initially I posted funny stories about my twins. It gave me a chance to write them for my girls (since I didn't fill out baby books) and friends and family loved them. But they took a lot of time, my writing time and I still didn't get a lot of followers or comments- I asked people why and it was cause most didn't have accounts to be able to post and no desire to make one to do so.
Plus my blog really has no 'theme'. thanks for the great post, lots of great insights!
Maureen, I think you're right. I know my mom reads this blog every day (not just my days) because she's enjoyed "getting to know" the various contributors. But she doesn't comment because she doesn't have a Google account. Just like your friends and family! Makes me wonder about the point of contests where you have to leave comments to win. It eliminates most of the "readers" from entering, and just the "writers" end up as contenders.
I agree with you and so many others here. I've tried everything. I write a post for my blog, no one visits. I write a post for someone else's blog, (hoping for new readers), but they don't announce it to their friends. I host blogs, but I can't believe how many people are no shows, even hen I've sent several reminders. Facebook only shares the announcements to like 7% of my friends. Most loops have strict rules about what you can announce, then doesn't share live links. I copy and paste links into the search bar, but it brings up every blog in the world except the one I'm looking for. Erggg!
Sorry for the rant.
The book looks great. I'm ordering it. Good luck!
You got the group jawing about this topic, Jannine. Good on you! Ditto everyone's comments. I'll add...writing is a lonely business, so it's nice to have a cadre of on line friend authors to share with...that's the fun of blogs for me. I know I'm not alone in this crazy business because of conversations like this! Rolynn
Sandra, we all feel your pain. Another point--I don't host guests on my personal blog because I don't want to waste anyone's time. I know I'm not going to get them any exposure. Thanks for stopping by and venting!
Rolynn, yep, I'm good at picking topics that get authors all riled up! LOL That's why I like our group blog--lots of support!
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