Do you feel more like a juggler than an indie writer?

October had so many opportunities to learn that my head is still spinning.  Many bloggers talked about the importance of engaging the readers, each offering a number of best practices for doing so. They suggested commenting on other bloggers’ posts (which means you have to read them), posting content multiple times each day—5 to 15 tweets, 1 to 3 Facebook entries, and a blog post. Sometimes, I feel like a novice juggler who can barely keep a few balls in the air. Of course, the experts remind you, there are ways to automate the process, but you still have to come up with the content.  If you are like me and don’t want to put out crap just for the sake of making the numbers, you have to spend serious time cogitating to develop meaningful content. “I am a writer”, I told myself, “I should be able to spend one morning per week developing the content and then use schedulers to post at random times each day.” In reality, it takes me more than one morning to plan and develop the content. After doing all this work for several weeks, I looked at the metrics. Traffic was up a bit, but was that a direct result of my efforts or a random blip? Today, I listened to the first of Joanna Penn’s three-part guide Turn Your Ideas into Cash. In the video, she discusses how important it is to be consistent and to keep at it. Becoming a success takes time and work; it has taken her four years to get the readers and the engagement that she now has. I found this reminder uplifting and timely.

Mari Smith’s half-day webinar Crunch Time taught the importance of having a critical online business strategy. Each person has to determine which of the social media to use and then to use them strategically. She offered suggestions to elevate visibility, especially on Facebook. She also stated that it takes at least six months to see the benefits of creating this online strategy. Apparently 500 Facebook fans is the turning point for Facebook Edgerank. I have less than fifty fans; I have a lot of work to do. To help me, I downloaded the free EdgeRank Checker App and read the 6 Tips to Increase Your Facebook EdgeRank and Exposure. It’s amazing how much research one must do just to stay on top of things! Edgerank is a Facebook algorithm for ranking the interactions between you and your readers; if you have a high Edegrank score, your posts appear in the top of their newsfeeds where the chances of being seen are greater.

I also learned about opting in, landing pages, and Facebook lists. I changed the template on two websites to improve the SEO (Search Engine Optimization). The change to the OptimizePress template was complex and took longer than I had planned. Doesn’t everything? I still need to create the landing pages, but first I must develop a way to collect the email information;  and then, I will need to write engaging content to email. This requires a plan and a platform so that my message is consistent between my blog, newsletters and emails, and over the various social media. To get a feel for how the bloggers I admire manage consistency, I looked at Joan Stewart’s ezine and at email/newsletters from Danny Iny, Adam Nation, and others. Each has something unique to offer and I try to determine what my niche will be.

From Marisa Murgatroyd’s Live Your Message webinar I learned that to make your post go viral you need to Strategize, Systematize, and Socialize. She talked about the importance of the title, of using words that people will search on, and phrases of three of more competitive words to improve rankings. She suggests blogging twice a week for three to six months (that’s better than once a day!) and to be consistent. To increase engagement she recommends that you ask questions of the readers and then answer the comments. And most important, have a clear message, know who you serve, and how you serve them.

Daniel Levis taught me How to Master the Art of the Sales Story. I like telling stories; better yet, I like listening to them. According to Mr. Lewis, five type of stories work well: Origin Stories which tell who you are and how you solved a problem, Parables, Slice of Life, Case Studies, and Imaginary Tales. Sounds easy, doesn’t? Stories help people remember your point, connect with what you are promoting, and help them see what difference your product can make in their lives. Of course, he offers a 12-step strategy to do this.

So what have I learned this month? That I have a lot of work to do.  I have to work on defining my niche and how I will  differentiate myself from other bloggers. I have to learn to write engaging content and present it in an appealing way with stories while using words that SEO engines and readers will search on. I have to learn to use social media and analytic tools; I have to finish working in the website (until a new a better tool or app comes along); I have to plan my platform. With all this learning and working on by blog, when will I have time to write?

I would love to hear how you do it all: write, blog, use social media to promote your work. What suggestions do you for all the balls in the air?

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