The Author Platform and Blogging: Identifying My Readers

acorn 2Remember Scrat-the squirrel from Ice Age?  He was my favorite character…  Always trying to secure that nut. With all of his efforts, he didn’t seem to accomplish much.   He had the momentary satisfaction of thinking he’d succeeded only to realize his acquisition had slipped from his paws…

I was thinking about my author platform and the decisions I’ve made and realized I’m a bit like Scrat.  I’ve put forth a lot of effort but I’m not exactly where I want to be.  In other words, I haven’t secured my nut.

To be honest, I didn’t realize how much effort went into building an online presence.   If I had, I probably would have closed my laptop and called it a day.  Novel Notions was my first effort at blogging and to be honest, I liked it.  I’m not very tech savvy, but I figured out Blogger and was satisfied.  Then came a 2013 writers conference …  My blog wasn’t enough, I needed a website.  I needed a Facebook Author page,  a Pinterest page and a Twitter account.  Good grief!  Because working a full-time job, taking care of my family, and trying to squeeze in a little writing time wasn’t enough!  I needed to do MORE!

I went to work.  I got a website using GoDaddy.  I set up a Facebook author page (which I rarely update) and I kept blogging.  Slowly, I built a small following. After all that work, I thought I had my nut.  Only, I didn’t.

At a 2014 writers conference, it was suggested that WordPress was the way to go.  Using WordPress would allow me streamline and hopefully save a little time.  I thought long and hard about this because in essence, I would be starting over.   In April, I made the switch.  Only, I didn’t put much effort into posting. (I continued posting to Novel Notions even though I knew that blog would be ending.)   Crazy right?  Because I knew from experience, consistency mattered when it comes to building and maintaining a following. It’s taken me a while but I getting back into the swing of things.

Only, I’m not sure that I’m chasing after the right nut.   There are so many expert voices out there offering advice on building an author platform.

There is the thought:  Content is King.   Typically, I blog about things I’ve learned from my journey as a self published writer.  I might offer writing tips or an experience I had in marketing.  Only, this kind of content is more for fellow writers.  The readers of my books on the other hand, probably aren’t checking out my blog for writing advice.

This leads me to: Know Your Readers.  Are we referring to the readers of our blog? OR the readers of our books?  I’ve always assumed this pertained to my book readers and yet, my blog content is aimed at other writers.  And that’s the quandary in which I find myself.  A blog is supposed to be a plank in an author platform.  It is supposed to help build a following, which in turn, hopefully leads to more sales.  Yet, I only seem to be targeting other writers… (I realize other writers do buy our novels and that is wonderful but I don’t think they should be our target buying audience.)

I visited several blogs – and found that the majority was a lot like mine (though bigger and better established) – offering content regarding writing/marketing.  There were a few who focused on their books and their books only but I found those kinda boring.  If I had written a book on gardening, I could blog about bees and the latest cultivating techniques thus offering quality content and identifying my audience.  But I didn’t…  I write fiction and my readers are females ranging from teens to older adults.  (Yes, there are grandmothers who read YA fiction)  I don’t necessarily want to post pics of the latest “hottie” nor do I plan on offering fashion advice or dating tips…

On second thought:   My blog is just a part of my website.  Maybe my website that should be focused at my “book readers” and my blog should be focused on  my “blog readers?”   Maybe I just freaking over think things…

So I’m left wondering, what is the magic formula?  And where do I go to find it?   Because, I’m really wanting that nut!

 

 

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9 comments

  1. I really enjoyed this piece. I can relate. I am just embarking on my journey as a freelance writer and decided a blog was a good place to start. Only rather than the writing, I seem to be more attracted to visual content. So am I a writer or a visual artist? Maybe I ultimately want to publish a magazine. I also have several social media profiles and have been struggling with figuring out the content. To I tweet about stuff relevant to freelance writers or relevant to my blog audience? I am still experimenting with content and audience focus all of the time.

    I think it’s important to keep in mind what is enjoyable to you. If you are writing any kind of post, be it on your blog or Twitter, because you think you’re supposed to or that it will boost your numbers, you’re going to be less than inspired and it’s eventually going to show. It’s the equivalent of homework and who want to read someone else’s homework. On the other hand, if you are excited and proud of what you are writing, it’s going to show and people are going to read it. It seems all the marketing types say you have to know your audience first, but I think you have to find the people that want to read what you want to write. Once you have an idea who those people are, then you can write for that audience.

    I think your website should have info that’s relevant to both readers and writers but the blog should be about what you want to do. So if you prefer to give advice to other writers, do that. If it’s more enjoyable to target your readers, do that. Two examples that I found are Holly Black and Neil Gaiman. Holly Black’s site is useful to readers and writers and libraries and teachers but she doesn’t appear to blog that much. Neil Gaiman’s sight is similar but his blog is more focused on what’s going on in his life. So it can be whatever you want it to be. Your books are for your readers, your blog can be whatever you want. Your website should have anything relevant to represent you as a professional writer.

    As for actual platforms for blogging and social media, I just finished up a course on social media communications and marketing and I can tell you that none are better than others. What is important is to chose one or two (or a number that’s manageable to you) and be consistent in those. It is helpful to chose the ones where your audience are (once you’ve decided who they are). Also choose whatever blog platform, makes the whole thing more enjoyable. If you like Blogger, stay there (but definitely pick one, not both). Seth Godin practically is the internet and he has blogged with Typepad since the beginning. He even wrote a post about why he won’t switch because he gets everything he needs from them. If switching makes everything more stressful and harder to manage than why do it? There are plenty of amazing blogs on Blogger with huge followings.

    Anyway, those have been my thoughts on this issue lately. Don’t feel like you have to do what the experts say. Do what feels right and what’s fun because your audience can tell when you are just going through the motions and when you’re actually inspired/inspiring.

    Kristen

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Kristen!
      Thanks so much for taking the time to read my post and offer your insights and reminding me that I need to be having fun! You made some really good points and I’m going to take your advice. One blog is enough! Even though I am more familiar with Blogger, I can see the advantages of using WordPress so I think I’ll stay with them – Maybe I’ll share a farewell over at blogger and invite my followers to “follow” me again!

      Best of luck to you! Hope your blog/photos/freelancing brings you much happiness and success!

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  2. Yeah, this is a tough problem. Rising above the general noise of self-promotion is difficult and, frankly, random. I think you’re right about the issue of focusing on attracting other writers with you content, and the issues that rise from just promoting your own book. I think Kristen Black has some good advice about enjoying what you do online and narrowing your focus.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I thought Kristen made a good point about enjoying what we are doing, too. I have been using Twitter – and I like it. It’s quick and fun. I think, instead of trying to be everywhere, I’m going to focus my social media efforts.

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  3. Thanks so much Kristin and Deborah, I always feel like I am chasing the elusive rainbow unicorn when it comes to my author platform; no one seems to know where and how to catch this magical elusive entity – but we are all searching for it. I know that I hit moments of ‘advice overload’ because I read so many great blog posts about what content to write and what and when and where to share your content, but often they conflict with the last great blog post I read. With all the contradictory advice on blogs I have decided to just share me, my personality and to be honest whatever I feel inspired to share, and despite or perhaps because of my randomness I seem to be achieving a small but consistent growth in my readership. If anyone does track down that elusive rainbow unicorn – please share your map with the rest of us.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m starting to think that there isn’t a one size fits all plan. Maybe we have to identify our own strengths and interests and play those things up. Basically, do what you’re doing – share yourself.

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    2. I think you are on the right track Lynn, with your randomness getting you more followers. By posting what interests you, you will find people who are also interested in similar things. This is your audience. It may be small but that is ok. Better to have a small, loyal, following that you love creating work for, than to exhaust yourself trying to be heard above the noise to get a larger audience that is fickle anyway. These loyal readers are the people who are going to get the word out about you and be ambassadors for you and your work. Paul Jarvis wrote an article about this that I think might be useful to this discussion. https://pjrvs.com/a/rats

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