blogging

Writing & Blogging – Finding the Balance

In North Carolina, it’s common knowledge that if you don’t like the weather, have patience. It’ll change in a day or two.  After the blizzard of 2016, to which residents of coastal NC were casual observers, we had a couple days of rain and then a warming trend. Today (Sunday) saw a high in the upper 60’s and plenty of sunshine.  When days come along like this – you have to take advantage of them.  I grabbed some paper and a pen and headed to the park.

 

Dreams do come true for those who dare to believe in themselves

View from my Sunday writing desk – a picnic table at Stump Sound Park

The change of scenery provided me with an escape from the distractions of home. Scenes unfolded and the words came. It was wonderful – so wonderful, I’m thinking that a weekly writing escape might be in order.

And then comes my blog…

I stumbled across a blog post talking about the reasons a blog is a waste of time for a writer and that prompted a lot of thinking on my part.  Am I a writer who blogs? Am I a blogger who writes? Does it really make a difference?

If you are a writer, I’m sure you can relate to the dilemma so many of us face.

Over and over, we are told:

Build your platform!

Grow your audience!

Blog!  Tweet!  Pin!

And we do it or at least we try…

But in doing so, it’s easy to lose sight of the reason we’re doing all of this – because we want to write books – we want to share our stories – and the time we’d spend conjuring those tales is instead spent on creating content for our blogs and being good neighbors over in Twitter-land…

Maybe that’s a necessary evil.

I’m not sure.

What I have learned is this –

Blogging doesn’t equate to selling books.

And neither does tweeting.

Writing more books, however, definitely increases the likelihood of sales.

Not convinced?

On Twitter, I follow boohoos of authors.  Some do nothing but scream “Buy my book!” I admit it – I ignore those tweets.  Others share links to their blogs – offering great content – maybe an interesting podcast – and if I find them helpful, I sign up for their emails. On occasion, I might purchase an e-book.  But the thing is – that’s not an everyday occurrence and just because I find a twitter account informative doesn’t mean I’m going to buy the author’s books.  The same holds true with blogs.

I don’t think I’m alone in this…

It’s not that I don’t appreciate the author’s efforts.  I do.  But my goodness – who has the time or the financial resources to support every writer we come in contact with?

When it comes to my blog-

I try to offer interesting content. My followers/daily traffic is increasing. I know that building a following takes time.  That being said – all the blogging and tweeting really haven’t made a difference in my book sales.  And that’s okay.  I like blogging. I’ve made connections with people from all over the world – friendships that were made possible because of our blogs.

What’s it going to be?

My focus will be on my writing.  That’s my dream.  BUT – I’ll continue to blog and if blogging leads to a book sale then great.  And if blogging continues to open doors to different parts of the world, allowing me to meet new people and share ideas with them, that’s even better!

What about you?  How do you balance blogging, writing, and all the rest?

Time Saving Tip:

In an effort to maintain my social media presence with a minimal time investment, I’ve turned to Hootsuite.  If you haven’t tried this scheduling option, I’d encourage you to check it out.  By scheduling your tweets, etc – you can in effect be in multiple places at one time.  I may be at work but Hootsuite is sending out my tweets/facebook posts, etc – making me look active.  Hootsuite also provides links to relevant content (blogs) that you can share on your various accounts. Best of all – it’s free. (There is a paid option available.)

 

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Blogging 201

In our first assignment, Krista asked the following question:

If your blog exceeded your wildest dreams, what would that look like? Would you have a different design? How many followers would you have? How much traffic? What sort of community would participate?  How often would you post?

And if I can be honest – that question scared me…  It made me imagine the what if’s and what could be’s

Because in my wildest dreams, writing would be my full-time job and my blog would be a destination spot – not a little side show on a less traveled road.

If I want my writing/blog to be the best it can be – then – I have to commit.  I have to be better at time management and I have to take advantage of this class.

So, here’s my commitment:

Blogging 201

Don’t Let Time Pass You By

As writers, we each face our own struggles.  I tend to think a lot of my issues could be alleviated if I had more time in the day. Seeing as how I don’t have access to a magical hourglass, I had to consider other options.  The one that screamed for my attention was time management.  My situation is not unique.  Like many of you, I work full time.  That leaves a few short hours a day to take care of my home/family, exercise, write and grow my audience.

Building my author platform

It’s hard.

Who knew there would be so much effort required?  I thought writing the novel was supposed to be the most difficult part. Imagine my surprise when I realized I needed a twitter account, a Facebook author page, a blog, etc.

It’s time consuming.

Each plank in the platform comes from the connections we make.  Those connections take time to cultivate.  That means we reach beyond ourselves.  We engage others.  We listen to their ideas. We share ours.  In short, being a good neighbor requires being social.

But – here’s the catch

Building my platform was taking too much of my writing time.  Seriously.  It was so easy to get caught up in reading the posts on certain Facebook pages.  And then there was Pinterest. My goodness – I was on my way to becoming a “Pinning” junkie.  I have boards dedicated to my blog, to interesting faces, beautiful places – things that may or may not inspire scenes in future stories.  There’s boards dedicated to my books.  I’m sure you get the picture.  😉

I needed to get a handle on my socializing…

I love my blog.  I love the blogging community.  I decided that my blog would become the hub of my social media/platform building efforts.

Blog Hub

This is still a work in progress.  But it has helped ease the stress of coming up with so many new ideas for posting to the different social media sites.  Take my Facebook Author page – I guess I’m a bit ambivalent when it comes to this page.  I hate feeling as though I’m shouting Look At Me! and my Facebook author page makes me feel that way.  By sharing my blog, I have activity on my page without bashing people over the head with Buy My Book posts.

There’s still the Time Management thing…

This requires discipline and lots of it.  I’m not the most disciplined person.  I have a tendency to fly by the seat of my pants – which is probably why I’m a pantzer and not a plotter.  To help keep myself on task, I came up with a schedule. It’s helped by making me more mindful of my time.  I decided to limit my interactions to about 30 minutes an evening.  That means I have to choose which sites/communities I am going to visit.  Take Mondays, for example.  I’ll visit blogs that I follow as well as Twitter.  Tuesdays will be G+ communities and maybe a stop at my Facebook Author page.  It’s not a perfect plan but it is helping me stay focused and freeing up my time.

schedule

Not sure where the lines that separate Thursday, Friday, and Saturday went…

I’m always looking for new ideas… What are you doing to maximize your writing time?

The Tenacious, Courageous Writer

It takes courage to show your dreams toWhen we think of courage, we often think of people doing extraordinary things in dangerous situations. While that is certainly true, courage is also daring to follow your dreams, to face your fears and persevere.

Many of us (writers) are introverts by nature.  We are most comfortable in smaller groups and quite content being alone.  In fact, alone time isn’t just nice, it’s a necessity.  We seek out an empty room, sit behind our computer and type our hearts out.

This is where courage comes in.  Whether we are blogging or working on a novel, we have to release our words, our thoughts, and ideas to the world.  We are literally exposing our inner-selves.criticism  That is scary.  There’s no invisible shield to protect us from the scrutiny of our readers.   Unfortunately, some of those readers aren’t going to like what we have to say – and that’s okay. What’s important is our reaction.  We must refuse to be intimidated.  We must be tenacious.  Writing is our art. It is the way we express ourselves.  It is as important as the air we breathe.

 

Finding the Perfect Social Media Fit

Social media is the ultimate equalizer.While I’m not a social media guru, I’ve tried to educate myself.  I’ve listened to podcasts and read e-books/blog posts.  I’ve found that there’s a lot of competing voices, offering multiple strategies.  It’s been a challenge trying to sift through the various suggestions.

Below is a summary of my social media experiences:

Twitter – I’ve learned that Twitter is great as long as you aren’t spamming the Twittersphere with loads of self promotion.  I think this advice is accurate.  I catch myself scrolling past those writers who are continually hawking their books.  On the other hand, when I see an author who shares quality content, I’m all about liking and retweeting.  I can’t afford to purchase everyone’s books, but I try to be supportive and share the love.

Facebook –  There has been a lot of uproar over the change in Facebook algorithms.  This change has meant that our posts are less likely to be seen.  Some writers have decided it’s not worth their time/effort anymore.  They are choosing to focus on Instagram or their personal website, etc.   As for me – what can I say?  I don’t love my Facebook Author Page.  This probably has a lot to do with the fact that I tend to be relatively quiet on my personal page.   BUT – I can see my daily interactions, likes and numbers reached and I am convinced that of all the different social media sites I’ve used, my Facebook Author Page has led to more sales.  (Whether this changes over the next year is to be still to be seen.)

Blogging – After attending a writers conference last year, I came away convinced that I had made a huge mistake by using blogger.  If I was serious about my writing, then I needed to look like a pro and having .blogspot following my name didn’t look professional.  Never-mind, that I had a .com website – one that displayed my blog feed.   I jumped ship – diving headfirst into WordPress.  I let my website go, transferring the .com over to my WordPress blog. However, I have since realized that when I jumped, I left the majority of my followers on the good ship Blogger.  It has been a challenge, building up an audience again.  To be honest, I’m not sure making the switch was worth it.

Pinterest – Not everyone is convinced that a writer needs a pinterest board.  I certainly wasn’t.  However, I decided to give it a try.  With fingers crossed, I set up my page.  I don’t have a lot of followers but I’ve created boards that feature my books, trailers, etc.  I’ve also added boards featuring images of interesting faces and exotic places – things that might inspire a new story.  What I like about Pinterest is this – people who check out my pinterest page should come away from it feeling like they know a little more about me than those following me on other sites.

Summary –  While using social media is necessary to building our author platform, I’ve come to the realization that there isn’t a one-stop-fits-all plan out there.  What works for one author might not work for another.   No matter what options we choose, consistency is key.   It takes time to get our name out there and to build a true following.

What about you?  Are you still searching for the right fit?  Or have you found something that works?