Thursday, May 4, 2017

2 Million Page Views ... and All I Got Was This Lousy Blog

Last year, in fact it was exactly a year ago, I published a post somewhat facetiously titled "A Million Page Views ... and All I Got Was This Lousy Blog."

Okay, I could afford to be a little snarky back then. After all, it had taken four years to reach a million.

I had no idea what was ahead.

A little less than a year later this blog hit another million - a four-fold increase in traffic. This was not an accident. I had written a post in which I had waxed enthusiastic about blog promotion. And for once - really, literally for once - I followed my own advice. I promoted my blog.

Promoting a blog is exactly the same as promoting a book. And why should it be any different? It's all writing! You simply need to find your audience. Really, marketing is that simple. (Of course, the trick is figuring out where your audience is.)

What makes a successful blog?

Before getting to the nitty gritty, perhaps we should take a step back and ponder the nature of blogs.

Essentially, there is no difference between writing a blog and writing anything else. If you are writing nonfiction (i.e. imparting information), you need to be clear and concise. If you are simply writing to entertain, let your muse shine through! Basically, those are your only two choices. (Of course, combining the two is always a good idea!)

Being of practical bent, I conceived this blog as a means to organize information. Initially, this was not because I intended to provide a service to the writing community. I was simply using my blog as an online tool to store and categorize information. It was much more convenient for me to write a blog listing agents accepting sci-fi and fantasy, for example, or build a table of magazines that would actually pay me for my short stories, than keep cumbersome notes on my desk. And because I needed to utilize those posts, I really put my back into them. It turns out those posts were also useful to quite a few other people. Two million of them to be precise.

First wave of views

Now, let's talk about how this blog managed to get viewed by so many people. When I first started writing, I had no idea how anyone was going to find my humble blog. So, I did everything a blogger is supposed to do: I got my blog onto various directories, tried to "optimize SEO" (still don't know what that is), guest posted, and did ALL THE THINGS. Box 1 shows how that worked out.

Stage 1: ALL THE THINGS. Stage 2: Posting on Google+. Stage 3: Posting on Facebook.

Doing ALL THE THINGS, while logical, didn't help me to reach people. If you were to apply that method to publishing, it would be the equivalent of putting your book up on Amazon and a few other places, notifying some reviewers, and calling it a day. (That doesn't work either.)

The sharp increase after the first red box is the result of finding an audience. In my case, my audience is other writers. (We share a goal - getting published!) Writers tend to hang out in the same places I do, i.e. writing groups on Google+ and Facebook. Between those two, my views went from 6,000 to 60,000 a month.

Some of my posts, notably the ones with lists of publishers accepting unagented submissions, got tens of thousands of hits, which launched them into the top positions on Google searches. As a result 2,000+ daily page views come from Google. An additional daily 2,000+ page views come from Facebook groups. (Facebook traffic tends to be intense, but short-lived.) With the addition of Facebook, traffic has now crept up to 100,000 page views a month.

In short, social media (notably Facebook) is what pushed my page views over the top, but it was not a scattershot approach. I placed my posts only on groups that would be interested in what I had to say. Conveniently, these were also groups that had a lot of posts I found interesting. So, to answer the previous question, the trick to finding your readers is to pursue your own interests.

The bottom line

The bottom line for a blog, or any other form of writing, is whether you have fun doing it. But the second consideration, the one we should always ask ourselves as writers, is how many people can I reach? The only way to increase readers is through daily promotion.

The most efficient way to find those readers is by advertising your writing, whether it be blog or book, in the places you like to go. Chances are pretty good that you will find like-minded people there, that is, people who will appreciate what you have to say.

You can't just promote occasionally. It has to be constant. That is true of your blog, of your stories, of your book, and of anything else you write. The day that you stop promoting is the day your creative endeavor dies.

IRONIC POST SCRIPT: No sooner do I publish this post than I am BANNED by Facebook! I got a notice that I had violated "Community Standards." Okay, so what were those standards that I had violated? "Threats, violence, nudity, hate speech, criminal activity, dangerous organizations..." Seriously? This is a publishing blog! So, I waited three days, and now I am out of jail.

What happened? Well, my posts went up in various groups too quickly. One of the groups I post on tends to pile up my submissions. I had seven posts pending moderation. They all went up at once, and voila! I was banned. So, be careful when you post on Facebook. Do it slowly. And if you have a post pending. Don't post again on that group until it is published.

Here are some posts with good information for promoting your blog (and other writing):

10 Simple Ways to Promote Your Blog (For Writers)

Flogging your Blog

How to Get 40,000 Readers Without Guest Blogging


1 comment:

  1. Congratulations on your 2million+ views. Wow that's something. I'm not surprised though. You're the to- go- to- person for any information concerning writing. You're always up-to-date on agents, publishers and news regarding the writing industry. You are generous in sharing your knowledge and inspiring writers. I hope you continue to inspire us. I see three million views in the near future:) xx

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