Thursday, October 10, 2019

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

Seven years ago, one of my spawnlings told me I needed to write a blog. I forget which one ... I often get them confused, but it was probably the same spawnling who said I needed to have a Twitter account (whatever that was) and a Facebook page.

I have since regretted both of those decisions, because prior to joining the world of social media I was pleasantly removed from humanity, lost in a haze of thinking that all was right with the world. (It wasn't.)

But I digress.

The blog experience is somewhat like the publishing experience: If you don't promote your writing, it may as well not exist. Whatever you write, whether it's a book or a blog, the only way people will know it exists is to advertise. Granted, you may not want anyone to know what you've written, but if that was the case, you wouldn't be reading this. So, read on.

Promotion, promotion, promotion

In the real world of writing, promotion is everything. Writers would like to think that polished prose and fascinating ideas move a story into the public eye. Sadly, that is not the case. More often than not a brilliant writer's work remains unknown while some piece of utter trash makes it onto the best-seller list. Is this fair? Not a bit. But it is reality. The same holds true for your blog. You may put a lot of effort into getting your ideas into written form, but you are only talking to yourself unless someone reads them.

Having spent the better part of my life talking to myself, I can tell you no good will come of it. You will either be diagnosed and thrown into a psych ward or end up teaching in a junior Ivy League college. (Trust me, you don't want to end up teaching in a junior Ivy League school. It's hell.)

But, once again, I digress.

So, how do you get your blog into the jaded public eye? First, you have to write it. People mainly read blogs for two reasons: 1) They are fun to read, and/or 2) They are informative. People like to be entertained, which, being a writer, you can easily pull off. They also like information that will help them reach their goals. You can pull that off, because there is lots of information about how to do everything on the net, and because there must be something you can do other than write The Great American Novel. Write about cat sitting if you have to. Someone will want to know how to sit on a cat.

What was I saying? Oh, yes. Promotion.

Once you have produced a blog with a theme, your next step is to tell the world about it. Do these things:

1) Tweet. I hate to say it, but Spawnling number 2 (or was it number 1?) was right. Build a Twitter following. Normally I would throw cold water all over the idea of building a social media following, but in this case it will be useful. Tweet about anything you like, follow cool people like mad, and get people to follow you. The reason you need Twitter followers is not because Twitter is a good promotional tool for your book (it really isn't), but because of Medium.

2) Post on Medium. Medium is a great platform for writers of any ilk. But unlike most other platforms, you don't have to start from scratch. Your Twitter followers can be imported. (There is nothing like an instant base of followers to warm the cockles of your writer's heart.) Your next step is to find a publication within Medium that caters to whatever you are blogging about. Ask to be accepted, and then submit your blog posts. Conveniently, these can be imported directly onto Medium.

3) Post on Facebook. Mark Zuckerberg is a little capitalist twat, but now that Google+ has bitten the proverbial dust, Facebook is the best place to promote your blogs. Join groups! You can easily find them by typing a word or two into a Facebook search. Then post links to your blog posts.

4) Hunt around for any other platform you can find. There are too many to list here, and many of them are topic specific, so the platforms you choose will depend on what you are writing. If your blog host includes analytics, check to see where your traffic is coming from. Sometimes these can lead to new venues.

It was by doing all of the above that my humble blog ended up with five million page views.

Lessons Learned

I am going to repeat myself: If you want people to read what you have written, you have to promote your work every day. Whether it's your blog, your short story, your poetry, or anything you've put into words - you have to let people know it's there. In the age of the Internet, online writing has a short lifespan. You can't count on it being seen for more than a day or two at most.

I will now quote myself. "The most important lesson, and this applies to writing a blog, a book, a short story, poetry, or a personal essay - is write for yourself. The fact that you have an audience can be a little daunting, and it can tempt you to write for them. But the minute you lose track of what's in your heart, what you are compelled to say, your writing will become hollow."

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

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