Wednesday, November 25, 2015
The Blog is Dead....Long Live the Blog!
I started answering, then paused and went back to the stats pages to study the history of this blog. Which posts had gotten lots of hits. Which ones hadn't. How much engagement there was, really, outside our own chapter members.
Back in the olden days (you know, two or three years ago), blogs were THE thing. The key to the elusive "platform," the thing every author should have in order to build that platform. In December 2009, fresh from signing my first contract and told by my publisher to "build a platform," I started a blog. However, the whole "build-a-blog-and-they-will-come" thing didn't work so well.
I struggled to find topics to write about. I wrote about my dogs. My day job. My first book, which was still two years away from actually being released (having signed with a fine but decidedly slow publisher). Then I stopped blogging, started again, stopped again. I blogged about writing. A few people read it, but I think they were stumbling past it on the way to somewhere else.
As 2012 approached, I decided to take the whole blogging thing seriously. I targeted who I wanted to reach: readers of paranormal and urban fantasy. I upped the frequency to six times a week. I gave away books and books and more books...not just my books, but books in my genre by other authors. I cross-promoted on Twitter, not having found (and still not finding) Facebook to be a great generator of blog traffic. Slowly, over three years, I built a readership. It's not huge, but it's there. Quite a few of the regular readers are people I have come to consider friends, even if we've never met in person.
But the blog is growing a little stale, and I'm again struggling to figure out what to put on it. So the chapter's examination of this blog echoes some of the questions I'm asking myself. Who's reading the blog? What I can we do to attract more readers to it? What can I do to make it fun for the folks who do read it?
For a blog such as this one, where there are many authors writing different genres, what do the blog readers want to see--more genre-specific material? Less? Writing advice? General life-of-the-author stuff? And how do we bring in more traffic and keep them engaged? Is our purpose to advance ourselves as authors? To help other authors on their own road to publication? To attract new members to Southern Magic? To reach our own chapter members?
Lots of questions to answer. Lots of thinking to do.
I don't think the blog is dead as an author platform in general, but I do think it has to evolve and--like everything we do as schedules grow busier and social media morphs and twists--it has to be evaluated for its effectiveness.
After my own self-examination, I've determined that my own blog has life left in it and I plan to keep it. It's something I enjoy, even though I don't get to spend as much time with it as I'd like. It helps me build subscribers to my newsletter. I've cut blogging back from six days a week to five (or four if the day job is misbehaving) because I discovered Fridays were a low-readership day. I'm searching for ways to broaden it to include other fiction genres since I'm writing suspense now as well as paranormal, but haven't figured that out yet.
So, hey. HEY! Is anyone out there? What are your thoughts on blogs? If you're an author, what entices you to read a blog post? If you're a reader, what do you want to see from an author blog post--and would you follow a blog with a broad variety of authors or prefer to stick with your favorite genres and individual authors?
Inquiring bloggers want to know! And because I'm a firm believer in bribery, leave a comment and enter the rafflecopter form for a chance at a $10 gift card to the online book retailer of your choice. Open internationally!
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BIO: Novelist currently living in Auburn, Alabama. Author of the Sentinels of New Orleans series (urban fantasy, Tor Books) as Suzanne Johnson. Writing as Susannah Sandlin, author of the Penton Legacy (paranormal romance) and Collectors (romantic suspense) series from Montlake Romance. See my author website for more info!