Blog Blunder #1: No call to action!
I was a shy blogger when I first started and I cringed at the thought of asking people to subscribe. I thought if they wanted to read what I had to say every week they would figure it out themselves. But then I realized that potential subscribers often don’t consider “going steady” until you ask them to take the next step, and it doesn’t have to be aggressive. So in the fall of 2012, I finally gained enough confidence to add a sentence to the bottom of every post that simply says, “If you like this article subscribe to my blog.” Subscriber stats increased immediately. A couple months later I activated the plugin “Notification Bar,” which adds the invitation to subscribe across the top of my website, and subscribers doubled in just a few months.
Blog Blunder #2: I stopped growing my Twitter following
I got really, really busy after I published my first novel, and one of the tasks I stopped doing regularly was to seek out and follow people on my favorite social media platform, Twitter. Big mistake, know why? Because new followers are also new to your blog content. Yes, that’s right. New followers = potential new blog readers. Don’t stop building your community!
Blog Blunder #3: I didn’t collaborate enough with other authors
So many experts are dissing the “huge” mistake authors are making by marketing to other authors on every social media platform – and I agree about the marketing bit. However, forming close alliances with authors who write and produce a quality product is one of the best perks of hanging out on social media. Unfortunately, my excuse was that I didn’t “have enough time” to establish new relationships/collaborations with my peers, and now I’m paying the price. Other authors are our best support system. Guesting on their blogs can expose our work to their readers and vice versa, which benefits everyone. Alliances among groups of talented self-published authors can be a lucrative way to market. So figure out who’s good and hang out with them.
Blog Blunder #4: I was mesmerized by blog stats
Okay, I admit it, all right? I was hypnotized by my blog stats. I was enthralled by the steady growth my website experienced and every day I checked again and again – how many page views? Gasp! So I had to break myself of the habit. Really, it was just a form of procrastination (like excessively checking Facebook or surfing the web), and once I realized that, I backed off. Funny though, I remember reading a blog post a year ago written by an author who said she stopped blogging because she couldn’t break her habit of checking stats. Isn’t that sort of like throwing out the baby with the bathwater? I vote for balance in all things. Blogging is one of the best author marketing tools available, and my position is that it’s a must-do for every self-published author. Just try to detach from the urge to watch your website stats ;-O
Blog Blunder #5: I didn’t establish a solid plan to repurpose blog posts
I seriously erred right from the beginning by not having a plan for my blog. But way back in 2011 I had no idea it was possible to have a plan – lol, no, really! When I finally wised up I established a serious campaign to repurpose my posts. Now my mantra is “3-purpose,” which means I make every effort to utilize everything I write three times (with necessary modifications). Here’s an example: Twitter Tips was a post on my blog; then it morphed into a flyer I offer as a freebie for new email subscribers; and I’ll eventually expand the info and include it in the second book in my blogging series (coming sometime in 2014) to be titled, “Blog On!”
Blog Blunder #6: I failed to post enough reader-centric articles
And this booboo has a lot to do with Blunder #5, see above. I have a wonderful community of authors who follow my blog and my guests and I will continue to share info about what I’ve learned – good and bad – in the self-publishing process. But now I’ve resolved to return to writing a few essays, which were my basic go-to post when I first began. The secret to having different topics mesh? Choose subject matter that’s interesting to both readers and writers. And hopefully, these articles will reflect non-fiction topics in your novels.
Blog Blunder #7: I did not post social media follow links on my website
Okay, duh. I realize most of you already get that this is a no-brainer. I never said I was a prodigy. I may be late to the party, but I finally added a few social media follow links this year. Please don’t do what I did – make it easy for new website visitors to connect with you on other platforms.
Blog Blunder #8: I was clueless about opening widget images “in a new window”
Hah, I bet I got you with that one! Not sure what I’m talking about? Tech nerds out there will understand. Example: Now I post my book covers (via widgets) as clickable “buy” links on my website, but I didn’t want to do it until I figured out how to make the links “open in new window,” so visitors who clicked through to check them out on Amazon wouldn’t accidentally close the window and forever leave my website. You see, WordPress doesn’t give you the option to open widgets in a new window, so I had to research it until I found a way. Now you want to know how, don’t you? Or maybe you already do. At any rate, the how-to is another blog post. Snicker.
Blog Blunder #9: I grew addicted to the convenience of guest posters
Don’t misunderstand – I love, love, love my guest posters and the truth is many of their articles have gotten more page views than my own. But I found it was SO convenient to fill up my blog schedule with guests that my own writing was reduced to a single post every month. Why is that a bad thing? Because I wasn’t churning out enough writing of my own. Now that I have a solid “3-purpose plan,” I’m almost giddy about my blog-post-writing because every article moves another writing project forward. Yay! So going forward I’ll flip the schedule and write three posts per month and host a guest once.
Blog Blunder #10: I didn’t move my email subscribers to MailChimp
FINALLY! I took me forEVER to move my subscribers from JetPack to MailChimp, even though two guest posters, Toby Neal and Jeri Walker-Bickett, sang MC’s praises and tried their best to make it easy for me. I whined and procrastinated, but finally moved with last week’s post. Moving involved 1) creating an RSS email campaign in MC that sends weekly posts out automatically 2) figuring out how to embed MC’s subscriber code on my website and testing it to be sure it worked, and 3) deactivating JetPack so my ever-patient subscribers wouldn’t get the post excerpt emailed twice. Benefits? Prettier email with more links and information in it. Oh, and fodder for another future blog article. Yay!
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