One of my to-do list items today is to sit down and work out all of my blogs for the coming week. It reduces my stress to know that this one little thing is going to happen automatically. It also makes me happy to discover what I’m going to read about on my own blog from day to day (because I forget).
This blog may, to some, seem self-indulgent and unfocused. It might seem silly to post every day. It might seem like I’m wasting a lot of time and effort here when I should, perhaps, be focusing on my fiction.
Today, since I have nothing pre-planned, I’ve decided to give you a glimpse behind the curtain – to explain just a part of the method to my apparent madness. Much of this stems from lessons learned as a blogger in other places, in my work in internet marketing, at conferences, and trial and error. I also learn quite a lot as a follower and reader of other blogs.
Inserting a pretty landscape photo here because I want you to think about hiking for a second. When we hike, and get to a vista like this, we look back on mountains we have actually walked up and over. It’s breathtaking to realize that I went up and over that tree-covered mass. That I was way the heck up there. When I was doing the walking, I had no idea. I was just putting poles in the ground and one foot in front of the other.
This post then, is the long-distance view of the walk you’ve been taking with me all along.
Why I post daily between 10:30 AM and 11:00 AM
Blogs must be updated regularly to get and maintain readership. Blog readers like to get into a habit. They want to sit down at the same time of the day or week and know that here’s a new post waiting for them. I had to decide what my regular schedule was going to be very early on in this process. Daily blogs are harder, but there are payoffs.
The payoffs of daily blogs include:
- Build a more regular readership
- More coverage depth and breadth available (more on that in the next section)
- More chances for people to discover a blog – via Twitter, and search
The timing is also very specific for me, and my preferences. Bit.ly has put out data about click-through rates on links by time of day (peak is 1 PM -3 PM, more on weekdays, peaking Wednesday and Friday). They have also noted that a link tweeted out to a following has about a 2-hour half-life before it trickles down to far in everyone’s feeds. This means that the ideal time to Tweet a blog post is right around 1 PM. I might shift to posting early and tweeting later, when it matters more. But for now, I opt not to do that.
As a blog reader, I want blogs to be updated in the morning. I want it to be part of my lunch break. So, though I know that my posts are trickling down to the ends of their half-lives by peak click-through times, I refuse to wait until the afternoon to update my blog. This is a matter of my personal preference and style, way more than data-supported decision-making.
You’ll notice that these questions of timing are essentially a marriage of my personal style and preference on very real goals: Building regular, consistent blog readership, and getting new people to read my posts from Twitter.
Why I don’t seem to write about anything in particular
I can admit it, there’s a good bit of navel-gazing going on in this blog. It is scattered, all over the place. Sometimes, it’s super-professional, and other times it’s just a brain-dump. Sometimes, this really is just self-indulgent splatters of whatever the heck is on my mind. This is often when the daily-post goal catches up with me and I don’t have time to use my editorial calendar and pre-scheduled posts.
It’s about books and reading, but it doesn’t include book reviews. It’s about writing, but it includes very few random samples. It’s about being a geek, but only obliquely via personal commentary. It’s about me.
There are a lot of advice columns out there about how to build a marketing platform. How to get people to tweet and retweet links to your books. How to sell via Facebook, blah blah blah. I don’t want to build a marketing platform. I don’t want to build a tribe. I want to find my pack.
I want to create a community of eclectic people with varied interests who like me as an individual. People who care about my successes and failures, and the things I struggle with. People who may want to learn from my mistakes, or be inspired by my diligence, or just keep doing what they need to do because they know I’m plugging away beside them.
Right now, all I’m trying to do is find other people who want to tag along for the ride. I’m not selling anyone anything (and I doubt I ever will, directly). I’m just trying to let people get to know me and discover what we have in common. I am trying to get to know other people and see what they think about the world. The marketing will do itself.
The other reason why this blog is one giant Seinfeld episode about nothing is because sometimes I do Machiavellian little things quite deliberately. My work is in getting results on the first page of Google. I’d be an idiot if I didn’t apply SEO principles to my blog. So every now and again, I take high-interest keywords, and I write about them. I don’t do it very often – maybe 2-3 times a month. This gives more people a way to stumble into me, and perhaps discover a new friend. So many people Google to find new ideas, doesn’t it make sense to target that every now and then?
Look again at my discovery and readership goals for this blog, and look again at my content strategy. I really do pull posts out of my ass sometimes (because sometimes daily updates are very difficult to do)… but not usually.
Where is my book? Excerpts? Writing Samples?
Frankly, on one hand this is a failure. I plan to have them, and I will get them up there. I’m working on redesigns, and might switch templates, so things aren’t right where I want them yet. I included this section to simply make room to say that naturally this is a work in progress. It’s always a work in progress. I’m always a WIP as a human being, why on earth should my blog be perfect?
I’m going to keep thinking about those long-distance views, and my overall goals. I’m going to keep putting one foot in front of the other.
If you’re a blogger – what are your goals for the work you’re doing? Do your actions on your blog lead toward those goals?