I’ve been blogging for two years. It’s been fun. I’ve written about all sorts of silliness, like Miniature Cannons and Urban Foraging. I’ve shared some of the things I enjoy, like the Antique Arms Show and Giving Voice to Ancient Trees, and let’s not forget the Mutter Museum of Medical History. Good times.
I’ve changed things up, posting as often as five times a week and then snipping off days until just once a week. Currently I’m on a two-day cycle. The thing is – I’m sort of feeling like the edge is off.
Traffic is okay. It creeps up, a little higher each month, mostly as a result of search engine traffic…certainly not because I’m collecting new visitors. I’ve heard all the rhetoric about building platform and luring readers to your site. I don’t think it works. The logic is fallacious. Reasonably speaking, 1+1 does not necessarily equal 2 when there are a multitude of variables outside your control. Meaningful engagement is required for connections to translate across the social media boundaries. People searching for information found on your blog do not subsequently want to read everything else you’ve produced.
The idea behind platform is to figure out a more directed audience by targeting a specific demographic. I think that’s a great deal more difficult to determine, much less to accomplish. There are plenty of people willing to show you how it’s done, so long as you cough up some cash. The world is filled with folks who make a living off writers who aren’t making one.
Social media is important, providing a way for authors to connect with readers. Still, making yourself available is a good idea but it isn’t a requirement. Look around. There are plenty of authors (well-known and otherwise) who simply don’t participate in the social whirl. Platform, social media, and marketing are tools designed to get your work read. How do you handle your tools? Are you a seasoned journeyman who wields the tool bag with skill and finesse – or a bumbling inept apprentice who can’t even find the job site?
Personally, I’m not sure where I stand in that continuum and I don’t have any answers. But I do think the time has come for me to decide if how I’m spending the hours of my day with blogging, updating the website, sending tweets, facebooking, and funneling posts through tribes is worthwhile time management. Sixty minutes a day doesn’t seem like much of a commitment but that’s hours a month I could be doing something else. Like writing. Or cooking. Or reading. Or staring at the grass and wishing I had a zombie to push the mower.
Being a big believer in empirical evidence, I like to try something before accepting or rejecting its efficacy. On occasion this has led me to experiment with some options perhaps better left untried… but how do you know, if you never try?
Most of the writers I know aren’t trying to make a living with their writing – goodness, but there are only about a million easier ways to make money. We’re trying to find the right audience to enjoy our hard work, those folks who will nod and laugh and groan with our characters, shiver with delight when happy events happen, and hunch their shoulders with dismay when things go bad for the protagonist. We search for those readers ready to fall into the worlds we’ve spilled out of our minds and onto the page.
The tricky part is finding those lovely people and connecting with them, letting them know our words are waiting to be read. So that’s where I am, re-evaluating what has worked and what hasn’t. I’d like to get better at finding my audience, even if it’s very small. I’ve got a second short story collection, a stand-alone short, and two novellas releasing between now and the end of summer. I’m hoping to connect with the people who want to enjoy them.
My work schedule is about to shift and a big lifestyle change looms on the horizon starting next September. Many of my regular activities may simply cease, casualties of a too-busy calendar. There’s still plenty I have to say in the blogosphere. Heaven knows, I’m not going to stop researching bizarre crap and feeling the need to share. I’ve got a lot of publishing lined up in the queue and the more time I spend here, means the less time I allocate to getting the words distributed. I haven’t submitted anything to editors and agents in months – and that’s something I’d like to explore again. As a writer, it’s smart to spread our words around to multiple outlets.