In a previous post, I talked about ways to develop a successful and integrated platform. I mentioned in that post that blogging was the primary plank in my platform and that it’s where I spend most of my social media time.
This week, I’d like to expand on that topic by telling you a little bit about how I’m blogging to build platform.
A Little Background
Almost ten years ago, I stepped into the world of blogging with one of those free blogs hosted by one of those free blogging sites and set up an art blog. I had no idea what I was doing, but everyone said I needed to have a blog to go with my website (which I’d had since the late-1990s).
So I got a blog.
After a while, I moved from a free blogging site to a self-hosted one and have never looked back. The journey since has been fantastic, frustrating, exciting, exasperating, a lot of fun, and a lot of work. A whole lot of work!
When I started writing more seriously, I started a writing blog, too. I didn’t double the fun, frustration, and work; I squared it. But it’s all been worth it. My art blog has a regular and loyal following and so has the original writing blog. Point of fact, so does this one.
It’s only been in the last couple of years that I’ve been persuaded that I need to expand social media reach beyond the blogs, but the blogs are still where I spend most of my social media time.
Building Platform by Blogging
My blogging strategy is like a three-legged stool. Like any three-legged stool, it can be useful with only two legs, but it’s a lot more stable with three solid legs.
Focus on the content on my blog is the most important of the three legs. If my blog is short on quality content, all the promotion in the world will be pointless. People must have a reason to visit my blog. It must be the most interesting, exciting, entertaining, or informative blog in the world for them for that moment in time. Otherwise, they’re off to any one of the hundreds of other blogs available on the same or related topics.
That’s not easy, but take heart. You don’t have to write a post that goes viral every day (or every week or how ever often you publish). Sure, those kinds of posts are nice, but they’re special.
What you do need is a regular publishing schedule (I publish once every week and sometimes more often and I always publish my main post on Saturday). You also need a lot of content. Aim for quality with every post, but quantity is also your friend because the more you write, the better you’ll get at it. And the more posts you publish, the more opportunities for readers to engage with you.
Read other blogs every day; comment on at least 3. This is something I just recently started doing because I didn’t think I had the time to read other people’s blogs.
I’ve developed a list of writing and writing-related blogs that I follow regularly. Most of them are on craft, but the list also includes the publishing business, author support blogs, and a few business leadership blogs. Each day, I spend an hour reading those that are of the most relevance to my goal.
I also attempt to comment on at least three blogs. But I try to make those comments count. The objective is to provide the same level of content through a comment that I provide with my blog posts. Comments need to add to the value of the discussion or answer questions.
How does this work to build my blog? If people are interested enough in my comments to want to know more about me, what do they do? They click on my name and come to my blog. If they like what they see on the blog well enough, they follow it. If they find help or entertainment on a regular basis, they become subscribers.
It does work that way. I have the numbers to prove it.
It’s also a long-term project. Don’t expect overnight success with this process. What it does is get your words in front of other readers; many of whom have never visited the blog and have never heard of you.
Tweet what I read every day. And I don’t mean my own stuff. Yes, most days, I do squeeze in a tweet about one of my posts, but some days I don’t mention them at all.
Don’t get me wrong; there’s nothing wrong with tweeting your own stuff if your stuff is helpful to readers. But you don’t want to tweet just your stuff. My rule of thumb is between 3 and 5 tweets about someone else for every tweet about myself.
I also prefer not to tweet old stuff unless it’s absolutely necessary or is Archive Day. So if I’m loaded up with other people’s stuff to tweet, that’s what I tweet.
You want to share information with your Twitter followers that they will find helpful. In my case, I’m in my target audience; writers who want to learn how to write a better novel. So most of the blogs I follow provide content for me to share on Twitter.
In many cases, the people I tweet about become followers. That means my words enter their stream. If they happen to retweet my tweets–and many of them do–my words also reach their followers.
It’s like compounding interest. The more I tweet, the more gets retweeted, and the more people see my content.
This process is working well for me. Will it work for you? Chances are it will be of benefit. But social media is a fluid thing and nothing works for everyone all the time. You have to try things and keep what works for you. Your three-legged blogging stool may have different legs than mine.
Or you may have a three-legged social media stool that doesn’t include blogging at all (aside: you really should consider blogging either on your own or with someone else, because a blog gives tweeps, friends, likes, and followers a place to find your stuff all the time).
The key is to find the tools that work best for you and use them for all they’re worth.