|*(I say most of April because some unexpected |
surgery at the end of the month gave me
a reason to quit early to lay around
the house and focus
on American Horror Story: Asylum
on Netflix/not having my face hurt.)
For most of April I took part in the A To Z Challenge and also gave away free books every day. My goal in doing this was (of course) to build up my readership and get some more reviews of my books to help sales along. I thought PERHAPS by timing it with the A To Z Challenge, which has something like 2,000 blogs registered to it (although far far fewer actually taking part) I might possibly crack the Amazon Hot 100 Free, which I figured would jumpstart sales of books, if ever I could do such a thing.
I DID NOT crack the top 100, but I learned some things about marketing, and blog fests, and free books, and visitors and comments and the like. And so for the next few posts on this blog, I'm going to share lessons I learned from my Herculean effort at marketing. Some of them are lessons I learned before. Some of them you may dispute. But if you are trying to sell your books, they are all things to keep in mind. And, because I like to be helpful, for each one I'll tell you whether I think it's worth doing or what you should try.
These are things that are suggested, mind you, as free marketing efforts, which is the price point I like: it's always possible to simply buy advertising for your book or blog, but I am one of those people who believes that while sure, you have to spend money to make money, first you have to make money to have money to spend to make money. (Got that?) So I'm focusing in this series on whether the advice people give you that would let you sell your book without investing a ton of dough is worth it at all.
These are in no particular order, so today's lesson is simply the first one that popped into my mind:
1. People who visit your blogs out of courtesy rarely come back.
One of the most common tips I hear as a blogger is that if you want blog visitors, visit other's blogs. This is something I hate doing, as many blogs don't interest me. It's a tip I've questioned, too, in that you don't hear it about any other business. "If you want people to visit your restaurant, visit theirs! If you want people to poke someone on YOUR Facebook, visit theirs!" It becomes a chore, reading blogs and leaving a comment -- more of a chore for me, as I don't leave "Nice post" comments, but try to say something thoughtful or funny or both in response. If you visit a lot of blogs, you'll find that is VERY tough to do. That's not a knock on your blog, which I'm sure is fine, but it's a knock on the 1,000,000,000 blogs out there that quite honestly are not very well-written or fun to read.
But why question a bunch of anonymous advice from total strangers? So, for April, I dutifully visited not only the blogs I try to read every day, but to visit others, too, going to the big A To Z List and randomly choosing at least one per day and usually 2 or 3.
What I found was that perhaps -- PERHAPS -- 1 in 10 of those people whose blogs I visited came and checked mine out, judging by the comments left. And of those, I can't recall any who actually came and commented on a later day.
What I found, too, was that of those randomly-selected blogs, one was actually of interest to me and got bookmarked to visit again.
You can do the math, there, but as a method of advertising, commenting on other blogs I think is a terrible investment. If you spend 10 minutes a day doing it, you'll put nearly a full (work) week a year into this form of advertising yourself -- what PT Dilloway once called "being the most interesting person in the room" -- but the return seems to be far, far less than if you simply took a week and spent time telling people about your book, or your blog, or your whatever, directly.
Because that's what this is, after all: it's an attempt at a sort of viral marketing. "Hey, I said a thing, so you should go see other things I said," kind of the way those restaurants that gave away huge Groupon deals were hoping that by giving you a free burger you'd become a lifelong patron.
The thing about the "visit other blogs" idea is that it falls apart as a marketing strategy the more you look at it. So you're going to read someone else's post, hopefully -- I can generally tell if a commenter read a post and put thought into their comment and if I feel like they didn't then I don't care what they said -- and say something thoughtful/funny/unique in response. That's the plan. But who is going to see that clever comment? The blog's author, sure, and anyone who reads the comments left before they got there, which I sometimes do (I skim them), but that's it. And in that comment you will not directly address the real reason you are there!
Imagine J.J. Abrams marketing Episode VII that way: the blog equivalent of going door-to-door, but then not even talking about the film.
*JJ Abrams, wearing a sign that announces he can be found at http://www.jjsnewmovieR2D2.com, is standing there*
JJ: Hey, I just happened by and overheard you talking about your garden and I thought it was kind of funny. I had a garden once, too. I might stop by again sometimes to hear other things you have to say!
Me: *confused* That's... creepy? Or great? I don't know.
JJ: *runs off, shouting over his shoulder that I could pop in on him sometime to see what he's up to.*
So my advice? Read the blogs you want to read, comment on every blog you read because that's polite, but give up on reading blogs as a marketing device. Instead, maybe try a blog hop yourself -- go to the person's blog directly and ask them if you can post something on their blog. It will achieve the same goals -- notifying that person that you exist and allowing you to say something on their blog -- while simultaneously allowing you to reach their readership.
|It's just a nonsense word.|
Don't try to find meaning in it.