Hey! I got myself in a pickle! Actually, it is a blogging challenge for the month of April, A to Z Challenge (thanks to Solveig for the tip). Every day, except for Sundays, the bloggers are challenged to write a short entry starting from a letter of the day. Should be fun. It’s a huge community. My number is 1178 (imagine me singing it like Jean Valjean) and there are 15 days left for sign up. Anyone among my friends-followers wants to join? It will be fun together.
As a side note, this event just taught me something valuable about blogging and social media presence. I personally have a love-hate relationship with social media. I hate what it does to me. I hate waking up and first thing checking my notifications. It takes a lot of life out of me, but this is the nature of the biz (or the beast, whichever you prefer).
I particularly dislike Twitter. I hate it’s basic precept of dumbing down and shortening thoughts. I hate ‘tweeting’. And the worst part about it, is that most likely I will have to do it anyway. Hate Twitter. Gotta do it. It’s a mad mad mad mad mad mad world.
Ok, that was my little twitter-hater rant.
Recently I signed up for a free webinar offered by Jeff Goings, a writer and writing coach with a huge social media presence. The subsequent webinars (a course of 4 modules, if I remember correctly) was priced at $197. This is $197 too much that I am willing to spend on figuring out the business that I hate any way. But the takeaway from the free webinar was actually quite good. Jeff talked about two things.
First, he talked about the need to narrow down the focus of your platform. He suggested that all platforms should fit in one (or two max) of the following categories:
- Journalist. The platform for interviews, investigative stories, asking questions. I don’t think I have any clear-cut journalists among my subscribers, but maybe I am missing someone, so let me know.
- Prophet. Any type of a guru: wellness, health, self-help etc. Jeff says, the type of a person who is good at this kind of writing must be always dissatisfied, maybe somewhat pissed off, and enjoy a good rant. I thought of John Scalzi, a sci fi writer and kind of a social advocate when it comes to many issues (e.g., women’s rights). Another example is Ben’s Bitter Blog, whose motto is “We make bitter better“. Talk about a good marketing pitch.
- Artist. This blog is for the creative types, to which a lot of us, writers belong. One blog comes immediately to mind, however. Sarah Doughty runs the blog that entirely consists of creative entries: poetry and novels. I have several bloggers who post their photography, artwork, crafts etc. These also fit the category.
- Professor. This is the blogger with a serious expertise who enjoys debunking myths and educating the public. And yes, I have a perfect example among my blogging community. The Science Geek is the blog about astronomy and science in general.
- Star. Well, anyone from Miley to Justin to Rihanna. This is a blog of a charismatic person. Like, in my opinion, the blog of Catherine who runs the Atypical 60 blog. She channels charisma and blogs about all kinds of things that have to do with her entering the 60th decade in life. And I tell you, the charisma is there.
Second, Jeff outlined in his free webinar ways to expand your outreach. Those who sign up for the further course, get to learn about these strategies in detail, but the general list is this.
- Guest posting
- Email marketing (that requires collecting email subscribers)
That’s a general list that a lot of us could probably come up with ourselves, but the practice is easier said than done.
And this, finally, brings me to the lesson learned from the A-Z Challenge. In order to sign up for the challenge, you must enter your email address. So I did. I am sure I can expect getting an email some time soon about some great opportunity for me. The same tactics was used by Jeff Goings, who I came across with his 30-day writing challenge, which, actually, was interesting, although I did not follow it, because I new what I need to write and I write more than 500 words a day anyway. But for someone who wants to get in a habit of writing, I assume, the service could be quite useful. Jeff offered daily prompts and encouragement which were quite good. If you are interested, you can google him.
So the email subscribers. The newsletters. The events and communities. All of these ‘tactics’ suppose to build your email subscriber list. There are special plugins for that purpose that are designed shake the email addresses from the visitors. And that is the basis for your social media marketing.
Honestly, I don’t know what to think about all of it. I know what I think when I see all the flashy pop-ups. It’s fine when the blog is not in a person’s name, but is designed to be a resource center of some kind. But even that pisses me off. I always turn those off, if I can. And if I can’t, I normally leave the site. Sometimes you have no way out and must sign up, like if you want to take that stupid quiz about ‘who you were in your previous life’ on Facebook. You have to log in through your Facebook account. I always have a small rant with myself when I do that. But what to do, these are the desperate times.
So my question to you, folks.
What do you think about explicit marketing for writers? When it is too much? And, most importantly, can a decent, conscientious writer survive these days without twisting arms and legs of the visitors for the email addresses and turning in a spamming robot?
I’m looking forward to your comments.
Have a good day,