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Archive for April, 2012

Hosting Guests on Your Blog

April 26, 2012 1 comment

If you either are set up to regularly host guests on your blog OR you are thinking of doing it to fill-in around your content, there are some things you should know and consider.

#1 Although it sounds easy because you won’t have to be coming up with the content on your own, sometimes this strategy can be really difficult.  You are working with other people, and other people make mistakes.  They don’t get things in on time.  They don’t send everything you need.  There is often a lot of need for prodding and then follow up.  Sometimes things they send don’t work (like photos or covers).  So know going in that this path can be a headache.

#2  Be very clear about what you will need from them.  Having done a lot of these, I now know to send:  a bio, a cover, my photo, the blog post, and links.  You will want to ask for these up front from your guests.

#3  If you have a word count, be clear about that as well.  There is nothing more frustrating than thinking I have a guest post ready only to find the blogger wants 100 words cut out.  When you are clear, the author can make the changes prior to sending.  And yes, it’s your site, but never edit unless it is clearly wrong.  If it is more than a misspelling, I would send it back to the author to correct.

#4  YOU are responsible for promoing the blog.  Yes, you would like the author to help, and to facilitate that, you should send them a link as soon as you can.  But most authors assume it’s your blog and thus your audience.  They will assume you will be putting out the word.  Don’t let them down.

#5  ALWAYS include links if they give them to you.  That is the author’s payment for appearing on your blog.

#6  If you do giveaways, follow up with the author and the winners to make sure they received their book.  You will do more damage by not getting a prize to a winner than by not having the giveaway in the first place.

#7  Going back to #1, be kind and courteous no matter what.  Problems are going to happen.  Just know that and have a back-up plan in case someone doesn’t come through for you.

#8  Schedule.  Schedule.  Schedule.  Don’t rely on your memory.  You won’t remember who was scheduled for what date.  WRITE IT DOWN!

#9  If you say you will review, do it.  I hear this complaint all the time from authors who are part of a blog tour that the bloggers were supposed to review the books… they don’t review the books!  Why?  I don’t know.  They run out of time, overschedule and overpromise?  No clue.  But don’t be that blogger.

#10  Interviews are fun, but mix it up a little.  Have 10 questions and ask your interviewees to answer their favorite 5, or have 3 different sets of questions and send them to new authors.  Then personalize the interview when you get it in.  Make it sound like you are talking with the author, not just listing five questions for them to answer.

#11  To find guest bloggers, join a group like G&F and put call-outs for spots you have open.  Many authors are looking for spots, and you will probably get quite a few takers.  Just be sure you have time to deal with those you get, or only take a few and then close the opportunity.

 

Good luck with hosting guests on your blog!  You get to meet a lot of cool people like that!

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Promoting Blog Posts

So you’ve got a great blog post with terrific keywords and a jump tag at the end.

Great start!

Now you’ve got to promote it.  Remember this graphic from earlier?

Now that you have your Content (that wonderful blog post, which is Pulling audiences in) and your jump tag to your book page, which is the Push, now we’re going to jump down to the PROMO part of the equation.

In short, you have to TELL people about the blog post.

For many years I put up post after post and sometimes I would stumble upon new subscribers, or they would stumble upon me.  But that wasn’t very strategic.  To be strategic, you must identify all the places you can get the word out about your post.

These can include but are not limited to:

Twitter

Facebook Profile

Facebook Page

Stumble Upon

Linked In

Amazon Author Central Page

Google +

The “Space” Sites (MySpace, HisSpace, etc.)

Basically, anywhere that you have an account and can post about the article is a good promo spot.

So do it!  Don’t go to all the trouble to set up a great blog post and leave it there to collect cyber-dust.

Ride the wave you’ve created by promoing the article.

To do so, you probably want to write at least 3 different tweets or promos for it.  Put these on a Word doc that you can pull from in two weeks and again in six weeks and again a year from now (you did make that blog post timeless, right?!).  This is a classic pull-push campaign that once set up and be run over and over again indefinitely.

Just don’t make the mistake, like I did, of thinking if you build it, they will automatically show up in droves.  They won’t unless you INVITE them!

We will talk more about writing Twitter posts later, but for now, ANY promo is better than none.  Good luck!  See you next time!

Doing Guest Blogs

April 19, 2012 1 comment

Technically there are several types of guest blogs including reviews and interviews.  However, today I want to talk a bit about writing actual blog posts for someone else’s site.

When I first started marketing on the ‘net in early 2001, I found that although I had a website, no one was showing up to it like I thought they would.  What to do?  What to do?

I was told about article marketing (there were no such things as blogs back then), and I decided to try it.

Article marketing is basically writing an article (blog post) that is generic enough to be used on a site that is not yours.  So you would write something about an insight about the Holy Spirit and then offer another site that content.  The payment was a linkback to your site.

This actually worked phenomenally well for me at the time.

First, I’m very good at crafting blog posts due to early training in writing quickly and succinctly.  Second, on my blog, although I write about things that happen in my life, they are not me-centric.  They are everyday things that have happened that pointed me to God.

At the time email newsletters were huge, and I happened to get an article placed on a very large newsletter.  I so remember that Friday morning.  I went to my email account (and I was doing subscriptions to my newsletter by hand — well before the CAN-SPAM laws hit).  I had 50 people wanting to subscribe, and they just kept pouring in.  I could literally watch as the sun came up around the world as each new batch would be from a different country.

By the end of the day I had over 300 new subscribers!  It was incredible.

Although I’ve never had a day quite like that one, I do attribute my early ebook sales success in August of 2011 to article marketing.  In July I sold 2 ebooks.  In August I hired a lady to go out and find places for me to post guest blogs.  I sold 63 ebooks in August due entirely to those posts.

So this type of marketing works.

However, I do have to say it is a lot of work.  You have to find a blog, pitch to the blog author, write the article, submit it with your bio, picture, cover, jump tag.  Then when it comes out, you have to promo it and show up on that blog to answer questions.  Sometimes there are no questions.  Sometimes there are LOTS of questions.

If you are going to do guest blogging, I suggest you start small with a couple a month and see how it goes.  If you enjoy it, you can do more the next month.  If it is just too much pressure, maybe it’s not for you.

But of everything I’ve ever done marketing-wise (except Twitter which is more promo than content), guest blogging is hands down the most rewarding if you hit the right blog with just the right article.

Repurposing Old Blogs

If you’ve done the work on a blog post to make it truly wonderful and timeless, the last thing you want to do is run it once and let it sit there doing nothing for the rest of eternity.  That’s where repurposing comes in.

There are several ways to repurpose blog articles.  Here are a few:

1)  Use old articles as guest blogs elsewhere.  Don’t spend all your time on guest blogs trying to come up with something new.  It is perfectly acceptable to use old blog posts as new guest blogs.  Keep in mind that the article should be timeless, so it doesn’t appear dated on the new site AND it should be older than about 6 months old.

2)  Retweet and promo old articles from your blog.  This is especially helpful if you’ve done your jump tag at the bottom correctly as your blog post will act as an extended advertisement–pulling first and then pushing your books.  Also, articles are great ways to legitimately use a diverse range of hashtags.  If you normally write romance, but you have an article about what divorce does to children, you can use the hashtag #divorce for the article, which you would obviously not use for any of your books. (We will discuss hashtags extensively later on.)

3)  Use in short story collections.  These can be either by you if you have enough articles (my books Reflections on Life I and II came from doing just this).  Or you can submit these to larger collections that do not require originals.  These types of books abound now with the success of the Chicken Soup for the Soul books.

4)  Use them as landing pages for your guest blogs.  Guest blog somewhere and then use your jump to land the person on a second article about the same topic.

5)  You can also go backwards and write guest blogs that you then post as articles to your own blog.  This works particularly well if you are not a prolific blogger.  It will give you a deadline– for someone else and thus accountability, and it can take the pressure off of creating something new for each post on your blog.  You can also link to other blog posts you’ve done such as reviews and/or interviews.

The bottom line is, don’t think “Post and Done” on your blog entries.  They should be workers out there finding you new audience members all the time.

Jump Tags for Blog Posts

By now you should have several landing pages ready to go for your jumps.  Remember the Promo Chain:

 

 

 

 

 

 

As you will recall, the goal is to take a potential customer through the Promo Chain and then get them to JUMP to a landing page that will continue the relationship.  With a blog post, you have probably already used the promo chain to get the person TO the blog.  Now it’s time to take the next step and get them to jump to a new landing page–info about your books!

So how do you write that Jump Tag that will say, “Hey!  Come take a look and see if you want to buy something from me!”

Well, first it depends on the landing page to which you are sending them.  That could be your website where they might be able to see many things about you and your writing, or it could be to a specific page such as your book buying page.

My best advice is to give a small variety of options.  Many of my post-blog jump tags look like this:

“Romance, faith, forgiveness, and reconciliation,
DEEP IN THE HEART has them all.”

Buy “Deep in the Heart” on Amazon Kindle here.

Buy “Deep in the Heart on B&N Nook here.

Read the first chapter for FREE!

Notice how on this jump tag, the picture itself is also a clickable jump.

You can also do word-only jump tags like this:

Looking for even more inspiration?  Check out Staci’s new short story collection full of wisdom and insights:  Reflections on Life II

Or…

Love Christian Romance?  This site has it all!  First chapters, excerpts, and reviews:  EbookRomanceStories.com  Fall in love all over again!

The idea is to entice the reader to continue the relationship.  Remember, these are especially important when you do guest blogs and interviews.  ALWAYS give readers the info they will need to find you again!

Blog Comments

April 10, 2012 3 comments

This is one of those points I wish someone else would write as I have had limited success with getting blog comments.  I do get them, but they are sporadic.  Also, I often get them for older posts rather than my newer stuff.

I do, however, know someone who is GREAT at getting comments.  Her name is Penny Zeller.  She gets LOTS of comments!  Check out her blog here:  http://pennyzeller.wordpress.com/

I can tell you one thing that Penny does better than nearly anyone else I’ve ever seen… she responds!  To every commenter.  I’ll be honest I’m not sure how she does it.

You can also host giveaways to encourage people to comment.

If you have great ideas for getting people to comment, please share them in comments to this article (that was tricky, huh?).  But seriously.  If you have a great way to encourage people to come and participate on blogs, let us know!

See, told you I wasn’t very good at this one.

Marathon or Sprint Blog

This topic was touched on before, but I wanted to spend a little time talking about it a bit more so you can design your blog scheduling for maximum success–for what you want it to do.

The basic idea is that in track, some runners are sprinters and some are marathoners.  Very, VERY rarely is a track person both.

It’s the same with a blog.

Some blogs are sprint blogs, some are marathon blogs, and you need to know the difference as you’re designing.

A sprint blog acts more like a website.  It is designed to be set up and then promo’ed, rather than updated frequently.  Not that you can’t update a sprint blog, but if you do, it won’t be as often as you update a marathon blog.

An example of a sprint blog is my Ebook Romance Stories blog.  http://ebookromancestories.com

I crafted this blog literally in about a week.  Each post is cross-referenced on the pages rather than standing alone.  So I have a page for First Chapters… each of the entries on the list link to a post that contains a first chapter of one of my books.  Excerpts and reviews each have their own page.  This blog was designed as a website so that I can send readers there to read about each book.  I only update it if I either have some new information–new covers for example, or if I have a new novel come out.

The sprint blog is put together all at the same time and then left (except for promo’ing).

A marathon blog is quite different.  It will require more of your time and will need to be updated as long as you want the blog to run.  This is more of what people think of when they think “blog.”  Marathon blogs contain posts written about topics as extemporaneous or editorials.  I have several marathon blogs.  The one that’s been in existence for the longest is:  http://spiritlightbooks.wordpress.com   I have been posting to that blog since 2008 or so.

This marketing blog is kind of a cross between a sprint and a marathon.  My goal is to post like a marathon blog, but when I run out of relevant topics, I will stop posting and just direct traffic (G&F members) here to learn about marketing.  So why would I have a blog that’s not a marathon blog on marketing?  In short, I was spending great amounts of time walking people through these concepts.  I decided it would be easier to think them through and get them all written down in one place than to rewrite them each time a new person asked.

So think about the purpose of your blog.  Are you envisioning a sprint blog–something more akin to a website?  Or  marathon blog, which will require much more information and time commitment that will not have a finite ending?

Next time we’ll talk about Comments and getting people to participate on your blog.