Archive for the ‘Packaging Virtual Content’ Category

Blog Hops

Like the other events we talked about last time, Blog Hops can be a lot of fun and very successful, but they take a lot of work.  In fact, much of the work is not something you realize ahead of time.  For one, they are notoriously hard to set up before the morning of.  Why?  Because you have to have the working links to everyone’s posts, and most people don’t have working links until the morning of the event.

This can be a headache if your hop is very large.  If you are scrambling for four links that will break the chain in the middle, that’s not pleasant.

Further, setting these up can be a challenge as well.

First you have to have a central page that each blog links to as well as an image that promotes the blog hop.  Then you need a consistent jump tag with the image so that people who land on a particular site can easily follow the hop.  All of these have to be set up and working ahead of time.

If you have bloggers who are not familiar with posting images or are just starting and learning how to link, this could take even more time.

To see a blog hop that we did in November, go here.  Ours was kind of eclectic “Food, Faith, and Fun” as each blog post was about something slightly different having to do with the upcoming holidays.

If you want to set up a blog hop and need the technical assistance to do it, go to Linky Tools   You can also set up a simple one on your own.

If you want to see what blog hops are out there to join, you can visit The Mommy Chronicles Blog Hop Directory

Have fun blog hopping!


Blog Events

One thing you might consider to give people a big reason to come to your blog is to host an event.

Events are different than normal blogging in that they have a definite start and a definite end date.  However, just like normal blogging, they are limited only by your imagination and your technical ability.

I have participated in several blog events that have been successful in getting the word out.  Some of them have been:


#1  A Special Month dedicated to a topic.  One blogger I know had a month dedicated to men who write Christian novels.  (That wasn’t the one I did. 🙂  Others have featured a Hero’s Month where all month-long, they had blogs about heroes from different books they had either read or that authors posted about to the blog.  You could do all kinds of these “months”–Pet Month where you feature pets from books, Heroine Month, Christian Authors month, etc.

#2 An event centered around a holiday or time of year.  My friend Penny Zeller hosted “Favorite Christmas Memories” on her blog last year for the first 12 days of December.  She had 2 authors per day sharing their favorite memories.  Then each author gave away one copy of their book to someone who had commented.  Because there were a lot of authors in the project, Penny got a lot of exposure for her blog with others tweeting about their posts on the blog.  These events are great fun, but they are work to set up, run, and follow up on.  So plan carefully.

#3  The third type of event is actually how G&F started.  Karen Baney was a part of a group of 36 authors through the World Literacy Cafe who all got together to celebrate the launch of WLC-founder Melissa Foster’s book.  For 3 weeks before, all the authors tweeted about the event, posted blogs about their stuff that linked to the page of the event, blogged about the event, etc.  Then for three days, all of the books including the launch book were 99-Cents and they gave away a book if you bought 3 or more.  It was a huge event that launched Melissa into the stratosphere of the ebook world.  However, do not think it was an easy promotion.  We did one with 10 authors for Karen’s book in December, and it was very successful.  It was also A LOT of work to keep up with who’s blogging where, what links should you send people to, getting the page set up, tracking sales, tracking ranks…. It was a challenge.

I did a smaller one of these earlier in December, and it was quite successful as well.  In that one, the lead author hosted all of us on her blog and we all pointed our links toward her blog which had tons of info about the book sale.  These do take a lot of forward planning, and I can imagine that it’s possible to do all that work and not sell a lot of books.  For me, they were great jumping off places.

#4… For next time… Blog Hops!

Doing Reviews as Blog Posts

Some bloggers find that doing reviews is a good way of driving traffic to their blog, and this is true.  As an author, I love directing my audience to a site that has favorably reviewed my book.  Why?  Because it’s not on Amazon where the reviews tend to get bunched together.  It’s more fun to read a single great review on a site than a whole bunch that make your eyes glaze over.

If the blogger includes a link to my book as well, this can be a terrific landing page for on-going promos even after the post is not on the blogger’s top page.

However, if you are going to do reviews for your blog, here are some points to consider.

#1  Reading takes time.  Even if you are an extreme speed reader, there are more books than you can ever read.  With the advent of ebooks, that is more true than ever.  Once your site is found by readers, you can be sure the authors will pounce.  That’s great as you might get a bunch of free books, but you can lose credibility very quickly if you promise to do 10 books a month and find that is not feasible.  So go slow at first.  Only commit to a couple of books and see how it goes before committing to 50 and realizing you can’t keep up.

#2  Set your review policies.  Are there certain types books you don’t want to read or review?  Put that in a Policies Page that is visible on the site.  You don’t want to be wading through tons of submissions that turn your stomach.

#3  In fact, on your policies statement, also include information about what happens if you hate the book.  Do you politely but not publicly let the author know the book was below what you could give a good review for?  Or are you comfortable giving bad reviews to crummy books you’ve been given?  If you are an author, this gets to be a particularly thorny question as publishing a review that is less-than-favorable can come back to haunt you when you are asking for reviews for your own book.  As much as possible, think through these issues because if you review, you will face them sooner or later.

#4  What will you include with the review?  I’ve seen bloggers get really creative with reviews, asking the author for “casting calls” of who they see as their hero and heroine.  I’ve seen bloggers do character interviews coupled with or after a review.  Challenge yourself to find a way to make your reviews MUST READS!  THE review everyone clamors to get and every reader wants to read.  Don’t be boring! 🙂

#5  Think through how to stem the tide when you start getting too many submissions.  Do you close submissions?  Put news ones on a to-be-read list?  What?

#6  I know there are sites that request payment for reviews.  I would discourage you from doing so unless your site offers the chance of more than one reviewer and there is an issue of download space on your server or something.  Otherwise, if it’s just you reviewing, consider the reviews the price of attracting traffic to your site.

#7  Promote your reviews!  Maybe that sounds obvious, but don’t just review and let them gather dust.  Tweet about them.  Facebook them.  Let others know you have a new review out, so they will come, read it, love it, and want to read more reviews by you!

In short, think through your policies and know that this route of blogging takes much more time than simple blog posts.  However, if you absolutely love to read and want to point people to great books, this is a fabulous way to do it!  (And authors will love you to boot! 😉

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!

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:


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.