Thursday, September 11, 2008

ON EVEN MORE BLOGGING SECRETS





"Doing business without advertising is like winking at a girl in the dark. You know what you are doing, but nobody else does."


***Steuart Henderson Britt



HANK: Ah yes, did we tempt you back here for day two of the fantastic Dani Greer? If yes--then she's taught us well. As you know, she's the knower of all knowledge about blogging...and promises to share it all with us!


Now you're saying: Hank. Get on with it. We want Dani.


Okay.



HANK: What's the biggest mistake bloggers make? Okay, the two biggest mistakes?



DANI: The very biggest mistake is not posting regularly on the blog (several times a week at least), and not treating the blogging as an important aspect of their writing careers. There are still writers out there who think blogging is a waste of time, and not "real" writing.


The second big mistake is not having a "buy" button for their books. Don't be shy about asking your readers to purchase a copy of your book, and make it easy for them to do so.


Can I have one more? Okay, third big mistake is not paying attention to your blog statistics. How many readers you have, where they're coming from, how the stats relate to posts on your blog. These numbers are very telling especially during a blog tour, whether your own tour or a writer you're hosting. It's a numbers game, and the better you play it, the more likely you'll have another book published.



HANK: Oh--tell us more about statistics!


DANI: Statistics are kind of like grades in school. They're a measure of how well you're doing. Don't let them depress or confuse you. Numbers that are useful to you during a blog book tour include:


1. Your amazon ranking before, during, and after a tour. Title Z (http://www.titlez.com/) is a good place to monitor this.


2. Your blog traffic before, during, and after a tour and pay special note to the types of tour stops that will get the most traffic. It's no surprise that a book giveaway will draw hits and comments. Use the Mad Clicker approach at your site meter's webpage and look at all the various reports. The coolest are the bar graphics showing hits each day, and I like the referral page that shows me where my visitors are coming from.



If 1/3 of your hits are jumping over from Twitter (http://twitter.com/), or Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/), or The Cozy Chicks (http://www.cozychicksblog.com/) because you had a guest post over there, you know you're using those tools effectively. It's sort of like meeting new people at a party, who then visit your place because they think you're interesting. You might not like that scenario in real life, but it's very cool in the virtual world.

HANK: Sometimes, when it's late and the blog is due and you just can't think of a topic, it's easy to wonder if it's all worth it. How do we know blogging is worth the effort? I mean--is there a way to quantify?And, because it's so much fun to analyze other people's blogs--do the number of comments reflect the number of views?




DANI: The number of comments rarely reflect your average daily views - they only suggest that particular blog post was a hot-button for some reason.


Usually, it's a controversial subject, an empathy topic like a death, or a contest that will goose reader response. As to ways of quantifying your blog's success, it's a bit like determining whether your store advertisement brought in traffic. Unless you offer a coupon, how will you know?



Customers might mention it when they come in, but that's not a reliable source. Good retailers know that advertising works over the long run if you do it regularly, and the same holds true for your blog. Post three times a week and mention it everywhere you go online, and you'll eventually get traffic, and pick up new readers.


It also becomes much easier to find topics when you have a good writing habit established. (Isn't that a brilliant insight?) It all takes time and it's work. It's part of running your writing business and selling your books. Which brings us to your ultimate statistic - how many books you actually sell. The more you get the word out, the more readers will know that there's a product available for purchase. Your royalty check is your ultimate statistic.




HANK: On the spellcheck of my email, "blog" is not recognized as a word. Nor is "blogger." Spellcheck wants them to be "bog" and "logger." what do you think about that?


DANI: Old email program? Nutty in any case, since blogging isn't exactly a new concept, if the Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blogging) article is any indication. How long have we been doing this - ten years? I'm a late bloomer, but I know writers who have been blogging for a decade.



HANK: Thanks Dani--you're amazing. Questions? Comments? Dani's here!


*************************


When Dani Greer isn't blogging for book tours, she creates and maintains other group blogs like The Blood Red Pencil (http://bloodredpencil.blogspot.com/) and Penny Dreadful (http://pdreadful.blogspot.com/). Email her at hotbuttonpress AT gmail DOT com if you'd like to participate on either one.


She's also the mogul of Blog Book Tours Yahoo Group, a peer support group which now has 125 author members learning to arrange their own virtual promotions.



FINAL LESSON FOR THE DAY:



Links are terrific. And important! But they can also be a pain. Here's what was shown on yesterday's blog here:


In fact, I remember my first blogging experience. Ann Parker (http://www.annparker.net)and/ I went to the Women Writing the West Conference and we agreed to blog the event on their brand-spanking-new blog(http://womenwritingtheest.blogspot.com/).


Lovely. But the links don't work.



In the first one, the "and" somehow got connected. (Bzzzt. Wrong.)


In the second one, the "w" in west was omitted. (Bzzt! Wrong.)



Here's the corrected version:



In fact, I remember my first blogging experience. Ann Parker (http://www.annparker.net/) and I went to the Women Writing the West Conference and we agreed to blog the event on their brand-spanking-new blog (http://womenwritingthewest.blogspot.com/).





BSP: Don't forget our own wonderfulRoberta Isleib is on blog-tour for Asking For Murder! http://robertaisleib.com/blog/













14 comments:

Chris Redding said...

I have statcounter, but I don't realy understand what I'm looking at. I go to the part that tells me where people came from, but it is a foreign language.
Can you illuminate here or over at the yahoo group?
Thanks,
cmr

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Hi Chris! Yes, we'd love to hear more stat counter secrets. I look at Recent Came From, and length of visit, and first time visitors. But there's a lot more I don't check.

Looking back at today's blog, I also better learn a bit about how to get rid of all the white space. Blogger just puts it in! I keep takingit out ,and when the blog gets published, it appears again. I know it's user error--but what am I doing?

And Dani, can you talk about RSS feeds? I think we need one. Don't we?

Roberta Isleib said...

Thanks again Dani, and to you Hank our JRW secret weapon. You are so right about the writing habit. Dani had a "write every day" challenge at her Yahoo group last month. I was away too much of the time to participate fully, but just knowing it was going on goosed my production.

Elaine Viets said...

Thanks, Dani, for the mention of The Lipstick Chronicles yesterday.
Any suggestions for how to avoid blogger burnout?
Elaine Viets

Anonymous said...

Thanks for a really interesting set of blogs, Dani (and Hank). I blog with the TLC Authors, and also appreciate the shout-out yesterday.

Here's a question -- these days, when politics is the biggest topic of discussion, do you ignore it, or risk offending people by blogging about it?

Kathy Sweeney

Emma Larkins said...

Hi all! Again, Dani, great information. For those who are interested, I posted on my blog yesterday about statistics and different tracking tools.

http://emmalarkins.blogspot.com/

One thing I still haven't been able to figure out on Google Analytics: how on earth do you interpret the Loyalty statistics? Someone needs to teach a class on this!

Also Hank, how do I access your permalinks? I'd like to like directly to today's post. Thanks!

~Emma

Helen Ginger said...

Thanks Dani. Wonderful information.

I think looking at your statistics and noticing which posts get the highest hits or most comments is a great tool and a help in figuring out what people are drawn to (and what areas you could blog about to keep the interest up).

It's like a puzzle where you have to fit the pieces together -- what topics are people interested in? Does specifically inviting comments help? Does asking the readers a question make a difference? Are pictures a draw? Does a book giveaway draw comments? Does controversy hurt or help? How about introducing a meme? Do people respond to a request to write a poem or finish a lyric or whatever?

If anybody figures it all out, call me. Or blog about it and tweet us.

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Hey Kathy! So nice to see you--as always. Love the question--and I agree. I ventured a John Edwards comment a few weeks ago, and I have to admit, I was a tad apprehensive.

Emma, how do you access our permalinks? (Thank you so much for wanting to...) Um, um: Help, Dani!
What's a permalink?

Hi Elaine! We should remind people that soon we'll be chatting here about fantastic HBO show True Blood-- based on Charlaine Harris' Sookie Stackhouse books! Watch this space for a special Sookie contest...and also check out the fabulous contest right now at
http://
www.femmesfatales.typepad.com

©Hotbutton Press said...

Okay, I had a lovely long post answering many questions, and then my computer shut down to load my stinkin' Acrobat updates. If I wanted acrobats in my life, I would have joined a circus!

Okay, so you'll get a little of the crabby me now.

Blogger white space. It's a PITA, and it happens because Blogger is a pig to begin with, and because your Word formatting is competing. So paste from Word into Notepad to remove all that, then copy and paste from Notepad to the Blogger window. Then format your paragraphs and other spacing. Usually that does the trick. Working around photos is another PITA, but we won't deal with that here and now. Blech!

More to follow...

Dani

©Hotbutton Press said...

Chris, let's have a statistics exploration in October over at the BBT group. It's confusing for several reasons, and two are high on the list:

- Each service gives you different reports
- You probably don't need most of the reports that are offered

It's best to explore all the assorted "hit counters" and compare/contrast. I'm not an expert, but between a few of us, maybe we can figure out which service is most useful, why, and what reports really matter for our purposes.

Obviously you want to know how many total hits, how long they stay on your blog, whether they're poking around on other pages, if they're linking out to someone you mentioned in a post, and where they're coming from... but, not necessarily where in the world they live. You can have too much useless information, too. Don't we all know that?

Dani

©Hotbutton Press said...

Elaine, the best way to avoid blogger burnout is to do what the tarts are doing - have a group blog of interesting personalities with strong opinions. You have it pretty much down over there. I wouldn't change much, since it's obviously working.

Burnout? Well, you probably have less problem over there because you do tackle current events so you have constant fodder. And part of why you have readers is because of the controversy, so I wouldn't second-guess that now. I don't know how you plan your posts over there, but certainly tactics like monthly themes or subject relays can help keep your interests up. It's like anything fun and interesting... you do it long enough and it starts feeling like work. And what an odd thing in our society that work is bad and everything needs to be fun all the time. I won't get on that soapbox.

Just remember that all your hard blogging work is why we love you and buy your books. I can't impress upon writers enough that blogging is such a lovely direct daily connection with your FANS. We can talk to you. It's better than a silly old autograph in book, which was once the big thrill for readers. Now we can actually ask you a question and get an answer. Marvelous!

My computer is flashing. Ack!

Cani

©Hotbutton Press said...

Okay, Cani here. No, make that Dani.

Okay, permalinks. These are just the longer urls for a specific blog post. You should be able to click on the post title to get the permalink. Or sometimes there's a link at the bottom of the post. Also, you may have to program in settings to option a permalink for the most current post.

Why are they important? They are crucial on a blog book tour, especially on popular blogs. Your blog tour lives forever online. So if someone sees your Asking For Murder tour schedule three months from now and links, they'll get the most current post on that blog and have to scroll backwards through three months to find your post. Very frustrating.

You can lose a reader this way, and they'll call you all sorts of names. I've had this experience more times than I can count. So always make sure to change your tour links to permalinks as soon as you can. Otherwise, you'll forget.

Same goes for when you're mentioning blog posts at groups and forums. Leave the permalink, not the shorter blog link. Make sense?

Dani

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