Monday, March 19, 2012

How to Make Blogs Work for You

Click here for more post on making your blog work for you.
My blogs work for me.

Early in 2008 I knew the next step God had for me was to start a blog. Why He would want me to blog, I had no idea. I mean, why put the effort into something no one would ever find, let alone read? But I had learned the hard way that running from God makes one miserable. Very miserable. So, with that in mind, I obeyed and fumbled my way through setting up a blog. I banged my head on the wall trying to figure things out because I was not tech-savvy. I almost hyperventilated when I clicked 'Publish'. I wanted to crawl into my attic and hide in the farthest, darkest corner up there. Instead, I comforted myself with the “fact” that no one would ever find me in the wide world of cyberspace.

Boy, was I ever wrong.

That was about four years ago and the beginning of my story. When I wrote a proposal for an agent last year, I worked the numbers—because we all know numbers count in the economy of things—and the number on my calculator stunned me. Four years ago a realistic number for my platform would've been 15. When I worked the numbers last summer the calculator read 5500+. Big difference, huh? I'm rarely on Facebook and I don't Tweet, so that number has come almost exclusively from blogging.

Here's why blogging works for me:
  • Posting when I want + Ability to schedule ahead = Needed flexibility.
  • I can put as little time or as much time as I want or have available in any given day.
  • It's an outlet for all those little things that run around in my brain.
  • As a testing grounds for ideas, it's hard to beat.
  • My blog travels with me, it's not confined to one project or one small corner of my world.
  • Blogging has provided the platform I need with little financial investment (I spend $10 a year on my domain), while still being here with my family 24/7.

So how did I grow the 15 to 5500?
Remembering the big picture.  God had called me to write and I knew I couldn't quit. Putting down my pen had landed me in the desert for 15 years and I wasn't anxious to ever go back there again. I needed to keep writing.

I had done my homework enough to know that I needed some kind of platform—and at that point I was a homeschool mom of 5 and home 24/7. My contact with the world was limited to church on Sunday and I was quiet enough some thought I was either backwards or a snob. Building a blog was the only option open to me at that time, and it scared me silly. Needing a platform and fear were a daily struggle.

Keeping the goal before me. Obedience was my over-arching goal, but as I looked at what I wanted to do, where submitting to God's will seemed to be pointing, I knew I had work to do. It wasn't enough to hone my craft, as important as that is. I'd heard agents and editors liked to see strong platforms. Well, being married to a contractor, I knew about building. Building anything takes time. I didn't want to reach the finish line (in my case, an agent or editor) and hear “Manuscript? Check. Platform? *buzzer Come see me when you have a platform built. Next!”

My goal: Not to have a mega-blog but rather, to be a well-rounded person and writer for the next step of whatever it was God had for me to do.

Realistic expectations. I knew what I wanted from blogging: writing practice and experience, and a platform (readers!). I knew it would take time, persistence, and work—and I committed to those things. I also gave myself room to make mistakes, grow, and change—and it's a good thing. My blog has journeyed with me.

Two things I've learned along the way:
  • Persistence pays off.
  • If you don't like the results you're getting, change what you're doing.

Blogging works—if you're willing to invest in it.

6 comments:

  1. Good stuff, Patty. Could you explain the blogger number: is it the number of hits? Followers? How did you calculate it...I'm assuming it has to do with the blogger stats. Inquiring minds wanna know...Thx.

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  2. Those numbers are amazing, girl. You're such a blog/platform role model to me. LOVING this series.

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  3. Hi Kim!
    If by Blogger number you mean Follower widget, that's simply a show of support or popularity votes sort of thing. It's not the number that's important. Not at all. People can stop by, say "Hey, I want to support them or encourage them a bit" and click to Follow them and never return to the site.

    The important number is the unique visits you have. That's the number that agents and editors need to know so that's the number you want to work on--building your reader base.

    Another thing here...
    As my sister and I were talking and playing on her blog, we discovered the Blogger stats page didn't show the unique visits, neither does Site Meter. You really need to set up and install StatCounter on your site, if you haven't already. It's easy but I'll see about posting a tutorial on how to do that. StatCounter keeps track of your unique visits so you'll have that number for when you approach agents and editors.

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  4. Thanks for this, Patty. I needed to hear it!

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  5. Thanks, Patty. I was referring to your term "blogger number" so I guess I better check out StatCounter.
    Thanks.

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  6. Yes, Kim. StatCounter will give you the number of unique visits that you'll need.

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