In social media circles, content is touted as king. But it’s surprising how many people who have a social media platform have no idea what content is. Put simply, if you’re a writer, musician, painter, film maker or anyone who wants an audience for their work, then you need to show off that work. Your work is your content. Creating a blog, such as mine, is a way of showing off what you can do. If, like me, you aspire to be a writer, then a blog is a great way of showing off your writing. You fill that blog with examples of your writing, that’s your content.
Your content has to be good. There’s no two ways about it. But you have to bear in mind that any two people will wildly differ in their views of what is good. Me, I like writing about my life as an expat, here in Cyprus, social media, website design and I like writing fiction, particularly science fiction. My wife hates science fiction and loves to read historical fiction, chick-lit sometimes and anything that takes her fancy – it’s safe to say she is not a fan of my writing.
Examples of your work should be displayed via your website and/or blog. Getting visitors to look at your content isn’t easy. You need an approach that ensures you not only get new visitors but also retain those who have already visited.
You have to work hard to keep your audience happy with your content. Your content has to be fresh so you need to post new content on a regular basis. My posts are ad hoc, but regular. Once a week at least, preferably twice a week. Obviously as a writer it’s easier to write a piece and post that than it is for a painter or musician.
So, fresh content on your website and blog is essential to keep your audience and to attract a new audience. But how do you attract that audience. Here’s where your social media platform comes into play.
Social Media Platform
A social media platform consists of your accounts on the likes of Twitter, Facebook, Stumbleupon, Pinterest, Goofge+ and many more. In much the same way my wife and I differ in our tastes in books, we also differ in our taste in social media. My wife uses Facebook a lot and I tend to use Twitter. But my wife is only a reader, a user, in terms of social media. As someone who creates content, I use a variety of outlets and I post my latest work, in the form of links, on Twitter, Stumbleupon, Google+ and Facebook.
Be aware though that Google isn’t a big fan of duplicated content written and posted verbatim across sites. Links are fine, but out and out full postings across multiple sites could mean you may get marked down in search engine rankings.
Gaining an Audience
Sharing your content from a blog couldn’t be easier if you use share buttons, something like the ones on the left and bottom of my blog. Once you’ve written your piece, go into your blog and click these buttons to share your own work. These share buttons are created from plugins that you can use on WordPress. I assume such sites as Blogger have something similar. In itself, sharing your content doesn’t mean suddenly the whole world will know about you. Getting an audience in this way is time consuming as you are depending on others to share your content.
Putting your blog in a blog directory is a pretty good way, and somewhat quicker way, of gaining an audience. Some blog directories, like Blogarama, charge a fee, but you can expect visitors from many of these sites. But be aware that some blog directories are little more than a list of blog sites that nobody visits. Trial and error is the key here.
I have never been a fan of paid advertising. I’ve tried it and it has never worked for me. But I do know of some who swear by it. Again, trial and error is the key.
Your Published Work
Writers will engage in building a social media platform to promote their books, as I do in my blog. That works, but in an odd, parallel universe sort of way, advertising your blog in your published books is also a good way of gaining an audience. It’s two way street.
Free books are particularly useful to get your message across. At the start and end of your book, list links to your other publications and your website/blog. Be prepared for a lot of work to get your free offering onto as many websites that specialise in promoting free books. No point in having a free book if no one downloads and reads it.
Finally we come to something that is quite complicated, but obvious when you think about it.
Search Engine Optimisation, better known as SEO, is what you need to take into account if you have a blog, or in my case a website with a blog attached. Either way, your presence on the world wide web is never going to be noticed unless you take action to ensure people know it exists.
Think of it this way. The world wide web is like Oxford Street in London, a famous place for shopping for almost anything.
People in their thousands walk up and down Oxford Street looking in windows. A shopper sees something she likes and pops into the shop. There she buys little Johnnie a great toy. The shop window display has done its job, the shop is happy, so is the customer and so is Johnnie.
Search engines like Google are your street and your website is one of many, many, millions of shop windows on that street. When someone does a search on Google for science fiction books it’s up to me and my SEO efforts to try and ensure my website is at the top of the Search Engine Results Pages, or SERPs as it’s also known as. Achieving that top of the listing is no mean feat. I’ve managed to do it with some success for our business, TigerBites, here in Cyprus.
As you can see from the image above, TigerBites is a middle result on page one of the SERPs, not bad for some pretty stiff competition.
All of the above is what I’ve learned over the years as a struggling writer trying to get my work ‘out there’ for people to read and hopefully enjoy. It’s an ongoing struggle, but ultimately quite rewarding.
Tom Kane © 2017