I have been blogging on-and-off since 2009. In many ways, I don’t think that’s a fair date, and it’s the reason I don’t really celebrate a blogiversary – I didn’t commit to anything consistent until 2017. Still, in that time I haven’t even amassed 1000 followers. That seems like such an important number to me – as if “1000” will make me more of a legitimate blogger. The sensible side of me knows that isn’t true – you can be a legitimate blogger as long as you have a blog… even if only your mom follows you (my mom does not follow me, thank goodness). But having consistently blogged for a couple years and not reaching that magic number sometimes makes me feel like I am doing something terribly wrong. Am I not posting frequently enough? Is my layout rubbish? Should I be doing more memes? Discussions? Reviews?
In my heart of hearts, I know none of that’s the answer. People like Ilsa @ A Whisper of Ink only post every couple of weeks, have a smattering of content, and have a good voice… but not an entirely unique one. And yet, Ilsa has over 3000 followers. I’m not picking on her, by the way. I love her blog and have been following her for an age. She’s a good example of what I’m trying to get at here, which is that Ilsa is a fantastic marketer.
I’ve never been big on social media. I joined Facebook when you still needed a school email address to get on to it, which I know dates myself a bit. I’m a lurker on social media at best, and while I’ll occasionally post a tweet here or there, I don’t get involved in a lot of discussions or blog trains. Social media presence has a huge impact on blog following. I’m sure you’ve all seen those posts about whether you need to be a blogger AND a bookstagrammer, or a booktuber AND run an active Book Twitter and honestly… it depends on what you want. If you’re looking for stats, becoming friends with the whole internet is a good way to do it.
Will your Instagram followers feed into your blog traffic? Maybe. Probably not. But when you reach out to these blossoming communities and become a recognizable face and voice, you become a more powerful influencer. More people will want to follow you on multiple outlets.
Doing all this takes time. When you see bloggers go into burn out, or talk about how they’re unsatisfied with their current Instagram layouts, it’s often because blogging is a second full time job. Being deeply involved in Twitter conversations takes hours out of your day. Shooting and editing a handful of shots for Instagram takes a whole morning. I can’t even begin to speak on how long it takes to script, film, and edit booktube videos. To market for numbers, you need to be ready to commit 40+ hours/week into your content, and most of that is preparation and promotion.
I’m not an expert on how to do this, because I don’t do this. I’ve tried multiple platforms and burnt out quickly. My bookstagram has been neglected these last few weeks, because I have been putting my mental energy into posting, reading my ARCs, and my day job. When you neglect Instagram, loves, your followers fall FAST. I’ve lost 50 followers in the last month, and it declines daily. I pulled out of Instagram because I was becoming steadily discouraged by the platform – you have to fight so hard to show up in the feeds, and it wasn’t growing my blog numbers at all. You can’t even direct link in your stories until 10k followers. So if I wasn’t enjoying it, and it wasn’t feeding my blog… what’s the point?
As a blogger, that’s a really personal question.
Why are we here? What are our endgame goals for our blogs?
I know I’ve talked about the statistics trap before, and how so many bloggers fall into that number. For those of us vying for ARCs and review copies, it’s really easy to fall into that trap, and suddenly, our whole blogging experience becomes about raising that number – increased retention, more subscribers, more daily visits. If that’s fulfilling to you, I think it’s awesome. It’s not my endgame, though.
My endgame is this: I just want to talk about books. I want to scream about books and tell you all which ones I love and which ones I want to defenestrate.
Whether it’s 600 or 1000 to 16000, I’m very grateful to have amassed a small community here. Marketing intimidates me – I am an introvert, and the idea of spending my free time trying to connect with strangers and make them think I’m cool enough and smart enough that they should read my blog every day… is exhausting. I turn that energy to the content instead, and that’s a treat for me. It’s rejuvenating and lovely and words are just the best.
I know this isn’t an ambitious goal, and I know that marketing myself better would increase my influence and make me more appealing to publishers. I’ve seen the fruits of blog trains and met new, lovely people by hopping on board. Some days, I think I should stop writing posts and set aside that time to promote the blog instead.
But I like writing these posts, and so I follow my guilty pleasure and fill my blog with thoughts. And not marketing.
How do you promote your blog? The one post-format that brings me in the most clicks are Top Ten Tuesdays, but that meme doesn’t build retention (most comments are “come check out my TTT”) – I’m curious how you build up your brand! It is friendships, cross-platform promotion, memes? Spill your secrets in the comments!