Successful Blogs: Content is the Key

Have you seen the movie “Field of Dreams”? I love that movie. The main character, played by Kevin Costner, is a farmer with a huge chunk of land in the middle of nowhere. A strange voice starts to speak to him, saying the famous words:

Build it and they will come.

So he does! Inexplicably to everyone around him, he mows down his crops and makes a baseball field. And, as the mysterious voice says, the masses FLOCK to the baseball field. Inexplicably and out of nowhere. Masses of people who don’t understand it themselves. A weird ass field in the middle of nowhere.

Hey, man! Check out my weird ass field! That'll be $50.

I bring this up because I’m getting a lot of positive feedback about my new “professional” website at JenKirchner.com. A few people have been asking me about my overnight success and my amazing ability to write. How did I do that?

Well, I’m a magical leprechaun from the Land of Awesomeness.

Seriously, though. I want to talk about this but I don’t want to turn into a social media person. There are lots of those people out there, and I can even recommend a few who enjoy the subject. I don’t. I’m not a mingler. Internet mingling with strangers for extended periods really wears me out. However, since the questions have been coming in, I want to briefly talk about a couple of things. I’ll probably have to do this in segments so my posts can stay short-ish.

But what about “build it and they will come”? You built it and droves came, right?

No. Here’s the First Truth: Everyone has a blog. Not everyone wants to read yours.

Screw you!

Sorry. I don’t mean to be all Debbie Downer. But the truth is, not everyone will like your blog. I don’t like every blog that’s out there, either. YOU don’t even like every blog out there.

For example, most writers I know love Jodi Hedlund’s blog. She’s a published author, she has an actual agent, and she blogs about smart writerly things. She’s pretty savvy, too. Half the people I interact with on Twitter are constantly forwarding her blog links. I’ve read her blog, so I can tell you the information is spot on.

Yet I don’t like her blog.

It’s nothing personal. Her style and her voice just aren’t for me. I’m a goofy kind of person, a bit of a nerd, and incredibly sarcastic. I want to read blogs that are like that. I prefer Alan Edwards’ blog over hers because he’s looking in my writerly soul and forcing me to laugh about it. I like Amber West’s blog because she talks about writing and pooping and she doesn’t apologize.

You have to be different and you have to be YOU.
Only not the real you. If you’re going to try and woo people through a blog, you must be as dynamic as the protagonists you write about. You have to take your personality and attach a set of jumper cables to its nipples and the other end of the cables to a car battery and then turn on the ignition.

Warning: You and your nipples may not be on good speaking terms later.

Voice is important.

When I first expressed an interest in blogging, my husband, who knows about these things, told me the golden rule:

Content is key.

When I knew I wanted to be a writer and be successful at it, I started investigating what I had to do. Literary agents everywhere were declaring the need for a “platform” and a “professional website” and an “online presence”. These days, agents expect you to already have a reader base. Without having a published novel.

Because we’re supposed to be magical leprechauns who divide by zero and manage not to blow up the world.

Anyway, I investigated what that meant and I checked out other author blogs. Everywhere I went, writers were blogging about adverbs and first person prose, yet were turning right around and saying they are blogging so they can reach out to readers and potential book buyers.

Listen. I have tried that with this very blog, and I’m telling you it doesn’t work for me. It just doesn’t. Maybe it works for you. Good for you. But I was talking about that crap and I wasn’t getting anyone to read it.

Well, I take that back. My mom loves it.

I thought long and hard about what to do with my professional blog. I researched. I went to websites of established authors. I went to the websites of my peers. I thought long and hard about what would get me to be someone’s fan. I asked myself, what would make ME buy a book?

And that’s how I came up with the Vote Your Adventure shorts. I’m trying to build my credibility with you, so when the time comes, you’ll know my books will deliver. No, I don’t believe I’ve delivered on the promise yet — if I can bring The Relic home with an exciting and satisfying finish, I will have earned a little credibility with you. For more about building credibility with your readers, see Andrew Mocete’s Building the Trust Cred. I want you to trust me because one day, when I publish a book, I want you to pick it up with excitement, knowing that you’re not going to be disappointed. I want you to be my fan. And that’s why I’m working as hard as I am.

That’s why my blog is trying so hard to be different. I’m trying to to break out from the crowd.

I will write more on this later. The topic of “how did you do it?” is just way too massive to tackle in one sitting. Until next time, here’s the following websites where you need to start.

Additional Reading by People Who Are Good at Social Media

Start with Kristen Lamb’s blog. I did. She’s written two books on social media and platform for writers of all kinds, and her blog is full of interesting information on how to work up some internet magic. She advocates Twitter and blogging. It’s a good place to start.

When you’re ready, Ali Luke can help you write and format posts in a way that grab reader attention. She blogs for a living and talks about those kinds of things. Recently she released a free ebook on 10 ways to write better blog posts. Get the book.

Lastly, definitely see Andrew Mocete’s post on Building the Trust Cred.

Be warned: they don’t tell you what to write about. You will have to do that yourself. Go to websites that are like yours. Read their content. Find out what’s different. Do something different.

And for crying out loud, write well.

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8 thoughts on “Successful Blogs: Content is the Key

  1. This article is full of Win.

    I agree that you need to do something to draw attention — there are hundreds of blogs, hundreds of would-be writers, and hundreds of lists of things to do to distinguish yourself from the pack — and so I think your point about Content (I capitalized it for dramatic effect) is extremely important. People want to be entertained when they come to your blog; they want a reason to come back.

    Your point about being “You, but Not the Real You” made me laugh. Not totally sure if I agree with that particular point, but I understand what you mean.

    Your site is fantastic. The Choose Your Own Adventure is a big hit, you get more hits on your site in a day than I get in a week*. Keep up the good work. Your new site is terrific.

    You built it, all right. All you’re missing is James Earl Jones.

    *None of this sentence has been confirmed through Google Analytics, or anything. But I do know how many hits I’ve gotten from your site.

    Like

    1. Well I’m not raking in thousands upon thousands of hits. But it’s more than this blog ever got, which tells me I’m on the right track.

      Your site will get there, if a militant team of us has to shout it from the rooftops. Your stories and teasers are awesome.

      Like

  2. You already know I have mad love for your “Choose Your Own Adventure” awesomeness. Excellent example of people coming for content.

    And it really is beneficial to understand how to PROPERLY use social media to promote your content. (No, “I’ll show you mine, if you show me yours” mentality doesn’t quite cut it. I don’t care if you have 5000 followers. Doesn’t mean any of them are reading anything you say.)

    Great post.

    (Thanks for the mention ๐Ÿ™‚ )

    Like

  3. No wonder your blog is kicking ass. Voice and content, that’s where it’s at. And . . . The Relic is on a schedule. I approve. I have to make sure I cast my vote. Can’t wait to see what else you need to have a successful blog. I’ll take all the tips I can get!

    Like

  4. This is a great post, and I’ll happy take half-credit (Steven, here’s your half) for whatever badgering we did yesterday that helped make you come back here and do it. I loved the “You, But Not the Real You” part, because that’s very true in my case. My blog voice is definitely me, but generally amplified and LOUD because I have trouble being that way in real life. Most of the time I just let everyone else talk and drop in a few comments here and there (I’m a real-life Lurker). And no, my nipples no longer speak to me.

    You know how I feel about your other site, but I’ll go ahead and say again that it is what I consider the perfect professional blog. I can go there, see how you write, it’s clean and pristine, and decide if I want to read your stuff (and the Choose Your Own Etc. is just the coolest idea, but more importanly, it is superbly executed). And I do!

    But I like this one as much, because I like to hear what you have to say on writerly subjects as well as other, more random stuff. Sometimes I think people get too caught up in Branding and Platforms and Exposure and all that stuff, and forget that if you want people to be interested in you, you first have to be interesting. You knock that out of the park.

    And finally, thanks for the link, and I’m seriously glad that you like my blog. The best compliment that I can get about my writing is when smart, talented, and funny people like it, so it means a lot.

    So, 2 posts a day to make up for lost time? No? OK. When you can. =)

    Like

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