“My Blog Sucks And I’m Kinda Clueless”

it was a dark, scary place
it was a dark, scary place

This is a LONG one. Wade through it.

Dear Dan,

My blog sucks and I’m kinda clueless about what to do with it…”

Okay, nobody said that… directly.

Indirectly, LOTS of you have. And lots of blogs scream it.

Not to worry. I’m here to help.

I’ve been reading a lot of other authors’ blogs lately. Not because they’re good, although LOTS are, and not to make myself feel better about this blog, although mine is definitely better than some of what I’ve been reading.

I read them to learn.

The suffering writers of these blogs I’ve been reading will, on occasion, mention book sales. 50 sales in a month is the average for people who are working their butt off and that means half of them are selling less than that.

Trust me, I’d have been happy as hell to have had 50 sales in ANY of my first six months. I didn’t have 50 total over my first six months, combined. ZERO is an exaggeration but it’s close.

(BTW, here are some tips for getting reviews for your book, too.)

When I started putting books out I asked other authors what worked for them as far as marketing, etc. Many were happy to give me advice, and I am happy to share that advice with you. Yes, it’s all going to find its way into a How To Market EBooks trilogy and Write Better Books – because that’s what I do. I write and sell books. But you’re getting that information for free right now, aren’t you, smartie!

blog cancelled
This is so sad. Seriously! And this is AVOIDABLE.

Here’s some mistakes I see in unsuccessful blogs. They have no followers (well, that’s a chicken and the egg thing) and they have no/few comments. That indicates that they don’t write interesting content OR they don’t know how to attract people to their blog.

Been there.

My blog had very few followers for about two years. Now, we add new followers to the blog every day. I’ve probably added 70 or more in the last 30 days. More on that later; I didn’t say that to brag. (Okay, a little.)

I can guarantee these bloggers don’t track their stats. They don’t know what traffic the blog gets on given days, and when they promote it on Twitter they don’t know what works and what doesn’t. (Just FYI, I achieved President’s Circle with two different Fortune 500 companies, so I tend to analyze stuff. This is me looking at writer stuff through that business lens.)

I’m not saying I’ve mastered these things, I’m saying I may be a step or two higher on the ladder than most of you are, and it looks like a mountain from there but from here it looks easy-peasy – but only because I languished in the abyss that I intend to save you from.

I’m nice that way.

And if you are a little higher on the ladder than me in a certain area, feel free to edumacate the rest of us, okay? (That’s a made up word from an old joke.) I can get you to this level while we work as a team to get us all to the next one. Wouldn’t it be great to have a hundred successful author friends helping me become more successful? Well, the best way I know to achieve that is to help 100 other author friends become successful. That’s what’s in it for me, see?

I can do that!
I can do that!

(If you want to know a little more about my sad, sad journey, click HERE. It’s sad, but it has a happy ending.)

Okay, okay! Enough preamble! What do we do? Sorry. I’m a writer. I get wordy.

Social Media, kinda

When you looked at Twitter and asked how to get more followers, Twitterites said to find people with the same interests as you and follow them. That same theory applies to blogs. In fact, just about every rule for one form of social media applies to every type of social media AND to blogs.

If somebody follows your blog, follow their blog in return – within reason. This blog is currently designed to help authors, and people write about all sorts of things. Puppies? Cool. Photography? Sure. Whips and chains? Um, I’ll be honest, I’ll probably have a peek but I’m not going to be a regular visitor or comment much because…

Comments = GOOD

Comment on their sites and click “like” when they post stuff you like! Duh, right? It’s the golden rule. What do you wish people did on your blog? Read it, like the post, make a comment. Then do that for them! (Granted, some are more prolific than others.)

Who has that kind of time? You do.
Who has that kind of time? You do.

It takes about 1 minute to read and like a typical blog post, maybe two or three minutes. (If it takes longer, upgrade to Chrome.) That means you could read and like about 10 blogs in about 20 minutes, and yes you do have that kind of time. Now, whether you have it once a week or once a month or every day, that’s up to you. My advice? Do it every evening after dinner for two weeks and see the results. You’ll be happy.

HOW to comment

When you comment, make it a worthwhile comment. There are a few blogs on which I always comment at length. Some of you have been the recipient of such comments. I never asked if it was okay and I probably should have, but each lengthy comment I made on YOUR blog was in fact – ready? – an audition for MY blog to YOUR readers! If your readers saw my comment, maybe they liked it enough to click over to my site and read some more of my stuff there, and as a result, follow my blog.

(So maybe, just maybe, you should find and follow some really popular blogs even if they are boring as hell, if they have lots of readers and commenters. Just a thought. Check out anything on HuffPO, a site I generally hate but people read it and there are good popular blogs there.)

No spamming!

Well, maybe that last one...
Play nice.

Now, here are the rules for that. The person’s blog you’re commenting on should already be a friend if you’re going to do this. They don’t have to approve your comment. Second, the comment should be an added value to the readers of that blog, not a damned spam for your own blog. Don’t say “I’m awesome and here’s my link.” Instead, if they are talking about something funny, ADD to the humor with a funny, relevant anecdote of your own that their readers will enjoy. That way, the blog owner gets a benefit from your comment. Golden rule, right? You don’t want spammers; don’t be one. I don’t think I ever posted my blog link. It’s not necessary because…

Network!

And network through your network. For example, I mostly follow and comment on WordPress blogs. Anyone there can follow me with a single click when I make an interesting comment. It doesn’t get any easier than that, and while I have nothing against other blog platforms, if I have to jump through a bunch of hoops to subscribe to you, odds are I’m not gonna do it.

This is helpful but not all of them are great. It's a start, though.
This is helpful but not all of them are great. It’s a start, though.

Occasionally check your stats and see how you’re doing. That means see what works and do more of it. Post on big days for blog traffic, largely Sunday, Monday, and Wednesday, depending on what you’re posting about, and…

Talk about your blog – the right way

Tell people about your amazing blog post on your other social media sites. This is both harder and easier than you think. For a while, I had my Twitter feed post automatically to my Facebook page. You can do that but don’t tweet too much or FB fans will start to turn away. I stopped doing that and maybe I should restart, I’m not sure, but I am ALWAYS checking my stats so I can quit stumbling around in the dark and get where I wanna be. That is both too boring and too long of a topic to get into here but if you ask me, I’ll explain it. I’m nice that way. (My new Canadian friend – yes, you, New Brunswick – is in awe about how helpful I am. People who have known me a while still find me helpful, but occasionally get tired of me asking for shit, too. I’m no saint. “Waaahhh! Help me write a synopsis.” You’ve seen it. They help. We’ve all become friends. That’s part of this deal. You’ll need a favor, you’ll give a favor. Cue The Godfather music.) And when I learn something, why I post it here for all of you, don’t I?

Okay, where was I?

Oh, other social media sites.

How you are made to feel if not utilizing every form of social media. Don't believe it.
How you are made to feel if not utilizing every form of social media. Don’t believe it.

Yeah, so when I write an amazing blog post, I tweet about it with a TinyURL link (so it fits in 140 characters). Wait, I have NO blog readers AND I have NO Twitter followers. Yeah, we were all there once. Like I said, follow people with similar interests and make interesting contributions to the conversation and soon enough you’ll have both. Amplify that by posting your blog onto Facebook and by sending out a popular Instagram link with a cute picture of your dog (my friend Katie’s dog – she’s the photographer friend mentioned in Poggibonsi (sorry, inside info) – her dog has like 20,000 Twitter followers. All she does is post pics of him doing regular dog stuff. But that works if you’re writing about dogs. The rest of us have to be a little more creative.)

Since I scan my Twitter stats, I take the day’s popular tweet and send it to Instagram, using the same hashtags. That tales less than a minute. You have that time. You have a minute, trust me.

Come on, that's a cool picture.
Come on, that’s a cool picture.

Occasionally I’ll take and post a pic while we’re out and about, usually of my kid, but maybe of a hot air balloon or an amazing dock in the keys where dolphins were swimming right up to us. Cos I do interesting stuff – and so do you! (That Sea World picture of my kid with the dolphin? It got like 15,000 RTs, No shit. Crazy. It was worth the harassment from the haters.) My local friends would not think a picture of my kid swimming in our pool was a big deal, but your readers and followers want to get to know you, and hey, when it’s 10 degrees (Fahrenheit) in Colorado Springs or Prince Edward Island, they’ll notice you’re still swimming at Thanksgiving. Tease them, and let them tease you back. Have fun. Act like friends. Yes, on your blog. Why? Because…

Comments matter! More = better

A “Great post, thanks for sharing” comment on somebody’s blog is nice. It helps – a little. I do it all the time and so should you. It takes just a few seconds. But some witty banter goes a long way. Look at that post where I was working on the blurb. It’s one of my most read posts because we were having fun. And don’t take yourself too seriously. Let the OTHER people have the spotlight on your stage. That’s positive encouragement, and people love it. You’ll want to…

Say THANK YOU!

Thank you. Let's be friends. xoxo
Thank you. Let’s be friends. xoxo

Each commenter gets rewarded by you for playing Reply! That also only takes a moment, but most readers don’t comment at all. They’re intimidated, so when they do, reward them for it. Thank them. Add on to their line of thought. Once they do it a first time, they are much more likely to do it again, and that means…

MORE COMMENTS = more popular, more attention, more everything.

People want to do what other people do. Most readers don’t want to post at all, and they damned sure don’t want to be the first one. If you have ten comments (with nice, happy, encouraging thank you’s) they’re less intimidated. If you have a hundred, that starts to be a top post when people search for topics – and the search engines are your friend, my friend. But baby steps. Walk before you run or you will get overwhelmed quickly. Take on one new thing every two weeks or maybe just once a month until you’re comfortable with it.

Be generous

So you FOR SURE want to post on your other author friend’s blog posts when they come out – Golden Rule. Don’t be afraid to ask them/remind them/beg them to post on yours. I often mention my friends in my posts because it shows a fun, friendly demeanor here on the blog, and I have always found that readers sense that camaraderie and enjoy it; they want to be part of it.

That’s what you want, too!

Yeah, it’s a lot. There’s more, too. But ya gotta start somewhere. Start by following me. One last tip: ASK a question that encourages readers to make a comment.

What do YOU do to increase your blog traffic and avoid the abyss?

.

Got a QUESTION? ASK IT! Send it as a comment to any post or hit the Contact Me button and, you know, contact me. I’ll see what I can do. (I have lots of smart friends, too.)

FOLLOW ME! I’m this helpful and funny all the time. Probably. Don’t miss another valuable bauble that falls from my fingertips. You read this far; you may actually need this stuff. SUBSCRIBE/FOLLOW TODAY (click the follow “Follow” button, above) and if you send me your email through the Contact Me button I’ll send you a free copy of my amazingly cute book “The Short Years” plus we’ll probably become friends and start hanging out and stuff.

If you benefit from this blog, share it with your friends!

Your humble host.
Your humble host.

Dan Alatorre is the author of several bestsellers and the hilarious upcoming novel “Poggibonsi: an italian misadventure” – yeah, we know. We tried to convince him to change that title. He’s sticking with it. Check out his other works HERE and check back often for interesting stuff.

87 thoughts on ““My Blog Sucks And I’m Kinda Clueless”

  1. Oh no, Dan’s been reading my blog! I’m not vain enough to say this is about me, but it probably is! I feel that abyss, it consumes me day after day. I am reassured by your experience, and I am starting to take all those steps you mention. I am two chapters from the end of my next book, and once that is edited, redrafted, proofread and published, I will make a start on some short stories to increase my exposure.

    I know I can be helpful, but I somehow lack the witty side that you clearly have, but hey, I’m British, I call candy sweets, and when I eat chips, they’re chunks of warm mushy potato. I do my laundry in the kitchen and it rains, it always rains. Please don’t unfollow my blog, I’ll try harder, really, plus I bought one of your books yesterday, I mean I had to, because I too have been through the entertaining process of having a colonoscopy, and how could I not support you when you encourage and inspire me?

    Oh and I hope it’s okay that I wrote a long comment without asking permission! But I’m going to share this post on Facebook because I have debut author friends on there, and that will kickstart my helpful side!

    Liked by 4 people

    • Tess, you ROCK! Share, reblog, have at it. I live to serve.

      Thanks for doing some of the stuff we talk about and showing how it works! (Maybe be a little more subtle when you post that way on other people’s blogs.)

      Great job. I was certain I’d be enjoying the irony of nobody posting on this, further underscoring the point about why their blogs aren’t doing so hot.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I see you threw in the ‘New Brunswick friend’ comment to test whether or not I would read your latest. Well, I did. So there! And loved it by the way.
    I’ve already tried some of your tips (Got a new Twitter follower, thank you very much).Following that, I’m tempted to curl up into a tiny, whimpering ball because I really just want a marketing fairy. HowEVER, I have been languishing in the abyss for too long so thanks for coming at the right time and (thanks in advance) for finding me a publisher. Wink. Seriously, great blog post. You’re funny, knowledgeable, and correct, dammit.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I have seen that I will get less likes and comments if I haven’t blogged in a while. More than two weeks and only about 20 people show up, blog daily or every other day and forty or more will show up. Also, always ask questions. One or two…many people feel compelled to answer.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes!!! SKNicholls, Brilliant point. Sometimes less is more.

      Mainly, you have to do what works for YOU, whatever that is and whatever works for your readers.

      Right now, as I critique people’s writing, I see areas on a daily basis that they need to address, and since I communicate that to them in an email (basically), it’s already written so I can make a blog post from it.

      In reality. there are maybe TWO main blog days each week that blog readers actually look at, and many of those posts are repeat/archive blogs from the bloggers priors posts. From there, many bloggers post once or twice a month and the work on – books.

      What works for you is what’s best.

      Liked by 3 people

  4. That’s a nice post Dan and some helpful advice. The bit about things being transferable across all social media is very true. I’ve really only concentrated on twitter so far, but I’ve found that interaction breeds interaction.
    I actually came here after you retweeted a request for advice from a mutual twitter friend, ta-dah! Being nice pays off.
    Planning on starting to apply the same principles to my own random & neglected blog after reading this, thanks for the prod to action 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Hi Tarquin!

    Hey, anybody who starts their blog post with “What’s the best way to support a Writer?
    The short answer to this is simple : Buy their books & recommend them to other people, post reviews…”
    is okay in my book!

    A neglected blog is like a lawn full of weeds. Just get out there and mow and it all starts coming back. Let us know how we can help.

    Like

  6. Dan, you made me laugh, and I loved the photo of the dolphin!

    Your post needs more digesting than a mere 2 minutes can give it. I find myself writing longer posts too…and I think that loses some of the potential audience, so I’m trying to work on making them shorter, and on inserting more of my humor between the more serious posts.

    🙂 Someone I suggest you follow if you haven’t already, is Jan Verhoeff. She has a formula for what should go into a great, attention-getting post that drives interaction. Unfortunately, my slightly quirky brain doesn’t want to comply, but I keep trying…

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Hi Kristi!

    I’ve seen it both ways. I got information about keeping blog posts under 500 words with bullet points and images (I did that earlier this year a lot) and I also read recently that the only way to be “found” is with longer posts. I can go either way. (Today’s was almost a book chapter!)

    I will check out your recommendation! I’m sure depending on what the topic is, varying styles work better. Thanks!

    Like

  8. I have read this blog five times now, once while my youngest son was trying to roast a marshmallow. (Not recommended, should have paid more attention to the flaming marshmallow.)
    I loved every single word, and can’t wait to apply this to my blog, even though just a couple of weeks ago I was thinking about giving up.
    Thank you for sharing!! (And, I’m not just saying that because you told me to;))

    Liked by 2 people

    • When people say writing is a lonely business, THIS the kind of stuff they mean – that you can wallow in self doubt or questions because who the heck can you ask them to anyway?

      Us.

      Here.

      This little community we’ve patched together will keep us all off the ledge.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Cathleen, if everybody throws in one new tip, we’ll have TONS of god advice! It can get overwhelming, so we just need to go slow but keep going. And don’t be afraid to tie in a relevant post of your own on occasion. I’m happy to help promote each of my readers and hope they’ll help promote me!

      Like

  9. Dan, we all know you’re hilarious. Why else would we be here? Joking! Everything you wrote is true, and your humour goes a long way. (Oh ya, I’m Ontario here, Toronto that is 🙂 ) But seriously, you’ve hit all the nails on the head here, so look for a reblog on this one soon!
    A note about reblogging: I notice in my blogging circles when an interesting post comes out, 20 bloggers in same circles ( I may be exaggerating here) repost that blog and it is on every page I follow. I tend to put blogs that pertain to things I like to write about in my dashboard and let them marinate for awhile so when I post them, they seem fresher. Just a thought.
    Now for a question: I didn’t know you were already on Instagram, how do you get your tweets from twitter to Instagram?
    Thanks!

    Liked by 3 people

    • For the record, everybody here can reblog every post of mine every day. When it becomes a problem and my stuff is on every site I go to, I will smile and smile. Until then, have at it.

      How do I do Instagram? Read Saturday’s (tomorrow’s) post…

      Liked by 1 person

  10. A lack of followers may also be the result of an author not giving a flying Houdini about blogging, may be semi-maintaining a blog only because one of his/her publishers requires a “social media presence,” he/she doesn’t promote it, and/or he/she is too busy writing books to waste time and words on a blog.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Yes, yes, and YES, Larry! Somebody once said – okay, it was me – to not do any social media you don’t like because your dislike of it will come through, and who wants to read that? Brilliant point you make. One of my more successful author friends adheres the the idea of any time he’d be wasting on a blog is time he could be putting into another book – and making more money.

    Like

  12. Interesting points. I’m fairly new to the blogosphere, and the Twitterverse, and the ‘Gramplanet (I made that one up), but I think your point about social media was right on. I write a blog about something kind of obscure and unpopular (energy work/shamanism), so I don’t really expect a wide readership. It’s just something I do in part for myself, but of course, it’s nice when people actually read the blog and take the time to comment.

    Good point, also, about asking a question or two on the blog.

    By the way, I was directed here by D.G. Kaye’s blog. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey, Girl, thanks for joining us. DG is a great friend of the site and a fine author. I like her stuff a lot, so I’m happy you found us through her. That’s high praise.

      As for your obscure and unpopular writing in energy work and shamanism, I think you’ll be surprised at how many people are out there that are interested in that. When they find you, they’ll be happy they did. I bet everybody here has read a post about shamanism, and if we knew you them, we could have referred them to you! (And now we can.) So you never know!

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Hi,
    I am a friend of Debby Kaye and found you on her site. I would like to follow your blog don’t see a place to follow other than through the reader. I also blog about blogging. Where is your follow box?
    Janice

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Janice! Looks like you found it after some trouble, huh? Do you mind letting me know how you got it to work, because two people sad the same thing today,so I wanna make sure I didn’t mess something up!

      Thanks for following me and for being such a good supporter of Debby. I like your blog and your helpful tips. I look to be a regular reader over here!

      Thanks,
      Dan

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Ah, I am sometimes a bit of a compulsive commenter, but I like leaving encouraging comments on other blogs. This I think is part of he reason why I consider my blog successful. I should of course post more regularly and more often.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Comments always bring a blog to life…that ‘s where the good stuff lives. Interesting tips, although I must say I don’t read/care about the stats. I just started pouring my heart out on the keyboard, and some really cool people found it interesting. ☺

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Great advice! I posted a link to this to my WordPress Blogging 101 class site, I think everyone should read it. So I hope you’re soon going to do a post on “So everyone has more followers/likes than you, how to keep on keeping on.” Right? Please?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Joy! Thanks for sharing. I’ll stop over and say hello.

      Actually, my friend Jenny is touching on that very subject tomorrow. Since it’s in the marketing book that Allison and I are about to release, I can’t blog about it here, but go to the Contact me button and send me an email and I’ll send you the book.Then you can use it and add lots and lots of happy followers, and write a nice testimonial for us to include in the front cover (which will say Joy Pixley, author of Eneana)

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Joy, trust me, it’s very easy. You’re a nice person and people will connect with you. When you read what I wrote you’ll be like DUH and then you’ll write a big embarrassingly flattering blog post like Jenny did. (BTW, I just sent the marketing book.)

    Liked by 1 person

  18. I agree being nice pays off. It’s also good karma. Not sure it’s as good karma as it could be though. There may be a commandment somewhere that goes something like, “Thou shalt not comment on a cyber friend’s blog just to get more attention for yourself.” But, then again, who’s watching? (Unless it’s you, Dan.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • People do that and other people notice. It might work once in a while but if you are looking at gaining readers and blog followers, you need to contribute. That actually works.

      By the way, people have done it here. Out of curiosity I checked their follower number hat day and week later. It was the same.

      And they forget, the blog owner doesn’t have to approve the comment or keep it.

      But it’s a cheap tactic and if a reader goes there, that blog better be gangbusters – which, if it was, they wouldn’t be using such un-creative tactics as spamming other people’s blogs.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, I know you’re right about that. And, with my tongue out of my cheek I can say I’ve “virtually” met some great writers and interesting people interacting with their blogs. I’ve also learned so much about improving my skills. You’ve been very helpful in that regard so thanks!

        Liked by 1 person

  19. Thank you for this, I find that the writing comes easy, but the promotion comes hard. I need to figure out 1) how to get comfortable with self-promotion and 2) get comfortable outside my usual online hangouts and social media platforms. Otherwise the only person I am entertaining is myself.

    I will say it is getting harder and harder to track my actual stats as WordPress doesn’t show any clicks if your article is only accessed in the Reader and the new version of the Reader doesn’t lend itself readily to going to an author’s site directly. I had a day this week where I showed more Facebook shares than I did readers for the day and this isn’t the first time that has happened.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Ok… so, now that you made a point about it being the whole golden rule thing when it comes to blogging, are you sure that this comment is because I wanted to post something as a way of saying “Dude, most excellent post!”, as a way of making myself sound witty and banterful in hopes someone will come to my blog and read my other (less) witty and banterful posts, or just because I now feel that I have to because you said it was the nice thing to do and… well, I can’t have people thinking I’m not nice, now can I? No, seriously, can I? I really need to know.

    (but seriously, interesting post)

    Liked by 1 person

  21. I totally agree with ‘Network’ and ‘Comment on other blogs’. I’ve met some amazing people, and learnt an awful lot, just from opening up communication with another blogger. In fact, I would quite happily meet some of my new online contacts face-to-face now, when I wouldn’t even have it considered it before blogging. It’s a means of connection, that’s opened up a whole new world for a lot of people.

    Liked by 1 person

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