‘Ex Nihilo’: one of the author’s acrylics
that accompany the blog referred to belowWithin the next month, unless something very surprising happens, my blog ‘The Cross and The Cosmos’ will pass through 100,000 pageviews (98000 as this is written and rising at 130/150 per day). Not massive in terms of today’s astounding viewings achieved by some young tech and entertainment savvy young people who appeal to their peers by age and sometimes curious interests across the world. But the internet is still, for many of us, a startling phenomenon.
But, I like to think, 100,000 is a reasonable achievement in five-and-a-half years for a blog which is about weaving together the themes of faith (1% interest), science (maybe 2% interest) in poetry (1% interest). Now it is not necessary to have a degree in maths to work out that .01 x .02 x .01 is a very tiny percentage of likely readers. But there are obviously some interested readers out there amongst the massive number of internet users today.
That is just by way of background: I wanted to think more about the issues of modesty and self-promotion and to encourage any of you who are thinking about starting a blog of your own to ‘have a go’. Any increase in the Christian Literature marketplace, provided it is of high quality, is a witness statement and a seed sown that might take root and begin to grow – just anywhere.
I look back to the early days of the blog when it was exciting to find six or seven pageviews had been recorded in the last twenty-four hours. That was right at the start but when, after six months the figures were still of the same order, I began to have doubts: was this at all worthwhile?
Being a fairly determined creature, I persisted, and gradually, gradually, the audience began to grow. Two years down the line, 30 page views a day was not uncommon. I still wondered whether it was worth it – but carried on, sometimes to the amazement of family members who found it difficult to understand ‘what I was on’.
Then, rather like growing a small business, during the third year, momentum began to build faster and now I am getting a fairly consistent viewing record of 140 – 170 page views a day. But this was not achieved by just sitting back and hoping for the best.
Blogging needs drawing to people’s attention and the classic routes for doing that are through Facebook, Google+ and Twitter - and it is here an author may feel wobbly about what s/he needs to do. With the public filter open, I advertise one of my poems or a group of poems every day except Sundays – on which I exercise a Sabbath rest. Any in my ‘friends’ or ‘contacts’ groups also get a rest from my daily ‘bombardment’ although I doubt many of them notice.
I use the word ‘bombardment’ with care. That is the effect of regular daily messages calling attention to my work on each of those three social media platforms. So I have to accept that my ‘friends’ will unsubscribe if they really find it offensive or merely treat the entries as ones to be passed over in the same way as they will dismiss much of the advertising that assails them.
Now I am, like many authors, I guess, a natural introvert. So I tend towards thinking ‘All this tweeting and facebooking and googleplussing: it’s a bit close to self aggrandisement, isn’t it?’
Well, one of the very simple tests that can be applied is to simply STOP the ‘advertising’, perhaps when you go away. The effect can be seen almost immediately, The pageviews will drop on the instant leaving a straightforward decision to be made. In my case, I return to the ‘badgering’ as soon as possible, marvelling once again at the facility given by my keyboard. I can draw attention to any earlier post. So, for example, round about now, I shall promote every one of the twelve carols I have published over the five years in question and remind people that something new among the traditional mix might be something concert goers or Carol service attenders would enjoy. It is a fascinating possibility. Book producers can emulate that by promoting a chapter or a seasonal passage of a book or paragraphs of topical interest on a blog together with the other three social media I have mentioned. So a blog with Social media support particularly suits those who write regularly with seasonal appropriateness. And deriving seasonal interest is an interesting challenge too. A Scottish theme on St Andrew’s day; a women and justice theme on International Women’s Day (Early March) are good examples and for these, learning about the use of hashtags (#) for this purpose is important - but this article has been long enough! If it has made any of you think you’d like to explore this further, and you need a basic ‘primer’, ‘Blogging for Dummies’ is the book that got me started. It has been a rich experience leading to some fascinating opportunities – but perhaps more of that on another occasion.
My encouragement is, I hope, clear. Do consider blogging if you don’t already – but you will need to leave your natural modesty aside. You must be your own publicist.
Finally, I hope this may feel like an invitation to others who are already blogging to add further hints in the comments below this post. This article could not possibly be comprehensive and further ideas for those thinking about taking a step into blogging may just be the ‘tipping point’ they need.
To see the possibilities of seasonal repeat promotions have a look at the collections assembled at the top right column which you’ll find at http://crossandcosmos.blogspot.co.uk/