September 24, 2015 by Stephen Bentley
Why do I blog? That is a very good question.
I recently wrote that in my post Why Blog? Blogging 201.
As I wrote in that post primarily I enjoy writing. A pleasant side effect is that it brings in some extra money to supplement my retirement income. Let me make that clear – this blog does not earn me one cent. My paid writing is commissioned for someone else’s web site and for reasons of confidentiality I am unable to reveal which site or even what genre it covers. Suffice to say it combines my writing skills with my investigative skills gained in a ‘previous life’. If that intrigues you then read my bio.
I also mentioned I blog to try and drive internet traffic towards these pages and hopefully some of those readers will stay and subscribe to my updates. That takes me to my next point – social media. You know – all that Facebook and Twitter stuff.
Since I started writing here on my blog in July 2015 I have discovered a whole new world. Its vocabulary includes words and phrases such as SEO (Search Engine Optimization), stock images, creative commons, plug-ins, front end, back end and many many others. Through Facebook and Twitter (mostly) I have tried to spread the word that my blog actually exists in the planet of Blogdom. Why should I do this? Partly the answer lies in the human characteristic known as vanity. If I write something I want to share it. It is my voice and I like people to listen. Readers do not have Damascus moments when an inner voice commands them to visit this blog. Therefore I need to go out into the wild blue yonder and put my work out there.
Some people may still not understand this. Let me put it another way. I really do not care who reads my paid work for the mysterious site that I can’t reveal. The content is fine – it’s not that I am ashamed of it. I write it with the same approach I use in all my work. It is thoroughly researched and polished before I hit the submit button. Indeed the content is probably of a help to many people. However it is not the same as my writing here and sharing my inner thoughts and life experiences with you all. I care about the writing here. I will also care very much about my book projects now four in total. Those books when eventually published are another reason why I blog here.
Some of those books will carry my own name, some a pseudonym. But it will be my work [Note: two of the books will be co-written with another contributor] and I will be proud of it. Subscribers to this blog both new and old will be the first to know when any of my books are published. They will even be able to order the books from this site and I will promote them here in addition to offering special discounts on purchases. There can be nothing worse than being an author who has no readers! That is why I try to bring as many potential readers here through my efforts on social media.
Those last few words are the reason I write this missive. “My efforts on social media” deserves repeating. They are efforts and very time consuming. They detract from my actual writing time.
These efforts are guided by other bloggers and communities like the WordPress Blogging 201 initiative. I joined various groups on Facebook that have given me valuable insights into the world of social media. I have a good friend who has earned a living from the internet over the past 12 years. I also have assisted a young man who has written a book on how to drive traffic to your blog through social media. There is so much material and advice on the subject that picking through it all is also time consuming. Some of it works and some does not. However sometimes it is the case that one thing works for one individual but not another. You, the writer/blogger have to sort out the wheat from the chaff. It is very much a case of trial and error.
My travels through this new world also brought me into contact with affiliate marketing (AF). My good friend I referred to earlier, thinks that I believe it to be a dirty word(s)! Not so my friend. AF can be a scam and the internet abounds with schemes to enable you to earn a passive income. Passive in that you do no real work save for setting up the scheme in the first place. Some of the schemes involve real products, others involve services. The thing that really annoys me about AF is when you want to find a genuine review of a product or service. Invariably all you find in the top 10 Google search results are reviews by affiliates. Hello! Don’t they kind of have a vested interest? They are not independent reviews but simply a regurgitation of the sales pitch that led them into that scheme.
The worst example of that I have encountered is the Wealthy Affiliate Program. They charge a whacking $40 something a month to be a member and all they are selling really is how to recruit new members so that you as an affiliate can start earning. It reminds me of pyramid selling! They run a week long free trial and the content is all very informative. One part of it is actually true. That part is called something like “content is the key”. Content is the key! It means that whatever your blog is about then it must have good content – stuff people enjoy and want to come back again to read more. The content drives traffic to your site. I find it difficult to accept that paying $40 plus a month automatically enables anyone to write good content! Having said all that there are some genuine AF schemes in existence.
So all of this trial and error social media marketing is extremely time consuming. It has eaten voraciously into my writing time. I did say in my earlier post that one of my goals was to manage my time better. The trouble is that since then the demands on my time have grown even more. I now have added commitments of writing two guest articles a month for a retirement magazine and two further book proposals have been offered to me, which I am grateful for and gladly accepted.
Part of the trial and error in my experiments with social media marketing is my use of the FREE giveaway book to encourage visitors to this blog to “Sign Up”. I do not yet know if it will do exactly as the label says on the can! The FREE Guide is a bit tongue in cheek. A little funny but also kind of semi-serious. If you the reader have a point to make about it then , as always, please leave me a comment.
I also said that keeping a proper life/work balance was important. This is 100 fold more important now I am retired than it was when I was a young man. The right balance is paramount and that is why I believe I will let this blog grow organically and at its own pace. I will return to concentrate on writing here and on my paid- for commitments plus my book projects. I will of course continue to share my work here on Facebook and on Twitter. But i need to relax more and become more laissez-faire in establishing my writing brand. Que sera sera mis amigos!
Besides – my lettuce and chilies need attending to!
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