Photo by Bob Mical
First of all, before I get into today's topic, I should probably let y'all know that I have a book coming out TOMORROW! Eek! MELT INTO YOU, Jace's story, will be out in print and ebook everywhere. I loved writing this story, and it has two of my most favorite heroes I've ever written in it. So, ya know, if you like this blog and want to help me keep up my iced tea fund, go buy it and stuff. :)
CONTEST ALERT: And if you want to see an exclusive excerpt and enter for a chance to WIN one of my backlist books, stop by Lauren Dane's blog today.
BLOG TOUR ALERT: I'm also at Novel Reflections today with an interview, excerpt, and a separate contest. And there is an early review for MELT INTO YOU over there as well. :)
Alright so onto today's topic--my deep, dark admission that I may be in the middle of a blogging identity crisis. Feel free to insert a shocked gasp here. It's no secret that I love to blog. Even though I know I'm "supposed" to be doing this, that's not why I do it. I just like talking, apparently, because I can't seem to stop doing it here.
But after three years of blogging and shifting from pre-published to published, there's been a lot of evaluating and re-evaluating of what this blog should look like. How do I connect with readers? Who is my audience? Should I stop talking about writing and blogging (clearly, as you can tell from this post, the answer so far on that has been no.) Is it even possible to reach potential readers who are not writers? Am I interesting enough for people to continue to want to show up? Why are my hits going up but my comments going down?
And on and on the questions go.
I'm not going to tell you I know the answers. But I can tell you that blogging is a moving target and that you have to sometimes rearrange the furniture to keep things fresh for yourself and your readers.
So first, let's go over some signs of how I knew I was in a blogging identity crisis:
1. Your current theme days start to seem like prison bars. - Ugh, I don't want to be in this box today.
2. You start to develop blog envy. - Man, look how cool and interesting this person is. I'm not even cool enough to comment on this blog much less write one as full of awesome.
3. You get all existential and "What does it all mean? Do my words even matter?" (Or maybe that's just me. I do err on the dramatic side when it comes to these things.)
4. You consume posts about blogging and platform like an addict going for their next hit. - What is the secret/magic bullet that is going to make my blog sparkly and special?
5. You start to feel like every new idea is lame, so you don't try anything new. (And some ideas probably are doomed, but you can't tell the difference anymore.)
Part of my own crisis is no doubt tied to the fact that I had/have two releases within a month of each other. There is a lot of extra stress and work that goes into preparing for a release, so when one thing becomes stressful, everything does.
But even so, I know there is probably more to it than that. So what am I going to do about it? Or more importantly...
What can you do about it if you find yourself in the same position?
1. Refresh and rearrange
Blogs can get stale, even if you're posting regularly. Consider shaking things up every now and then. I'm going to adhere less to theme days and maybe just having recurring features that I do when the inspiration strikes. (This, btw, does not mean only blogging when the inspiration strikes. All I mean is that I won't be tied to a certain type of post on a given day.)
2. Take that blog envy and study the blogs/bloggers that you admire.
What are they doing that draws you in? What can you learn from them? This doesn't mean copy their ideas, but look for inspiration.
3. Evaluate what you can do better.
Sit back and see where you can push yourself more. When I looked at bloggers I liked, I realized that they were good at telling personal stories while still conveying a message that readers can relate to. I know that I can be better at opening up a bit more on here. A lot of times I've stuck to things like theme days and that inadvertently has meant I share less of myself. I rarely talk about my life or things outside of writing going on in it. Now, I have no intention for this to become some journal type thing, but an occasional personal story (with a point) could be good.
4. Venture out of your comfort zone.
Sometimes we paint ourselves into a niche corner. I know I did on my old writing blog Fiction Groupie. Teaching and sharing information are my comfort zones, so it was easy to let my blog become one-dimensional. You have to remind yourself that you are more than just *insert niche*. If your goal is to have a niche blog, that's one thing. But for the most part, authors (particularly fiction authors) need something a bit more well-rounded, especially once you're published.
5. Have enough structure to keep you on track but not so much that you lock down your creative wiggle room.
I love having a plan and a structure (despite the fact that I'm a panster when writing.) Having theme days was one way to lower the what-to-blog-about anxiety because there was a plan in place. But it also stifled me at times because maybe I wanted to write about A on Monday, but it was a B theme day. So if you are going to have themes, make them broad. Or, don't even tell your readers what the theme days are. You just use them as a loose guideline. Then if you veer off that path, no one even realizes you've taken a detour.
6. Write down a long list of (I think Kristen Lamb says 100) blog topics so that you have a go-to on days you just can't think of something.
I haven't done this yet, but it's own my agenda. If I'm not going to have as structured of a weekly plan, I need an emergency kit for back up. But beyond using this as a back up device, it also can help you hone in on what you want your blog to look like, what topics/themes recur and inspire you.
7. If some post/angle/theme flops, don't worry, just move on and try something else.
We have to be willing to try some things and take some risks. If we're afraid of doing something different because it might not work, things will get stagnant. The beauty about a blog is that each day is a new day. If yesterday's post bombed and got no hits, you've got a brand new day the next day to try something else.
8. Rediscover your blogging confidence.
Only you have your voice. If you make sure you're being authentically you on your blog, then no one else can duplicate that. Figure out what makes you unique and special and mine that for your blog. If a reader can connect with your blogging voice, then they'll probably connect with your novels. So show them a piece of what they will get between the covers of your books. (For instance, no, I don't write R-rated stuff here on the blog even though I write erotic romance. But I guarantee you if you like my blog and pick up one of my books, you'll probably recognize a lot--my sarcasm, the way I put words together, my occasional shamelessness, my obsession with mancandy--you know, the important stuff.) My voice is my voice.
So, I'm going to take my own advice and go through this process of blog revampization (<--spellcheck didn't immediately highlight that word and for a second, I got all excited that it was a word. Alas, it's not. But it should be.) So anyway, you'll see some changes coming up. Hopefully, you all will like them. If not, feel free to let me know. I'm open to feedback.
*And remember, the only salient point you need to pull from this entire post is: BUY MY BOOK TOMORROW or pre-order it today. ;)
Her first love has returned, and he's brought a friend...
QUESTIONS FOR YOU: Alright, so am I the only one who has had a blog identity crisis? Do you feel stagnant sometimes on your blog? How did you find your blogging mojo? What do you wish you could be better at on your blog?