by Larry Brooks of Storyfix.com
Just like pretty much everyone else reading this site, when I began my blogging gig I struggled to find a niche, and a voice within it.
I was confident with the content and the agenda that would be the focus of my site. And, again pretty much like everyone else, I harbored a quiet resolve to one day make a few bucks from it. But I didn’t have a substantive revenue-generating plan in mind – a business model – other than that rather blind ambition.
In other words, I was winging it. Make my mark first, earn a respectable following. See what happened next, what doors might swing open.
And they did. A couple thousand subscribers. A major book deal. A bunch of ebooks I had no idea I would write when I started. Even some ghostwriting projects.
Not that this qualifies me to have drinks with the Big Boys as the next blogging conventions. But it’s a start.
This is perhaps the only business venue since the creation of minted cash where such a strategy is actually viable.
Best advice I ever heard in getting there: give it away. As much and as fast as you can. It’s not your father’s competitive environment, with its kill-or-be-killed mentality, anymore.
At least here online its not.
To paraphrase… if you build it (a reader base), they (those minted bills) will come.
Maybe. It’s still a bit of a crap shoot.
Bear with. That’s not even my point today
Another great peace of advice was to read and study the blogs of others, both in terms of instructional wisdom (like Problogger) and examples of how and how not to go about things. In doing so I discovered that blogs tend to come in three flavors: entrepreneurial, instructional/informational, and the highly personal.
All three may, and most likely do, harbor that same money-making agenda, by the way, but these are in general the three faces of blogging.
My website cleanly fit into the middle category. My mission was, and is, to help writers understand the complex nuances and processes required to turn an idea into a story, and then render that story in a publishable form.
Which meant, while I read and actually enjoyed a few blogs where the author boldly wrote about little else than, for lack of a more strategic term, the author, I couldn’t see myself going there. Just because I had published a small stack of novels to a minor standard of credible success, that only made me one of about a million writers who could claim the same thing.
And, where the more personal stuff is concerned, my life and what I have to say about it outside of my small and humble field of expertise just isn’t that interesting.
Or perhaps, something I’d care to admit to.
Or so I thought.
I soon realized this was narrow, limiting thinking.
And that’s my point today. In a roundabout, forthcoming way.
As I look back upon nearly a year of blogging, and the curious fact that I have actually made an admittedly modest little pile of cash doing so, something rose up off the screen and smacked me upside the head: some of my most successful posts in terms of reader response were those that were of a personal nature.
Not me waxing wise and instructional about storytelling, but me becoming vulnerable and parting the kimono a bit. Writing about things that have happened in my life and in my head that have helped to shape who I have become as a writer.
Opinions. Stories. Observations. Hopes. Fears.
The kind of stuff you’d admit to over beer and onion rings with a buddy. Or, with enough of those beers in you, with a perfect stranger.
Notice that this post is really about its author
Moi. It still creeps me out to adopt this perspective, especially on this highly global venue, but I couldn’t very well write a post about getting personal without, well, going there.
My site performance review reminded me that this work, unlike any other venture you can name short of politics and sheep herding, is about community. One that embraces me as a peer as well as a self-anointed guru.
And that particular realization allowed me to recognize this newly-galvanized truth at work elsewhere online. I find myself unable to click away from a post where the writer is being real, is sharing a moment and the emotions that underpin it, and establish a connection that transcends the intention of the otherwise branded content of that site.
It’s good to connect
To share and be the object of sharing. To unburden and to leverage the learning curve of the unburdened.
So keep striving to nail your content and embrace your readers with something that serves them, as well as your business agenda. But don’t hesitate to take a moment now and then to, in effect, share a coffee break with your readers and get downright, unabashedly real.
Watch what happens. That flood of empathetic feedback is nothing other than a big ol’ hug.
And you know what they say in business school – he who gets hugged sells ebooks. Because friends buy from friends. From someone they like and trust.
That alone, without a dime attached, is worth the time and effort.
Then again, you have a business to run. What better way to go about it than by connecting with those you intend to serve.
Here online, those agendas almost always go hand in hand.
Larry Brooks writes about the principles and process of writing successful fiction at Storyfix.com. His book, Story Engineering: Mastering the Six Core Competencies of Successful Writing, will be published by Writers Digest books early next year. He claims his latest novel, Whisper of the Seventh Thunder, is not remotely about him.