How I’ve Grown My Blog (Since January)

In preparation for Jane Friedman’s Magical Marketing Trifecta webinar this evening — which you can still sign up for, tickets are only $15 — I thought I’d take a look at how I’d grown Nicole Dieker Dot Com since revamping it in January.

According to Jetpack, I’ve already brought more viewers to my blog this year than I did in all of 2018; my total 2018 views were 15,433, and views since January 1, 2019 are currently at 17,366.

Going from bi-monthly-ish posts to daily posts helped this growth, as did getting a few retweets from people and organizations with lots of followers, like the Reedsy Discovery post that Reedsy has now retweeted/reshared twice. (Full disclosure: Reedsy invited me to write that post, though I was not paid for it. I said yes because I support Reedsy’s work and because I knew it would bring more potential readers to Nicole Dieker Dot Com.)

Twitter and Google search share the top spot for “most common way readers find my blog,” followed by The Billfold — no real surprises there.

The most common search term used to find this blog is “Nicole Dieker,” followed by a few search strings related to self-publishing and a few search strings where people, assumedly readers who are already familiar with the blog, are clearly trying to find a specific post (e.g. “Nicole Dieker the work and the life are two separate things.“)

This suggests that if I want to boost readership through search, I should write more posts on self-publishing — and I have one of those in the works for next week, so that’s a start.

Here’s a list of the most popular posts this quarter:

From this data, it looks like a lot of people are hitting the front page of Nicole Dieker Dot Com but not reading any of the posts — which, right now, are only shown as excerpts (that is, you see the first few sentences but have to click to read the post). I wonder if tweaking the blog so it showed full posts on the front page would encourage people to start reading and following.

On the subject of followers: 23 readers are currently subscribed to my blog through WordPress, and 20 are subscribed through email. (If you want to subscribe, check the sidebar to sign up by email and the admin bar — which you’ll only see if you also have a WordPress blog — to sign up through WordPress.)

Since installing Jetpack Ads in January, 30,292 ads have been served with an average CPM of $0.52. Total earnings from ads: $15.70.

Going forward, it looks like the best way to continue growing Nicole Dieker Dot Com might include:

  • Writing more posts about self-publishing
  • Writing more posts that can be retweeted by people/orgs with lots of followers
  • Reviewing self-published books submitted to Reedsy Discovery, which will get me retweeted/shared both by Reedsy and by the authors (and will also be beneficial to both Reedsy and the authors, it’s not all about me)

I don’t want this to be “just a self-publishing blog,” in part because I wouldn’t recommend anyone have “just a self-publishing career.” It’s a good way to make money as a writer — so good, in fact, that I’m going to be teaching an online class on the finances of self-publishing next month — but it’s not going to be your sole source of income unless you are in the top 1 percent or whatever of self-published authors. So I want this to be a site about all the aspects of a creative career, including “how to build multiple income streams” and “how to schedule your workflow to accommodate multiple income streams.”

And, like, the personal posts about my life, my writing, my vulnerabilities and struggles — because I want to be realistic about all of this, and honest, and not one of those blogs that’s all “here are ten impersonal tips that we are sure will work for everybody.”

Also, the personal posts tend to be the ones that garner the most response, because readers — and writers like me who write for those readers — value connection.

Anyway, that is The State of the Blog on Friday, March 8, 2019.

Let’s see what I think about all of this a few hours from now, after I finish taking Jane Friedman’s webinar. ❤️

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Jane Friedman on Strategy vs. Tactics

First, a weather update: as predicted, I will not be flying to NYC on Thursday. (Both Chicago and NYC are experiencing EXTREME WEATHER — as is Cedar Rapids, for that matter — and the flights have already been canceled.) Depending on how all this rescheduling goes I may still make it there on Friday, which should give me plenty of time to make it to the Maggie Stiefvater writing seminar on Saturday.

We’ll see.

In the meanwhile, I’m going to suggest you read Jane Friedman’s article “How to Reduce Marketing Anxiety and Confusion” at Publishers Weekly, because even if you don’t plan to self-publish your book you’re still going to need to think about the marketing component, and even if you aren’t ready to think about marketing right now this advice also applies to the work you are currently doing on your creative project.

In short: there is strategy, and there are tactics.

Tactics are the steps you take to achieve results, and strategy is why you take those steps.

Why you make those particular choices, knowing that any individual choice both limits and shapes your remaining choices.

Friedman argues that most people launch into tactics without first creating a strategy, and I agree with her.

Some tactics may seem essential—because everyone is using them and thus they are required to play the game. But always question and assess. Is Amazon advertising going to be effective for the book you’re trying to sell (factoring in your book’s pricing, packaging, and positioning)? Is social media a suitable tool for your genre/category, given the amount of time that you have to wait to see results? Do you know enough about your target readers to understand how they discover books to read?

For example, I’m repeatedly told that I should get into podcasting because it’s big and growing. But should I adopt that tactic when it would require me to stop accepting paid work or stop other activities that are effective and even growing? Possibly—but only an evaluation of my strategy would lead to an informed answer.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t ever, like, try things just to see what happens. TRY ENERGY can be a powerful thing, and you’ll learn a lot from putting a harebrained scheme into action.

Sometimes your TRY ENERGY is inspired by what a specific audience needs at that very moment — I’m thinking of Twitter user @leftistthot420, for example, who made a joke about how someone would create a Twitter account featuring Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez dancing to every song and then immediately created the @aoc_dances account herself.

Sometimes it’s just something you really want to do, and you can’t not do it.

So do it!

But if you’re thinking about taking on some best practices (whether for the novel you’re writing or the marketing campaign you’re creating) simply because you’ve heard they yield certain results, it’s best to consider your overall strategy, and how each tactic might help or hurt that strategy, first.

As Jason Fried of Basecamp (one of my favorite productivity softwares) wrote about the myth of low-hanging fruit:

In my mind, declaring that an unfamiliar task will yield low-hanging fruit is almost always an admission that you have little insight about what you’re setting out to do. And any estimate of how much work it’ll take to do something you’ve never tried before is likely to be off by degrees of magnitude.

In other words, don’t start a podcast just because you’ve heard that podcasting might get you an audience for your next book. You have to get a whole separate audience for that podcast first,* and that takes time away from the work of building the audience for your book (unless your readers are the type who are likely to try out new podcasts).

But go read Jane Friedman’s post on strategy vs. tactics, because she’s got more to say on the subject than what I just summarized, and then go read her blog because it is full of excellent information about both writing and publishing.

*This comes after the work of learning how to create a podcast that doesn’t sound like amateur hour. One of the reasons I stopped doing my Writing & Money podcast was because I wasn’t able to get my kitchen-table recording to sound professional enough, and I knew that taking the time and money to create a better podcast would take away from the bigger goals I wanted to accomplish.