Does simultaneous blogging to multiple outlets help to build audience?
January 16, 2014 12:30 PM   Subscribe

I once had a decent online audience for my regular writing habit, but sort of lost steam with a career change that monopolized my attention and energy. With an unexpected change in fortunes, I've been trying to reconnect, but one of my outlets is gone, another is moribund, and the scene is now more spread out and complicated. I've been posting simultaneous content to a number of outlets, but I'm wondering if that's wiser than just picking one and focusing entirely on that one, because of the widely differing reading habits people have now.

I've been seeking out some info on this question, but it's a hard subject to search without coming up with ninety-nine percent content farm BS with no provenance. I've attempted to do a bit of networking with bloggers in my area, and was told that my explanation of what my blog(s)/online writing is about was too complicated and esoteric and that I needed was a simple URL and an elevator pitch, which is true, so I rebooted my blog as a philosophical lifestyle blog about living an adventurous gourmet life with limited resources (with parenthetical storytelling in service of the idea), and hosted it myself using Wordpress to build the site on my server space. I've been additionally reposting to tumblr, medium, blogger, dreamwidth, my old livejournal, tweeting links to new pieces, and otherwise trying to leverage material across a broad range of media, which isn't hard, other than weird formatting issues between sites, but I'm out of touch with how these things work and am not sure if this is the best way to work.

My intention, too, is to get back to a periodic podcast/soundcloud audio series based in the same written material, and possibly do youtube/vimeo videos connected to the blog, as well as returning to my regular habit of doing live spoken word/storytelling shows.

Am I doing this right, or do I need to refine this approach? Are there good resources to researching these things that I should know about?
posted by sonascope to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
I have a blog with a decent readership, despite sporadic posting, and honestly my sole biggest source of traffic is fucking Facebook. Twitter and Tumblr are a distant second and third (despite having a couple thousand more Twitter followers than I have Facebook "likes.") In the olden times (2006-2009), the biggest traffic to my site was through a syndicated group RSS feed, but with the demise of Google Reader that has dwindled to nearly nothing. I'm not even sure what my own RSS subscriber count is anymore. This makes me terribly sad. Anyhow.

I have a public "fan page" for my blog on Facebook that people can "Like," and I keep it active in between my own blog posts by posting links to interesting articles on the same topic written by other people - some big mainstream outlets, some smaller blogs and websites. It keeps the source warm without all the pressure being on me. I also post a link to every new blog post to Twitter and Tumblr, while remaining recreationally active on both in between times.
posted by Ouisch at 1:00 PM on January 16, 2014 [2 favorites]

I'd say plan it out with automation in mind. Where do you want people to go? To the LJ where you can customize some code and still have some hopeful lurkers who just play their CD over and over from time to time? Do you want to facebook and twitter?

At this point, from a control standpoint, I'd say get a cheapo domain name and hosting (I use DreamHost/DH referral), and roll out a simple WordPress site (they have simple click install solutions). Put on a couple of "share this" widgets.

Sign up with If This Then That and use it. When you "post" on the blog, post a snipped to LJ (does it let you do that? I just cross post from DreamWidth). Post a snippet to twitter, post a snippet to Facebook. So that way you don't have to manually repeat things, while still tumblring and tweeting separate things. You can even have widgets that populate your blog sidebar with tweets and tumbles, so vistitors to the blog have updates without going elsewhere if they don't want to.
posted by tilde at 1:10 PM on January 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'm no expert by any stretch of the imagination, but I do have a decent number of followers in my particular niche - Homeschool/Parenting/Momblog - and am connected to a 200-300 strong group of fellow homeschool material reviewers, so I'm familiar with what's recommended & expected in connection with our reviews.

Right now the big social media things are Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, YouTube & Instagram. One thing you do NOT want to do is have the same material - or very close to the same material - in different locations. Cross-posting is pushed down in google ranks, and from your description, it's a little hard to tell, but it sounds like that might be what you're doing. Much better to do your main posting in one place, and then leave breadcrumbs around the internet that lead to it. These breadcrumbs should be of the sort to attract interest and get that click over to your main location, and should be adapted to the style that works for each particular place. Of course, you don't have to use all of those - use the ones that work for you and your style, and if there's something that's not mainstream, but is popular in your niche, add it.

Things like an old blogger or livejournal - a lot of time, what people do, is move the actual material to their new main blog, and leave a forwarding link, automatic if possible, manual click if not, at the old location. Also have links to your social media connections at those locations - make it easy for people to find where you are now, and lead them there.

Unless, of course, the topics are SO widely divergent, or you have a specialty niche that might benefit from being on a site with work *just* about that, keeping it all together is generally a good idea. I have a just-homeschool project in the works, too - but that's more of a topic site as a whole, not an "our perspective on homeschooling and life" like my personal site is.

Details on my blog's current status, in case it's helpful: Since 2010, and I have NOT been anywhere near as prolific or as regular a blogger as I could/should have been. So take these numbers as absolutely minimal work put in, very little there except for 150 or so good-to-excellent-quality reviews, almost all of which are homeschool or family-related. Also, pretty much zero promotion of my social links, and not really any regular posting there either.. Twitter: 61, Facebook: 72, Google+ page: 11, Pinterest: 139, Networked Blogs: 56. Bloglovin: 15, LinkyTools: 20. I've noticed people don't seem to add fan pages on Google+ as much - they seem to prefer adding me, and the 126 on my profile there definitely outweighs that piddling 11 on the fan page.

Since I'm about at "implement" on my plans for regular posting and refrequent social media updates, I'll be expecting numbers to start jumping shortly afterward. I've been updating the blog with a fresh theme, though, and I wanted to finish the site's "housekeeping" first.
posted by stormyteal at 1:14 PM on January 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

Here's what Google has to say about duplicate content -- in short, if you're duplicating content to game your search engine ranking, that's bad.

However, in the olden days both Wifey and I were prolific bloggers, and made good money off ads, but in the past year all has gone south: social media is where everyone's going, and it looks like you're aware of it, but "blogging" doesn't exist the same way in the new-media context. We haven't quite figured it out, but shorter, more visually-oriented, posts seem to be what the world wants, not eloquent unified-subject monolithic blogs.
posted by AzraelBrown at 1:17 PM on January 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

I think you should have one central space that is your own, like Twitter. That would require a low time commitment to keep up to date and you can still be part of the conversation of what you blog about without having to write full blog entries. You can also promote your blog entries, no matter where they are posted. So no matter where you are writing, your fans can follow you. It will take a little a time before you start getting followers, but I'd include your Twitter handle with your blog posts and start following/retweeting/communicating with other bloggers in your field to make some contacts and get some street cred. It's true that Facebook is the best driver of traffic, but I personally had no interest in maintaining a Facebook for myself as a writer. Twitter works really well for this and you can jump right in. Most profiles are not private on Twitter, whereas Facebook is kind of different in that I think people really need to find you.

You could also just create your own homepage. Get a cheap domain from GoDaddy or NetworkSolutions and then use Weebly to make a super simple website and do domain forwarding. But I don't think having your own site housing your blog posts necessarily grows and engages an audience the way social media does. It would be a spot you could put all your articles together though.
posted by AppleTurnover at 2:05 PM on January 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

I've got in my RSS reader (Feedly) and that seems like a natural central place for your essays to live. People on Facebook and Twitter can get links to there.

Also I think it would be worthwhile re-posting some of your older stuff (e.g. selected metafilter comments, and I just found this), along with a note to long-time followers that they are reruns. They're just great stories and should have better exposure.

I don't know how places like Medium work but I've seen some good writing there - might be worth considering that too.
posted by exogenous at 2:27 PM on January 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

I've added nowherejoe to my RSS reader, so your audience has already grown by one!

Twitter and Facebook are probably where you should focus your social media.

Publish fresh work daily.

Unfortunately, a lot of the stuff that gets shared and pulls new readers -- especially in the niche you're working in -- is more practical and less literary. The audience for practical knowledge is much much bigger than the audience for literary entertainment.

However, you can still bring your voice and talent to those more mundane posts. Your voice and talent -- your story -- is what will separate you from all those other sites about "gourmet lifestyle on limited resources." And you can keep your sanity by still producing those longform pieces that satisfy the smaller audience (and you).

I like the way this guy writes about cocktails. I got there by searching for a cocktail recipe, but now I go back for the prose and the history and the philosophy (and also for more cocktail recipes).

If you don't want to write "Sonascape's Hints From Heloise", maybe consider mixing in some shorter, quick hit pieces. Those are easier to read and to share.

Reach out to other blogs in the niche and ask to guest post (which'll get you the linkback front and center) or even freelance (which may pay, depending on the site, but the linkback is buried in your bio).

Have you pitched any of your tales of clock maintenance (or other tales of mischief) to any of the myriad longform sites and blogs? Duotrope is a good place to search for markets.
posted by notyou at 5:21 PM on January 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

I can always count on y'all for great advice and feedback.

My new blog is hosted on my own server (well, on Dreamhost), with a nice concise URL and a simple theme to make it readable and friendly.

After your suggestions, I created a facebook page for the blog, though I need to fluff it up and make it more than just a shell. I found and installed a plugin called Shareaholic that tacks on a little "share this" set of buttons at the bottom of each post with a whole palette of places to share to (many of which I've never heard of, grumble grumble). I think those are great steps.

A few people have told me that collecting a mailing list is important, and I used to use them (hand-gathered) to do very occasional promotion of new things I was working on and my one-man-show performances, so I added a plugin to collect addresses to the blog, as well.

I've got a twitter thingie, and I'm using it increasingly often. It's under my full three-name-name, because my ex the big Hollywood mogul has been browbeating me about consolidating and solidifying my "brand," the concept of which makes me feel gross and dirty, but as he points out, no one's going to read anything I write if they don't know who I am. I started out pissed off by the obnoxious character limit, which is like hell on earth for a guy who regularly writes 2500 word comments on mefi and elsewhere, but now it's sort of a dadaist drag show of surrealist burbling and tweeting of blog updates (and will be to video/soundcloud when I get into that habit).

The primary outlets I've been using have been Medium and Tumblr, with material occasionally retweeted to my sort of limping blogger site (and LJ for my old friends there), and now I'm trying to use the new blog as a sort of "golden master" site that's centralized, with a little syndication to Medium and Tumblr. I think I'm going to just give up on blogger and fade that one out, and make my LJ a friends-only site for those connections.

I like the way stuff looks on Tumblr, and I'm told that it's more like the new-fangled social networking-type blogging and I'm fascinated by the concept of Medium, though the way you interact with it is sort of awkward and the stats don't seem to indicate I'm making headway.

I sort of wonder how the breadcrumb-trail approach works in reality, though I tried really hard to to it on LJ as I was exploring other routes, and even people who would reply to everything I wrote there couldn't or wouldn't make the jump. It's worth a try, though, so I'll see what I can come up with.

One of the most difficult parts in all this is fighting against my own inherent histrionic resistance to any kind of self-promotion, even when I know I'm doing things that are good. It just feels sort of...ooky...though my ex tells me that if I can't get past that, I'm never going to make any headway. It's just so intimidating, because searching for info on the subject is complicated by the content mills that pump out "12 ways to boost your readership!" listicles and such, and I end up going all mousey and depressed and wanting to just go back to my existing strategy of not having a strategy.

They say the biggest part of success is showing up, and I'm trying, but oy vey. It's was only too perfect that I was building the site for my new blog while listening to the radio and the story of the hour was about how blogs were dead. Sheeesh.
posted by sonascope at 7:32 PM on January 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

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