Reaching for the sun
The blogosphere, like outer space, is enormous, unending, vast, and bloggers scream at the top of their lungs for attention. They scream for the ever-elusive moment of viral exposure. The competition is growing by the day because the Internet provides instantaneous publishing capabilities, and the ease with which anyone can publish books, blogs, and other content – with the mere push of a button – has made writing and publishing an activity for anyone, and, unfortunately, that translates to content which includes everything under the sun, good and bad.
I remember early in my writing career surfing blogs to see what others were doing, what was working for them, what content seemed to glean the most traffic, and I was often left disillusioned and feeling inadequate.
The thing that drove me nuts, especially, was the niche blogs: Hollywood, Pop Culture, food or cooking blogs, fashion, and design. I would read some of the articles and not only was the writing bad, but the grammar and syntax made my head hurt. Why? Why were they able to succeed? Why did they have 30 Gravatars of readers who liked their posts and 50 comments to boot? It was because of the interest in the content more than the writing itself. We in the writing business don’t have that same luxury; that’s not how it works for those of us in the literary arena who write essays, flash fiction, poetry, memoirs – literary and writing blogs. We have to produce interesting, engaging content, and we must show good writing skills, too.
Our blogs don’t fall into the sloppy niches where writing skills don’t matter. Conversely, our blogs deal in the skill of writing, rhetoric, metaphor, analogies, and alliteration — the use of the senses to convey ideas and stories that reach into the hearts and minds of readers. That’s one of the reasons memoir is such a hot genre, it tells the nitty-gritty details of other people’s’ lives. You might even call it “Grammatically Correct Gossip”.
Fiction is our other potential for attracting readers; other genres begin to break down further and appeal to the various favorite flavors of readers, writers, and authors. We don’t attract the Jerry Springer crowd like the pop-culture blogs do.
So, we have to learn the art of “hooking” the reader, and we have to work twice as hard to attract followers and fans. Of course, we could always sell out and write a vampire novel. That niche never seems to die out, or as Marilyn Davis says, “Just title it, The Kardashian Method for Writing, and we’re sure to get the reader.
The world of the literary/writing blog is a mountain to scale in terms of real success. I’ve seen more grammar errors in the daily news columns of late than I’ve ever seen before. Editorial review is almost out the proverbial window in the modern “hit publish” environment of the internet. Pardon my running down a rabbit trail, but it does tie into what I’m getting at – I’m talking about exposure for our type of blogging, and I’ve found a new way that I want to share with our readers.
Social media mud-puddles
All of us, whether you use Blogger or WordPress, have the Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social media share buttons on our blogs (if you don’t, you should); however, the real numbers generally come from Google and other search engines. I was talking to Marilyn Davis, our wonderful assistant editor, and we were discussing the realities of Twitter; for example, on Twitter, everyone is tweeting and retweeting but no one is reading or clicking links, for the most part. In reality, and I’m sure most of you would agree when you read your demographics, Twitter is a futile exercise in bragging about how many followers a person has. If 5000 followers don’t produce at least a 10-20% return in clicks to the site, what good is it?
Facebook still produces many hits for our site; however, we have found a new app/site that at times causes a good post to go viral, quickly! It’s called Flipboard. Some of you may already be using this app on your phones or laptops to follow news and other topics you enjoy, and the list of topics they produce content about is endless. That said, how many of you know that you can create a magazine for your blog that Flipboard users can follow? In turn, if they “flip” (the app’s word for sharing) a story from your blog into another magazine, it has the potential to go viral quickly. We’ve had this happen on a number of occasions, especially with posts about grammar and memoirs.
I created several magazines on the app for Two Drops of Ink, Poetry (I named it ‘Poetic Ripples’), Grammar, one for the books from our “The Book Shelf” page, etc. Over the last few months, Flipboard has regularly become the number one and number two referrer to our site, over and above the search engines. All we did was share the post, the followers, and I don’t have many (but they’re growing), did the rest.
A sower of seeds
I’ve said many times that trying to gain exposure in this business of writing is much like being a fern at the bottom of the Redwood Forest. Our philosophy of collaboration with other writers, authors, and bloggers has been a total win-win. I can’t share the many emails I receive from new and seasoned writers complementing what we do at Two Drops and thanking us for our commitment to helping others gain exposure. It’s humbling. I see myself, and the team, as sowers of seed. The harvest is a joy to watch. This fact feeds my motivation to tell you about Flipboard.
I encourage you to check out Flipboard and add it to your share regiment. We at Two Drops wish you well in your writing endeavors, and we hope this suggestion will bring you much success.
Scott Biddulph is a published writer, author, and poet from North Georgia. He began writing as a youngster and followed his lifelong dream of reaching people through the written word when he returned to The University of North Georgia in 2013 to finish earning his BA/English with a concentration on publication and creative writing. His publications include the following: an eBook, Apples of Gold: A collection of inspirational short stories and poems (Smashwords, 2010) and a paperback, Voices from the Heart, (Createspace, 2012). His poetry is published in Papers and Publications Undergraduate Research Journal. Vol 3 (2014) and the award-winning Chestatee Review (Spring, 2015), among other places (Check his LinkedIn profile for a full list of his publications). He is currently working on publishing poetry, creative non-fiction, academic essays, and his memoir.
Scott has also worked as an intern editor for the University of North Georgia Press. As a freelance editor, he has done the layout and design of several books and magazines. He is currently working with several authors on various publication projects in which he is either ghostwriting, editing manuscripts, or doing the layout and design of their books.
Finally, and most importantly, he is a father, grandfather, husband, and dedicated Harley Davidson rider. He and his family enjoy the beauty of the North Georgia Mountains where they live—especially their screened in back porch where they love to bird watch.
~ “I love realism. I love writing about the raw, down-to-Earth, heartfelt realities of life. I love to write in a way that reaches into the human soul—to take the greatest pains and struggles in life, and make them a blessing to others. Fantasy is a wonderful, interesting thing—but real-life situations, feelings, fears, and dreams are an unexplored ocean of stories that need to be told.” ~
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