Last August I gave a workshop on content marketing for writers.
During the workshop, I encouraged my audience to aim for slow and steady growth.
Does your blog only get 20 visitors each month? No problem! Shoot for 30 readers next month. Or 25! As long as you're growing even a teeny bit, you're a content marketing success!
Me? I've been using content marketing to build readership for the memoir I'm writing. And by my own definition, I have not been successful.
Each month, I had a new excuse for why my numbers hadn't grown. I'd just come back from maternity leave. I had a busy few weeks at work. I'd taken a vacation.
This September, I ran out of excuses. I can no longer ignore the fact that my numbers, despite writing several blog posts each week and setting up an email list and networking my heart out, are as low as they were when I started tracking them back in May.
So, obviously something isn't working. I'm trying to look on the bright side: all that work has undoubtedly improved my writing. I've received several heartfelt messages from people who appreciated my candor about motherhood and mental illness.
That said, I'd like to start seeing some growth. So after sulking for a while, I grabbed my Post-Its and started mapping out a plan.
Issue #1: I'm not showing up in the right Google search results.
In fact, the only thing I seem to be reliably ranking for is "phone sex," thanks to a Salon article I wrote about my stint on a suicide hotline.
I'm sure a more entrepreneurial blogger could spin this into a lucrative side business, but I'm not the person for the job.
A lot of factors play into these Google search results. Keyword optimization is one. External links are another.
Very few people ever link to The Skeleton Club. Why would they? The content I write is more personal than helpful. But that doesn't mean I couldn't start spinning my experiences into content that contains universal tips and takeaways.
Issue #2: I post sporadically.
I'm actually getting better at this. I've gotten pretty good at shoehorning some writing into busy days, and stockpiling a post here and there for when I can't shoehorn one in. So while I think this is still a factor in my lack of traffic, it's probably a small one.
Issue #3: No one links to or shares the site.
Like I mentioned above, I don't write a lot of tutorials and "pro tips" for people to share. But that doesn't mean I can't get external links in other ways. Writing essays, articles and guest blog posts, for example.
Back in May, I set a goal to write one guest blog post a month. So far I've written one guest blog post to date, because I spend all my time polishing and perfecting the personal blog posts that no one reads.
I think it's time to change that. I received an open invitation to guest post at Ancestry.com shortly after I went on maternity leave, and I have several ideas that I think would be perfect for the site. I just need to write them.
Issue #4: It's time-consuming.
"Perfection is the enemy of good." I had a slide to that effect in my content marketing workshop. We teach what we need to learn, I guess. Because with every blog post I write or essay I start, I spend hours editing, polishing and rewriting.
I believe in publishing good work, but there's a law of diminishing returns. Especially when no one is reading.
My plan moving forward:
- Publish shorter posts on The Skeleton Club, including more curated content. I'm always coming across books, articles, videos and art projects that I love, and that are relevant to my book's themes. Why not share them with readers?
- Spend more time writing guest posts and sending them out.
- Experiment with new ways to encourage sharing: social-media friendly images, "click-to-tweet," etc.
- Learn when good is good enough.
If you want to follow along (and support my content marketing efforts!) you can like my Facebook author page or subscribe to my Skeleton Club blog. It's about motherhood, mental illness, and weird family secrets. I worked hard on it. I think you'll like it. Even if you are the only one there.
What's going on with your content marketing?
Leave me a comment and let me know. We can work out the problems and celebrate the successes together.
Pug image courtesy of Pexels and used under a Creative Commons license.