Editor: This is the second in a series of articles charting the founding, successes, failures, and lessons learned from 7 years of blogging. The first one is here. I hope that you’ll be able to profit from the lessons I’ve learned along the way, and maybe you’ll make fewer mistakes than I have. Enjoy!
Book Publishing for The Book Designer
Much of early 2011 was occupied by getting preparing and launching the first book I had published in over 20 years: A Self-Publisher’s Companion.
This was a great exercise that helped me learn just how malleable my own content is. Here’s how it happened.
As my blog had grown more popular, I started to get invited to industry events, writers conferences, and publishing groups of various kinds. When I first spoke at one of these big conferences, the host bookstore asked where to get “my book.”I didn’t have a book.
But I realized I needed one, and had a ready source of content in my blog archives.
After scanning the 400+ posts I had at the time, 43 became the book I could take to conferences with me: A Self-Publisher’s Companion.
All these articles I had written and published freely for anyone to read on the Internet now had a new purpose and packaging to suit that purpose. In itself, this added value to the content because it became consumable in a different way than it had been before.
Working, Working on Traffic
When friends or colleagues ask how to get more traffic, or ask me how I get the traffic on my site, I don’t really know what to say. They write as well or better than I do, they are experts in their fields.But when I think back to 2011 I remember I did a lot of work on link building and traffic generating.
On the blog, at the end of 2010 I had started the Carnival of the Indies. I was fascinated by the blog carnivals that used to be common. One blogger would host and others in the same field would submit their best posts to share with all the readers.
Why wouldn’t that still work? It worked brilliantly, and has been a staple here for over 6 years. The traffic we send to others in our field, and the regular linking out to other, related sites, works to everyone’s advantage.
And, of course, readers have a great resource to drawn on.
Editor: If you’re starting your blog journey, or looking to improve your results, have a look at Joan Stewart’s outstanding Quick & Easy Blog Post Templates. These templates teach you how to create 19 different kinds of blog content, and they couldn’t be easier to use.
Ebook Cover Design Awards
I was still looking for ways to build readership and traffic by offering something unique, something you couldn’t get at just any blog.
At the urging of some readers, in August 2011 we launched the monthly Ebook Cover Design Awards.This monthly feature, which offered free mini-critiques and exposure for your book, became popular instantly and remains so to this day. It’s become a great shopping market for authors looking to hire a cover designer, since all the designers are credited and linked to in the posts.
I knew I wouldn’t be able to keep up my pace of publishing 5 articles a week, especially with all the extra work created by these new blog features. I loved seeing the badges we awarded to participants gracing the sites of authors in the indie community, but it was taking its toll.
I learned I would need help to survive, and hired the marvelous Shelley Sturgeon to help out with the back office chores of running a blog, and she has been doing it ever since.
The regular features that started in 2011 have been workhorses for the blog ever since. I learned that there’s an accumulative power that grows over time. The steady influx of new voices and new designers has kept them both fresh.
And the small amount of “snark” I allowed myself in critiquing hundreds of covers was a welcome avenue to express more of myself than I had before. All in all, a big year in the history of this blog.
It was time to bite the bullet and earn how to monetize my blog. Although I ran small banner ads during 2011, I never felt comfortable with them on my site, and eventually took them all down. I sacrificed about $500 a month in income, but decided that what I wanted to promote would be my own. That’s for next time.
Traffic: During 2011 there were 345,416 users on the blog generating 984,786 pageviews, for an average monthly traffic volume of 82,065 visitors, or about 2,735 per day. This traffic volume represented a 366% increase over 2010.