Blogs, Author Platforms, and Connecting (pt 8)

By Marc Falzon (Definition of Free Cultural Works wiki [1]) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Now that you’ve started building out your platform, and including other social media streams, you’ve reached what some would call the maintenance phase.  I don’t.

Every time you touch your author’s platform, you are affecting the way others see you.  This can be good, it can be bad, it can be exciting, or it could be boring.  Boring is the last thing you want to be.  Bad is not too far behind on the list of places you do not want to wind up.  That leads to today’s discussion, actually.  How do you keep ideas fresh and moving forward?

If you’re new to the game, like I am as this post goes out, fresh ideas may seem very hard to come by.  Sure, you’ve got your books and work to talk about.  But, you’ve been doing that.  A lot.  Probably to the point that you may start finding yourself repeating things you’ve already said.  A lot.  And, when you start repeating yourself, you start sounding like a broken record.  A lot.

How do you avoid becoming a broken record of yourself?  There are a couple of ways I’ve found that work for me.

Keep pressing into new territory

You’ve been writing, and doing research for your work.  That is always a gold mine of content waiting to be used.  If you’ve talked about the social aspects of your research for the last several posts, change it up and  talk about the political, or the economic, or the internal aspects.  The change doesn’t have to be big, but it should be there.

You can still write about your work, just do it in a new way.  If you have a completed, or almost completed, project you can always put together a post series about how the project progressed, or why you chose to write it the way you did.  Similar to what I’ve done for my “behind the scenes” posts.  I started with Out of the Darkness, and when that finished, I moved into Remember the Shadows.  When I finish that, I’ve all new material to cover in Into the Sunlits, and so forth.  So long as I keep writing books, I’ll have fodder for that series.  Others I’ve spoken with have done similar series, posting short story or flash fiction vignettes from their character’s back stories.  These work as well.

New territory could also be an ongoing discussion about what the different facets of your book mean to you.  Especially if you have been working on historical research.  You might be able to write a post or two about your expectations going into the research project, and if, or how, those expectations were met.  Did you find what you were expecting?  Was it different?  Try not to make it a lecture-dry post, but keep it informative.

Try out a different type of post

You’ve been writing informative articles up to this point, delving into the wonderful material you’ve accumulated from your research.  Every time you turned up something new, you wrote a post about it.  Yet, it’s been in the same theme for a long time.  Sure, you’ve got a few die hard followers who wait expectantly for your next post.  Just remember, even they can become bored if you go over the same information too many times.

To change up the type of post, there’s a huge field of ideas to pick and choose from.  If you’ve been writing informative articles, you can wander into the territory of a short story about “a day in the life of”, or a poem, or even try reblogging an article that interested you from someone else.  What is important is that you want it interesting.  (Engaging is good, but as I’m still figuring that out, I can’t offer much about how to accomplish that.)

Another idea to try would be to do a picture based post if you’ve become known for text heavy articles, or vice versa.  It gives your readers something different to see, and interact with.

Expand your discussion topics

I may not have a deliberate series for everything I write, but I do tend to fall into a vein and follow it through until the very, everlasting, ultimate, boring, tedious end.  Part of how I get away with it is because I have other series running in parallel.  If you have decided to post once or twice per week, that may not be an available option.  However, you can still keep things fresh by opening up a new group of themes to center your posts around.  For an author, I know the common consensus is that everything you do needs to be associated with your work – at least in passing – but I somewhat disagree.

If you are scheduling one post a week or less – yes, make every post count.  Your book has a range of topics it touches upon, so take advantage of that.  Try not to fall into writing only about the most visible theme or concept topics, but also about the others.

If you are scheduling posts more frequently, then what I have found to be a better approach is to work on using the posts to build your “Brand”.  I may get into what specifically that means in a later post.  There’s a wealth of information out about that already, and I want to make sure I’m not harrowing ground that’s already been worked to death.  However, in the mean time, you are trying to attract an audience.  So, posting about a range of topics will help do that.  Especially if those topics are relevant to who you are as a person.

Be authentic

OK, yes, I do have to give a nod to this old saw.  It’s one I’ve seen over and over again.  You say “it’s boring!” and for some that may be right.  After all, how exciting is it to sit down and detail a day that starts at dawn when you get up for your first cup of coffee (or other legal stimulant) and then it’s off to the 9-5 grind, then when you get home, you have the family to take care of, help with home work, possibly cook for, and the house to clean before you can finally sit down to the fun stuff?  Yes, that IS boring.  But, if you are someone who is bubbly, vivacious, and loves to crack a joke or twenty for others to laugh with, include that in your writing style.  If you are someone with a more serious side, stick with it.  I’m not saying don’t ever let anything besides your most prominent personality aspects show up in your writing, but don’t try to be bubbly and vivacious if you are someone who prefers a serious discussion.  That goes for your blog posts and book writing both.

If you are someone, like me, who can wind up heading into head-nodding-lecture-land, I do advise trying to find some way of lightening the mood, however.  Just be aware, if it’s not YOU, the real you, forever the honest you – your readers will find out quickly.  Wearing a mask, just to interest people is often a fast road to obscurity.

 

Speaking of long winded lectures,  now that I’ve wandered into a long winded lecture about keeping things fresh I’m going to sign off and let you mull over what I blathered on about.  Feel free to leave suggestions about how to freshen up ideas that have gone stale in the comments.  I’m still learning, and I’m sure others are too.  You never know – something you have to say may answer a question someone else is asking.  Thanks for stopping by, and we’ll see you next time.

 

Until then…. Happy Writing!

If you’ve missed the previous installment of the series, you can find it Here and the entire series Here

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