[AoB] 15 Outside-the-Box Ways to Grow Your Audience

The most common question we get asked by fellow bloggers is, “How do I get more readers?”

Honestly, we’d like to tell you that building a community around your blog is as simple as writing great content, but the bitter truth is that growing a blog, especially in the years to come, will be a bit more nuanced than that.

As more and more people become creative entrepreneurs, bloggers, and content creators, the usual avenues and tools will slowly become less and less effective.

Now is the time to develop new strategies.

Now is the time to think outside the box.

Without further ado, let’s dive into the best strategies on how to grow an audience for your blog.

Read or Write

I love books but I’ve read very little of late. You may be asking, “If you love books, why aren’t you reading them?” A fair question. I will address it in a roundabout manner.

There must be at least a hundred unread ones on my shelves and in various piles about my home. Both my parents loved to read so I have them to thank my deep affection for the written word. Books are, in my opinion, the perfect gift, both to give and receive. The heft, feel and smell of books are intoxicating. Especially, old books.

Used bookstores are rarer and rarer these days. I’m sure it’s due to the rising rents, and the advent of selling books online. In the interest of honesty, I buy books online. Though I miss the thrill of going into a used bookstore, inspecting the shelves, and finding a gem. On the other hand, it’s comforting to be able to find that one volume you were looking for with a bit of typing and clicking search.

Back when the world was… I was about to say normal but what the hell does that even mean? So let’s just say when we could venture outside unmasked and could sit close to each other. In those halcyon days when I went back and forth to my job, I would read on the subway. If I was going to travel anywhere, a book was the first thing I would pack. There was always a book or two in my bag. After all, what if you finished a book and had no other book to read? Unthinkable!

Nowadays I am in between jigs and am unlikely to take any long-distance voyages. With all this copious free time I must be reading nonstop. It is with chagrin I must tell you that I have not. There are two reasons why. Here’s the first.

Media. By which I mean TV and the internet. When you are told not to do something, you instantly want to do it. Such as going out and seeing people. If you’re sensible, you will listen to Doctor Anthony Fauci and mask up, and take all necessary precautions. That still leaves a missing element in your life.

So you watch the news and then when you can’t stand that anymore, you watch everything else. Maybe it’s the hot new show that just started streaming, so when you chat with your friend over Zoom or Discord, you don’t want to be behind the curve. Or maybe you go back to a show that gives you comfort. Consuming episode after episode like a bowl of salty deep-fried treats. BTW, all pre-pandemic shows are now science fiction/fantasy because the characters do fantastical things like go out to eat and hug. Crazy!

The other reason is I was writing. I recently finished a novel called the Arrondissement, you can read it on this site.

https://jenicek.wordpress.com/category/arrondissement/

Am I a shameless self-promoter? Hell yes. If I’m not for me, who will be?

Back to the writing. I started it before the beginning of the pandemic and finished it before it ended. That might say more about the state of the world than my productivity. Nonetheless, I managed to complete a full-length novel, so that’s something.

I began this blog because I had written another novel, Chosen, which you also read on this blog.

https://jenicek.wordpress.com/category/chosen-novel/

See, I told you I’m shameless! Once I put up the last chapter I continued to post every Monday. It is a self-imposed deadline that I have met for the last seven and half years. Sometimes it’s my thoughts on random topics, like why isn’t “Happy as a dog.” an expression? If you’ve owned a dog and come home you know what I mean.

In my past, I’ve spent long stretches without writing, all the while calling myself a writer. I had written so I think I’m in the clear. However, having to post something new every week has made me a better writer. Well, I certainly hope so.

Once, I friend of mine asked me and another writer friend, “How often do we think about what we’re writing?” The answer is “All the time.” I find that before I set pen to paper, or more accurately fingertips to keyboard, there is a lot of musing going on. Or wrestling with demons, depending on the day. Outwardly it looks like I’m just going to the store to get some supplies but inwardly, there’s a lot of stuff going on.

I believe that you cannot write if you do not love to read. Technically you can. I’m not sure it’ll be worth reading. All writers must, in my opinion, have a love of language. Talented writers can paint a picture and invoke deep emotional reactions with an expert application of their vocabulary. Every wordsmith has a voice, some are more pleasant to hear than others. Milage may vary of course.

You might be asking yourself, “Where the hell is he going with all this?” I remind you that I said this would be roundabout. While I used to read on average, a book a week, #humblebrag, my stats have dropped severely. This is not to say I’ve read nothing, just not nearly as much as I used to.

At the end of the day, part of my lack of reading is pure laziness on my part. Damn you golden age of streaming content! But I’ve found myself being more focused on my own writing than others. Which is not terrible for me, but it needs to be addressed by me.

For my birthday, it’s in December in case you missed it, I received a much-anticipated book. Ballistic Kiss by Richard Kadrey, the latest installment in the Sandman Slim series. I’m a big fan of his work and this setting in particular. Did I read it the day I was gifted it? No. I’ve been holding on to it, saving it like an expensive bottle of single malt scotch. Partially because don’t want to inhale it like a bottom shelf whisky while on a bender. I want to savor it like the aforementioned single malt.

However, that is a bit of a lie. I’ve just not been reading as much and I’m the only one who can change that. I started it last night, as of writing this, and I’m enjoying it immensely. If you like hard-driving, rock and roll urban fantasy, check his stuff out. See, I can promote someone else’s work too.

I think if I want to be the best writer I can, I need to read more. Make time for it. I’m never disappointed and if I am, I’ve got plenty more read. Remember, hundreds of unread treasures to open up.

Thank you for reading this. I hope it inspires you to read more if your book count is low. Or maybe to write more. Both are excellent choices. Now back to Ballistic Kiss.

Solitude and Creative Expression

“Solitude or working alone can help a creative person develop and refine their work, but it is certainly not the only way to nourish creative projects,” so states Douglas Eby in his new book. Well, to each his own. Some creatives prefer isolation while others seem to strive amidst a collective. Both environs serve a purpose. It depends, I think, on how you’re wired.

Many artists acknowledge the value of academies such as Juilliard, and less formal artist retreats and workshops, like Idyllwild. Others give credit to formal education at a university’s marketing and communications school or a structured curriculum at, say, the International Center for Studies in Creativity.

Eby points out that much of the writing and advice on creative expression and enhancing creativity focuses on the inner journey of the individual. Furthermore, creating happens in a social context, and often depends on inspiration and support from others, on finding an audience, and getting financing from publishers and producers.

Perhaps, I say, but not always…

[AoB] 90 Super Easy Tips That Will Turn Even a Novice Blogger into an Expert

It’s not pleasant being the new guy. There’s always a bit of discomfort, a bit of friction when starting something new.

And the truth is that, most times, the advice that is out there on the web is kind of confusing.

Which advice do you follow?

That’s why I am going to offer you some real simple tips. Ninety of them.

Super easy. Super cool. Super useful. Especially if you’re a novice, struggling with readers, with staying consistent, with everything.

[AoB] 99 Percent of Bloggers Aren’t Aware of This Simple Rule

There’s this fascinating story about Pablo Picasso being able to produce a work of art in a few minutes.

Apparently, a woman once asked Picasso (who was either at a café or in a market) to do a drawing for her.

Picasso did what she asked, and then demanded some ridiculously high amount of money. Let’s say ten thousand dollars.

Of course, the woman protested, “But it only took you a couple of minutes to draw this.”

The old master corrected her, “It took me thirty years to learn how to draw this in a couple of minutes.”

Or so the story goes.

I’d like to use this story as a framework to discuss an often overlooked aspect of content creation.

It’s not just the skill, but also how that skill is perceived by others.

Blogging success is not just about years and years of practice, but about having an audience that’s aware of all those years of practice.

Let’s talk about the concept of social proof and how you can best use it to your advantage.

[AoB] Can You Still Make It as a Blogger in 2021?

On the 22th of April, 2012, I signed up for a WordPress.com account. The same day I wrote and published my first blog post.

I didn’t know how to write an article, what a headline was, or how to properly format a blog post. I didn’t know who my ideal reader was, I wasn’t sure of my niche or main topic, I didn’t have any social media accounts, and I didn’t have any money.

It took me a month to purchase my first domain name, and for a long time that was the only money I invested in my blog.

I didn’t know how to write an introduction, how to make my content engaging, or how to add value to my readers. In fact, I didn’t even know about many of the principles of blogging I learned along the way.

All I knew was that I needed an audience. And I just wanted to blog. And I knew that I wouldn’t give up, no matter what.