Blogs and Social Media. Yes, you really do have to do them!
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"Roundheads and Ramblings"

Blogs and Social Media. Yes, you really do have to do them!

7. How to build your blog audience, part II
Respond as much as possible to comments. Create a real community on your blog.
I have a hard time doing this. Often I tell myself, “I will respond to comments once I finish a new post” and then I spend all day on the post. But when I do respond to comments I get such pleasure out of the community that I can see coming out of it.
Don’t forget that the core of why most people do this is because they want to have fun, they want to enjoy the interactions, they want to love and be loved.

8. How to build your blog audience, part III
Polarize.
Don’t have an opinion for the sake of having an opinion, but if you feel strongly about something and want to express that opinion because you think it will help people and you have the facts, and the story, to back it up, then do it.
My most popular post ever is “Why I am never going to own a home again.”
I’ve bought and lost two houses. So finally, I went through all the math and posted about it. The home ownership math never adds up. I wasn’t trying to get people angry or be polarizing. I was just stating facts. But I got my first (of many) death threats from that one post.
My second most popular post? Google the phrase  ”I Want to Die” and you will get there pretty fast.

9. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest — SHEBANG!
Interact on all of the other major social networks.
I often post my blog posts on Facebook first. This helps me see which ones will get the most engagement (if my friends don’t engage on them then probably other people won’t). But my blog also has a fan page with 268,000 fans. I also have other fan pages that are not directly related to me but altogether have another 200,000 fans. Those pages I use for distribution.
How do you get a lot of fans?
Organically is the best way. But I also advertise some of my best posts. If people like them and that draws them to one of my fan pages, then all the better.
Never buy Likes. But when you can get Likes organically by using your content, then that is value you grow forever.
With Twitter, it’s hard to non-stop engage in conversations. You would never have time for writing. What I do is what I call “appointment tweeting.” (Give!) I set aside an hour or two a week, usually Thursday from 3:30 – 4:30 PM EST to do a Q&A.
People can ask me questions about anything. From dating to finance to kids to startups to death to whatever. I usually answer questions non-stop for an hour or two. Then I might expand the answers into a later blog post. And I might expand further into a book. The first book I did on this (self-published), was called “FAQ ME.”  This strategy of one hour a week has helped me build my Twitter audience from 2,000 followers to 83,000 followers since I started doing the Q&As. In many of my blog posts I also ask people to follow me on Twitter.
I don’t use Pinterest much. But here’s what Gary Vaynerchuk, author of “The Thank You Economy” suggested to me about Pinterest. Take quotes from your best posts and make images out of them and pin them. Then start commenting on other boards and pins that you like. Build community. Eventually people will link back to your pins, which will ultimately link to the blog posts where the quotes come from.
This entire strategy: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, guest blogging, is about building your name to an audience that might be unfamiliar to you, as well as driving distribution to your posts while at the same time delivering real value to your readers. You have to do all of that: distribution, name-building, value, at the same time, to make these platforms work for you.

10. Marketing 101
I call this “101″ because I will get into a “201″ later.
Note: publishers do zero marketing for you. This is not a knock on publishers. The great thing about publishers: they will write you a check and get you into bookstores. These are two really good things. But they will not do marketing.
If you don’t do your own marketing and promote yourself, then nobody else will. This should be your mantra. The one area where I will fault publishers is that they will claim to do marketing for you.
They won’t, but I give them credit for trying.
One time one of my publishers described to a friend of mine the marketing they did for me. The head of marketing told my friend, “We got him a review in the Financial Times, we got him a segment on CNBC, and we got an excerpt published in thestreet.com”.
He forgot to mention I reviewed my own book in my column on The Financial Times. I had my own weekly segment on CNBC so I covered my book. And I had sold a company to thestreet.com, so I put my excerpt on their site. That was “the publisher’s” marketing.

11. Reality check on publishing
A lot of people now (including me) tend to knock traditional publishing. This is understandable because publishers are a bit behind the times.
But let’s again give them credit for two things:
  1. They give you an advance. Average advances are going down, but it’s still real money. Advances have been going down since 2008, probably for the reasons described in point #1 above. But who knows if  this remains a permanent situation. Maybe so many people will self-publish that traditional publishers will try to win back the authors by giving higher advances. Who knows? I’m totally BS-ing here. Other than the fact that average advances are going down.
  2. They get you in bookstores. But I’m not sure how important this is anymore. More books are now sold online (when you combine ebooks with printed books that are sold online) than are sold in brick-and-mortar bookstores. Take from this what you will.
The other good thing about traditional publishing is it removes the stigma of “Oh, you were self published?” But that stigma is going away. Nobody has ever asked me who my publisher was. Nobody cares anymore.
Oh, one more thing: if you are not in bookstores (if you self-publish, for instance), then you won’t get on the New York Times Bestseller list.
If this is important to you, you can still self-publish, but as Tucker Max describes in his post on how he published Hilarity Ensues, he basically just did a deal with the distribution arm of a major publisher. However, if you are not a brand-name author this might be difficult for you to do.