Tuesday, April 8, 2014

LinkedIn for Writers: Tips, Recent Changes

LinkedIn can help you promote your writing two ways: By letting you connect with potential readers in Groups and allowing you to email all or some of your Connections. This post will discuss using Groups for promotion and recent changes that can render them useless.

What's New on LinkedIn

- When you post an Update, only a fraction of your Connections will see it.
- LinkedIn is releasing a blog-like feature that lets some users post updates that reach a much broader audience on the site. At present, this is a very exclusive club.
- Piss off the moderator of one Group and he can ban you from posting in his Group -- and any other group you belong to. (Yes, you read that correctly. More on this below.)

Though I have about 2,000 Connections, only about 50 see my Updatess.

Posting in Groups

Posting links to articles you've written in appropriate Groups can entice readers to your blog or Web site. Here's how to do it without pissing off Group moderators.

1) Find Appropriate Groups
If you're writing non-fiction, search LinkedIn for Groups interested in your topic. I write about marketing for writers, so I've found Groups created for writers looking for tips on how to promote their work.

For fiction writers, the process is trickier. LinkedIn is a business-to-business site. In writing your novel, did you learn anything that may be of interest to business or non-fiction types? If you wrote an historical novel, maybe you learned about a particular historical period. If you write about science fiction, maybe you learned about about astronomy or physics or technology. Search LinkedIn for groups on these topics.

My novel involves travel. I found some travel groups, but they were mainly travel agents and knew more than I did, so this didn't work for me. Hence, I do not use LinkedIn to promote my fiction.

2) Evaluate the Groups
- Is the Group active with different people posting and commenting? (If a group has only posts from one person, say, the Group moderator, skip it.
- What are the rules? Does the Group allow people to post links to their blogs?
- What are other members posting? If they're posting just a headline and an article link, then you can, too. If others post a description of the article -- or even most of the article -- in the "Add more details" box then should do as they do. Often, a Group's rules will specify what you can post and whether it can go in the Discussion section. If blog posts must go in the Promotion section, the Group may not be useful.
- If you post a link to your blog, check back the following week to see if it went live. In the Group, click on your picture or the "Your Activity" link. Then look under "Discussions You've Started." Nothing there? Look in "Pending Submissions."

Note: Posting to writing groups and asking people to buy your book is not a good way to sell books! But it is a good way to be labeled a spammer.

3) Pending Submissions: When You've Pissed Off Someone
If week after week your posts are sitting in "Pending Submissions," you may have been black-balled by a moderator who didn't like your post or considers you a spammer. If people are "Liking" your posts and commenting, you're in the right place.

Unfortunately,  if a moderator doesn't like your posts and black-balls you, any posts to her Group -- or any other Group -- will sit in "Pending." The moderator of each Group will have approve your post for it to go live in their Group. In some Groups, however, moderators never check "Pending Submissions" and you're screwed. 

What can you do?
- E-mail each moderator, mention that your posts are "Pending" in their Group, and ask if you've you done anything wrong. In my experience, you will never hear either way.
- You will likely Not be subjected to Pending in all Groups. If you're stuff isn't posting in one Group, you may want to leave that Group.

More than you want to know on this topic. 
The technical term for being black-balled is that you're a victim of Site-Wide Moderation or SWAM.

- Another expert weighs in (LinkedIn Insights article)

- A LinkedIn Group devoted to this topic (note the Moderators warning about posting blog links in his Group!)

Are LinkedIn Groups Working for You?

As with any promotion tactic, the proof is in the Web traffic.

LinkedIn is working for me -- for now.


Art attribution: Top image by Koreshky at en.wikibooks [Public domain]

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Thursday, April 3, 2014

6 Tips to Boost Blog Traffic

These six tips will help improve traffic to and within your blog. The tips include suggestions for enhancing navigation around your site, finding and choosing images, and a great suggestion for adding more e-mail subscribers.

Improve Navigation Around Your Blog

Most people who read one of your blog posts, never see the home page. Typically, they'll come to read an article they found in a Google search, saw on a social media post, or clicked in an e-mail forwarded by a friend.

Navigation refers to how visitors find articles on your blog. If you've written a lot of blog posts, most visitors will never see them.

Here are two ways to promote articles once people visit your blog:

1) Index or Category pages

These are pages you add to your blog that include lists of related articles. You should be able to group most of your posts into five or so major categories. These categories can be listed along the top of your blog as tabs. Tabs labeled as "About" and "More Articles" are not very enticing to most readers. Be more specific. On the top of this blog, my tabs include: Self Promotion for Writers, For Bitter Singles, Erotic Humor, Travel Humor, Trip Around the World.

When you click on, say, the Trip Around the World tab, you arrive at an Index or Category page that lists articles about my trip around the world.

Note: This Index page is not particularly pretty, but it lets readers know what kinds of other content I have. (click on the image below to enlarge it)

Clicking the Trip Around the World tab brings visitors to an Index page 
listing articles on travel articles.

You can also create Index pages that are not linked to a tab -- just create these pages as regular blog posts and include links to related articles. In the example below, if you click on the Travel Humor tab, you come to a list of funny travel articles. Within that list, you can click on "Revelstoke" and see a list of stories about my trip to Revelstoke, Canada.

2) Include listings of related articles at the end of every blog post. 

This is the writer's version of "if you liked this article, you may like these other articles." Go to the end of this blog post for an example.


Pick Good Art

You need a nice image, photo, or graphic at the top of every blog post! Why?
- Blog articles will look more professional
- When you post a link to your blog on social media, it will look more appealing. (There's research claiming readers are more likely to click on links accompanied by a photo.)
- Images are available for free.


3) Find free, legal images on Creative Commons

4) Crop and edit those images using a free, easy-to-use tool like Irfanview

5) Chose rectangular images -- they will look better when you post to Facebook or Twitter. More than you want to know about social media and rectangular images.

If the top art in your blog is a square, linking to it in Facebook will produce a small image (top example of microphones) Using a rectangular image will often produce a Facebook post with a larger image. (bottom example with Facebook image)

Note: if you're blog post consists of a video or audio clip, be sure to add a piece of art to the top of the post -- youtube thumbnails don't always appear when you post blog links on social media sites.

Add More Subscribers

6) Embed e-mail sign up/subscribe boxes in every post

I used to get two to three people signing up for my blog when I had the subscribe box in the upper right hand corner of my blog page.

Most visitors ignore information, such as the subscribe box (red arrow), in the outer columns of the page.

When I started inserting the sign-up box directly into each blog post, my sign-ups jumped to 20 per month. (For an example, see the sign up box at the end of this post. If you haven't already signed up, please do!)

  More Articles on Blogging

- 18 Months of Social Media: One Writer's Progress Report

- Building your blog: My recent presentation on blogging and a list of resources

- Blogging for Writers: Tips, Tools, and Tricks (old but still relevant)

Art Atribution: Street lights image by Indolences (Indolences) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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