It is not enough to have a blog and a website to earn money. It is not enough to have some semblance of social media presence when you are an author. There is a lot more at stake than a few dollars.
I have paid a lot more attention to my website in the last few months than I have in a long time. I might want to say that experience counts for something, but I would be lying. Experience counts for little if you don’t take a moment to learn from it. This is, I believe even more true if you are a self-publisher. There is a need to have a blog, but if you are always using it to promote your book, you won’t get readers who actually want to read more of your writing.
There is a lot that goes into a blog, it is not simply write a blog post and hope for the best. I have found that Google Analytics is one of my better sites of information. That was a learning curve, and that took me away from what I was comfortable with: the unknown.
I could play the blame game as long as I wanted to, and never understand why someone didn’t buy a book, or why people didn’t comment. I didn’t want to face the reality of knowing.
That is where experience counts for something. I decided to dig deeper into what worked and more importantly, what didn’t work with my blog. It was a guest blogger Jill Edmondson, who showed me the way. I think the most important thing she wrote is “being an author means being on duty 24/7.” Says a lot about authors doesn’t it?
The fact is that my experience was mostly that of trying to guess what was working and what might be working on my blog. My duty, as was so wonderfully put wasn’t on my writing, or my blog. It wasn’t even there.
I wasn’t using my experience to build a better website, or to create an environment that encouraged writers to look, read and think. I wasn’t making money and I was lost as to the reason why that was.
I can admit that a part of me wanted to earn some money for all the work I did on my blog or on my next book. Except I wasn’t thinking 24/7.
After a while, I began to dig deeper into Google Analytics, and looked at what it told me about my blog, and by default, about me. I could see that people had a need to be here, but didn’t have a need to read for any length of time. I also could see where and, more importantly, what was missing, and that surprised me.
Looking at the numbers I could see that my older blog posts were always by far the most read, and they were, by far, the least polished. I mentioned this to my editor at large, and thankfully, they agreed with me.
This lead to a discussion and a lot of math work on our part. It was breaking down what you should earn based on a website of this size. The results hurt. It wasn’t Google or my readers or anything like that, it was how the blog, and I presented facts. We have good website, and we have others who write on it, and we have guest bloggers, but none have come back. We have some loyal readers, but we could have more. To fix this it would be a 24/7 effort.
I’ll break it down a bit. Say you want to earn one penny per hour on your website. Seems reasonable doesn’t it? So, that would mean in a 24 hours period you would make 24 cents. Now, do this each day for a month and you will make 7.20 per month (I’m basing this not on what sort of affiliate program you use, but rather what a blog can earn.) Not bad really, but certainly even that will take a lot of effort to do.
How about moving and increasing this, say making ten times more each month- it’s best to ask what sort of effort will I put into this? As a writer we have 24 hours per day, and I do need to sleep and have family and friends to commit to. I have something beyond this blog. In this case, my experience comes from knowing where to help each post. I can re-edit some of my more popular blog posts and make them more current, or even fix up older blog posts and find out where my new found experience will come in handy.
I don’t believe in focusing on money, that will come if people find my website useful, and that is where I need to show my experience. It is one thing to say I am a writer, but it is another to sit back and hope for the best.
My experience has taught me not to put all my “eggs” in one basket. I have a book published and this counts for some experience in terms of writing a blog post, but it doesn’t count in terms of experience when dealing with a website, social media or simply earning money with writing. Websites are meant to help the owner make some money, but if it’s a bad website it won’t matter in the long run.
My experience has also taught me the meaning of 24/7. It’s there it’s time, and if I am sitting in front of the TV for hours on end, it’s not helping me. If there is a need for me to be here or there, I need to have help. This made me learn the art of delegating my work that I don’t do as well, and this allowed my websites to grow. It’s important to build relationships, and then to improve on them. The same hold true with a website, and with earning money.
This means I am working on my experience and looking at what works, and what doesn’t work with a website, and this helps my blog and my eventual earnings.