Many of us blog for different reasons. For some, it is a convenient platform to share our daily lives (especially when travelling) with both existing and new friends. For others, blogging occurs because all the books on becoming an author dictate that you must build an author platform and use social media (including blogs) to help build that platform and to build a fan base on-line.
My own motivation for blogging falls somewhere in-between. I love travel, and I love sharing my travel experience. However, I also write, and I have read my fair share of books on writing and becoming an author. The decision to set-up a blog that primarily focuses on travel therefore seemed like a natural choice. In addition, I decided that wordpress.com would be a useful platform because it provides its own large internal community of wordpress.com bloggers and readers who you can very quickly attract as subscribers to your blog (in other words, if your platform seems interesting enough, the fan-base is right there, getting exposed to your posts).
However, my experiences from the last five months highlight that building a subscriber base is a lot more work than I initially thought. First off, concentrating on building a fan base in a social network that has a high number of aspiring authors (all trying to achieve the same thing) is probably not the best use of my marketing time. Yes, my dear friends, many (but not all) of you are on here for the same reason as me… to build your own subscriber base and ultimately to build brand loyalty to help sell your own books.
Secondly, posting once a week is not enough. I normally post a new article each week. However, during the Christmas holidays, I had some spare time and as a result, I posted a few times per week for awhile. I noticed that the number of visitors when this happened actually increased dramatically (almost exponentially) compared to when I post once per week. Posting several times per week evidently makes me a lot more visible and also seems to give a reason for people to check back more regularly.
I also set up a separate hosted site for my publishing company, and on that I installed the wordpress.org interface. For those that don’t know the difference, wordpress.com (where this blog sits) is more a social non-commercial network of bloggers; while wordpress.org provides the actual wordpress software that you can install on your own server and use to create your own website (including blog(s)) but you are not linked to the wordpress.com blog network, so functions such as reblogging do not work. For all my Thailand travel related blogs, I copied and reposted them on the publishing site and noticed a very different traffic pattern. The publishing site seems to get more visitors who are simply looking for travel information, rather than being fellow bloggers. Even though its newer, it also seems to pull in a lot more traffic per day than my wordpress.com site. I am not really sure why that is… but the statistics clearly paint the picture… I normally get about 5 to 10 visitors per day to my wordpress.com site (when I post only 1 blog per week). The blog on the publishing website gets between 20 and 200 different visitors per day (Fridays and Mondays seem to draw the most traffic, and other weekdays usually average around 60-70 whilst weekends vary wildly).
Obviously, traffic to the publishing site relies almost entirely on being picked up via search engines. However, as the quantity of blogs (and keywords tied to my target audience) increases, and cross-linking increases, the exposure via search engines increases as well. Of course, search engines can bring in people onto my wordpress.com blog as well (and in fact, at the moment, most visits seem to be courtesy of google).
Anyway, these were some of my experiences. I thought I’d share, just in case there is anyone else scratching their head, trying to work out this strange world of social networking. For anyone that has any other tips (and also any experiences that differ from mine), please share 🙂