♦Welcome to another edition of the Open Book Blog Hop!♦
What are the best tools you use on your blog? (widgets, templates, etc.)
Welcome back to another Open Book Blog Hop! The authors included in this ongoing series wish to thank you for your reads. We appreciate, even more so, when you share our writings with your friends. If you’re new to the series, welcome aboard. The authors engage and impress weekly. Prepare to become a regular reader.
It took some time to get used to but the new interface for WordPress is really quite useful, and I like the tools. The only thing missing for me: the ability to add symbols in a paragraph block, unless I am using the old style widget option. Does anyone know how to find symbols to insert? I love using an em dash, and cannot get them on the new style–or, I am missing something…
That aside, most of the tools that I love using are outside of my site. As you probably already know, I am an artist as well as a writer. Thus, I have a few programs I really love, all geared toward images and graphic design. I think graphic design is the single most important thing outside of the words that you write. Our audiences are visually driven. Give them images that they will enjoy looking at. For example, you may have seen some of the banners for the hop floating around. I made quite a few of those for the hop authors to use in an effort to draw in readers. Without good images, you’ll reach fewer readers. It’s just the nature of the beast.
To accomplish this, I use free image websites and my trusty Photoshop. There are other programs out there that I use to spice up the images, too, such as Werbl and Ripl. Unfortunately, I see that trend rising across the board, so it’s no longer unique–much like the book trailers. Absolutely you need book trailers and the catchy images, but when everyone is following suit, you just end up as part of the noise.
You have to be good at what you do. Just obtaining a program to create images and videos isn’t going to carry the day if you don’t understand how to use those tools effectively for your brand. I’m lucky because I have film school under my belt, and I get a lot of it. That doesn’t mean I don’t have a lot to learn. Should you study film to use an app to make a commercial? It wouldn’t hurt. You’ll want to study advertising too. If you can’t create images that are professional looking, I don’t suggest pushing forward, per se. What you might want to do is practice with them for a while. If you run a private group on Facebook, such as a Street Team (these are made up of top readers and friends who are completely honest with you), use this to post your drafts and ask for critiques. You can also join marketing groups and share with them. Yes, they are strangers. You do risk trolls. But, if you’re in a group about developing marketing skills, hopefully they are doing exactly this. Feedback is essential for growth. When you take those steps and hone your game, then you’ll gain the edge for which you’re probably looking.
I’m not quite sure what gives someone an edge right at this moment, because it’s constantly changing. That’s something you’ll need to learn and accept. I just try to be authentic with others. My information is always right there on social media, and people will check it out if they want. Ramming book plugs all day is just spammy, and you’re not connecting with people. Readers, by the way, are real people. And, they can be of great service to you, such as a tool can be, through their feedback on what works for them and what doesn’t. I wouldn’t recommend hitting Twitter and surveying your followers. Look, they can smell a sales call a mile away, even on social media, and it’s exhausting to them. People on social media are there to socialize, relax, and have fun. They’re not there for surveys and commercials. Listen to what they indirectly tell you. That’s right, you’re going to have to listen.
Trial and error will always be your greatest and most used tool. People tell you what they like without asking. How? Because they click on it. Because they talk to you about it. My recommendation: find a topic you’re passionate about and then hit it for all you’re worth. If you’re passionate, you’ll love going all in! I spend a lot of time on politics on Twitter, and I’ve made so many amazing connections because of that. I’ve also run up against very ugly individuals because we don’t agree. I’ve been harassed, threatened, and even kind-of stalked. My posts were reported on occasion and it resulted in my account locked for weeks. But, it was worth it to me, because it’s a passion for me to care about others and doing the right thing. Activism.
What comes with being authentic is that real human connection with peers, and your peers will value your words and your opinions. They will want to read your posts, even if it’s off topic. This is how you grow an audience. If it matters to you, you won’t mind doing that work. That’s why it’s imperative to find something to connect with others on that is important to you (but not your writing).
Being present and genuine is the greatest tool you can leverage if you want to be heard. The point of writing is to be heard. So be genuine. It does truly matter and is effective in reaching readers. Remember, it’s the reader you’re sharing with and, therefore, they matter most. Tell them why they should care about you in return.
Make sure you click on the links below to follow the hop and find out what the other authors’ favorite tools are. Speaking of, this hop is a great tool for writers to share their thoughts and ideas with readers, while gaining some useful feedback from their fellow authors!