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Monday, March 30, 2015

Make Your Mark

I had a birthday over the weekend. Nothing milestone, just another notch on the yardstick of life. Other than Greg spending way too much for dinner, it was a really nice birthday. 

Birthdays always make me look back on my life. What have I accomplished? What more do I want to try? 

At this stage of my life I'm more interested in experiences than amassing 5,000 friends on Facebook. 

My blogging (and blog reading) is reflecting that too. I've been more interested in reading about people's experiences than blow by blows of a novel's word count, or the author's editing frenzy. 

Nonetheless, I still have a weakness for learning the best way to stay on people's radar. That led me to this article. "Why you shouldn't create a newsletter." It's an old article, but useful.

Basically, it states that you're better off writing good blog content and signing up people to read your blog through email, rather than have them subscribe to a newsletter.

It made sense because the reason I don't subscribe to many newsletters is due to time constraints. I barely keep up with blogs.

That said, the author's reasoning isn't foolproof. I get tons of mail. Too much mail, even after I deleted many newsletters, forum notifications, and even blog posts, so putting your blog on a subscriber list can backfire.

But...and this is important...when it is a good blog post, I LIKE having it in my in box for easy access. If said blogger says equally brilliant things regularly, I'm likely to even create a subfolder for him/her so I can reference their posts more easily.

Emailing a blog post has a dual purpose in that not only do you increase your mail list, which is the whole point of newsletters, but you also make sure that people see your post. Will they read it? The only way to know for sure is if they comment.

The subject of comments merit a whole blog post in itself. I generally leave thoughtful comments, and love people who do the same for me. It makes me feel we made a connection, at least on one topic.

You don't get that benefit from a newsletter, unless the reader writes to tell you so.

I don't think there's one right way to gain visibility. Some people are brilliant at Twitter. I suck at it. Unlike my friend, Jenny Schwartz who rocks Twitter. (And by the way, she's signing up subscribers to her newsletter right this minute.) She's got a great giveaway.

Other people reach a lot of followers/fans through Facebook. Since I use FB strictly to be social, I'm fairly likeable there. But blogging is my zone. It's where I feel I reach the most people regularly. 

Some of my readers never leave comments, but they do send me lovely emails, or hire me for design work, which is its own compliment. Some of them mention me on their blogs. And some Like my post on the Facebook feed to show me they read my post. It's all good. 

The important thing is to be visible where you feel you make the most impact. Whether you're an author, a book blogger, an artist, or a homesteader like me, make your mark so it can be seen, not just for today, but in the future.

How do you feel about newsletters? How about emailed blog posts? Where do you think you're most in the zone?


Author R. Mac Wheeler said...

Happy late birthday wishes to you :O)

Maria Zannini said...

Thanks, Mac!

B.E. Sanderson said...

Happy Birthday! I'm glad it was a nice one for you. =o)

Ah, newsletters. I tried one service and tore my hair out, so I gave up. Then over the weekend, I did some more research and I'm trying again with a different, more-intuitive service. But, yeah, I'm only doing it because all the marketing stuff I've read says I need one. :shrug: It'll be a nice way to alert people of publishing dates and stuff when they don't feel like visiting the blog. The newsletters I subscribe to as a reader, I only scan through looking for pub dates and news anyway. So my own newsletters will be very basic, I think. We'll see.

Maria Zannini said...

BE: It's tough. The "experts" say this or that, and we jump.

For example, they say Twitter is essential for visibility, but I truly do suck at it. I finally stopped beating myself up on it and focused on what I can do well.

Mason Canyon said...

Happy belated birthday, Maria. I like getting blogs in my email. It makes it handy for me.

Stacy McKitrick said...

Glad you had a nice birthday, and that you got to spend it with your sweetie!

I don't know how I feel about newsletters. I get one newsletter from an author friend I LOVE because she puts in content from previous books in a different characters' head (so, basically new stuff, but not new stuff, you know?). I love it!! As for my own newsletter, right now I just stick to informing everyone they can now purchase my books. Once I get more familiar with the stupid thing, I may branch out with more, but I figure that's what I have my blog for. Still, I think I have different audiences for each, so that's a plus.

Angela Brown said...

Happy Belated Birthday and Big Hugs!!!

I have a newsletter but I haven't had a chance to actively send it out during the last couple of months. Actually, I try to not send it out too often because I don't want to come across as a spammer. I also try to make content for the newsletter a little different from my blog content, including doing newsletter subscriber only special things.

As for where I feel most in the zone, I don't know. I'm comfortabel with blogging so I guess that would be the sweet spot for me. Not sure how it's working creating visibility as I also like to have my blog as a showcase to share with other authors, not just me. lol!

Misha Gericke said...

I don't read the newsletters I've signed up for, so I don't sign up for more. And so, I don't think I'll be creating a newsletter anytime soon.

A belated happy birthday to you!

Maria Zannini said...

Mason: Thank you!

Re: emailed posts
It definitely has some appeal, and I can see using it as a way to offer goodies to loyal subscribers.

Something to think about.

Maria Zannini said...

Stacy: Thanks!

That's an important detail you mentioned about having different audiences. It's win-win if you happen upon a different audience for various outlets, and more ways to spread the news.

Maria Zannini said...

Angela: Thanks for the birthday wish and hugs!

Re: the sweet spot
I remember years ago when you asked me whether you should blog or not. I KNEW you would be a natural. People are just drawn to you. I think it's because they feel your empathy.

Maria Zannini said...

Misha: I quit all but one newsletter which is strictly on homesteading. It's more of a DIY kind of newsletter for people who live in the country.

Even though I love the articles, there are so many in each newsletter, (every week) that I don't often have time to read them all.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Happy Birthday. I try to leave thoughtful comments too. I've heard so many times that newsletters and email lists are so important for authors but I keep putting it off. Like you, the blog is my go to spot. Do some twitter but I'm not consistent with it.

Rebekah Loper said...

Happy Birthday!

I went ahead and did a newsletter a while back, but I made it clear upfront that it was not going to be a regularly mailed newsletter. It's more of an 'insider' thing, when there's something specific I want to pick my reader's brains about, or something coming up that I want them to know about first.

I barely keep my blog afloat at times, lol. I don't need a regular newsletter on top of that, too.

betty said...

Happy belated birthday! Sounds nice with the time spent with your husband! Personally, don't care for newsletters or emailed blog posts. I like to keep my mailbox empty, so prefer to get notice of blog posts through Blogger Dashboard.


Barbara Ann Wright said...

I like visiting blogs rather than signing up for emailed posts or newsletters. It gives me the illusion of travel, like I'm really stopping by their place to say hi.

Happy birthday!

Jenny Schwartz said...

Happy birthday, Maria :)

And thank you for the kind words. So much nicer than saying I'm addicted to Twitter :) I think you're spot on re finding what works for you. That authenticity (jargon, sorry!), your real enthusiasm, adds energy to the communication.

Your blogging is a master class in being interesting and real.

Maria Zannini said...

Susan: I had the first issue of my newsletter already laid out and finished when I read this article a few weeks ago. It really forced me to reassess my priorities.

I like writing articles and posts, but I'd like them to do double duty if possible. Splitting my time between blogging and newsletters might be asking for more commitment than I'm willing to donate.

Maria Zannini said...

Rebekah: I think this is where people make a mistake with newsletters.

One of the reasons I unsubscribed from so many was because they were so clingy and persistent--especially the newsletters from so-called writing/marketing experts.

It really made me doubt their abilities if they made me so eager to delete them.

Lynn Viehl said...

Happy birthday, Maria. :)

I tried to do a newsletter with my last series but I ran out of interesting news to share and no one seemed to want to join in the obligatory included contests, and I couldn't see cluttering up reader mailboxes with a lot of filler. So I let that go. The stress relief was incredible. :)

Blogging is best for me. I've been doing it almost daily for 14 years and I'm still not tired of it. I'm also still interested in the blog now that I've gone off the grid with my work, too, which is probably the ultimate litmus test.

Maria Zannini said...

Betty: My email box is always full, so I do prefer less mail than more. Still, I do subscribe to a couple of blogs that Feedly for whatever reason cannot show.

I've even written them but they kind of blew me off with a 'well, it happens' mentality.

Maria Zannini said...

Barbara: Travel? LOL. You travel cheap! Me, I prefer something with free breakfast and a chocolate mint on my pillow. :)

Maria Zannini said...

Jenny: Thank you! Could you possibly tell my husband that I'm interesting? LOL! Sometimes his eyes glaze over and I'm pretty sure he's thinking of playing computer games or what's for dinner.

Re: Twitter
I've tried so many times and I feel I'm always late to the party. You do it so effortlessly. It's definitely your zone.

Maria Zannini said...

Lynn: Thanks!

Re: blogging
Talk about a master class in blogging. I've been reading your blog ever since I heard about you. I love how you mix things up. It keeps the blog eclectic and fresh.

I'm especially intrigued with your latest career path.

Diane Carlisle said...

Happy birthdday, Maria! I use Mailchimp for readers to signup to get my blog posts in their inbox. It's a great way to see how many subscribers actually read your content and click on your topics and visit your site. If the list grows, great. If they start to unsubscribe, there's a problem.

It's a tool I use to understand my readers and adjust how I provide content in the future.

Awesome post, and something for all of us content providers to think about always, because the digital media is changing all the time and people have different demands.

Maria Zannini said...

Diane: Ah, Mailchimp. It never occurred to me to use them for blogs, but why not?

My problem is not reading your blog (it's on Feedly)--it's commenting.

Do you still use Google+? I guess I'll find out when I pop in.

It annoys me to no end that it won't let 'nonmembers' comment. I love all things Google, but they screwed up with Google+.

Sandra Almazan said...

I prefer blogging over Twitter or newsletters. However, I had some login issues with Feedly, so I haven't been able to keep up with the blogs I used to follow.

Mike Keyton said...

Hi Maria, Like you, I can't tweet, boring as a pigeon. The blog I can manage once a week - by Wednesday I'm panicking what to write about. Facebook I enjoy. I see it as 'cross fertilisation' between friends ref 'sharing' and it demands little mental energy when it comes to making comments - usually the first thing that comes into the head - which can be sometimes disastrous :) But, in terms of marketing I'm always worried about boring people or abusing their on going situation that needs sorting out methinks :)

Maria Zannini said...

Sandra: The only way I can log into Feedly is through Google. Weird.

Still I do have problems with Feedly. A few blogs simply will not load. Those are the ones I've had to have emailed to me.

Maria Zannini said...

re: the fear of boring people

Oh, that's me exactly. I try to steer my blog to experiences that happen to all (or most) of us. My goal is to create a bridge...hopefully one that's not on fire.

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

Glad you enjoyed your birthday!

I'm not on FB or Twitter so blogging is my zone. It's not only where I feel most comfortable but it's also where I can exercise my nonfiction writing muscle, showcase my fiction work, and have virtual conversations with people around the world - all ages, all walks of life, etc. :)

Maria Zannini said...

Madeline: I'm in it for the conversations too. I've learned more from people who blog than anywhere else.

Sarah Ahiers said...

Happy Birthday!

I rarely read the newsletters I'm even subscribed to. I usually just delete them due to lack of time

Suzanne Brandyn said...

Happy Birthday Maria. I hope your day was special, and by the sounds of things dinner superb.

As for Newsletters, I'm in two minds now whether to create one or not.

Maria Zannini said...

Sarah: Thank you!

That's my predicament too. The best way for a fiction writer to reach me is to lure me with free short stories or at the very least, tantalizing blurbs.

Maria Zannini said...

Suzanne: Thanks! Dinner was excellent, but I'm sorry I saw the ticket.

Re: newsletters
My thinking is when we all jump on the bandwagon (regardless what that marketing tool is) it ceases to be unique because the reader is inundated with the same sort of stuff.

That's why I think we need to stick to what we do best.

LD Masterson said...

Having newsletters or blog posts coming to my inbox seems like a good idea but they always seem to arrive when I'm getting swamped with mail and I either delete or shove them into a folder where I forget to get back to them. I do better as a blog reader/commenter when I'm in blog reading mode and I go to them.

Where am I most in the zone? I'm still trying to figure that out.

Raelyn Barclay said...

Happy belated birthday Maria!

I love getting blog posts in my email because then I can read them wherever I am. (Though folks who cut their posts off and force me to link through to read are a problem.) I star the emails I want to comment on. Of course, that's where it falls apart as I rarely seem to have computer time to follow up on those stared emails. Sigh.

Newsletters are usually to long or not formatted for me to read on my phone. Like you, I prefer the blog posts to the newsletters because the posts seem more personal.

Maria Zannini said...

Linda: I think the zone is where you feel most comfortable.

Much like the advice to write to your passions, the same applies to how we should best interact.

Maria Zannini said...

Raelyn: Ah, you've touched on my biggest pet peeve when it comes to blogs.

I've deleted many a blog feed if they truncate their posts.

It's not personal, just too many extra steps for someone who reads a lot of blogs.