When I was planning the talk, I contacted several bloggers and Facebookers that I know amongst authors and asked for their experiences. When I asked Marsha Moore / Talli Roland some questions, her answers seemed so interesting and spot-on, that I decided to put them up here for you, with Marsha's permission.
Marsha blogs as Marsha Moore at http://marshawrites.blogspot.com and as Talli Roland at http://talliroland.blogspot.com
I told Marsha that the reason I had picked her as an interesting case was because of the difference between her two blogs. Her answer goes to the heart of "successful" blogging:
"Actually, the difference in my two blogs shows that if you invest time and energy you can get a lot more results. My Marsha blog has been around for about a year and a half. I don’t really have a ‘theme’ for it, I don’t return comments and I’m not proactive with it. I have 110 followers. My Talli Roland blog has been around since March. I have over 360 followers because I proactively follow people and I return comments! Big difference!"It's the Talli blog I'm more interested in here, because of the phenomenal number of comments you get. Can you start with some facts about your Talli blog?
"I started my Talli Roland blog the first week of March 2010, mainly to build a platform as a writer and to network with other writers. My posts are focused on writing-related subjects. Since I write rom-coms, I try to make the posts reflect the tone and voice of my writing: upbeat, a bit quirky and fun. Right now I have over 360 followers. I post five times a week at a minimum – and sometimes on weekends too."What made you decide to start the Talli blog when you already had your Marsha one?
"I’ve blogged for a year and a half under my real name, Marsha Moore, but when my publisher suggested I use a pen name for my fiction writing I realized I’d have to begin building a platform for Talli Roland, too. I find blogging a great way to connect with people from around the world in a more in-depth way than on Twitter, for example, and I think it’s an important way to establish a presence on the web. It’s a good tool to let people know about your book (although if that’s all you do, you probably won’t have any followers) and help them feel like they’ve invested in your journey as an author. Not only that – it’s fun!"What did you think about / plan in advance?
"I don’t plan much in advance. I do think about the posts I write, though: I try not to be negative, I definitely don’t criticize other authors, agents or publishers, and I always try to make my posts relevant to the audience reading my blog. I also try to make the posts personal – people want to see a bit of ‘you’ in the blog." [Really important points. Some bloggers become well known for being nasty or vengeful - despite my pathetic attempt to be crabbit, being nasty doesn't work for an author. Readers won't buy your books if they don't like you. Silly, but true.]Why do you think you generate so many comments - do you have any tricks or tips?
"Quite simply, I generate so many comments because I take the time to comment on my followers’ blogs. If someone comments on my blog, I always return the comment on their blog. It does take a lot of time in the beginning, but once you’ve established the comment ‘cycle’ you’ll see people coming to your blog straight away to comment as soon as you post something. I also keep my posts quite short and easy to read, and I try to pose a question at the end of the post so people have something specific to respond to. Funnily enough, I have found that the more entertaining and less serious my posts are, the more comments they get." [Again, replying to comments is really important - people need to feel it's a conversation. You don't have to reply to everything though, and silly things are best ignored, rather than answered.]What do you like about blogging?
"Writing’s quite solitary so I love that you can connect with writers from everywhere. Bloggers are also very supportive and willing to help. It’s a very interactive community and full of great information and resources! I also like that you can write without being too structured or having to worry about plots!" [And the feedback is instant, unlike with the book that you are writing now, which won't be read for ages.]Has it benefited your career, do you think? If so, how?
"It definitely has – in terms of promotion, anyway. Through my Marsha Moore blog (which I do not apply the same comment-returning principles to – and the difference in followers and comments is very clear!), I’ve ‘met’ writers who have helped me promote my travel guides. They’ve given me blurbs, contacted other bloggers and even helped me get featured in print publications. None of it would have happened without my blog. I have also met agents through my blog who’ve given me invaluable advice and support.Did your publisher/agent encourage or ask you to blog?
I had my Marsha Moore blog pre-publishing deal. My Talli Roland blog came about because I’d just signed a publishing deal. My publisher didn’t ask me to do it but I’d read so much about the importance of on-line platforms so I knew I wanted to do it."Words of warning?
"Blogging can take over your life if you let it! I have very set hours for blogging and I only do it after my writing work is done. [God, you're disciplined!] Also, be careful what you put out there – in your posts and your comments on other blogs – because if agents etc Google you, your comments as well as your posts come up." [VERY good advice!]Thanks so much, Marsha / Talli! Excellent points. And we are going to enjoy looking at your blog on August 22nd. I hope you'll have it nice and tidy for our visit!.
You can also follow Marsha on Twitter as @marshawrites and @talliroland