Tuesday, March 6, 2012

To blog hop or not to blog hop...

The month of march has come and found me, as always, up to my nose in plans. I'm very good at those. It is getting to complete them that gets me.

Between being a mom, having a personal life, trying to organize everything in our new house, writing, cooking, promoting my book, reviewing novels, and keeping my blog... it seems I barely have any energy to see at least one project through the end. Which is all kinds of depressing, but then I remind myself that the most important for me is not missing a thing of my girls childhood. Then, of course, I tell myself those are all pretexts. I sermon myself and I promise to be better organized... then I run to do a hundred more things and end up going to bed without having accomplished A THING.

Ahg. But that wasn't really what I wanted to share with you. (It is a blessing to have a trapped audience to free your soul). Assuming you're still reading this (please, don't go. I promise I'll get to the point now), I'll talk about blog hopping as a mean to promote your blog and, thus, yourself. Is it really worth it?

This humble place I call my blog has existed for a little over a year. Now, there is a difference between existing and being active. No, I'm not trying to go all Nietzsche-esque on you. What I mean is, it requires a certain amount of work to be noticed in the sea of blogs out there and it took me a long time to realize that.

From the rant up there you can see I have a lot on my plate and I'm not very organized. I've always been like that and that was the way I started this blog. I wasn't sure I had any 'talent' to write a real novel and I didn't want to invest the time to write one only to discover I sucked. Cue my wonderful husband. He convinced me to take up a blog as a mean to explore the possibilities. I did and my life changed forever.

Everything happened very fast for me and soon I saw my first novella published. With that came the realization that my blog had but a single follower, a good friend of mine. That was it. But my blog was important now; I needed it to get to know more people and to get others to know me. I started writing more frequently and the first blog hop opportunity came to me. I jumped in without having any idea of what it was or how it worked. Oh, the surprise I got. It is hard work! I failed miserably, only getting like five extra followers.

Since then, I've participated in at least five more hops with varying degrees of success. For me, the hops have become a way to challenge myself to write more, to find interesting subjects and to run original contests. In that sense, I've learned quite a lot and I can say that most of the short stories I'm currently working on, started as flash fiction I posted on my blog.

At the moment, I stand at a hundred and some followers, as you can see =D; I'm happy of where I stand and what I have accomplished but I'm still looking for a way to increase the traffic without becoming a slave.

About a month ago, I got wind of the very famous A to Z blog hop in april. The challenge is to blog about something related to the letter of the day (I know. This is NOT Sesame Street, though) every day of the month. Feeling like a slave already? Fine, sundays are free. What. A. Relief.

I hesitated a lot about getting in but I finally decided to do it. There are more than a thousand participating blogs and previous participants promise you'll see the traffic go through the roof. I had to try it! I'm going with a simple idea: feature a horror book and movie that begins with the corresponding letter. Nothing complicated or I won't make it but it has to be enticing enough that people will come back for more after the hop ends.

I'm already selecting the movies, that's easy, but the books are proving to be hard and I want to run a simple contest but I still don't know what to do. It is a lot of preparation, but I'm really excited to see how this goes. If nothing better, comes may I'll know I can get to my goal no matter how hard it seems to be. And that is a pick-me-up I really need.

I'll let you know how the experiment went. If you're interested, here's a link to the A to Z Challenge; it'd be neat to find some of you there. I also ask for your help. Any ideas of book titles or contests to run will be greatly appreciated.

Well, guys. I'll see you next month for our fond Insecure Writer's Support Group meeting. In the mean time, don't forget to visit all the other awesome blogs to get more tips, stories, or simply make friends.

Just a small note. I love to visit the blogs of those who comment on my blog; not that I don't visit other blogs of the hop as well, but these are my first clicks, so please leave a link to your place. See ya there!

This is a Blog Hop!



Lan said...

I know exactly what you mean about being busy outside of blogging but still wanting to build a platform and a following. My blog is a book review blog as well as a writer blog and I find that the two work well together. I always hesitate to join in with memes as well because they do take up a great deal of time and I know for sure that I'm too scattered to ever follow through. I always admire those who do participate though and your idea of the horror theme sounds interesting. Though I don't rally read horror as I'm too much of a chicken! But can I be really obvious and suggest Frankenstein?

Gina said...

Thanks for commenting Lan! You may think it too obvious but I really hand't thought of that! I could go for classics by the alphabet. Great idea! Thanks so much, I'll check your blog, too.

originaloflaura said...

This sounds like a fun challenge. I'm in! Looking forward to reading your posts. Now I just need a theme of my own... maybe lady novelists who kick ass?

Gina said...

Hahaha! I think that'd be a very popular theme! I'm all for it. I'll be looking forward to see what you post. Thanks for stopping by!

Hope Roberson said...

I know exactly how you feel. Trying to get it all done without losing focus on the important things is a tremendous challenge! Hopefully we're not missing too much :)

Gina said...

Yeah, Hope. As long as my family is being fed and the girls keep growing healthy and happy, I think I'm on the other side. Thanks for commenting. ;)

Hart Johnson said...

I think blog hops definitely work if you put in the effort to do them right. See - you stopped by my place yesterday and here I am... I liked what I saw, so I followed! But it can definitely be hard to keep up and do it right. I tend to only do a few a year so I can actually commit to them and do them right.

It's great to meet you, Gina!

Gina Gao said...

I like how we have the same name! Nice blog by the way!


Gina said...

Hart: I think you're totally right. To fully commit to a handful will make it more successful that doing three per month but not putting your heart into it. Thanks for the follow! It always make me breath a bit easier when someone outside of my family finds what I write interesting. =)

Gina: I had no idea Gina was such a common name. I'll look for it everywhere, now! LOL

Lynda R Young said...

Blogging can be so fulfilling and the challenges and blog hops are so much fun too. Congrats on building a following. I'm a new follower.

Gina said...

Thanks for following Lynda! Blogging is indeed a very rewarding thing. After all my fears went away, I got left a lot of cool new people and many other interesting blogs. Good luck to you, too!

M Pax said...

It takes time to build a blog/platform, and a dang lot of time and work. Some days it doesn't seem worth it, putting in more effort than getting out of it. But, in the end, the connections we make blogging give us that boost in selling and promoting. They write us glowing reviews and tell folks about us, offer us their blogs to promote ourselves on. That's where the pay off is.

AtoZ was a lot of fun last year. Met a lot of people. Having a theme definitely makes it easier.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Sounds like you're busy but you're still getting a lot done. Way to go.

Mary Aalgaard, Play off the Page said...

It looks like you're doing great. You increased writing on your blog and doing hops and that has turned into more stories. That sounds like a success. I'm also doing the A-Z challenge. I enjoyed it last year. Thanks for visiting my blog!
Play off the Page

Gina said...

M Pax: I'm really looking forward to the A to Z challenge and I'm sure I'll get to know many great bloggers. As you say, the friendships that spark from there and all the help we get from them is a great recompense to all the work. Thanks for stopping by!

Susan: I do think I'm on top of the most important stuff, and though there is a lot more I wished to accomplish, I'm happy the way things are going. Thanks for your comment!

Gina said...

Mary, thanks for the encouragement! I hear nothing but great things about the A to Z challenge and I have to tell you, I'm REALLY excited about it! I think I'll discover a bunch of great blogs to follow and a lot of new interesting friends. Thanks for stopping by.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I started my blog almost seven years ago. I've never been able to devote a lot of time to it, but participated in enough online events and interacted enough to build up a good following.

I did the A to Z last year and look forward to another fun April.

KarenG said...

Hi Gina, I used to blog hop a lot when I first started and it helped tremendously to build a following. I still enjoy it, but I do it to find new blogs I want to follow not so much to get followers back.

Enjoy yours btw!


Gina said...

Karen and Diane: thanks for your comments. I know I'm barely a cub out of the womb when it comes to blogging, but I'm enjoying myself and I guess that's all that matters. It seems that I'll be recognizing many faces on the A to Z Challenge, how wonderful! I'll be very happy to pop around your blog, Diane, and say hello. To Karen's blog, I might pop up at any given moment since your not doing the april challenge. You're not getting rid of me that easily!! Mwahahaha! =)

Melissa Bradley said...

Thanks for the supportive comment. I appreciate the kind words very much. I think I need to get more orgaized as well. I feel like I'm trying to keep my head above water rather than swimming with the current.

I can't wait for the A to Z, either. I'm looking forward to reading your posts.

Deborah said...

I was very interested to read this post. I started blogging to support the publication of my first novel in the US (I'm British) and have joined in a few blog hops simply to try to get my book out there as I can't be in America myself, or only for a very short time. I've "meet" some super bloggers along the way - and I've also gained an insight I wouldn't otherwise have had into the different way US readers think!

Came here thanks to Author Karma.

Suze said...

Hi, Gina.

I think you have a good topic for your A-Z posts. I'm not a fan of horror but I am a fan of alphabetical pop culture lists by people who know their stuff, so I'm looking forward to checking out your posts.

The theme of my posts for this year is, 'Messages,' and I'm keeping mine extremely short but, hopefully, stimulating and novel.

Thanks for the follow. I don't blog as a form of promotion. I blog to to build relationships with intellectually-stimulating people and once I commit, I commit. I've followed a number of blogs in the past which I ceased to follow for lack of interaction. I'm not in it for anything except to grow.

You seem an interesting soul. Hope to see you around.


Gina said...

Melissa: Thanks for stoping by. April is, oh, so close! I still have a lot to prepare for my posts. I can't wait to see what you blog about.

Deborah: I know trying to put your novel on a market where you're not physically present is very complicated. I wish you the best of luck. And, go karma!!

Suze: I definitively think short and sweet is a great strategy for the A to Z Challenge and I'll try to follow it, though I'm quite a chatter so I don't know if I'll be able to constrain myself. ;)

sjp said...

Its good to see you have found some success, I also started my blog for the exact same reason so its quite inspiring to see how far you have come and hope you find it ever more rewarding!

Gina said...

Thanks SJP! I really think blogging can be very rewarding, not only you get to meet nice people and start new friendships, but you learn a lot about your craft and hone your abilities. I'll tell you my writing has grown tons since those early days.

I wish you lots of luck following this path, and thanks for commenting!