Blog Squadron is a series of posts from a handful of Star Wars bloggers sharing insight into how we got started blogging, what inspires us, how we succeed at our goals, and our approaches to blogging and writing. We hope that by sharing our knowledge, we can help others join us as Star Wars bloggers, and make it easier for newer fans to write about their love. Join us as we discuss sharing content, building audiences, and how social media has helped us as bloggers.
(Or, who the heckie are all these awesome bloggers?)
Matt Applebee: Far, Far Away Radio.com
Patty Hammond: I currently write for my own EverydayFangirl.com and also for The Future Of The Force, StarWars.com and TheBeardedTrio.com. I have previously wrote for The Cantina Cast and The Detroit News Geek Watch Blog.
Bryan: I’ve posted on a few blogs along the way, but I’m exclusively on hyperspacepodblast.comnowadays.
Johnamarie Macias: TheWookieeGunner.com
How do you entice people to read your blogs once you’ve written and posted them? How do you engage with readers thereafter?
Matt: I’m pretty lucky because I’m sure at least some of Far, Far Away Radio’s listeners checked out my writing once I joined up with them. I think that biggest way that I entice people to read is just by forming friendships through social media. I always retweet Far, Far Away Radio’s tweets about my newest posts in case any of my friends follow me but not them, so if I’ve become friends with someone on Twitter or Facebook, it’s pretty likely they’ll at least have access to my blog posts at some point.
As far as how I engage readers after a post is out, I find that to be a bit more of a struggle. I followed the example of another past Far, Far Away Radio blogger, Alex Kane, and included questions for readers to respond to at the end, but I don’t often get a ton of responses that way. I think I mostly engage readers by just thanking them for any retweets or likes they give the posts. It pays to be polite!
Stardust: I let WordPress auto-Tweet for me (it’s in the post settings) each time I write an article. My followers will click the link if they are interested and then more often than not, they will comment on Twitter. I do wish I could figure out an effective way to generate more discussion on my site itself, because 140 characters is…limiting.
But I am quite grateful that people check out my stuff at all. I have a few folks who follow my blog and will occasionally respond to my plaintive groveling for comments-section discourse and that is really the best feeling I can describe!
Patty: I usually entice readers by offering content or ideas that they may not find anywhere else. In addition, I use Social Media to connect to those who are most likely to read the content and in turn share it with others. Also, if I receive a comment on the blog, I always reply to the comment even if all I do is say ‘Thank You’.
Bryan: This is a tough one, honestly. Mostly all I do is tweet about my posts and plug the website on the podcast; otherwise, it’s all up to people searching and finding them and hopefully taking the time not only to click on something, but also read it. As for engaging with readers, I love getting comments on posts, but it rarely happens. I also try to be very active on Twitter, especially when someone @s me…basically what I’m saying is, “I’m here, people, talk to me!” (But not in a desperate way, no, not at all.)
Sophie: I think Twitter has been the best platform to really get my blog ‘out there’. It’s so vast and so easy to engage with people there, I always make sure to share my blog on Twitter, or re-Tweet pretty much whenever Far Far Away Radio post something.
Again, most of my interaction with readers comes from Twitter – although I do get comments on the blog every now and then too. I always make a point of answering, if someone has taken the time not only to read something I’ve written, but also to comment with some feedback, I think it’s really important to engage with that person and thank them for taking that time!
Johnamarie: After publishing your content, the best thing to do is share links throughout your social media accounts. That said, nothing turns me off more on social media than a poorly written tweet or Facebook post. I’m a visual person, so if something doesn’t look neat or visually attracting, there’s a chance I won’t click on it. When enticing people, I recommend using high quality photos and images, short URLs, a clever summary, and the correct hashtags.
A polished and clean tweet, Instagram post, and/or Facebook status go a long way. I also like to add questions at the end of my posts to engage my readers and have them share their thoughts in the comments section. I might also bring that question over to my social media accounts to have people interact with a tweet or Facebook post, even if they decide not to read my article.
Saf: The good way to do it, is to post about it on all your social media channels in a format that suits that channel. So, Twitter, you make a twitter picture and tweet out a very short blurb. Instagram: square picture, short blurb, link in bio. Facebook can be a bit more expansive with words, since there’s more space, but a picture is always good too! Even Pinterest can be a great social media if you’ve got pictures that can be easily pinned. I ended up with a graphic I made shared around on there for ages once.
Also, tweet about it at least twice on the day you post your blog, and once more the day after, then a couple times later that week with an ICYMI (in case you missed it) or something. Don’t tag others into your stuff, unless they’re mentioned in the post or had input of some kind. Don’t use a million hashtags either (unless it’s Instagram, and under a cut). And don’t just have an account that’s “hey look at my stuff” because nobody wants to follow that.
How I do it, is I just tweet about it incessantly and then forget I ever wrote anything until I get a comment from someone a week later. I rely on my networks to help share stuff, because I also share their stuff too, and we’re all friends. If you want to gain a community and readership, the best thing to do is network—which is a far less terrifying word than you might think. That just means being kind, considerate, and making friends that you help out because you want to, not just because you want to get something back. Also, interact with those who interact with you. I always make sure I chat to people when they hit me up, and I always thank people for nice comments.
How has social media helped or hindered you?
Matt: Social media has been amazing to me. Besides initially getting me in touch with Far, Far Away Radio, it’s also allowed me to form friendships with other Star Wars fans and bloggers. I’m actually a part of a Star Wars blogging direct message group, and they’ve been great. I’ve been able to ask for constructive criticism from them in the past, and they’ve helped me a lot.
Stardust: Social Media (which for me is solely Twitter) has been an enormous help to me! I have met so many fantastic writers and readers, fans and creators of Star Wars goodness there. I am online to learn and feast on others’ work more than to promote myself, but I’ve been delighted to have people discover my writing, podcasts, fan videos, etc. because of social media.
Patty: Overall, Social Media has been one of my most useful tools. I would not be the blogger I am today without Social Media. It is where I get many of my ideas, gather my requests for interviews and of course interact with readers and fellow Star Wars fans, many of whom have become personal friends of mine.
Bryan: Well, as I’ve said, Twitter is my main avenue for both the blog and the podcast. Without it, I’d probably have no readers and maybe two listeners (meaning both Shelby and myself). I think the whole “fandom” experience on social media can be exhausting at times, but, in general, I think it’s a great resource to engage with other fans.
Sophie: As soon as I started actively engaging with the fan community online, I’ve found my blog traffic has picked up. When I started Outer Rim Reviews last year, I wasn’t on social media at all really and I felt like I was just speaking into the void. Now I have an amazing group of friends from around the world who I interact with almost daily and who have been so supportive of all my various enterprises!
Johnamarie: We live in a day and age where social media is becoming more and more prevalent. If used correctly, it’s a great tool to attract new readers and keep them coming back for more. Personally, social media platforms, like Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Tumblr, have helped my audience grow and my engagement increase over the years.
Social media also allows for easier distribution of visual content, making it an effective visual marketing tool. Consumers are more likely to watch a video or scroll through an infographic, so while I enjoy sharing my thoughts through writing, I also love to create visual content that helps attract readers. Social media has also been integral in creating a vast network of friends who help you engage in conversation or strike up collaborations.
It’s amazing how an idea can come to life simply because you talked about it on social media and gained the confidence to go through with it.
Saf: Without social media, I literally wouldn’t be here right now. I’ve made all of my fandom friends and all my work connections through the internet and social media in some form. I got all my writing gigs through Twitter, and most of my posts and podcasts are shared primarily through Twitter or Instagram. Twitter is a beautiful way to connect with others within your fan communities and make new friends. It’s also a great platform to toss around ideas and see what people think about them.
That’s it for now! Join us at Jessie Stardust’s site, Tatooine Dreams, tomorrow on October 3 for the conclusion of this series, and don’t forget to check the #BlogSquadron tag on Twitter to find previous missions and blogging chatter.