A Cure for Marketing and Its Discontents

icons-419200_640It’s now a month since I launched my redesigned website, started blogging, re-branded my author page on Facebook, updated my LinkedIn profile and joined Twitter.

I wish I could say that the result has been an unequivocal success with hundreds of site visits, subscribers, friends, connections and followers.

Mostly, I feel as if I’m crawling up the steep and jagged learning curve on bloody hands and scraped knees. I keep looking ahead, at how much higher I have to go to reach – what? What, exactly, am I aiming for?

I had several clear goals in mind at the outset: update my website, start a blog, clarify my branding, build audience and increase my use of social media.

I’m doing all these. But I want more.

cakes-489849_640I’m like a glutton at a banquet, scanning the buffet for what to eat next while wolfing down what’s already heaped on my plate. Instead of counting my new followers, I’m looking to see how many more I need to reach 500. Instead of remembering that a month ago I didn’t have any subscribers to my blog – I didn’t even have a blog! – I’m disappointed to see how few people have signed up. I look at my numbers and want more subscribers, more followers, more, more, more!

I’ve caught a bad case of Marketing Disease, an ailment whose main symptoms are insatiability and discontent. And I’m working on a self-cure.

The first line of treatment is to look at the hard data of before and after.

  • Before, I had a website that was five years old, outdated with an average of 57 visitors a day;
    • now, I have a website that is current and attracting an average of 157 visitors a day, which is about 125 more people than I actually know.
  • Before I did not have a blog of my own;
    • now I’m posting weekly, on Wednesdays.
  • Before, I had no subscribers;
    • now, I have twenty-one, eleven of whom I don’t know. Of the other ten, only three are blood relatives and one’s my husband. (Full disclosure: I signed him up.)
  • Before, I had a Facebook Page for Into the Wilderness with 335 likes;
    • now I have a page for Deborah Lee Luskin, Author, with 410.
  • Before I wasn’t on Twitter;
    • now I am both a follower and followed.

There are other benefits, too.

  • While I blundering my way around  Twitter, I’m stumbling across a lot of good articles, blogs and news items I probably wouldn’t have otherwise seen. I’m learning a lot.
  • I’ve had three queries for paid work through my website, which means my marketing is working and my website’s effective. I’ve also had a modest bump in book sales.
  • Best of all, I’m writing more. In addition to this blog, my blog, and my Vermont Public Radio commentaries, I have a new, monthly column coming out in the Rutland Herald this week, about middle age.

Speaking my mind and reaching an audience sustains me as I embark on the arduous task of starting a new novel, tentatively titled Seasons of Grace.

When I measure how far I’ve come in a month, I can see my progress and feel good. When I only look ahead at how many followers other people have, I feel hopeless, like a failure.

I much prefer to feel good, so I’m tracking the hard data – and keeping my pen to the page.

photo by M. Shafer

photo by M. Shafer

Deborah Lee Luskin is a writer, educator, and public speaker. She lives in southern Vermont.

45 thoughts on “A Cure for Marketing and Its Discontents

  1. Thanks this is an interesting article, not only does it show how hard you’ve worked and how far you have moved in such a short space of time, but also it helps me to see that I’m not the only one falling under the spell of the marketing disease! It’s so easy to want more (apart from the fact more means more work, more money) but we all must remember how far we have travelled. We need to remind ourselves to Keep up the consistency – you’re doing great!
    Do you think the personal touch works better? I’ve got my own blog but also my business blog’s too, and they all seem to have similar stats. I do suspect people go to my personal blog first and then move onto my business ones. Has this been the same for you?

    • Thanks for your encouragement and for reassuring me that I’m not a lone sufferer of the “wanting more syndrome.” It seems to me that a personal blog would have a different audience than a business blog. If not, maybe you don’t need two? If the content is the same or similar, definitely combine them; if the content and intended audience are different, then aim each accordingly.

      What do others think on this issue?

  2. As someone who fails, rather too frequently, to keep to the theme, I find your blog refreshingly honest. Lately I’ve considered designing a fresh, new website and love the one you’ve created. Inspiring.

    • Thanks for letting me know my work has been helpful. Before you start over, can you see something to save and build on? We’re all rather hard on ourselves, and yet here you are: participating in the blogosphere, gleaning ideas, adding your voice. That all counts.

  3. I think keeping a positive perspective and focusing on what you’re doing, not what others are doing, is the best way to go. You don’t always know the “why” of how they got so many followers, retweets, subscriptions, etc. Some embark on vast follow me.follow you campaigns or enlist the help of paid followers. Some have been at it a lot longer or may have a more broad appeal to a wide variety of people. You can only do what you are capable of and good at, and worrying about others is counterproductive. Thanks for this insightful post. Now I’m going to go work on my own “perspective”. 🙂

    • Thanks for your very wise words. We must measure ourselves against our own – ever expanding – capabilities, and not against those of others’, real or imagined. I can never hear this too often!
      Good luck with your own work.

  4. Yes, it’s a struggle, and all we can do is keep trying. One benefit of all these social media platforms is Internet visibility. You will show up more often on various browsers, especially Google. You’ll make connections with other authors and groups where you can find friendship and support. In regard to marketing, however, consistently promoting your books through paid ads works best. Everything else is “window dressing.”

    • Thanks for comment. You’re absolutely right about the circle of support offered by the internet. I’m grateful for all my readers on all my different platforms.
      I’m also intrigued about your take on paid advertising. Will have to look in to it. Thanks.

  5. You should be very proud. Most people say they want to update this, sign up for that, and post X number of times a week/month… and they don’t. That in itself is a fantastic accomplishment! You’ve broken the procrastination barrier, and now you’re on the ‘What’s it all for’ one.
    You’re also right in looking at the numbers and then taking a step back from them. They are higher than before! Great! And that was only in a month! We all need to be a bit patient when it comes to gaining more views, or followers, or likes.
    You have made a great start to the new year! Keep it up! =D

    • Thanks for your pep talk! It’s what I’ve been trying to do for myself, but outside validation is always a plus!

      • You are very welcome! Honestly, I find motivation for myself by commenting and giving others a push to think they can do so much more.
        I have also upped my blogging game in January and am trying to keep up the pace, but some days I don’t make it onto my computer. I have been looking at my own stats and have had a great increase (‘great’ to what I had before, I might add) and am looking forward to building on that in the coming months.
        We have to just keep pushing forward, publishing what inspires us, and know we are already reaching a decent audience that will only grow in numbers ^_^

  6. I am in the same boat. I am a stay at home mom with the desire to learn and create. The balance is difficult but I am striving to keep marketing and re-inventing myself. I too yearn for more.
    Good luck to you!

  7. Spot. On. I actually subscribed to your blog for mentoring on how to keep writing central to my “social media mission” and not get distracted by needing to amass all of these stats. But I did the same at the new year! New blog format, signed up for twitter (which I DO NOT understand yet) and made a FB page to build a blog community. I did this because someone gave me advice that I should. But it’s totally distracting me. See, you’re so far ahead of the curve that you are already a mentor! Haha.

  8. Thank you so much for sharing this! I am about to take a plunge off of into an abyss–I’m leaving my cozy library job to be a full-time mommy, but I am also a writer who now, more than ever, needs to write. I need to do all of the things you have done, as well. Thanks for spreading a little hope to the rest of us!!

  9. Those before and nows are solid progress in making connections to people out there. But be careful about pushing to open more accounts in your rush… I’ve found that social media can take away from writing. Even though social media helps create an author’s foundation, I worry about it being such a time suck.

    • Wise words: Social media is not the same as writing, and can be a real distractions.
      Truth be told, I intended this post to be about the time suck of social media, except that it seemed too pat – and not really my problem at the moment. Lest you think I’m immune to the social scene, you should know that I write in a studio with neither internet or telephone, so as long as I’m at my desk writing, I’m not on-line reading about writing, celebrities and fad diets. Or playing Solitaire. . . Thanks for your comment.

  10. I empathise – but from several rungs down the ladder. At the behest of my new publisher I have created a website, a facebook page a goodreads page and am on twitter. It’s all sitting there waiting for me to do something spectacular. But I can’t think of a thing to say. In the old days – before ebooks – I just did speaking tours and book signings.And I was never lost for words.

    • Placing yourself on a ladder is a lot like me measuring myself against some unattainable scale. Like you, I’m a digital immigrant. Part of me would like to return to the hand-written letters of my youth, but I also don’t want to be sidelined in the world I now inhabit. So I’m trying my best to balance inclination with necessity – and enjoying meeting people like you on line. Thanks for your comment.

  11. After blogging for five months. I gained 460 followers on wordpress alone, 790 in total. I know that compare to others my stat is nothing but to me I am grateful beyond measure that there are people out there who can appreciate what I’m doing, knowing my blog is not everyone’s cup of tea and considering I am following only 18 blogs so far. But those I like, comment and follow is out of genuine interest and I really do read their articles. I see no use of following hundred of blogs when one doesn’t have time nor interest to read them all.

    I don’t let myself get sidetracked by what others are doing or how successful they are in blogging because if I do that, I will lose sight of my goals and my own voice.

  12. Tracking data is an amazing way to mark ur progression, especially if u have a large appetite for more. I have the same problem, until I started looking at it is a progressive tactic moreso than a problem.. But yes self content is very important, it helps u be more happy in every waking moment. Thank you so much for this post

  13. I find myself riding that same rollercoasater. I just started my blog last week and I managed to get 20 followers within the first 5 days. I hope that that number keeps increasing and that I am able to maintain reader’s interest going forward. I like how you’re able to mix humor with your “gluttony”. Keep up the good work. Your blog looks really good!

  14. Marketing has been one of my major quandaries.
    On the one hand, it feels dirty to ask people to be interested in my thoughts. It’s so unnatural and contrary to the romantic notions I have assigned to writing.
    On the other hand, unless I invent the wheel artistically or just start posting celebrity photos, the building of a following is slow and tedious. I’m just a dumb kid, I won’t reinvent the wheel artistically.

    • Romantic notions, eh? Writing is hard work! (For the record, so is marriage, that bastion of romantic love, dishes and laundry.) But it is true that only you can tell your story – so don’t apologize!
      Thanks for taking the time to read and comment on this post.

  15. I enjoy following your journey….your doing great…remember the ole saying…good comes to all those that wait….however it doesn’t say how long you have to wait….and your positives certainly out weight the negatives….one word in front of the other….

  16. I know how you feel Deborah – i find social media marketing totally draining. If i do it for fun, i like it, but the minute i try to achieve goals or do it seriously, it starts sucking 🙂 A light touch is good, i think.

  17. I started a similar journey recently. I have a Business Plan to keep me on track and often find I’ve spent a whole day on social-media/marketing rather than writing. But, hey that’s what we writers have to do, unless we can pay someone else to do it. Your article resonated with my own experience. I now have a Done List to remind me what I have achieved. It is so easy to forget.

    • Having a business plan is good, following it is good, and protecting writing time is essential. It’s a complicated juggle, especially if you add in things like laundry and life. But it can be done! Thanks for writing.

  18. Feels so familiar.I didn’t get myself to write so I did you and started blogging etc. little over month ago. What a wonderful way to get out of the fear of making mistakes. It’s been a rocky ride but oh so worth it. Still don’t know if I’ll ever be a true writer but at least I’m on the way. 🙂 All the best for your blog! Keep on going.

  19. I completely understand!!! It’s good to know that I’m not the only one who’s going through the whole rebranding phase. It’s difficult…especially if you’re doing it all alone.

  20. Nice post. I’ve been dreading having to fire up my Facebook and Twitter pages, since social media in general seem to represent a gigantic time suck. You do a great job of explaining what needs to be done and why.

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