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The August Experience

Way back in the halcyon days of July, 2017, I decided to challenge myself by doing something out of character. The terms of the challenge were simple. Write a blog post every weekday for the the month of August. Each post would be published on my blog, but also to Facebook and Google+. At the end of the month, I’d look back and see how it worked.

There were several reasons I chose this challenge. The first is that the second most important thing a writer can do is build a platform. Some will tell you it’s the most important thing, but I think putting out quality content comes first. The second is that this project pushed me out of my comfort zone. I love writing, but I hate drawing attention to myself. That’s a good way to die broke. Third, my blog was looking sad. Lonely and neglected, it was a dismal place to send people after reading one of my books. I hoped this project would jumpstart my site. Finally, I see a lot of successful writers creating an amazing number of blog posts, and I just couldn’t believe they could find the time to do that and still work on their craft. I wanted to see if I could match that output.

Now that I’ve got the month in the bag, I’d like to review and see how it worked out.

Maintaining a daily schedule was tough. The average blog post took me one to two hours to complete, and some days, I really had to scramble to come up with a topic. I found “banking” a couple of pieces was key to making this work, especially when my travels meant I wouldn’t have time to write a proper post. One thing I learned was that such topics had to be “evergreen”, meaning they shouldn’t have a subject that would go stale with time. The article on the eclipse, of instance, turned out to be one of my most popular posts. It only worked because I posted it right after the event. If I posted it today, I doubt anyone would be interested.

I got zero traction from Google+. That’s really not surprising. It’s a smaller platform and the vast majority of my followers are on Facebook. That information was valuable, since it’s important to know what works and what doesn’t so I focus my time where it will have the most impact.

Most of the interaction on the posts occurred on Facebook as well. It seems my readers go to the page to read the article and leave a simple “like” or comment back on FB rather than comment on my site. Not a problem, but if you have the time, I wouldn’t mind if you tell me why you chose that option. If there’s a problem with commenting on WordPress, I’d like to fix it. Commenting on FB isn’t a problem, though, since that expands my reach, so please keep it coming.

I don’t seem to be able to put my finger on which types of posts were most popular. By far the most successful post was There and Back Again, but beyond that, things were pretty spread out. I’ll be monitoring that in the future to get a feel for what sorts of pieces you like the most.

Posts with photos got a lot more traction than those without. That makes sense. We’re drawn to the visual. Just a good lesson learned if you want to try something like this yourself.

So, what’s next?

Well, in my post on The Last Blockbuster, I commented that comedy is hard, and those guys were doing it right. I think I’m going to give it a try. So, for September, I’ll post something funny and original every day. These won’t be long posts, my vision is to make these tight, one or two-line bits. I’ll post them to Twitter and my Facebook Status and see how they go over.

I’m also going to keep the blog posts coming, but I’ll dial them back to two or three a week. That’ll give me a few more hours each week to work on my stories.

Speaking of which, I’m just about to the midpoint of The Temporary Hero, and I’ve started a short story for an anthology that put out a call for submissions. I have to get it submitted by the end of the month, so I’ll be hitting that hard. It’s about an Ork who takes a job riding shotgun for a dwarf mining train that turns out to have a very special and dangerous cargo.

It’s another step into the unknown for me, but this damned greenskin has been bashing around in my brain for a long time and he wants out.

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