Friday, 10 August 2012

Interview With A Blog-pire

First things first, I accept that blog-pire isn't a word. Second things first, I want to start today’s post with an oath: I never sit at my computer hitting refresh on my blog stats tracker, hoping that a thousand new hits will magically appear in the time it takes my page to reload.

I swear.

Anyway, while I was at my computer a few days ago, working away on my synopsis and definitely not even looking at my stats dashboard, I had an idea. Why not interview successful bloggers on how they’ve built up their platform so well? Brilliant? My mum thinks so. And so without further ado, I present an interview with Brenda Drake, creator of Brenda Drake Writes… under the influence of coffee.


Recognise it? You should, because it's a wealth of inspiration for any aspiring blogger. Her latest contest, posted only hours ago, already has nearly 200 entries. She has 986 followers on Google Friend Connect and Networked Blogs. And her page-views are sitting at a tidy one-hundred-and-sixty-four-thousand, four-hundred-and-seven! I can’t even say that number aloud without needing to stop for a breather. So how does she do it? Brenda, you tell us…

Thanks Kat. I hadn't a clue what to do when I first started blogging. That first year, I think I only posted nine times. But during that time, I read and commented on other blogs -- followed and gained followers. I happened upon blogfests and participated in some and held some of mine own. I hosted a contest to generate more followers, and found I enjoyed them. I loved the excitement and how the community came together to help each other with their work. That's when I decided to dedicate my efforts to holding contests and workshops.

Running contests are a lot of work, but the rewards are amazing. I remember how nervous I was to show anyone my work when I first came out of my writing cave, but I had entered contests and each time I made it into them, I felt that maybe my writing really didn't suck that bad. When you enter a contest, you don't have to tell anyone you joined, especially if you don't make the cut. But when you make the cut, you feel your work is finally good enough.

I do give away books sometimes in between contests and workshops for writers who've asked. I think caring and being genuine helps to get followers coming back. Offering things your followers can use or learn from is the key. Most importantly, posting frequently is important. I've skipped over blogs and never gone back to them because they hadn't posted in months. I follow back. You reap what you sow.

People always ask how I got agents to participate in contests. It's really simple, I ask. I use a catchy (non-spammer type) email to pique their interests, and they really are kind and will usually answer. Also, it helps when the contest has a fun concept and if you generate buzz for the contest. Once they join in, I brag and praise them on Twitter and my blog.

Awesome – I bet my four followers are rushing out to try it now! Anyway in that first year, did you gain many followers from just commenting on other blogs? Or did you have to interact with people and let them know you'd followed them and find that some followed you back?

I did, but it was slow moving. I never told anyone I followed them. I would just follow and comment on their recent post. Most times, they followed back. I'm less likely to follow a blog if I have to do it by email. My email gets clogged. I prefer having a linky to sign up on. That way I can go through my Blogger feed or my Networked Blogs feed, skim the titles, and read the posts that interest me. Making it convenient for your readers is key. 

Did you have many followers when you started running your own blogfests? If not, how did you get people involved?

I first participated in others' blogfests. I'd follow everyone in the blogfest and comment on their entry. When I felt I had enough followers, I ran my own blogfest. It was during my blogfests that I noticed a spike of participants when I had them enter something from their manuscripts. Writers love to get help with their writing, I do, anyway. I soon offered prizes and my follower list grew.

Did you learn any specific tricks about what makes a good contest? 

I think the buzz. You have to get the buzz going on Twitter and any social media where you have friends/followers. I tweet about my contests during prime times and thank whoever retweets. Except lately, some of my contests generate so many retweets I can't possibly thank everyone or I'll bug my followers. So I'll do a blanket 'thank you'. I try to be gracious and humble. And, if I have time and know the answer, I'll help writers out.

And finally, you tell me you’ve got your own book coming out in 2014. Care to give us a quick blurb?

Sure. LIBRARY JUMPERS is about sixteen-year-old, Gia Kearns, who discovers that with a simple flip of a page she can transport into any library of her choosing, thus thrusting her into a Mystik world, hidden behind the bookcases of the greatest libraries in the world, where evil abounds, secrets unfold, and mortals are running out of time.

Wow, wow, wow. Can I just say I already want to live in that book? Best of luck, and thank you for your wise words today. To anyone reading this, feel free to post any questions and I’ll chase up the answers. I'm also planning a series of interviews with other successful bloggers, so stay tuned for more. And if you can help me spread the word, I'll love you all to the end of days!

Kat

39 comments:

  1. This was a brilliant idea, Kat. I like getting to know the names behind the blogs.

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  2. Thank you! I'm planning a series of them so stay tuned. :)

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  3. Thank you for interviewing me. I hope people learn something from this. If any questions, leave them here and I'll come back and check in once in awhile. <3

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  4. As one of your (I'm sure many more than 4) followers (and Brenda's too for that mattter) - thanks for the great advice! I'm still finding my virtual feet, but will definitely check out the contest route. Enter a few and see how it goes...

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  5. Haha touche Raewyn. I guess I'm nothing if not modest (and good looking). :P

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    1. You're hilarious, Kat. Great post.

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  6. This is great information for someone new to blogging (namely me) and trying to find their way. Thanks.

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  7. I love your blog, Brenda - your contests have been extremely helpful to an aspiring writer like me. I recently started a blog of my own, and its great to hear some thoughts on generating buzz. I will be participating in my first blogfest next month - looking forward to putting your suggestions into action. Thanks!

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  8. Great interview, Kat! These are some great tips for getting more traffic on my blog.

    Brenda is SO generous! Her contests are so helpful and encouraging.

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  9. Great interview with some fabulous blogging advice :)

    Thanks Brenda for all the awesome contests you run.

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  10. Great interview. Brenda has been great. I could just imagine the work involved in running those contests and she has been so flexible too. Thanks for being great.

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  11. Thanks for this interview! And I love your twitter blurbs - very catchy!

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  12. Great interview! I've tried most of the tips, though I still don't get many comments except on my weekly Saturday, Sunday, and Wednesday blog hops, or when I'm participating in a blogfest or other bloghop. Maybe eventually I'll have people commenting every day.

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  13. I enjoyed the interview and Brenda's blog. It's a hive of activity. Every time I stop by, I know it's going to be worth my time.

    I've got a challenge on my hands with my group blog.http://swaggerwriters.blogspot.com/ Sigh. Different rules apply here. Still trying to find my way/or learn to be happy with a niche audience, even though I think our content is varied and amazing. Soooo, my admiration to all of you go-getter bloggers who spend all the time and learn all the skills necessary to grow your audience!

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  14. Great interview....Brenda is awesome! If you don't follow her blog or on Twitter you need to. :)

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  16. Great interview. The book sounds so interesting!!

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  17. Brenda is great, and this is an excellent interview.

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  18. Thanks to everyone who enjoyed the interview :D Feel free to stick around for the rest of the series!

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  19. Love the interview, and I TOTALLY want to read the book!

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  20. I always suspected there was something more to libraries! I can't wait to read your book! :)

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  21. Awesome interview! I love Brenda's contests! They were the first ones I found online, and still the first blog I check for updates.

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  22. Great interview and great advice--commenting on other blogs is a great way to dip a toe in the blog-waters without getting overwhelmed.

    Thanks Kat & Brenda :).

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  23. I always love these interviews! Brenda you're the best. Can't wait to read your LIBRARY JUMPERS when it comes out.

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  24. Great interview, Kat and Brenda. I've always wondered how Brenda got all those agents to participate on her blog.

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  25. Hmmmm, I tried to follow you, Kat, but for some reason it wouldn't let me. :(

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    1. I tried to follow, too. On my page it says that I'm following, but I haven't been added on this page yet.

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  26. Great advice! I look forward to seeing more from Brenda!

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  27. Thank you Sharon and Laurie - it says you're both following now. :)

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  28. This is partly really inspiring - and partly really daunting! I am trying to pluck up courage to start blogging; I write a lot, have had a book published, but haven't yet blogged or even set up the wordpress site yet! EEK. But your post is very inspiring. THank you!

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  29. excellent interview and its made me decide to run a book giveaway on my blog!

    I'll be back regularly. really good blog.

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  30. Thanks Danny and Grace, glad to be of some inspiration! Thrilled that you like my blog. :D

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  31. Thanks for this great interview. Brenda is the best! I think it's amazing that she spends so much time helping others to better their craft and fulfill their dreams. I've entered contests on her blog and the feedback I've received has been so helpful.

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  32. Awesome interview! Love her commitment to helping fellow writers in useful, and fun, ways. :-)

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  33. I fee as though I've probably missed the boat on this one. Regardless, this is some amazing advice, especially as I'm moving forward with creating my own writer's blog. Thank you very much for the insight!

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  34. Thanks for doing all the fun contests, Brenda! We really appreciate all the time and attention you put in. Of course I'm still sort of stuck in my cave and don't usually participate, but at least I RT you, right?

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  35. Thank you all for your kind words. It's a constant learning thing, writing is. (That was kind of Yoda-ish.) I'm drawing names now by Random.org. I wish I could choose all of you. If you haven't gone to the QueryTracker forum before, it's a great place to post your queries, synopses, and 1st pages for critique. I haven't been by in awhile, but I plan to do some critiquing there after the workshop. See if I can offer up any advice. Check my blog in the morning for the winners.

    Again, thank you to my wonderful host, Katherine, for having me. And another thank you for all the kindness here! <333

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  36. No problems Brenda, thanks so much for running this. And a big shout out to everyone who entered. Thanks so much for visiting. :)

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