Taking Stock – day 1


plan“He, who every morning plans the transactions of the day, and follows that plan, carries a thread that will guide him through a labyrinth of a most busy life.”
~Victor Hugo

You can’t plan unless you know what you’re working with.
~Rose Anderson

To the ancients, the Muses were considered the source of knowledge and higher learning. When I took my first steps as an author, I created Calliope’s Writing Tablet. My blog is dedicated to Calliope the writer’s Muse because she was all about learning and I am too. Just about everything regarding my journey has been put on my blog, lots about me too…including my laurels and skinned knees. In the remaining days of 2013, I’ll be wrapping up my thoughts on the year. The first of several musings: My test regarding blog hops.

I had a larger explanation planned for this week but the computer woes have made it smaller.  I was supposed to get my computer on the 18th. Didn’t happen. That eliminated more than a few gifts I’ve been assembling since August. Imagine opening an IOU Christmas morning. Good sports, my family. Tracking the laptop revealed it would come the 21st. No, there was a holdup somewhere in transit. Then it was supposed to arrive at 6pm on Christmas eve. Nope, didn’t come. On the 26th it was moving again. I’ve just tracked the package and it’s somewhere in Chicago. It might get here today. I won’t hold my breath. How I’ve managed to keep this machine running is a mystery. My keyboard has about a 1/4 of the keys not registering when I tap them. Now that’s an annoyance. Every Like is Lie. Every ‘ is a “. Every People is eole. Grrrr…what a time waster.

Anyway…
I’ve been doing blog hops for three years now. Such online events make sense to me. I have my followers as do the other participants. If we all promote the hop to our fans and followers, then that’s a lot of exposure to readers we wouldn’t have otherwise. Last November I decided to do a test. Over the course of the year, I joined every hop I could find with a plan to tally the outcome a full year later. With diligent hunting, I managed to hook up with one a month, and occasionally two or three. Hops large and small are the reason I have so many satellite blogs. My prizes were my ebooks and I’ve kept track of them as business expenses. Initially, I pictured a chart with highs and lows. Unfortunately, I found myself just too busy to make a chart.

Early on, I made up my mind not to mention which hops were the best and which turned out to be duds because one man’s ceiling is another man’s floor — or– a few may not have worked for me, but they could have been great for other participants. They take effort to put together regardless, so I’m grateful the hop owners tried.

When you’re doing one to three hops a month like I was, you pretty much get the hang of it. As they’re all basically the same, unless they have a theme, setting them up takes just minutes to do. Out of all of them, there were two that completely blew my mind because they were odd and very different from the others. Both organizers running them wanted me to post their page on my blog — a full page about them. How the heck would that benefit me? What’s more, every participant was supposed to post the same page. Why would any reader follow to the next blog if each page is the same?

I did one of them because just maybe there was something to learn here. I wanted to see if the odd setup would even work. My stats show no. The moment I discovered the second hop worked the same as the first, I bowed out. I hope it had the desired outcome for the organizers and the participants who stayed in. They just didn’t work for me. One suggestion I’d make if this is a plan they’ll stick with for future hops is tell the participants at sign up that it’s a different scenario rather than send the details later. Had I known, I wouldn’t have signed up for either.

So what I learned was this — not all hops are created equal. The following are results as seen through my personal lens. Another author might have had a different outcome. Here’s the rundown without a chart:

  • Some are run by keen social media divas who really know how to promote. As a result, they’re successful. The hops without this added oomph flounder sadly.
  • Most of the hops are attended by the same visitors leaving the same email addresses. When compared, it looks like there are approximately 50 visitors who regularly stop by all the hops. That’s what it looked like for me anyway. I write erotic romance. Perhaps the turnout is higher for other sub-genres. Hooking up with any and all, but especially new readers is the main point to hopping. 
  • Themed hops were the most fun for me. I love the challenge of a theme or prompt that needs to be met. The stats reveal the most interest visitor-wise too. Translated that means visitors returned several times to reread. Visitors were actually reading me rather than just rushing through to comments before rushing to the next author on the list. I gained followers and also saw an uptick in book sales. There was one themed hop in the spring that went for a full week and all stats show it was a very good week for me.
  • Aside from that single spring hop, the long-established hops with large numbers of participants were the true winners. I had a lot of interest, gained followers, and even had spikes in my sales.
  • In these larger hops, I learned it’s best to either be at the end of the list or at the beginning. Being in the middle of a few hundred participants is not quite a no-man’s land, but it’s close.
  • I feel hops with expensive prizes like Kindles did nothing different for me personally. In fact, by brief and mostly generic comments left, I have the impression many visitors went to my page and just dropped their name and email address in the comment box before moving on to the next blog.
  • As for prizes…I had a few mugs filled with goodies and two handcrafted enameled pendants I gave away as prizes over the course of the year. I plan to do those again as they drew a lot of interest. Because my first two novels have been pirated all over the world, those are the only two prizes that were given as PDF’s. For my other prizes, I actually bought my own ebooks through Amazon and sent them as gifts to my winners. These have the DRM on them. That means Digital Rights Management – a technological means of protection for copyrighted material so it can’t be duplicated and pirated. To date I haven’t found a single one of these titles pirated. It’s a few extra steps to do it that way, and I’ll deal with extra tax work come April to write off this business expense, but it’s working to keep $$ in my pocket.
  • Hops have provided me with a database of potential readers to offer a monthly newsletter to. I plan to launch a newsletter in March. We’ll see how that goes.
  • I have a handful of hops I’ll certainly do again if I’m able.

In conclusion, I recommend the effort. Especially if you’re at a loss as what to do with your blog and need to post something. In this web-driven world we live in, something is better than nothing.

Tomorrow ~ Taking Stock – day 2

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all7books-smallloveWaits.cover.swLove Waits in Unexpected Places - Scorching Samplings of Unusual Love Stories
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/333971

Sample my love stories for free!

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ny2If you’re here for the first time, my husband and I are assembling a vintage holiday postcard scrapbook one card at a time. I’ve been posting one or two post cards each day and plan to keep it up from now until January.

New Years cards from here on out.

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rb4uAuthor Janice Seagraves’ blog day
http://romancebooks4us.blogspot.com/

Meet the RB4U authors!
http://www.romancebooks4us.com/

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b1e43-eqpic
Several promotional opportunities for romance authors can be found
on my Exquisite Quills group blog.

http://exquisitequills.blogspot.com/


First Kiss Wednesday
~ share your best 300 word kiss.
Set the Scene in Six ~ share your backdrop or lead-up on Sundays.
The Genesis of the Story ~ share the spark that ignited your novel
Author Interviews ~
We’re booking 2014 now.

EQ-RR.bannerComing January 2014
A place for your old stars to shine

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trrbanner

About ~RoseAnderson

Rose is multi-published award-winning author and dilettante who loves great conversation and discovering interesting things to weave into stories. She lives with her family and small menagerie amid oak groves and prairie in the rolling glacial hills of the upper Midwest.
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22 Responses to Taking Stock – day 1

  1. admin says:

    What a really neat blog post, Rose. I’ve even seen other tour companies set up blog hops. Do you know I have never participated in a single one? Bad me because you can’t help but to get some kind of traffic from it. Well done!

    • Thanks. The odds are in your favor you and your books will be seen. I’ve never seen a tour company involved as a participant, but I would imagine if you were also an author you could promote your books and your business at the same time. Something to think about!

  2. Hi, Rose,

    Since I’ve never done a blog hop, I found your discussion of particular interest.

  3. Melissa Keir says:

    I agree about the number of people who visit the blogs are often the same. I haven’t seen a jump in sales from them but certainly draw more interest to my website and books. I am looking forward to reading more about your insights!

  4. susana says:

    Very interesting, Rose! I’ve done quite a few blog hops this year, and it does seem like the same people participate each time. But I have picked up a lot of Facebook friends and Twitter followers, as well as newsletter subscribers, plus I’ve had fun doing it. I have NO idea if they’ve generated sales or not since I don’t get that information from my publisher, but something is always better than nothing.

  5. wordactress says:

    Thanks for sharing your story. I’ve been Guest Blogging at least once a month for the
    past year and I, too, wonder if that resulted in many/any book sales.
    I put a lot into my posts and it takes away from writing my third book
    The Girl With Sand in Her Hair. Dunno if it’s worth it. I do like having something
    to offer as a writer, though. And I LOVE the comments. They’re other writers commenting
    I would imagine not perspective readers of my books. Oh, it’s a crazy rat-on-a-wheel
    I suppose.

    Mary Kennedy Eastham, Author, Squinting Over Water and The Shadow of A Dog I
    Can’t Forget

    • :) Anywhere you can hang your hat on the web is good. I know a lot of authors and nearly all are avid readers. I’m happy for comments when I get them too. Thanks for stopping by, Mary.

  6. Marianne Stephens says:

    Haven’t done a blog hop…thanks for your insight!

  7. rosgemmell says:

    Great post, Rose – thanks for sharing your experiences and giving us something to think about! I haven’t really explored this option to its full so it’s interesting what you’ve discovered so far.

  8. naomibellina says:

    I tried a lot of blog hops also and came up with much the same results. It seems the same people follow all of them. I got a lot of interaction on some hops, others, not so much. I think it’s a good way to get your name out there for free, though now it seems like the hosts are asking for a donation so they can offer a big prize. That’s fine with me; the organizers do a lot of work. In 2014, I’m probably going to back off and not do quite so many and instead be a guest on more blogs where I don’t offer a prize. Nice post, Rose, I can’t wait to read part 2!

  9. Great post. I’ve cut down the number of blog hops mainly because of the generic comments. Another author friend and I would compare comments and they were exactly the same and she’s an erotic author and I’m a romance. And the bigger the prize – the more generic and faster the comments were – comments have the time on them and I tracked a few and it was less than a minute as some commenters flew through the blog hop.
    In my early hopping days I’d visit and leave a comment with everyone on the list and rarely get any responses back. So I stopped that and saved myself a tone of time.
    Retweeted.

    • Thanks Victoria. I did exactly the same thing. And found exactly the same thing. The big prize hops do nothing to promote that author’s page. It’s just a rush to comments. I was wondering if asking a specific question tucked midway into the post would show me who the readers are.

  10. It’s so hard to know what works because we never just do one marketing thing in a vacuum. But I have tried several contest-based and tweet-friendly groups for marketing and have come to a similar conclusion. There are a batch of people who do contest entries or retweet or whatever, but as a direct link the sales, the answer is sadly no. These efforts do build name recognition and discoverability, which is something most of us authors struggle with.

    The best thing to grow market share seems to be new product. Keep writing and don’t let your effort get too diluted with marketing. I figure in about 20 years I’m going to be the next overnight sensation, LOL!

  11. Sandy says:

    An interesting post, Rose. I just came off a two week blog tour, and it was a lot of work for me. I agree with you on the results of doing a blog hop. I think a lot of people come for the prizes. Some may follow you and some may even be interested in your books. I give ARC’s to my hosts with the hope they’ll read the book and review it. Some do and some don’t. I always give a digital book as a prize to a lucky commenter. It’s a mixed bag.

    I agree with Maggie you have to keep writing and come up with new products. Maggie, you’re already well known. Smile!

    • Thanks Sandy. Before I decided to return to my magnum opus, I was considering a blog tour this year. Perhaps I’ll take a break mid-year, finish The Changeling, and try then with a new release. Maybe I’ll pick your brain for the hotspots! :)

  12. Interesting assessment of the blog hop world, Rose. The first one I entered was fantastic and no others have ever been as good (I started out in late Feb 2013). That wildly successful author had several more blog hops coming soon so I signed up for them all, only to find she canceled them and has never offered one again. I’ve probably done a dozen or more since then and also prefer doing themed blog hops. Same people comment almost every time. Some were better than others. My big question is how to find out about them in time to join in. Lately I’ve seen several I’d love to have joined but by then it’s too late.

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