I want to tell you a little story about why things have gone a little quiet here on Launch the Book in the last few weeks. It’s a personal story, but stay with me, because I think it’s relevant to those of you who use (or are considering using) blogging and/or social media to build your author platform.
A little over a month ago, I received a phone call from my boyfriend who lives in France. He had been in the hospital, and informed me that the situation was far worse than they thought. He was too weak; it was too late. He had weeks, maybe days. And although I begged, he insisted I not come to Paris to see him… he didn’t want me to be financially burdened, and he was in too much pain anyway. He told me he loved me, and that we should keep one another in our thoughts and hearts, as it should be.
That was a “goodbye” if I ever heard one.
After the shock of this moment settled, the pain really set in. Feeling helpless, I did the only thing I knew might soothe me — I wrote. I considered writing in a fresh paper journal, but instead chose to write the story on my blog. Why? Well, because so much of what we write on our blogs and share on social media is about our best times, best ideas, best selves. But life isn’t always rosy, and I thought maybe by opening up, somebody out there might think hey, I’m not alone.
I’ve kept a personal journal online off-and-on since 2003. (I’ve designed sites for other bloggers since about that time, too.) I don’t write on this personal blog to make money, self-promote or anything else other than to express myself when I feel the itch to write. I always hope a few people will read and enjoy it, but it never fails to surprise me when people do, that’s just an added bonus.
So, I wrote this post, “Don’t Wait, Love Big,” through many, many (many many) tears. Telling the story was healing, but profoundly emotionally draining. I’m sure many of you know what that feels like to be wiped out after telling a story from deep, vulnerable and painful places inside your heart. When I was done, I had to take a nap.
What happened next was completely unexpected. I woke up and saw that people were reading my story, reacting, sharing on social media, reaching out to me through emails, texts, Facebook messages and comments. A virtual flood of support. Thousands of people were reading my little personal journal and apparently, more than a few of them shed some tears, too.
A few days later I got a phone call from a friend who had called another friend, and they put their kind and smart heads together and decided that I must go to Paris, and that they were going to help get me there. They set up a fundraising website and the story went viral, fundraising dollars began to come in from friends, family, clients, colleagues and kind-hearted strangers. The campaign surpassed the original goal after just three days (!!!) and I booked a ticket to Paris.
This is where I’ll fast forward to the happy ending — I’m writing this post from Paris and my boyfriend is doing wonderfully. (If you’re interested in reading more about this story, you can check out: My blog, Taughnee.com; FundRazr, “Raising Love” and Aliza Sherman: It works! Social media really works! )
I know that blogging and networking through social media channels can be a frustrating endeavor. Let’s face it, it’s a long game. It can be confusing, it’s always a hell of a lot of work, and results can be disheartening sometimes despite our very best efforts.
But what I’ve learned from this experience is that blogging and social media are incredibly powerful and there are a few take-aways I’d like to leave you with.
1. People respond to good storytelling.
If you write well, authentically and from the heart, and apply a bit of patience — you will find your audience. I see a lot of blogging consultants advise, “Just keep pushing content out there.” While I agree 100% that with blogging and social media, frequency and consistency are of paramount importance — nothing compares to good storytelling, especially if you’re a writer.
2. Social networks made of people, not numbers.
We may talk a lot about analytics and measuring engagement — but behind all the numbers are real people. Be genuine in a sea of noise that is the Internet, and soon you’ll find people are listening. Give and be helpful wherever possible and it will come back to you a thousand-fold.
3. If you need help, sometimes all you have to do is ask for it and be willing to accept it.
If you want people to review your book, participate in your promotion, offer criticism about your website, share your message with their friends, or read your blog — don’t forget to ask. Then, express thanks and pay it forward.
4. If it feels a little bit uncomfortable, you’re doing it right.
Look, I’ve been reading blogs for a decade and I can tell you, a lot of what’s out there is incredibly dull. Different people saying the same things in slightly different ways. Why? Because that’s safe. If you’re writing something for your blog and it makes you a little nervous to put it out there into the world… it likely means you’ve creating something original, and people crave original thought. I say, just hit publish, then take a nap and see what happens. 🙂
Bonne chance! xo~Taughnee