The Displaced Nation

A home for international creatives

JACK THE HACK: Expat authors, once you have a blog, it’s schmooze it or lose it (3/3)

Jack Scott and his partner, Liam, set up home in the Turkish port town of Bodrum in the late aughts. They were seeking sanctuary from a pressured existence in London. In the event, the expat experience proved to be something for Jack to write home about, as in a book! The pair have since returned to the UK, where they are living the life of Riley in Norwich. Some time ago, we suggested that Jack reinvent himself as Jack the Hack and submit monthly columns targeted at those of you who are still displaced and hacking away at travelogues-cum-memoirsor, in some cases, autobiographical novels. Warning to non-Brits: Don’t be put off by his wry sense of humo(u)r!

—ML Awanohara

In my last two columns, I banged on about the art of blogging and how it is one of the most important tools in an author’s PR box, particularly for indie authors or those with a small publisher and only a few shillings in the marketing piggy bank.

You’ll be relieved to read that this is third and final episode.

FACT: most blogs run out of steam after two years. So, giving your blog legs will keep it in the race for longer.

Here’s how.

Win friends and influence people

So, your gorgeous new blog has hit the ground running and you’ve fallen under its spell. Now you want others to be captivated, too. The single most important thing you must do is engage meaningfully with your audience and your blogging peers, often and in every possible way.

It’s good to talk and networking pays big dividends. Allow your readers to comment on your posts. If someone takes the time to drop you a line, always reply. It helps develop your popularity and credibility.

A word of warning: make sure you’re set up to approve comments before they are published to keep the trolls and spammers at bay.

If you disagree with a comment, unless it’s abusive, offensive or loony tune, let it stand (polite rebukes are fine). That’s the unofficial blogger’s protocol.

Participate in the blogosphere by talking to your peers. Leave comments on their blogs and list your favorites on your site. Many will reciprocate, and the backlinks will help drive traffic your way. Be generous and promote others. Join blog directories. Most are free and some specialize (book bloggers, women bloggers, expat bloggers, for example).

Faceache and that Tweety thing

Cross-fertilization with social media is a must these days. At the very least, create a Facebook Page for your blog, join Twitter and post and tweet your content.

Facebook may like us all to think that it’s just a nerdy way to keep in touch with friends, but we all know it’s much, much more. Take advantage of its power.

Many blogging platforms can auto-post to the main social networks and this takes some of the pain out of the merry-go-round. While you’re at it, you may as well post to Google+, Pinterest (for images), Linkedin and any other social network you join. All this activity will increase your visibility. It worked wonders for me.

Fans can be fickle and lazy. Make it easy to follow you by adding social network links to your blog. It’s all about seamless sharing and following. And don’t forget to set up a subscription to your great works by old-fashioned email.

It’s not all about numbers, of course. Go for quality not quantity. Try not to obsess too much about your stats. (I should talk—I check mine several times a day.) Remember, your hit rate will be low at first. Don’t let it get you down. With a little careful nurturing and a lot of networking, your audience will steadily grow.

Is there any brass in it?

Blogging may be an important promotional tool but unless you’re attracting hundreds of thousands of readers a week (and some blogs do), you’re very unlikely to make any real money from your blog directly. My advice is not to plaster ads over your site. It will turn people off.

Beware blogging fatigue

Blogs do have a natural lifespan and there’s no point flogging a dead horse. Sometimes the cupboard is bare and there are no words left. Even the most enthusiastic and verbose writers may throw in the towel at some point.

Just like real work in the real world, take a short break or a long sabbatical. A nice holiday can work wonders for the creative juices. When I packed up my drag in my old kit bag and paddled back to Blighty, I was convinced that Perking the Pansies would wither on the vine like a piece of dried-up old fruit. Still, this old fruit soldiered on and much to my relief, the change of scene gave the blog a welcome shot in the arm.

In the end though, nothing lasts forever; when it’s done, it’s done. And that’s okay.

And finally…


Blogging can be a hugely powerful tool for writers. It really can. It isn’t for everyone but if you decide to give it a go, have fun with it. If it’s a chore, it won’t endure.

Here endeth the blogging gospel according to Saint Jack. Season’s greetings and good luck from old Norwich town.

* * *

Readers, any comments, further questions for Jack the Hack? He will be following his own advice and taking a break from this column in the new year as he’ll be busy moving house with Liam (within Norwich) and publishing/promoting his sequel to Perking the Pansies—watch this space for a review!

Jack Scott’s debut book, Perking the Pansies—Jack and Liam move to Turkey, is a bitter-sweet tragi-comedy that recalls the first year of a British gay couple in a Muslim country. For more information on this and Jack’s other titles, go to his author site.

STAY TUNED for tomorrow’s post, another installment in the life of our fictional expat heroine, Libby. (What, not keeping up with Libby? Read the first three episodes of her expat adventures.)

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11 responses to “JACK THE HACK: Expat authors, once you have a blog, it’s schmooze it or lose it (3/3)

  1. Adventures (@in_expatland) December 5, 2013 at 2:24 pm

    Couldn’t agree more, Jack, great points. As someone who periodically takes unplanned ‘mini-respites’ – as opposed to the more usual short break or long sabbatical – my blogging inconsistency drives ME nuts. I have a loyal base who manage to tolerate these ‘down the rabbit hole’ episodes, but I’m happiest when blogging on a more regular basis. I’ve done everything from a daily challenge to once, twice, three times a week and the latter options are where I’m most comfortable.

    As for the incessant flogging some authors embrace, I suppose they would argue that new blog visitors-cum-followers arrive and may not realize you’ve written a book. To which I reply ‘of course your blog reflects you’ve done that, but as with makeup, a gentle hand is usually best’.

    • Jack Scott December 6, 2013 at 4:51 am

      Totally agree. It’s fine to write about your book for bit when it’s in the process of being published to create a buzz and occasionally trumpet a success or milestone. Beyond this, though, a more subtle approach (say, highlighting the book on your blog’s side bar in the hope that new visitors will take a look) will be more effective and won’t put your regular readers off..

  2. Sue Sharpe (@suesharpe1) December 6, 2013 at 9:34 am

    Nice one, Jack! Totally agree with you. I shall share this in the hope that other bloggers may find some of the tips useful. 🙂

  3. Victoria December 14, 2013 at 10:04 am

    Nice series. Good points. Not sure about the “approve comments” one though. It really depends on your readership. For the first two years of my blog I required approval for all comments and that worked well because there were very few comments and because I blogged a lot about the EU Blue card which was an invitation for every migrant service company to drop advertising in my comments sections.

    Recently I changed my mind. Different topics meant more comments. My readers found it frustrating to have to wait for approval especially for posts they were passionate about. Experience with my readers has shown me that they are a loyal and thoughtful group and it’s almost unheard of for one of them to become uncivil. So I quietly dropped the monitoring and just started checking what’s up once a day or so. Yep, sure enough I got one or two advertisers but they were quickly dealt with. Best of all I got notes from my regular readers thanking me for making it so much easier (and pleasant) for them to comment. It was an act of trust that paid off in spades.

    So this one I’d say is a judgement call. Maybe in the beginning it’s a good idea but I would re-evaluate from time to time. As yourself, Is it really necessary? Or am I just making a lot of work for myself and annoying my readers to boot?

  4. Pingback: Schmooze It or Loose It | perkingthepansies

  5. Pl December 14, 2013 at 5:23 pm

    Thank you! You timing could not be more en pointe. I have a bevy of fans/readers who are so appreciative and encouraging – however, juggling all the demands of “Life 101” is a challenge. You are a beacon of sunshine… and light. Cheers, Page Larkin

  6. Let's CUT the Crap! December 16, 2013 at 5:13 pm

    What a life we lead. Always scrambling for the top of the heap. 😛

  7. Padmini January 4, 2014 at 5:12 am

    Hi, I totally agree with what you say! While I was writing my book, the blogging was fine- I had enough to write and enough updates to give my readers. But now that the book’s done and dusted, I have trouble coming up with ideas. But blogging still hasn’t become a “chore”and in fact keeps me looking out for interesting things to do/find. (Like the Jaipur Festival ofLiterature which I’m going to visit this month – this is going to be both a holiday plus material for writing my next blog.)
    Thanks for the tips! And Happy New Year!

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