My last blog post, which talked about the merger between Penguin and Random House, reminded me of an important lesson that, as someone who enjoys the notion of “being creative,” I shouldn’t have forgotten.
On the internet, you can’t make art for art’s sake.
If you do, that’s more or less assuming that your art is so good and so compelling that it will radiate through the deep infinite space of online content like a burning sun of genius.
I was guilty of this notion for a while. I took pride that I didn’t “blog” in the traditional sense, I just generously gave away my masterpieces to the unknowable masses.
That’s the biggest misconception among writers, artists, and musicians who are trying to use to the internet as a platform for their pieces:
We forget how people use the internet.
I was very surprised when my post got Freshly Pressed (I had lost hope for such wonders long ago), but I shouldn’t have been.
My blog post about the Penguin and Random House merger got Freshly Pressed because it was a piece that had information about a timely topic.
Blog posts need to be helpful, unique, and relevant to your audience. Think about what your audience is looking at on the internet, then meet them there.
If you’re trying to promote a book, a song, or a piece of artwork, you can’t do it in a vacuum.
Don’t believe me?
Let’s take a look at what the Google Keyword Tool says are some of the top-searched terms for “short story contest” and “free short stories.”
Among the most popular monthly search terms for “free short stories” and “short story contest” we can see there are:
- 241,700 Google searches for short story contests
- 40,100 searches for free short stories
- Supply for short stories exceeds demand by 83%
For comparison, “free songs” is searched for 20,400,000 times a month.
Monthly searches for “free ebooks” happen around 3,350,000 times.
But do you want to get blog traffic through free ebooks?
What this tells us
Making art for art’s sake won’t help promote your writing, because people don’t think of the internet as a credible source for short stories.
Instead, you need to find a topic that relates to your art and write about that.
Do you write sci-fi short stories about robots?
Write about robotics, automation, and the coming singularity.
Write romance novels set in France?
Write blog posts about the French countryside, French cuisine, and French culture.
- Promote your writing or your artwork by finding a topic that’s being discussed right now by your potential fans
- Craft that blog post to your short story or artwork’s theme
- Link to that piece from the post
- Get loyal blog readers who turn into loyal fans who will buy your Masterpiece
I did something like this when I wrote a blog post for a short story recently. I’ll probably keep doing this. It’s slow going, but it does get more traffic than a short story in a vacuum.
Better yet, I get to elaborate on the theme of the story itself.
We make art about the things we care about. That’s making art for art’s sake. When you’re promoting that art, you need to make art for your future fan’s sake.
When you’re big and famous, the two will finally merge. But until then, don’t just make art for art’s sake!
Looking for more? I’m working on a guide to Facebook & content marketing for writers looking to promote their books, due early 2013.
Photo Credit: Stuck in Customs