When I first started the Bailey Boat Cat blog, I’d just finished my degree with the Open University and I was excited about having more time to write. I really wanted to blog about our life afloat, but the blogosphere was saturated with other sailing blogs and we weren’t doing anything that exciting to make us stand out from the crowd. I spent weeks wondering what I could blog about and how I could make myself be creative daily. One day I was watching Bailey, our cat, and I realised that he saw a completely different side to our life living and travelling on a sailboat.
I never imagined that Bailey Boat Cat would be made into a book or even dreamed that it would be anywhere near as successful as it has been. (The fact Bailey is so photogenic has definitely helped.) I worked hard to grow a readership for the blog and I really tried to be true to Bailey’s voice initially. Now, when I write as Bailey, I don’t even need to think about it. In fact, sometimes I have to correct myself when Bailey’isms pop out when I’m writing! I wrote an article for Writers and Artists entitled Know your Audience and Grow your Readership with lots of details and ideas on how to expand your blog’s readership, but the main points are as follows;
*Post consistently, focusing on your subject or field.
*Take time to respond to comments and interact with other blogs.
*Ensure your blog is easy to navigate with a design you’re proud of.
*Tag and share your posts on social media.
*Have fun! You’re writing about your life, passion and interests whilst meeting new contacts from all around the world!
Once you have a loyal readership, your blog will naturally develop as other blogs and readers share your posts and link back to you.
So what happens if you get the attention of a publishing house?
This leads me on to my first big mistake… I didn’t have a ‘contact me’ section on Bailey’s blog. *I’m hanging my head in shame!*
When the senior editor interested in developing Bailey Boat Cat into a book wanted to contact me, she couldn’t find an email address or any contact information. Luckily for me, she
purrsisted persisted and sent a message to Bailey, via his Facebook page.
Looking back at it now, I was extremely lucky that Jess (now a good friend) took the time to click through onto social media and reach out that way. To have a genuine query from a publisher interested in your blog is like finding gold coins whilst rock-pooling. It nearly never happens! You need to make it as easy as possible for agents, publishers or potential sponsors and collaborators to contact you.
It’s a good idea to either use a ‘contact me’ form or write your email address with a break in it to discourage bots from sending you lots of junk. For example in my contact section for this blog, my email is written as: louamykennedy AT gmail.com. Now, a real person who wants to send me an email, has everything they need to do so. I’ve also popped a note there to say that it might take me a little while to respond, since I don’t always have a great internet connection depending on where we are. This will hopefully help any professionals who are used to instant responses not to worry or consider me rude.
I think generally, if you’re honest in both your blog and any correspondence with people you meet through your blog privately, you’re much more likely to attract decent people who really do care about you and your work. I’ve been very lucky to make some fantastic friends all over the world thanks to Bailey and I hope to do the same with my latest venture, writing as *hides face behind Bailey and April* myself! Most readers who want to interact with you will do so either by commenting on your blog or by clicking through to your social media accounts but please don’t make the same mistake I did… Give potential publishers and collaborators a way to contact you professionally and directly.
Wishing you all Summery Sandy Toes,