Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Don't Create Content Faster Than Your Readers Can Consume It

Most of the time on The Literary Mercenary, I'm focused on authors. Those strange, mostly lone creatures who spend somewhere between several months and several years telling a story with their fingers, who then publish that story in order to tell it to the world at large. However, those of us who aren't blessed with a huge fan base and massive royalty checks likely supplement books with other forms of creativity. I, for instance, am a freelance RPG designer, I write articles on InfoBarrel, and I run two regular blogs in addition to a lot of other freelance work.

What I'm saying is that I create a lot of content. Which is why I'd like to pass on this simple lesson; try to balance the ratio of stuff you make, to the amount of promotion you can do for it.

If A Tree Falls In A Forest...

Well, fall might be the wrong word...
If you write something, you need to get the word out about it if you expect to put eyes on your work. We all know the way this game is played. You write something, you edit it, and then once you have it published, you promote it. You blast the links on social media, get your network to help boost the signal, and then you hope for the ripples you created to grow.

Now, the advantage of writing a book is that you can spread your promotion out. You can do giveaways, interviews, get reviews from bloggers, do signings, etc. In fact, you can promote a single book for months before the train starts running out of steam. The reason for that is because, generally, you release new books with a lot of time between them. Even truly prolific authors will only come out with a few books a year, without the help of ghostwriters. This is an advantage for you, as well as your readers, because they can only consume so much content so quickly.

With other mediums, though, it's easy to do too much. Fellow bloggers, I'm looking at you.

Finding A Balance

Now, writing a blog, or working with user-created content sites that pay you based on views, are good ways to develop a following, in addition to creating revenue streams. And, generally speaking, if you have a big archive of work, then you'll get more income. Which is why it makes sense to try and create as much content as possible, as quickly as possible.

Number of posts, times average views per post, divided by some root...
While it's true that you will get more views when you have a big archive of content, it's important to remember that you are going to get the biggest number of hits on an individual post or article during the debut period (sometimes you'll see peaks and valleys with popular pieces, but for every one of those you write, you'll have a hundred others who are slow and steady). Just like with a book, you will see the most action when it's shiny, new, and getting all your promotional efforts. However, unlike a book, you can feasibly write several blog entries, or articles, per day.

You shouldn't, though, for the simple reason that you'll quickly overwhelm your ability to promote.

I'll put some of this in perspective. On average, I write three blog entries a week (one here, and two on my sister blog Improved Initiative), and two to three InfoBarrel articles a month. That's between twelve and fifteen pieces of content, give or take. That doesn't sound like much, but it's important to remember that if you over-promote on social media, then you lose followers. On forum sites, it gets you barred. So you need to look at how much content you can realistically produce, and how much of it you can promote, and where. If your work starts falling through the cracks, chances are it's time to take your foot off the gas.

You can create additional content that you aren't actively promoting. It's even possible that, through luck and circumstance, content that you don't promote will catch someone's eye, and become a viral sensation. But that isn't as likely to happen as it is with content that you broadcast to your readers and followers.

In order to keep them happy, and make sure they spread the word about what you're doing, you need to ask yourself how much your readers can digest. Don't try to make them bite off more than they can chew.

As always, thanks for stopping in to check out this week's addition to the Business of Writing section. If you'd like to help support me and my work, then why not drop by The Literary Mercenary's Patreon page to become a patron today? As little as $1 a month can make a big difference, and help me keep producing the content you want to see. Lastly, if you haven't done so yet, why not follow me on Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter?

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