Do images drive traffic to your blog?

It’s late autumn here, my favourite time of year. Blue skies, warm in the sun, cool in the shade. The last of the leaves are falling and–


Katoomba Autumn Leaves copyright RW

Autumn leaves by Rodney Weidland (used with permission)

Is that better?

Last Saturday, I put into practice tips I’d heard at Random House Australia’s National Book Bloggers Forum. (You can read about it here.) I learned a few things from my experiment. Some titles work. Some don’t. Mine, “Jonquils, pancakes and books”, sucks. Use titles relevant to the content of your post, we were told. Why didn’t I remember that?

Another tip was to use images. But what kind of images? Commenting on my post, author Annabel Smith wrote that she find posts that use stock photos “impersonal and offputting”. I agree.

Yet photos do work. In my case, a simple photo of jonquils outperformed many of my other posts, both on my personal Facebook page and the Australian Women Writers page. Someone even shared it. Engagement was even higher when I added a question: “Name your favourite story that features flowers?”

Things were a little different on Twitter. That’s how I knew my title sucked. Not until I tweeted the link with “5 tips for book bloggers” did I get a result. That attracted far more “retweets” and clicks to the blog. (Well, some.)

The trouble is, I hate titles like that. Almost as much as I hate stock photos.

One of the things we hear lots about is the need to identify your “voice” as a writer. The same goes for bloggers. But how are we going to do that if we all start to sound like some third-rate marketing guru? The authors I admire on social media are the ones who aren’t afraid to be themselves, who reveal their creativity, originality, ingenuity and occasional vulnerability in their tweets and posts.

Yet there’s a catch.

It doesn’t matter how creative, original and ingenious authors are, somehow they have to come to people’s attention in the first place. They have to be “discoverable”. The same applies to book bloggers. Reviewing for Australian Women Writers Challenge can help – but even the challenge, in some ways, has become a victim of its own success. There are so many talented Australian authors and bloggers out there, most of whom, it seems, are women.

I’m not kidding.

Last year there were 500+ female Australian authors reviewed for the challenge and many of their books only attracted one review. Of those, I read around 50. How many authors’ names could I rattle off now without thinking? A few more than that, if I’m lucky. (That would be a good test.) But 500? No way. And these are, for the most part, traditionally published authors. Women with a team behind them who have created great stories in their chosen genres. And book bloggers? Of 274 people signed up to read and review for the challenge this year, I’d be lucky to remember… I’d hate to say.

You see the problem.

This brings me back to images, and what to do with them.

Well, here’s the thing. This week, I’m trying something different. As an experiment, I’ve adapted the autumn leaves photo above to include text. The experiment will be to post the photo to Facebook and Twitter and see how many “clicks” or “shares” it gets, compared to my non-visual posts. I’ve also added the URL of this website at the bottom.

Here it is.


Katoomba Autumn Leaves note and LCWill it catch on? Maybe with the Granny set. Perhaps I should have tried different wording? What do you think?


Jonquils, pancakes and books – an experiment in discoverability

jonquils May 2014I’m conducting an experiment.

On Tuesday at the National Book Bloggers Forum, one of Random House’s tech gurus talked about ways book bloggers could boost interest in their blogs and Facebook pages, especially now that Facebook has been cutting down traffic for people who have “liked” your page – unless you pay.

In a fascinating talk that all made sense at the time, this guru (Eva Bui) talked about Google Analytics and trends. She discussed the importance of adding visual elements to your posts. And lists. And catchy headings. Like, maybe:

5 things all book bloggers should do

  • add a graphic
  • create a list
  • use imperatives (“Share this!”)
  • ask questions which engage your audience
  • talk about food

Food? Yeah, right. On a blog about books and reading?

In the break, I asked Eva how posting recipes was going to help a book blogger. She said the benefit would be indirect. Food, chocolate, cats – we all know the posts – are so popular, using pictures of them might drive traffic to your page. More hits on your page means more people start to see your posts in their Timelines. They might even see links to your blog posts and come visit. While they’re visiting, they might read your discussions about books. Extra blog traffic could even mean Google will take notice, and maybe your posts will appear higher on search results.

Ok-ay… It’s worth a try.

So I’m experimenting. Earlier today I posted this picture of jonquils on the Australian Women Writers Facebook page. It’s not a great photo, just one I took in the garden this morning. I put no commentary. Nothing about the unseasonably warm weather we’re having for May, let alone any suggestion of global warming. Just the photo with a question: “What’s your favourite story that features flowers?” (Could have been snappier.)

Guess what? Comments! Not many. Yet. But more than I’ve been getting with my Twitter feed to the page. Someone even shared the photo!

These Random House tech gurus are on to something. The AWW page is (slightly) more “discoverable”. Now I’m going to go away and find a good pancake recipe…

What about you? Share your favourite book blogging tips here.

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