Blogging, Marketing & Social Media: Three Rules I Break & Why

This is one of those posts that I hesitate to write, simply because there is a whole lot of “You should do X & must do Y” advice that, er, Becca and I do not do. Maybe this costs us sometimes, but it’s what works for us. So, I’m going to pull the curtain back a bit and offer some food for thought.

Before we move on…

There’s no judgements here on what other people do. This is about what Becca & I do. I will try to give my reasons for the choices we’ve made. Mileage may vary.

Monetizing Our Blog

piggy bankYou will notice there are no ads here, no requests for donations, no “tip jar” set up. Have people expressed a desire to tip? Yes. Could we make money with ads based on traffic? You bet. Have people offered to pay us for ad space? Many times. But honestly, Becca and I feel everyone gets enough BUY, BUY, BUY elsewhere, and we don’t want Writers Helping Writers to be bulked up with Google Ads and the like.

So, we’ve chosen not to monetize our blog beyond a few affiliate links to Amazon. If, down the road, we have a sidebar link to another site or service it’s because we believe in that site’s purpose, not because we’re being paid.

Are we leaving money on the table? Probably. But to us, your shares, referrals and word of mouth about our books, the Writers Helping Writers site, and now our One Stop For Writers library too…these are all the thanks we need.

If you want to support us and what we do, just tell a writing friend about us and our work. That helps so much.  🙂

Thanking Everyone Who Tweets & Shares

2thanky ouOkay, here’s the thing. Would I love to do this? Yes. And do I absolutely appreciate the time that everyone takes when they tweet me or share a link? Holy heck, yes! But the reality is that I get so many re-tweets now that to respond to them all I would literally be doing nothing each day but thanking people in tweets.

I know you guys love good writing content, and I try to find it, build it, and share it. I am betting that if asked, you’d say you’d rather me be doing that (and, you know, write more books) than spend that time thanking you for each tweet.

So, I made a judgement call and stick to an occasional “thank you all for the tweets” post. I respond to all conversation though, and always will. I hope you’re all okay with this and understand where I’m at, because I love you guys!

Use Free Incentives for Newsletter Sign Ups

It’s practically the Golden Rule: give something away for free to encourage people to sign up for a newsletter. And…it’s a rule I break, with good reason.

To me a newsletter should be personal, fun, entertaining or have high value. People should want to read it. You can give the best freebie in the world away, but if you don’t follow through with a newsletter that keeps their interest, not only will they unsubscribe right away anyway, their disappointment will probably cause them to hesitate when you do have a book or product for sale.

newsletterThe other reason is because I see people misuse freebies all the time. Even the big marketing gurus who offer free courses or webinars can go too far with the hard sell. I’ve attended more than a few webinars on how to market better, increase newsletter sign ups, build a sales funnel, etc. only to see the same manipulative techniques they teach being deployed in their follow up emails, all in hopes of “up-selling” a coaching service they provide.

Look, I get marketing. After all, girl gotta eat. Becca and I & our collective families? Yep, we gotta eat. So Coaching Gurus, well, they gotta eat too.

But when marketing is done poorly, it leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I don’t want anyone to feel that way because of something I do. I’d rather be transparent and just point you right to our Tools For Writers page, which is brimming with free, rather than make you do something to get free things.

(Really, visit and grab what you need. Becca and I like to share this stuff because we believe we should all grow and succeed together.)

When it comes to newsletters, I still have a lot to learn. I’m working hard to create ones that give my readers what the need and want. But I’d rather spend time growing my skills and focus on the content than try and entice people to sign up with the lure of “free.”

And here’s the thing…even without freebies, I average about 100 or so new sign ups between newsletters. So I really think it’s about the content, not the sign up bonus. So if you want to offer the free item on sign up, go for it. But make sure your focus is KEEPING subscribers, not just getting them to add their email.

(By the way, I love every one of our subscribers and their willingness to follow my lunatic ravings er, rambles!)

That’s my three. What rules do you break and why? Let me know in the comments!


Image 1: Mdgrafik0 @ Pixabay
Image2: Ryan McGuire @Pixabay
Image3: Model4you @ Pixabay


Angela is an international speaker and bestselling author who loves to travel, teach, empower writers, and pay-it-forward. She also enjoys dreaming up new tools and resources for One Stop For Writers, a library built to help writers elevate their storytelling.
This entry was posted in About Us, Social Networking, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

54 Responses to Blogging, Marketing & Social Media: Three Rules I Break & Why

  1. I like this. Very good information. I do have one google ad running and I’m not sure I want to keep it. I want my blog to be about the content, but I also know that “girl has to eat” too. I mostly offer Amazon affiliate links of stuff that I try/use and help make my life better. Beyond that, I just want people to read the content. Hopefully I’m offering something that helps change the world. I do get many comments from people thanking me for what I write.

    One thing I’ve not done is work on a mailing list and I’m probably missing out.

    • It might not hurt to start that now. 🙂 Mailing lists via newsletters can be very helpful. You don’t have to sent them out all the time, just be consistent when you do (say every 2 or 3 months, or whatever pattern you want to follow) and always provide high value. Even if you just do a short personal update and then a round up of AMAZING articles, that would be something your readers might be interested in 🙂

  2. mary says:

    I’m a newbie at this. My website is up but not really running. But I’m paying attention to websites that irritate me and yours doesn’t. And I think it is because of the “rules” you break. Thanks

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  4. LOVE this! I don’t sign up for newsletters because of freebies. I’m more than happy when there aren’t any. I sign up for newsletters because I love the authors books and want to find out when her next one is out. I don’t need to be bribed with free books for that.

  5. Susan Berger says:

    I love your site and I use it. Pen and Ink is ad free and does no giveaways. It doesn’t seen appropriate. And since we have nothing to market, there is no newsletter.
    My Susan B James blog does a giveaway every week. But it’s appropriate because hopefully I am introducing readers to authors. Again, no monetizing.

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  8. Laurie Evans says:

    I never understood thanking someone for a retweet…it just seems so time-consuming. I try to keep cutting out a lot of little things that add up so I can spend more time writing.

  9. Thanks for making me feel like I am not the ONLY person who breaks those three rules! (Another rule I am breaking is “give away a book for free to get people to sign up for your mailing list”—would love to know how other authors feel about that one!)

    • Free is fine, but everyone has to remember that the true goal is KEEPING a subscriber, not just getting one. People have less and less time, and they cut away the chaff. We all need to think about how we can add value or fun or whatever makes us unique, and put that experience in the newsletter. 😉

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  11. Tai Weiland says:

    I really hate the idea of having to bribe someone to join my mailing list. So thanks for validating what I feel lol. But I feel like there’s no choice really. I mean, how else CAN I get people to sign on to my mailing list – nobody knows me or who I am. So not sure if I can do without the freebie to be honest.

    • Tai, I know where you’re coming from, and the free angle is fine. We just need to think more about how to keep people subscribed after that freebie is out of the way. That’s the real goal. 🙂

  12. Jenni says:

    Really glad you chose to break these rules and understanding why confirms my own thoughts. I’ve been torn about monetizing, but if I do it, I will limit it in a similar way. I hate hard sells, and when I see those freebies and marketing funnels coming it sometimes turns me away altogether, no matter what’s on offer.

    I think one reason your sites are so successful is that you give so much so freely, you inform with purpose, and what you have to give is pure gold. It sure keeps me coming back. Every year I go through the newsletters I’ve subscribed to and prioritize, unsubscribing from several. Yours is never in the unsubscribe category and never will be. I don’t always have time to comment, but I read and love every newsletter/post.

  13. Nancy C says:

    Thank you for doing it YOUR way 🙂

  14. Iola says:

    I also haven’t monetized my blog or website beyond Amazon affiliate links (and those are mostly so I can use book cover images without having to get permission).

    Nor do I thank people for retweets or shares, mostly because I’m generally retweeting or sharing something someone else wrote, and that seems odd. “Hi Jane. Thanks for RT’ing the article of yours I RT’ed”.

    I suspect what we do and what we don’t do comes down to our individual purpose in blogging – which is as it should be. Not everyone starts blogging to make a fortune, although you’d think they did based on some of those newsletters . . .

  15. Pat Esden says:

    I’ve signed up for many newsletter, and have eventually unsubscribe to all except for yours and one other. The other is a writer. I signed up after he taught at a conference and said additional information would be in his next newsletter. He never gives anything away, but every month there is the same mix of a new writing tip, something personal about his life, and at the very end a tiny mention about his books.

    That said, my general disappointment with most newsletter is the reason I still haven’t sent one out–though I have subscribers. I may choose to simply opt out of this bit of marketing.

    • Hi Pat, thanks for telling us what draws you to a newsletter. I think we all need to try to understand what it is that we uniquely bring to the table. What can you put into your newsletter that is uniquely Pat, something that feels authentic to your readers, something that makes them look forward to each one, like an old friend checking in?

  16. Glad to know that you feel this way! Great info!

  17. I enjoy reading your blog for precisely the reasons you state: no monetizing, no hard sells. I hate pop-ups and slide outs, so distracting.
    You give so much information and usable content which ‘incentives’ me to review your books. I’m a happy customer of your thesaurus and they have served me well. I have a link to your writing tools on my blog (among others) so that readers can see what you have to offer.
    I do thank people for RT’s but then again I get far less than you gals do and I use a social tool to keep up with that area.
    Thank you for all you do.

    • Thanks so much for linking to us–that’s very much appreciated.

      And you’ve hit the nail on the head. I hate flashy promo. So instead, I show people the value. If they agree that what they get for free is going to help them so much, then hopefully they check out my books. This sort of discovery is more up my alley than constant buy, buy, buy promotion.

  18. Sacha black says:

    Well thank god for that! I think this is a bingo moment for me. You have hit the nail on the head for both why you are one of my subscriptions and why I love your content so much. It’s authentic and genuine without the crappy sales pitch. This is something I aspire to be. I am a firm believer that quality sells itself. I would rather put hours into content than some shitty freebie that a thousand other bloggpreneurs use. It’s like (no disrespect to him) but people like Jeff goins etc do my head in with their fake pushy language in their posts and pitches EVERYTHING they do is about selling, and unfortunately he sounds like every other bloggpreneur. And u know, good for him for making mega bucks but I’d rather keep my integrity and build up slowly and genuinely. And you know what it’s working for me too. In one year I went from 15,000 hits to 100k this year I’m projected to make 200K. Ok not loads but hey I’m just starting out. And How did I do it? Being genuine and caring about people and content. I write for no one other than myself and I share absolutely everything I learn – I don’t masquerade as a guru (other than in catchy titles but hey u have to attract an audience somehow) and I don’t pretend to know it all. I’m on a journey just like everyone who visits my site and I’d like to go on that journey WITH people.

    BRILLIANT post and a wonderful reminder that you can be successful and keep your integrity.

    • Well I’ve not have personal dealing with Jeff regarding his coaching or marketing strategy so can’t speak to that, but I do think in general that anyone who offers coaching services for marketing and business has to be careful to not leave people feel manipulated.

      I think marketing and manipulation often are tied together, but they don’t have to be. I would rather help encourage someone to “buy in” (buy a product, buy a service, etc.) simply by providing value up front and and letting them choose whether the content is worth a further investment. What I see though are a lot of people being manipulated through false perceptions of scarcity or other head game angles. And with teaching marketing strategy, if you pul back the curtain to show different manipulation techniques in a webinar and then use the same techniques in follow up emails…people can now see exactly how they are being manipulated. And it doesn’t taste so good, IMO.

  19. Monique says:

    Hi Angela! Soooo happy to read about your choices and sticking to them even if it gives you less money. I decided to put more time on my writing than being on Facebook or any other social media that I still don’t master well. I know that when my 2 first Picture Books will come out this coming summer, I will have to promote and market them and be a lot more active!!! I will do it but I want to go to bed each day knowing that I did what fulfill me, not what others say I must do. So, an advice like yours is gold for me.
    Oh! by the way, I entered the competition of writing a Logline. I even put TWO of them and I loved that Becca wrote in her presentation that even if we don’t win (and I didn’t win), we will have written a good log line. It made me very happy! Sorry for the mistakes in English and again THANK YOU for everything you do for all of us. You are two pearls.

    • Monique, we all have to do what feels right for us, and it sounds like you are doing exactly that. We all need to remember that with writing, publishing and marketing, this isn’t a race. We learn as we go. It’s all good. 🙂

  20. It’s for this very reason that I’ve stripped my blog follows down to three. I grew weary of reading webinar advertisements and self-promotions. I know there is a community of writers out there who understand the process and are genuine in their efforts to lend a helping hand to someone further down the ladder. I kept your blog on that list of three because its been truly helpful.
    Thank you.

  21. Lisanne Cooper says:

    You are shining lights in the darkness of the marketing world. I have learned so much from you on what to do, and more importantly, what NOT to do. Thank you. <3

  22. Excellent post and I’m so pleased to read those opinions! I don’t monetise my blog and I don’t offer a free incentive to get people to sign up to my newsletter. The only thing I do now and then is a little contest giveaway ON the newsletter for those already subscribed. I thought perhaps we had to offer an incentive but now I’m glad I didn’t harass myself over that!

    • Meant to say that I often mention your blog and have put a link to it the newsletter I sent out today – before I’d even seen this!

      • Rosemary, thank you–that was very kind 🙂

        I think occasional contests with your newsletter subscribers is a great idea. Wherever our readers are, we need to show them we care. 🙂

        Do what works with you, what feels ‘right’ for who you are. This is how you know you’re being authentic, and people can tell. It’s what they want too–to feel they are seeing and interacting with the real you. 😉

  23. JANET KERR says:

    Thank you for your ad-free website. Some websites have so many ads, especially pop-ups, I can’t concentrate on what has been written. Because of that, I rarely visit those websites anymore.

  24. Joanne says:

    New to writing and working on my first book, your site is a go to for me. I am so impressed with the information you share, your generosity and commentaries.

    Are you going to publish in book form the Thesauruses. I bought The Emotion Thesaurus and it has been a good source of information and a good example of what feelings are and mean. I go to it often when I am stumped.

    Always look forward to your posts.

    Thank you

    Thank you,

    • Hi Joanne! So glad you found your way here, and I hope you find lots of help. 🙂 As for our books, we have 4 right now (3 full length books, and 1 free booklet) all found here: and we also have 2 more books on Setting that we’ll be releasing in June. As for the other thesaurus collections, we choose the ones that seem to be the most popular to convert into books, so we can help the most people at once. This is a slow process because we really try to explore the topic fully and bring the most value to writers. However, we also have another site to look into if you wish: One Stop For Writers has all of our completed thesaurus collections, expanded and enhanced, including our books. With everything accessible in one place, some writers find this an easier way to get what they need as they write. If you wish to check this out, you can go here:

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  26. Thank you for pulling back the curtain. I like knowing I don’t have to follow certain rules.

    • I think rules are always good, but we have to understand why they are there and decide if they fit our goals. If they don’t we need to do what is right for each of us and not be afraid to deviate from the path. 😉

  27. I love your website and content, and respect your marketing strategies. 🙂

    • Thanks Jennifer! I know I probably drive some people nuts who are true marketing masters, because I am sure if i applied certain strategies, our site and our work would reach even more people. But at the end of the day, we do the things that stick true to our brand, and our brand is putting writers first. 🙂

  28. Your content is excellent and your freebies are awesome. You get lots of visitors because of great content. Keep up the great work!!

  29. Fiona says:

    I think this is an excellent post, Angela. For me, a lot of blogs tend to follow the tired old “promote free, help me” angle. I think those blogs (like yours) that focus on quality content and a genuine good will behind them are naturally much more successful. It’s not about “how many people can I ensnare”. It’s about “how many people can I help”. Like attracts like, too. A community of writers is built on the kindness we show each other. I for one am thrilled at what you have created with Writers Helping Writers and I hope to see your site grow and grow. After all, the key is that your supporters want you to grow.

    • “Like attracts like, too.”

      Yes, exactly–this is one of the many reasons why I love the writing community. For the most part, people are supportive and kind, and work to help the people around them. It’s a great example of how people can grow and succeed so well together.

      I do think though that as authors or as businesses that tie into this industry (coaching & marketing services, publishing services, writing services, etc.) there can be an urgency that pushes people to market themselves a bit too hard. There is a lot of choice out there, and people feel the pressure of it, and the need to snag their piece of the audience.

      Certainly I am not immune–I have probably allowed my enthusiasm get away from me sometimes. But I think it’s important we don’t go overboard with aggressive marketing. We should always keep our audience in the front of our mind, and what we can do for them, not what they can do for us. I think people who figure that simple piece of it out do very well, because it shows they are genuine and authentic, and willing to help others, not just look out for themselves. And you are so right that the key is building something amazing is having supporters who wish for it to grow and who are invested in your success and happiness just as you are invested in theirs.

      Thanks so much for the kind words, Fiona!

      All that said, time is something we all have to manage, and so we also have to figure out how to use time to give the audience what they want most. This is why I don’t always say thank you on twitter, for example. I’d rather spend that time finding & creating what I think my audience needs and trust they know how much I appreciate them without thanking every tweet. 🙂

    • liz n. says:

      “A community of writers is built on the kindness we show each other.”

      Spot on. I found WHWW because another writer recommended this site…which had been recommended to him by another writer, who’d been guided here by yet another writer…and so on and so on.

      I do hope that Angela, et al, are reaping monetary rewards for this excellent place they’ve created, but I also very much appreciate the lack of advertising here. Cannot tell you how many sites I no longer visit because even though the content is good, I end up searching for the mystery audio ad to shut it up, pages take forever to load because they’re so graphics-heavy with ads, or there’s at least one sponsored post a week (which ALWAYS come off as commercials disguised as blog posts).

      Angela: Cannot thank you enough for this safe haven!

      • And I am so grateful to writers for sharing us like this! Word of mouth is so valuable in a world where there is unlimited choice. This is why we have to decide what it is we do, and then do it well–do it the very best way we can. 🙂 The rest will follow.

        So very happy you have found a home here–I love hearing that! 🙂

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