Make it Work
Make It Pay
There are 58.5 million Tumblr blogs and few turn into book deals. A lot of it depends on luck and timing, but there are ways to hurry the process along. Brenna Ehrlich, of Stuff Hipsters Hate, created her blog for fun, but along the way used it to advance her career. While any recommendation doesn’t mean a guarantee, here are a few steps that any aspiring writer can take:
Use what you know
Many successful Tumblr bloggers-turned-published-writers didn’t have to look far in order to know what their subject matter would be. Stuff Hipsters Hate was born as a result of Ehrlich emailing her friend Andrea Bartz during work about “a guy I had gone out with the previous night, who I had dubbed ‘I Hate Everything Hipster,’ due to his disdain for bikes, concerts, his parents, jeans, going to the park, etc,” Ehrlich said. Ehrlich and Bartz had talked about starting a blog for a while, and decided hipsters were their area of expertise.
Create original content
While Tumblr encourages re-blogging and sharing other content, it’s important to have original content that can’t be found elsewhere. Ehrlich and Bartz wrote all of their own content, taking turns finding photos on Flickr Creative Commons and writing posts. “Some people have mistakenly called it a ‘Photo Blog,’ but those people obviously didn’t bother to read it,” Ehrlich said. Three new posts were published on SHH daily, which equaled three hours of writing a day.
Ask for a share
Building a following is the next step and most challenging. However, the simplest answer is not the most obvious: just ask. “As for promoting [Stuff Hipsters Hate] … we emailed a bunch of friends after we had a lot of content and told them to share it out — but not reveal our identity,” she said.
Do your own outreach
Commenting on other blog posts and linking to other blogs is recommended step for more traditional blogs and works with Tumblr too. Don’t forget to set up a Google Alert, it’s an easy way to ferret out related content. “One day, we noticed that we were getting a lot of hits because someone had posted a post in the comments section of an article, so I started posting applicable posts in the comments of any article about hipsters every morning after that,” Ehrlich said. Ehrlich and Bartz also started guest blogging for Heeb Magazine, which allowed for cross-promotional opportunities.
Don’t let criticism hold you back
Sometimes luck needs to be a on a writer’s side, but getting a lot of attention overnight can lead to backlash. Once Peggy Wang (of the Pains of Being Pure at Heart and Buzzfeed) saw the blog and posted it to Buzzfeed, the rest was history. It also brought on a Gawker article. “They wrote a kind of dismissive piece on it (surprise, surprise),”she said. “But we got a ton of traffic and new readers.” They celebrated with expensive whiskey, knowing SHH had made it.
After all the media attention, it wasn’t long before offers started coming in from publishing companies. Luckily, an agent got in touch and helped them navigate through. Along with the publishing deal, Ehrlich began working at Mashable, found herself at MTV, and working on a new book. “I’m aware that I struck it lucky in terms of timing, but Andi and I did put a ton of hard work into the blog — I’ve always been a writer — but I never thought I would write a book. Granted, Stuff Hipsters Hate isn’t the longest book ever, but it did convince me that I could produce something long form and cohesive.”