One day mystery novelist Yang-May Ooi stepped from the characters of her imagination to engaging with real people online through blogs. Soon Yang-May found that she could successful use her blog to promote her books. In a little over a year her blog went from 200 visitors a month to over 8000. Soon people were asking her for advice on social media. Yang-May had expanded her fantasy world of writing fiction to include one of conversations with people from all over the world.
Blogger Story Teller: Yang-May Ooi, Fusion View
I was recently profiled in the journal of the International Association of Business Communicators, Communication World, about how I have evolved from a novelist into a blogger - download “A Novel Approach”. It started me thinking about how my love affair with blogging started and how, at the start of my venture into the online world, I had no idea that it would lead me to develop a valuable expertise that would become the foundation for my social media consultancy here at ZenGuide.
After publishing two novels, I stopped and started a number of third novels only to stumble into the doldrums after the first few chapters. I found that I did not have the inclination any more to sit quietly by myself and my imaginary characters, engaging in an imaginary landscape. The real world and all its real activities and people seemed much more interesting. I was also finding myself intrigued by developments in technology and in particular web-based technologies.
For those who have read my two legal thrillers, they will know that technology and gadgets play a critical role in the stories. In my first novel, The Flame Tree, the hero Luke does something clever with his mobile phone so he can secretly record a dangerous meeting with the bad guy and the heroine Jasmine dials in to listen to the message from her office phone - only to find that it cuts off just at the point that gunshots ring out.
In Mindgame, Sam encrypts secret files into the code of digital photographs before destroying the original CDs and computer hard drive and the whole plot revolves around mind control using drugs and computer-generated imagery (CGI) in real time. So it was only a small step for me to move from being an author to a geek, checking out all the clever Web 2.0 gadgetry that is changing the way that we all communicate and relate to each other.
I started blogging to try and kickstart my enthusiasm for writing. I started out at www.yangmayooi.blogspot.com with Yang-May Ooi’s LitBlog, playing around with the HTML code to semi-personalise the standard template. I wrote a few posts and had a go and connecting with other bloggers and networks. The blog was picked up fairly quickly by Global Voices Online, the site that watches and comments on bridge blogs ie blogs that bridge cultures.
After a month or so, I realised that there was huge potential to use blogging as a marketing tool for my books and to share my experience as a published novelist in an increasingly competitive publishing market. My home-made site looked a bit tacky and lame in my eyes so I commissioned web designers to re-design the site - it was not cheap but, looking back, it was the best investment I have made in my life.
The new site Fusion View has a confident, professional feel to it and many people have commented to me how much they like the look of it. For my books website, the designers retained the same design but tweaked it in different colours, thereby giving me two sites that sat well together within a branded identity. I was also then able to have the same designers create the look for ZenGuide many months later, within the same branded identity.
And as I blogged and explored the online world, concepts like “new media” and “social media” began to emerge. It seemed I was one of the new communicators. When I started blogging in April 2006, I had 200 unique visitors a month. Last month (May 2007), Fusion View clocked just over 8,000 unique visitors.
People were starting to ask me for advice about how to use blogging in a business context. As I approach social media from the point of view of a communicator and writer rather than as a programmer or web developer, I can help my clients focus on developing quality content. Clients have also appreciated my experience in the legal and business worlds so that we can discuss in-depth how social media fits in with their marketing and business strategies. So, it made sense to start up a new blog and website for this specialist consultancy service so that all the technology- and social media- related information could sit in a distinct place from the cross-cultural arts and writing posts that make up Fusion View.
I’m having a fun time with this social media consultancy. It combines online activities like blogging with offline activities like meeting with clients, giving seminars and networking - which for me feels much more rounded than sitting alone in a fantasy world of fiction. I’ve learnt a great deal about social networks and online communications tools and I’m learning more every day in this ever-moving sector. I’ve also met some interesting and dynamic people on this journey so far and I’m looking forward to meeting many more - online and offline.