For professional authors, writing is your job, and there is a lot of work involved in it. The hardest work is in building an audience for your writing. Nearly every other article I’ve written is about what to do to reach people near you, but people often ask how they can reach people beyond their physical ability to be there. Or maybe you can be there, but your niche is difficult to find. The internet has 3 tools you can use together to grow your audience.
It all starts with blogging. If you are an author with Tate Publishing, you may already have a website with a blog. You can ask your Marketing Consultant how to get one if you don’t already have one. Or you can start one on your own by going to WordPress.com, blogspot.com, or any other blog hosting service. Most have free options and paid options. The blog you’re reading is one I pay nothing for. So how do you start?
1) Decide your frequency
Before you post a single thing on your blog, you should decide how often you will blog and STICK TO IT! Daily is great unless you blog for three days and never blog again. Monthly is too infrequent, but it’s a good start if you aren’t sure you can stick it out. Ideally, twice a week or once a week on specific days is what you should shoot for.
What do you write? One of my favorite teachers in the world of sales and marketing is Jeffrey Gitomer, whose newsletter I try to read every week. Jeffrey’s article on writing to relax demonstrates that something you need to do for work can actually flow naturally from something you want to do to relax. Here is a the link to his article: http://www.gitomer.com/articles/ViewPublicArticle.html?key=ajcdMibak3P8c%2BzzDDgyNQ%3D%3D. (I’ve pasted it below if you don’t like to click links.)
2) Build your inventory
The surest way to fail at blogging is to have to come up with something new every time you sit down. This is like going grocery shopping every single day. I have five kids, and as I write this, 60% of them are teenagers. We already have trouble keeping food in the house when we shop every week. If we tried to shop for that day’s meals (and snacks), we’d do nothing but drive back and forth to the store. We don’t want to do that, and you don’t want to get yourself into a similar trap. The exercises in Jeffrey Gitomer’s article will help you build this inventory. Do what he says and come up with 10 or 15 or even 20 blog posts before you post a single one. That way you are feeding your audience from a full cupboard. When you have good writing days, add those to your inventory. When you have bad writing days, pull from your inventory and post away.
The best way to do this is to write in a document (Word, Pages, Works, whatever) and save it in a specific folder on your computer. Then you can copy and paste from your doc to your blog. There will be days when you have a time- or season-specific post that you write and post immediately. Good! That’s another day your inventory goes untouched!
If you are an author, you already have an inventory. It’s called your book. Have you ever heard of The Pioneer Woman? How about the book and movie Marley and Me? Both started as blogs. Many books start out as a blog, and often the book contains little more than the blog posts strung together! As an author who already has a book, you can reverse engineer that. Put your whole book out on your blog one snippet at a time. Don’t worry about giving too much away unless your book is fiction. People often ask bloggers to compile their blogs into a book. You’ll gain both online and in book sales.
If you’re a fiction author, use your blog posts as your Blu-Ray extras. Tell the back stories of your characters, the connections to real life, how you came up with the idea, where the characters go after the end, anything that gives your readers more. There will be people who find your blog first and buy your book because they already know your characters.
3) Keep it brief
I’m not following my own advice here, but I’m not trying to build an audience with this. To get people’s attention, it is best to give them short treats more often than long ones infrequently. 150-500 words should be your guide. Use the word count tool in your document until you gain a natural feel for this length. If you have a post that just needs to be longer than that, break it into 2 or 3 pieces and post on 2 or 3 different days.
4) Post and spread
I’m going to apologize for this analogy up front, because I’m going to compare our writing to manure. If you collect manure in one place, it won’t do anything but stink. If you spread it on a field, it helps bring life. You can see where I’m going: Don’t collect your writing on your blog and expect it to bring life. Now, the analogy breaks down because our writing doesn’t stink, but if even something that does can bring life, how much more can good writing?
The way to spread it is to make good use of facebook and twitter. If you vowed never to get on either, it’s time for a new vow. There are a lot of people on facebook and twitter, and there are some easy things you can do on both that will give you real benefits. It is now officially stupid not to be on them. If that offends you, be offended, but do something about it.
Fortunately, it is easy to learn. I originally wrote this as an email to the authors I serve. When I finished sending it, I copied and pasted it to my blog, just as you’ll do with blogs from your inventory. A warning before I continue: This next part will sound like gibberish to the uninitiated. I’ll initiate you later.
I have my Twitter account connected to Facebook, so anything I tweet becomes my status update on Facebook. I copy the address of my blog post and go to bitly.com. I paste it in and shorten it. (This is important because Twitter forces brevity by only giving you 140 characters.) My tweets have 3 or 4 components: The title of the blog post, a very brief explanation or shout-out to another Tweeter if needed, the shortened link, and 1 or 2 hashtags. For the original version of this post that focused more on the concept of writing to relax, my tweet said:
#Authors, writing to… relax??? Jeffrey @gitomer does it, and you can turn it into #bookmarketing: http://bit.ly/13KIjnq.
This is 122 characters, and it uses 2 hashtags and a shout-out, all in context. (HINT: Using them in context reads a little funny, but it does save characters.)
TRANSLATION FOR THOSE WHO NEED IT:
I’m going to work backwards here, so I’ll start with hashtags. What the heck are they? It’s Twitter’s way of dealing with key words that help people find tweets they are interested in, and other social media sites have begun using them as well. You’ve seen it on the screen of almost every TV show, and they look like this: #hashtag. The # symbol tells twitter it’s a keyword, and the letters after it comprise the key word. There are no spaces in hashtags, so if your key word is “adult fiction”, you’ll use #adultfiction. It’s read like this: “hashtag adult fiction”.
If you use good hashtags, people WILL find you. I know this from experience. I don’t care if there’s not a single soul following me on Twitter; I do this to help the authors who have contracted with my company. But I tried using #bookmarketing and #author on my tweets, and people started following me. (Some of you reading this found me that way.) Given how infrequently I blog, I’ve been stunned by these results. To date, I have over 300 followers on Twitter without trying much to get a single one.
Pick a hashtag that isn’t too general nor too specific. If you really do write adult fiction, use #adultfiction, but make sure you use something more specific, like #drama, #scifi, #romance, or #action. Twitter tracks these, and it learns over time what I’m interested in. So my twitter page will feed me with tweets from others who tweet about these topics. In other words, it leads you right to people in your audience. More importantly, it leads them to you.
Shout-outs are ways to hitch your wagon to another successful person who is also on Twitter. When I type “@gitomer” in my tweet, Twitter automatically turns that into a link to Jeffrey’s Twitter page.
Now do you see why you need to be on Twitter? Facebook provides similar opportunities but it also offers the opportunity to connect a little more deeply.
If you are not on either one, sign up for facebook first. Write down your username and password. Then go sign up for Twitter. During sign up, it will ask if you want to connect your Twitter to your facebook. Say yes. You’ll need your username and password, and you’ll need to give Twitter permission to access facebook. I believe it is because of this connection that hashtags became a standard on facebook within months after I posted the first version of this blog predicting that very thing. I’ve even seen people use them in texts, even though they don’t actually “do” anything there. It’s becoming a shorthand way to say, “This is the key word here.”
Accept almost every follower on Twitter and every friend request on facebook. That way what you do will show up on their pages, giving their followers and friends the opportunity to find you. I say almost because there are people who use facebook and Twitter to try to scam people or lead them to seedy sites. If it smells fishy, play it safe and decline them.
Those are the instructions for the 3 best tools on the internet. Others like Instagram and Pinterest that are more photo-based are good if you or your book are more photo-inclined. Get these three down first and then go make friends with someone who is 14-24 years old to see what new networks are out there!
Here’s the article from Jeffrey Gitomer:
Think the “Write” Way. Do the “Write” Thing. And All Will Be Well.
You’ve heard that word since the first time you got angry or upset. Or maybe it’s a word in your head that beacons reality. Pent up frustration, worry, or concern about the present or the future – or both – and nervousness about what’s about to happen in the world, at work, at home, or in your personal life.
RELAX! is easy to say, hard to do.
Here are my secrets for maintaining inner peace and fulfillment in a world filled with distractions, diversions, and distortions:
1. Write down all the crap clogging your brain. Get rid of your mental clutter. As soon as you write the details, you no longer have to dwell on them, or remember them – and your mind is free to think. Try it. It’s amazing and mentally relaxing (almost a relief). The bonus of an uncluttered mind is that ideas and resolutions to your issues and challenges will begin to manifest themselves daily.
2. Write down your present situation. What’s going on in your life right now? What’s the status of all things work, family, friends, life, and self? More amazing than unclogging, writing your present situation actually creates answers to situations that have been bugging you. Oh, and it also helps relax you.
3. Write down your dreams and thoughts. Everyone has thoughts of “one day I’ll…,” or “someday I’ll…,” but those words are usually just spoken. REALITY: Those thoughts are just pipe dreams until they’re written down, formalized, and crystalized. Writing your dreams will help you see a more clear and focused picture of them.
4. Find a quiet park or a garden where you can sit and think, read, or write for an hour. Invest quality time with yourself DAILY. This is the most relaxing of all outlets IF you have done the first three things I’ve recommended.
5. Read something positive, and write down the most inspiring quotes. Create a mailing list of important people to share them with. Make sure you acknowledge the author.
6. Mentally go to all the positive places where you’ve been before. Those thoughts will lead you to stories and lessons – write them down right away. Then blog them.
6.5 Blog your thoughts, ideas, and experiences. Blogging not only creates a public avenue for you to publish and express yourself, it also positions you and your views to the world. Your ideas may matter to some people in the world, and the feeling of accomplishment will give you a feeling of personal pride and fulfillment. I have decided that 2013 will be my “year of the blog,” consisting of an intensive, daily effort for me to talk about and video about sales, business, and life. You can see my blog history at http://www.salesblog.com. Got blog? Air your thoughts to the world!
There are other things you can DO beyond writing to relax…
Play with a kid. It’s an amazing elixir for relaxing and having fun.
Go shopping for yourself. It makes you feel good to do things for YOU.
Make a list of ten people from high school or college you want to reconnect with. Call them, don’t just Facebook them. These are people you knew in your responsibility-free days.
Take a walk someplace you’ve never been before. Look around as you walk. Marvel at things. Take a few pictures. Write a few notes. Sit down and soak it in.
Book a weekend trip. Make a list of the places you’ll go and the things you’ll do. Often just the action of writing and planning the getaway will change your mood and your thinking, and that can calm you.
GOTTA GET AWAY? Need a vacation? That’s because you’re not relaxing every day. When the “need to get away” is a dominant thought, it’s a symptom, not a problem or a goal. The reality is you’re not relaxing on a daily basis.
RELAXATION REALITY It’s likely you’ll need to make some personal changes if true relaxation is to permeate your life. Avoid negative events, negative things, negative news, and especially negative people.
“Jeffrey I can’t eliminate these things!” you exclaim.
Relax dude, just relax.
Jeffrey Gitomer is the author of twelve best-selling books including The Sales Bible and The Little Red Book of Selling. His forthcoming book, 21.5 Unbreakable Laws of Selling, will be available September 3rd, and will feature a national public seminar tour. Get the details at http://www.gitomer.com. It will lead you to more information about training and seminars, or email him personally at email@example.com.
– See more at: http://www.gitomer.com/articles/ViewPublicArticle.html?key=ajcdMibak3P8c%2BzzDDgyNQ%3D%3D#sthash.FXUhwPXA.dpuf