Category Archives: Blogging

Want 10,000 followers? Do 10,000 things!

I had a conversation with my 12-year-old one morning (3rd of 3 sons, 4th of 5 kids) that was a step further than the same conversation we have every morning. He has maybe 3 things he has to do to get out of the house every morning, and I have at least 10. Most mornings, he is standing at the door grousing about being late while I’m going around the house turning off lights.

The difference today was the suggestion I gave him: Instead of complaining about what I’m doing while you’re waiting, look for things you can do to help us get out the door. It wasn’t spoken in anger. I didn’t talk down to him. I gave it to him straight, like the revelation it was for me. I continued as we got in the car, telling him that this is a good lesson for life in general. You rarely control what others do. You always control what you do.

As an author, what do you control?

You DON’T control retailers, distributors, your publisher, your marketing consultant, your publicist, your agent, the media, or the whims of a fickle public.

You DO control the things you do to reach people. So how much do you need to do? If you want to build an audience of 10,000 people, you should plan to do 10,000 things. That means you only need to average one new follower for each thing you do. Some of those things are going to result in a lot more than one new follower. Some will result in none. All are valuable, even if the only thing you learn from any one of them is what not to do!

What counts as a thing?

Small things:
A conversation about your book, a blog post, a tweet, a post on facebook, a bookmark/business card/push card given to someone, making a new connection on LinkedIn.

Big things:
A speaking engagement, a networking event, an email newsletter to a couple hundred people who have signed up to receive it, a booth at a fair or festival, a visit to a book club.

Long shots:
Contacting someone in the national media, presentations to organizations that could potentially buy your book in bulk.

IMPORTANT: What doesn’t count as a thing?
Googling yourself, looking at your sales ranks on Amazon, consulting with the people listed above that you can’t control, reading and re-reading your book for errors, wondering about your book’s sales.

EQUALLY IMPORTANT: None of these non-things are bad, but none of them will help you to build an audience, and that’s what we’re talking about today.

Do 10,000 things strategically, and you’re likely to get the 10,000 followers you need, if not more. The strategy to follow is to do the small things more often than the big things and the big things more often than the long shots. Keep track of everything you do in a notebook, on your computer, somewhere. Measure the results (by doing the non-things) the best you can, but not too often. You don’t want measuring to become the focus, or you’ll spend a lot of time measuring nothing. Make adjustments in what you do according to what the results tell you.

If you focus on 10,000, you won’t be discouraged after doing 100 things and seeing little results. You’ll realize that that is normal, and as you go and learn, you’ll find that each one builds on the things before, and effectiveness multiplies. You may get zero followers after 100 things or even 1,000. Keep going until you get to 10,000. Commit to yourself that you won’t quit until you get there, and you’ll be amazed at your results.

What are some of the things you’ve done that count as one of your 10,000? Comment below!

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Filed under Blogging, Growing your platform, Niche Marketing, Reputation building, speaking engagements, Uncategorized

Blog + Twitter + Facebook = growing audience

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.

RELAX!

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 salesman@gitomer.com.
– See more at: http://www.gitomer.com/articles/ViewPublicArticle.html?key=ajcdMibak3P8c%2BzzDDgyNQ%3D%3D#sthash.FXUhwPXA.dpuf

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Readers, Fans, and Evangelists

Authors talk and think all the time about who is reading their books, but how often do you think about who talks about your book and who gets others to read it?

Gaining readers is only the first step of building an audience. A reader is merely someone who read your book whether they loved it, hated it, or were indifferent. If all you’re building is readers, you’re doing all the work yourself, one reader at a time. You can have success this way, but you can have more success paying attention to the other types of people you’re looking for.

Fans are people who love your book and talk about it. Evangelists are people who get others to buy it. Building up these segments of your audience is far more important than building readers alone. These people will be the army you need to grow your brand.

So how do you build fans and evangelists?

• The first step is to provide a place for fans to gather. If you don’t have a blog, start one. If you don’t know what one is, you’re reading one. If you’re a Tate author, and we created your website, you already have one. The internet has no lack of articles to learn how to blog well, but here is a good place to start.

• Use your website and/or blog to let people know more about you and your message. If you’re a fiction author, you can write short stories or back stories about the characters in your book and post them here. Do whatever you can think of to give more to people who want more. Think about the things you like to read about famous people you admire and provide these things.

• Encourage anyone who comes to the site to post comments and questions, and respond to them. Readers think every author is famous, and the more they like your book, the giddier they’ll get about hearing from you. When they’re excited about hearing from you, they’ll tell all their friends that an author replied to their comment. They may post a link to your blog or website or facebook or on their own blog. You can encourage this by giving blanket permission to repost your posts if they give you credit, like I did with the tips on blogging from Ford Saeks. (If you haven’t clicked that link yet, it’s right here.)

• Wherever you go to speak or sign books, tell people about your blog and/or website, and encourage them to connect with you there. If you use projection slides with your presentation, put your blog or weblink on the last slide, and make sure it stays onscreen while you are taking questions from the audience.

• Always, always, always ask people to tell others. Obviously, I’m not talking about accosting strangers and asking them to tell people about your book. That would be creepy. However, whenever someone says something nice about your book, your knee-jerk response should be, “Thank you so much. Please tell everyone you know about the book. We’re trying to build an audience!” (Saying “we” is always better than “I”. It connotes a team, and people like teams.)

• This is particularly true when people ask you when your next book is coming out. It is not uncommon for new authors to have 5 or 6 people ask this question and then try to put pressure on me to make their 2nd book happen. I can’t go to our acquisitions editors and say, “6 people have asked when the next book is coming out.” Their first question will be, “How many books have they sold?” If someone asks you when your next book is coming out, say, “As soon as we sell enough copies of the first one, so tell all your friends to buy it.” Some people will. Those are your evangelists.

• Reward your fans and evangelists in ways that are small to you but big to them. This could be anything from sending them a handful of bookmarks to naming a character after them in your next book. Some authors even use their blogs to workshop their future books. They share ideas on setting and plot points on their blog and work the feedback they like best into their writing. Be creative.

The crazy thing is that fans and evangelists don’t even have to be readers, necessarily. I’m a fan of Craig Groeschel, pastor of LifeChurch.tv. I interviewed him (skeptically, I might add) when I was the editor of a magazine that showed how churches use technology in worship. The more I heard his heart and his passion repeated through my interviews with the rest of his staff, the more I came to appreciate him. I’ve never read his book Chazown (that’s the Hebrew word for “vision”), but I like it because I’ve seen his God-given vision in action.

Even stranger, I’m an evangelist for Bill Hybels, another author who is pastor of Willow Creek Church. When I was 17, my dad gave me one of his books, and for over 25 years now, I’ve called it “the best book I’ve never read.” The book is called Who You Are When No One Is Looking. The title alone convicted me and changed the way I look at the world. It has shaped my character again and again over the past 25+ years, and I’ve told many, many people to buy the book. If you’ve never considered this issue or known who you should be when no one is looking, go buy the book and read it.

If you’ve done anything at all to build your audience, you have some fans and evangelists. Connect to them and watch how much faster your audience grows.

Comment below: What are some of the ways you’ve created fans and evangelists?

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The ABCs of Blogging by Ford Saeks

Jim’s note: Whenever I find something of value written by someone else, I want to pass it along. Today, I am blogging this blogpost by another blogger who blogged about blogging! You can follow that blog here. It’s a very creative and clever way to highlight the 24 most important things you can do with your blog.

Ford Saeks, President & CEO of Prime Concepts Group

Did anyone even know or care what a blog was ten years ago? None of us did; but we now know it’s a powerful communication and marketing tool that can add value to your readers, and increase your digital footprint to grow your business.

Whether you’re a novice or seasoned blogger, use these ABCs of Blogging Tips to improve your blogging.

Add value to attract attention

Build trust to create a following

Consistency is crucial to keep readers coming back

Don’t self-promote or down talk the competition

Engage your audience by encouraging feedback

Focus on topical ideas to increase search engine rankings

Grow readership through email campaigns and social media links

Hold yourself accountable for the content you publish

Imagine you’re having a conversation to ensure your blog has the right tone

Join the conversation by responding to comments

Know your audience and what their needs are

Leverage your content by re-purposing and repackaging it

Monitor traffic and comments to measure results

Never plagiarize

Offer expert advice as the hook to get them to learn more about you

Publish the content to various social media platforms

Quality counts – so remember to proofread

Recognize that everyone may not agree with what you have to say

Stand out from the crowd by offering unique content

Tell a story to help your readers relate

Uncover solutions to prospects’ problems

Verify facts before publishing them

Write what you know

XYZ(e)xamine your zest. Ok, this one’s a stretch. What it means is write with enthusiasm and your readers will respond.

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