I have a lot of favorite tools to help me make an impact in my marketing strategies, but one of my favorite is Rafflecopter. It allows you to offer giveaways, build your audience, and protects you from accusations of favoritism for free. Plus, you don’t have to set up a google form, which can be quite the hassle!
And I love their snark! But it takes a savvy marketer to finagle Rafflecopter for free. Just like every app out there, they are looking for a way to make money. (Hey, we are too, don’t hold it against them!) But if I had to pay for every tool I use, I would never make money at this whole writing gig. I think you can sympathize! So, let’s get back to how to use Rafflecopter free to achieve your best results! Once upon a time, every person who entered a Rafflecopter had to provide their email address to be notified when they won, and Rafflecopter would provide the host of the giveaway those email addresses. No more. They still collect the email addresses, but they don’t send it to you. Thank Can-spam for that. But there are still some pretty neat features and if you plan ahead, you can do some great stuff. When you go in to start a giveaway, it asks you to tell us about your giveaway. To show a picture, you have to pay. Don’t let this lure you in. You can simply put an image in the announcement that you do for the giveaway, so no worries!
After you enter the prize(s) you are offering during your giveaway, you enter the things that people can do to earn entries for the giveaway. Rafflecopter offers a pretty awesome list of options pre-established. Once upon a time, those were all free, but now most of them cost money. Sneaky, what they did there, right?
The automated features require paying. Or you can creatively take advantage of that Invent your Own button and MacGyver a solution to your problem! I will create custom messages they can C & P on Twitter that include my hashtags and include my twitter handle @HeidiAngell. I will ask them to follow my Geek Street Facebook group, I might invite them to follow me on Instagram. You will have to manually verify that the entrant did those things with another tool, but it is fairly simple as long as you don’t mind putting in the extra time. I prefer to use Rafflecopter to build my email list, and as Mailchimp provides a link for forms, I simply add that as part of the entry process. I have my notifications set up to show every person who subscribes, so I save this when I do a Rafflecopter so I can verify that they did actually enter if that is how they are chosen.
There is no limit to what you can do for Invent Your Own options, except your imagination and willingness to track! After you set your giveaway options, you need to set the date. Make sure this is planned well in advance, because once you set it, you cannot change it unless… you guessed it, you pay! After it is all set up, their installation page provides you with a variety of ways that you can share your giveaway. Embed in your blog/ website provides you the HTML code to be able to add the cute mini graphic. This is convenient for you to send to bloggers if you are doing a tour. There is also a feature that allows you to add it to your Facebook page, so everyone on your Facebook page will know and be able to enter as well. Pretty nice, right? There is also the option to share the Rafflecopter through a link.
If I’m running a tour or hosting a signing event that I’m inviting people to (which is the most common time that I use Rafflecopter giveaways) then I will copy each of these options to add to the media kit for the promoters.
There you go. How to use Rafflecopter. Rafflecopter also provides a lot of marketing tips to promote your giveaways, and I enjoy their quarterly email, so you should sign up for that too. Any questions about Rafflecopter? Let me know in the comments below! What other help would you like with marketing? Let me know in the comments.
We’ve had some great posts the last few weeks on world building! From World Building: an Intro for the newer writers among us, to World Building for Specific Genres. There will be more great posts to help you get along with your world-building, but did you know that you should use world-building in your marketing strategy too?
What? It’s true! Marketing is simply the way you tell your story to get people to buy your story! (Mind blown yet? Don’t worry, we’re about to put it all back together for you!)
How Marketing Uses World Building
Think about some of the greatest marketing campaigns. What do they do? They use world building. Coke’s Give the World a Coke campaign promoted the world-building view that Coke made the world a happier, better, more connected place. Is that true? Lots of people have that feel-good feeling about Coke even to this day! Every campaign they’ve done since builds on that concept. That’s their narrative.
Dove’s Real Beauty campaign did the same thing, building a world where we don’t sell beauty products by making a woman feel ugly so she HAS to buy the product, but by building a world where women buy beauty products to enhance their natural beauty. Every campaign they’ve done for the last 10 years has tied into that narrative.
How to Use World Building for Fiction Marketing
So how do you do this for your fiction books? You have to start with a worldview (marketing lingo for the key message you want to use to drive people who think and feel the same to your product, or the message you want to convince people is how things should be ). Not sure about your worldview? Take a look at your hook. For example: in The Hunters Saga, my hook is “For those who believe Vampires should be killed, not kissed.” For The Clear Angel Chronicles, “What happens when an unwilling psychic teams up with an unbelieving detective?” My worldview tells readers exactly what to expect of each series. From there, all your marketing campaigns should revolve around sharing, demonstrating, or increasing that worldview. With Coke, they wrote songs, created ads, billboards, had guest appearances, and continued to build on that theme. Same with the Real Beauty campaign. So should you.
When you create your book trailer, it should be built around your worldview. If you reference reviews in the trailer, pick reviews that reference in some way that worldview you are building. Here are some of the examples I am using in my trailer for The Hunters Saga:
“The vampires in her novel are vicious and intriguing, and I enjoyed reading a novel that went back to the classic vampire mythology by making vampires monsters once again.” Ashley Aroones
“ I’m grateful for this author, because in this book: vampires maim, kill, drink blood, and actually f#*king die when exposed to the sun. You know, things that hominus nocturna is supposed to do. So, if you’re looking for disco ball vampires, you’ve come to the wrong author.” Drago
“This is the first time I’ve read of vampires in the non-erotic sense, but in a deadly one. This reminded me of a Japanese anime I watched because vampires are feral, soulless beings…” Joy
When you choose samples to be shared, make sure they are scenes that demonstrate that worldview. Most of the samples I chose to share during my release tour were all around the tension-building scenes of fighting the vampires.
When you create quotes with images to share on social media, keep it focused around that worldview. Here are some that I created for The Hunters Saga:
And another favorite:
When you create advertisements make sure that they build that worldview.
How to Use World Building for You, The Author
When doing interviews, guest posts, radio appearances, this is where it gets really tough for some authors. What if you’re doing a guest post to promote you the author, not a specific book? (Especially tricky when you have multiple stories in a variety of genres.)
You need to create a worldview about you the author, and that’s a whole separate campaign! For my work as an author, I have two personas I promote, as needed. The first (which is the one you see most often in Our Write Side) is the Friendly Book Marketer. A lot of my guest posts come from this position that is a unique strength I have which sets me apart from many authors. The other persona that readers see is An Angell’s Life of Bookish Goodness. That persona is sharing the worldview that books make life richer, better, and happier (much like the Coke ad! )
If I am not doing a tour to promote a specific book, when I have opportunities to guest post or speak, it comes from one of those two worldviews that best fits the audience of the blog, podcast, or event where I’m appearing.
As you plan your marketing strategies, keep these tips and tricks in mind.
What’s your worldview that you use to build your campaigns? Share in the comments below!
Need help finding your worldview? Let us know in the comments below. We’re always happy to help!
The life of an author is a constant struggle for balance. For most, that balancing act includes a full-time job, family, social commitments, writing, and then when writers hear “marketing” they throw their hands up feeling overwhelmed and demand that they don’t have any time. I’m here to show you how to add marketing to your schedule in only 30 minutes a day so you don’t have to give all your time to it.
Setting Goals for your Marketing
There are hundreds of places to put your time in marketing. Which place will achieve the best results will require careful analysis of consistent work for months at a time. To achieve that, you have to set up a plan and stick to that plan. Deciding your plan requires goals. Are you new to writing or need to build up a following? Are you promoting a new book? Are you building a backlist? Do you need more reviews? Analyze your time and then plan your strategy accordingly.
For example, I work from home, so it is not a problem for me to dedicate 2 hours a day to marketing. But I also work several side gigs, so I can’t spend half my day marketing and advertising like Mark Dawson does. For some, you can only put in 2 hours a day for “book stuff” period. You don’t want to spend all of that time marketing. You need to write more books, right?
A good suggestion is to commit about 1/3 of your “book time” to marketing, 1/3 to networking, and 1/3 to writing. That’s the rule I follow, but it’s up to you how you want to spend your time.
I know some authors who lump marketing in with networking and do half their time writing and half their time marketing. Again, it’s all about the goals. Once you have them established, (and it can’t be vague like “sell more books” it needs to be a smart goal.) you can plan the events and activities to support those goals.
Plan for Help to Maximize Your Time
The first key to maximizing your limited marketing time is to learn about automation tools to support your efforts. For example, if your goal is to build up a social media following then you will want to learn about tools like PromoRepublic Hootsuite, or Buffer, which allow you to schedule automated messages to engage with readers at all hours, even if you can’t be online at all hours. These messages should be a balance of 80% fun stuff and 20% “promotional”. I set mine up about once a week, and then just check into my social media feeds for about 15 minutes at breakfast, lunch, and before bed. This is such a great tool.
My goal is to appear “more connected” and responding several times a day aides that more than only spending an hour in the evenings, as some authors do. I am cheap, so I used the free version of Hootsuite for posting to Twitter, Facebook, and google plus, and then the free version of Later to schedule one post a day for Instagram. (Then I caught a really great deal on Appsumo for PromoRepublic and now I manage all my social media through there. LOVE IT. But you work with the tools and options you have available to you now.)
If your goal is to grow your social media followings, look into tools to help manage that. There are quite a few fantastic tools that will tell you who followed you, who unfollowed you, who you followed that hasn’t followed back, who is inactive. (Why have them keep taking up follower space. You unfollowing them doesn’t drop your follower numbers, just theirs.) and who hasn’t interacted with you in a while. I made the mistake early on with Instagram in not finding a tool. I followed back everyone in my niche and interacted and engaged with their content and had very little return engagement. I was inflating some “influencers” numbers and then they would turn around and unfollow me without me knowing. Suddenly I found myself seriously upside down with my follower count and couldn’t figure out why. I love IG, it is my safe happy space, but it is also one of the vainest sites out there. The more I learn the crazy extents some Influencers go to manipulate their feed the more I prefer to just be a casual user. #SorryNotSorry.
You may consider hiring a marketing coach to help you formulate a plan and consult when tweaking, or a Personal Assistant to do mundane tasks that pull you away from the work you love.
You can use great tools like Book Brush and Canva to make creating content super easy and reasonably priced.
To learn more about social media and tools to help you stay organized and make it easy, don’t miss out on Social Media 101
Other Marketing Options
If you want more control over your audience, you may decide to take up blogging. For my blogging, I write my blog posts on Fridays the week before. Then I schedule my posts to go live the morning of. So convenient. Then I schedule those posts during my social media planning.
Perhaps you don’t have time for blogging. You are only focused on collecting and keeping readers on your e-newsletter list and building the list to sell books. For e-newsletters, you can automate a welcome email that goes out when people subscribe at the back of your book or at an event. This lets them know who you are as an author, and how often they will receive e-newsletters from you. Then schedule your e-newsletter for what works best for your e-newsletter following. For many authors, one e-newsletter a month is enough. Most simply plug that into their calendar of choice, to automatically remind them they need to prep content for that and send it out.
Even if your e-newsletter goal is to sell books, you need to provide content for your followers that’s more than just “Buy my books” or you will find yourself quickly losing followers. I have seen some authors who give a free short story each month, and I love following those. Others provide a monthly e-newsletter with bookish news not just related to their books, like new releases, signings, book events, etc.
Building up Reviews
If your goal is to build up your reviews or plan a book release, you can e-mail bloggers each day. For the book release for Angel’s Dance, I was working full-time outside the home. My schedule had never been so tight. I emailed three bloggers every night and planned my tour 8 weeks ahead of the tour start date. It worked.
If you aren’t planning a tour, you still want to find something to tie your request to, in an effort to add urgency. For example, when I am looking for more reviews for my series, I tie it to a new release, or to a promotional sale. Again, three or four emails a day will get you into blogs and will only take up about a half-hour of your day.
When I was working full time, I was trying to build up my online reputation. I spent my lunch breaks emailing and calling newspapers, radio shows, podcasts, and bloggers to get that progress knocked out so I could devote my evening time to writing. I couldn’t get much writing done in a half-hour, but I had no problem knocking out my marketing.
The importance of Tracking
None of us can do all of the marketing things all of the time, which is why it is so important to track and gauge what is working for you and drop what isn’t so you can move on to something else that will work. For example, when I was working full-time, I threw money at Google display ads, but it wasn’t working. I tweaked and adjusted, and fiddled and played with it, but after six months I realized that I didn’t have the time to deal with it properly and that it wasn’t producing results.
Rather than beat myself up, I switched up my tactics. Even now, I re-evaluate and adapt my tactics about every three months or so. Tweak if needed, and drop things that aren’t working. Be sure you are committing time for research into the tactic, and putting tools in place to measure your results. For example, during my last blog tour, my goal was a proliferation of the market and SEO for specific keywords related to my series and genre.
I built posts around those themes, and titles around those keywords included the hashtags for the bloggers taking part. Those hashtags and keywords were in my Thunderclap and Headtalker. During the tour, I tracked the trending keywords, shared the guest posts through CoPromote, and watched what was driving traffic to my website.
I was also looking to build up my e-newsletter list during the tour and ran an Instafreebie (now known as Prolific Works) around the first book in the series. Tracking all of my results let me know what was and was not worth the effort.
If I had run around doing all that work, and then only tracked the sales, I would have quit. My launch produced less than $1,000 in sales. But because I was tracking all the other stats, I realized that my e-newsletter list grew by 350%, my social media followers grew by 75% across all platforms, I got within the top 100 for trending keywords with both my genre and my series title, My Headtalker went out to over 1 million people, my Thunderclap went out to 1.5 million. My guest posts got over 150 shares, were shared to over 70,000 people (that I could measure through CoPromote), and my web traffic saw a beautiful uptick of about 115% throughout the whole month. Not to mention, I got great evergreen content that I can add to my social media feeds.
Overnight successes don’t happen overnight. They happen because that author has a strategy and they invest in that strategy. Even if it’s only 15 minutes or an hour a day. Eventually, you will get that marketing rock up the hill, gain ground, and it will get easier. But you have to start, and you have to keep building, or you’ll never get there.
Do you need help planning marketing goals and strategies? Schedule a free consult. Want to get a month of detailed marketing tips to create a robust plan? Sign up for our next 30 Days of Marketing Challenge! Have questions or thoughts about this post? Share in the comments below!
For anyone who missed my previous post on Twitter Tips, check it out. The content still holds strong today.
Twitter is a great social media and marketing tool. The opportunity to reach thousands of people is remarkable. But it is easy to become just another voice yelling into the internet with nobody listening to a word you say.
As with any social media site, you need to be engaging. Make sure that you talk with other people on twitter, not just spam your followers with links to your books, blogs, articles, etc. Resist the urge to buy followers. It is better to have 2,000 followers who are truly interested in you than to have 15,000 followers who do not engage. Above all, follow the age-old adage “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” You want people to re-tweet your stuff? Re-tweet other peoples’ stuff. You want people to read your blog? Read other peoples’ blogs (make sure you comment so they know you are doing it! I frequently comment on the blog, and then comment on twitter.) You want people to click on your book links and buy? Do the same for others. Be honest, be fair, and play nice!
Now, some specific tips for marketing on twitter.
How to Post
Don’t just announce “Hey, I wrote a book, please check it out at i’manasshat.com”
That could appeal… to… your mom… maybe.
Find creative, attention-grabbing ways to engage the audience.
Ask them a question that your book can answer.
For example: “Looking 4 great Sunday activities? Discover your inner creative with Creative Exercises to Inspire, on the Nook
Give a great teaser about your book, such as this one by author Monty Fowler ” A #supernatural #war raging for millions of years follows man as he conquers our solar system & heads to the stars. http://amzn.to/twucradle”
Quote people/ interviews about your book, such as “Royal Prince Vince; the best story you can read your child this year!” https://www.createspace.com/3700225 Wendy Sampson — LCSW”
Find unique details that would appeal to your audience and set your book apart from other books in the same genre, such as Michelle Brookes clever line, which totally sold me! “Plz ReTweet: If you like girls that blush & bad guys that sparkle, best not to peek under the covers of Bone Dressing. http://goo.gl/blM9B”
And of course, capitalize on even the slightest holiday. For example, with Mother’s Day coming up, you should be using it to market your book. Ask Amazon! They have been rocking the holiday marketing!!
Now there are some cheats out to get your name out there, to get tweets referencing your book. I have not found that they have done me much good, but I haven’t really seen any harm (other than possibly time wasted) so I will share it with you as well.
World Literary Cafe has a group of authors who work in tweet teams as a systematic way to get your book out there. It is sort of a free version of cross marketing. And free is awesome right? Well, you get what you pay for with this one. I have found that a lot of folks who post their tweets, don’t always return the favor. I suspect there are several reasons for this. The cynic in me says, “they want something for nothing”. The struggling artist in me thinks that maybe because the rules of the chain are hazy, perhaps not everyone gets how you are supposed to do it. But here are some tips to keep that from biting you in the rear, should you decide to participate. I make sure to go in and follow anyone I am posting for. At the end of the day, I check to see if they have shared mine. (Two reasons, A. I can re-tweet their tweet and B. I can mark them on my bad Karma list if they have not!) Next time they are in my tweet chain, I will tweet, but am even more inclined to double-check them if they did not share the first time. Three strikes of not sharing, I don’t do their tweets.
As I get more authors following me on twitter and I return the follow, I am developing my own sort of homegrown karma chain and this one seems to be much more effective. (Hint: if someone, like, say, me! RT something of yours on twitter, then you should go in and find something of theirs that you found interesting and RT it back. Karma… yup!!)
Streamline the Process
Managing twitter could be a full-time job, if you are not careful. Here are some tips to streamline the process and save you time:
1. Utilize Tweetdeck. It will allow you to pre-program messages to post at a certain time. This is great for your advertisement, and if you do tweet team, it is invaluable, so that you can post everyone’s tweets in one short setting, without spamming the crap out of your followers!
2. Each and every creative tweet to get someone to market your book can be used again! I have a word doc with all of them from each of my books. Once a week I go in and program tweetdeck to post advertisements for my books. I try not to post more than three a day, and I mix them up so that they are not all from the same book. I also cycle through my ads to make sure I am not using the same ones too much. Ones that get RT get * next to them to be used more often because they obviously got peoples’ attention, right?
3. Find some credible sources to pick up friends directly related to your profession. Linked, Goodreads and World Literary Cafe all have discussion threads for twitter follow backs.
4. Whenever you follow someone, if you wait half a second suggestions pop up, follow those too! I get fifty e-mails a day (on average) for follows and follow backs. It is worth it.
5. There are a lot of folks on twitter who are… not honest and don’t play fair. Early on I found my twitter followers fluctuating very drastically. One day I had 1,000 followers, the next I only had 800. A nifty new tool allows you to see who followed you back and who un-followed you after you followed them. There is nothing that will turn people off faster than seeing the follow and follower numbers drastically different. Keep yours relatively balanced by getting rid of dead weight. I believe that it is important to be following more than are following you and as you gain more followers, then the distinction between those numbers can increase at a proper percentage. But if you are following 1,500 people and only 300 are following you back… that just looks bad. Conversely, unless you are already super famous, if you have 15,000 followers and only follow 1,000. Yeah….
6. Do not rely too heavily on these time savers, as your authenticity will drop. For example, even though I have Facebook updating my status on twitter, and tweedeck posting several times a day, I still go in and post genuine twitter updates, taking advantage of Tweetspeak, hash tags and all that fun stuff. Without that, my twitter account would just be an extension of my Facebook account, and twitter users would feel it. It becomes disingenuous.
Well, those are my tips for twitter, over the course of a year and a half of working with it. Do you have any other tips? I would love for you to share in the comments below! Any questions about twitter? Post those as well.
It is shocking how little has changed in the eight years since I first wrote this post. I am still busy, busy, busy- networking, connecting, sharing, and building my platform. One of the things I run across are LOTS of authors, old and new, who are feeling like they don’t know what to do to market their books. When engaging in these discussions, I always start with the traditional information “Have you built a platform?”
And I can relate to their pain. It doesn’t matter how many people you friend on Facebook, follow on Twitter, or network with on LinkedIn, Google +(this post was before the collaps of G+, how cute!), Yelp, Tumbler, Youtube, Stage 32, and all the other sites out there! That is not what gets you sales. (Ok, not completely true, especially as you become more established as a writer.) You can have a website, but unless somebody already knows who you are, they probably won’t view it. (Unless, of course, you share a name with some pretty famous people, such as John Locke!)
The problem with trying to sell books on social networking sites is that people don’t go to these places to buy books. They go to these places to meet people. If all you do is pitch your books (particularly in a straight manner such as “Royal Prince Vince on sale, only $8.99) then people will not listen or pay any attention to you after a while (especially if you get really spammy about it, posting 100 times a day! that is a good way to get un-followed.)
Do the Research
There are tons of free resources out there. Check out my Angell’s 4 Author posts, as well as my courses. I am just one of many resources out there. Many resources offer vague information to get you started but you have to pay for the data that will hopefully get you real results.
Does this mean their advice is useless? By itself, it is not as effective as it could be. But without somewhere to start, you will have nowhere to go. So, read over all the free content and find ways to make it work for you!
For example, Duolit tells you how to put together a media kit for quick reference. Do this. Submit to every local paper, magazine, news station you can find. You know what happened when I did that the first time? Nothing. A week’s worth of work, for nothing. After all, why would the newspaper care that I had published a book? Even my college paper did not publish that their alumni had published a book. It was depressing.
But don’t throw out your media kit, find creative ways to get their attention. I did a reading for a neighborhood program in my town, I let the press know. I did readings for my local schools… and would have let the press know, but the schools would not let me. Find community events to participate in and let the press know (after you get permission from the event coordinators, of course). Sometimes they will show, most of the time they will not. But it is still worth the extra time. Each time you let them know, send that announcement with your media kit!
Writing World gives you a list of people who do book reviews for different genres. Great place to hit up, and most of them will do the review for the cost of the book, but a lot are generous enough to accept PDF copies (sent through e-mail, it is FREE!!)
Are you on Twitter? Start following book reviewers that review books in your genre, share their stuff when you find it insightful. You are building a relationship with them. When you approach them to ask if they would review your book, they’ll be more likely to say yes, accept an e-book, AND give you a positive review. After all, they like you for sharing their work! (WARNING: If your book is poorly edited, poorly executed and crap, no amount of niceness will get you a good review. But your kindness might get you bumped up a star in the ratings.)
Get involved in your local community. Talk to your local library, see if you can get the distributor to buy a couple of copies, but if you can’t then offer to donate some. Then ask them if maybe you could also do a reading. It works. You just put your book into the hands of everyone in your community. I know that a lot of the books that I checked out from the library and really enjoyed, I hunted down to buy! A lot of people do. At the very least, they will probably tell someone else that they read it and that person might buy it!
Look at these blogs as if you were reading the back of a book. They’re just a teaser. You can pay for the service, or get creative (we are creatives after all!) and find a new angle in which you can plug in their advice!
How I Help
Here’s the thing, as someone with over 15 years of experience in marketing, I can tell you that the landscape is constantly changing. When I started out the internet was relatively young-ish and schools teaching marketing were still focusing on traditional marketing practices and principles. There was no discussion of online marketing. Our most tech-focused training was on interoffice email. (Scary, right?)
Every day something new hits the scene and techniques change as bad actors in the sales and marketing space overwhelm users leaving a bad taste in their mouth.
I am here to teach you NOT to be that kind of marketer.
But as marketing is constantly changing, what we learned 2 years ago might not be valid or as relevant. I teach a philosophy called the A.B.L.E. Philosophy (always be learning everything) but I know you are a busy author who is trying to carve out time to write, edit (and publish, if you are indie) and market your books around life: probably a day job, possibly a family, your own needs, and warring interests.
So I try to make life as easy as possible for you. I have a ton of articles here on the site to help you.
I provide a monthly email with my latest blog posts for authors covering everything from writing to publishing to marketing.
I have also created courses to help you on your journey. (I recommend carving out an hour a week for learning and growing. That is what I do. Whether you choose to learn from me or from other great resources is completely up to you.)
And a lot of this content I create is free or pretty reasonably priced.
Why Free or Low Cost?
Because often a writer’s success is not based on talent or quality of work, but on privilege (I’m looking at you, Fifty Shades with a $10,000 marketing budget!) or sacrifice (Samual Clemens went bankrupt buying a printing press so he could better control his career as an author and get his books into the hands of readers. Most of us know him as Mark Twain.)
We all have to be like Mark Twain. But not all of us can drop $100 a day on Amazon ads or do a multi-state signing tour. Many of us can’t even afford the programs to learn how to do those effectively like Mark Dawson’s Facebook Ads Course. Everything I teach targets from brand-new no-budget up to experienced and a healthy budget. (In my day job, I have managed up to $100,00 marketing budgets.)
I am here to help all of you grow as much as you can.
Because not having money should not be a reason the world doesn’t get to know about your art.
As we continue to build our platform, it is important to take a careful look at Twitter. In many ways, Twitter is a better platform resource than Facebook. Where Facebook limits your contacts to people who mutually friend one another, you can follow anyone on Twitter. In theory, this permits you a much larger number of followers. But how do you get followers on Twitter?
There are all sorts of aps on Twitter to help you get more followers. But I refuse to use them. It seems so disingenuous. I have a small, but solid following on Twitter. I have achieved this through 1. following key players, 2. establishing relationships, and 3. talking with people, not at them! So let’s break these three points down.
Following Key Players
When I first got on Twitter, I had no idea what I was doing. I needed to follow some people, so others would follow me. So, I looked up all sorts of famous people I knew and started following them. I quickly found myself following about 75 people and only had three followers. Famous people are not going to follow you back. It is just a fact. Don’t overwhelm your home page with useless tweets from actors, musicians, comedians or sports people you really don’t care about that much.
Take your time and do some research. Follow people that matter to your industry. I quickly followed Random House, Penguin, Avon Books and several other publishing agencies. They post blogs, business trends and hot new releases coming out. Then I started following certain writing agents. Here’s a fun tip when following people on twitter: Look at how often they post and what they post. I randomly followed one agent, because I had submitted my manuscript to her. After two months I un-followed because her random, obnoxious, irrelevant tweets were leaving a really bad taste in my mouth! Boy, was I glad she did not pick up my book!
Now, start looking for lesser known people who might tweet things that matter to you. (You can follow me at HeidiAngell) Follow other authors in your field, bloggers who post book reviews, people who share similar interests. For example, I often follow people who post inspiring quotes. I also follow people who philosophize! Foodies, people from Australia and health reviewers also catch my eye. I have recently picked up on techies, social marketing, graphic artists and several other “non-writing” related topics! Simply because they are all topics that interested me!
Just because someone follows you, doesn’t mean you have to follow them back. You would be surprised how many will unfollow after a couple of weeks. You can follow people who do not directly relate to your business, but who may have shared interests. Look at how often they post and what they post about. I avoid people who post fifty times a day, who post obnoxious things like “going to the potty now.” or who just don’t appeal to me. Be real on Twitter.
This is tricky on Twitter. Whereas on Facebook you have the benefit of knowing people before you mutually follow, on Twitter it is harder to keep track of these “nameless” individuals. I follow 215 people on Twitter. Despite my careful culling, I get an average of 100 tweets an hour. I can’t read all of those tweets every day! That is insane! But I scan. I make a concerted effort to respond to three different people’s random tweets each day. It may be something as simple as answering a question. Sometimes it is a witty retort to their own statement.
I pick two blog posts each day that grab my attention. I take the time to read and comment on them. There are a few blogs that I have begun following regularly because their posts are frequently informative, but I do not count those in my “two” requirement. (We’ll review them under blogs to follow in another post!)
In making a concerted effort to hit up different people each day, you are able to build your network and make personal connections without overtaxing your time.
Talk With People Not at Them
This is a continuation of the establishing relationships idea. Your on Twitter to promote a product, right? But filling peoples streams with “advertising” your products is talking at them. Instead talk with them. Post your work, but share other people’s work as well. They will often share yours. (Make sure you are sharing quality work. If it strikes you, share it with your followers! Avoid the mindless follow me/ I’ll follow you or share me/ I’ll share you mentality, it will discredit you to your own followers!) Respond to personal tweets with honesty and a positive mindset. They will be more inclined to pay attention to you when you tweet. Tweet personal items that allow others to respond to you. When you post personal posts, keep a professional mindset. (No potty commentaries, my toe itches, etc… unless you are trying to be funny! See Adam Troudart, he cracks me up!)
You don’t want to follow masses every day in hopes they will follow you back, as it will be hard to keep up with them. At the same time, you don’t want to go weeks without adding some people to follow. In my experience less people tend to find you this way. My goal is to find three to five unique individuals to follow each week. This usually will cause me to pick up ten or so followers. When one of those I followed turns around and follows me back, it will frequently get one or two of their followers to check me out as well!
Twitter has such potential, but it is so easy to get sucked in and suddenly realize you wasted half the day. Maintaining balance is difficult. Build carefully my young padawans
You have decided that you want, no need, to be an entrepreneur. You may think that the first step is to sit down and write your business plan, right? Well, that seems a logical choice, but the first step is to start building your platform. In the marketing world, they call this branding. But unless you are a marketing major, this may seem very overwhelming and you may not know where to begin.
You may even ask yourself WHY you need to build a platform. That’s OK, I’ve got the answer for you. In this modern day and age, there are so many businesses being started, side hustles being run, and people wanting to work for themselves or create an additional revenue stream. There are so many books being published through so many different sources that you have to be prepared to compete right out the gate.
Even if you are lucky enough to get investors or have your first book picked up by a major publisher who will provide marketing resources; anything you can add to that marketing will only help you reach more viewers. Demonstrating to an agent and/or publisher that you have a platform may get you a contract over another writer whose work is just as good (or possibly better) but who does not have a platform. Developing a platform for your product will give you valuable eyes and ears to guide your development process and make your investors feel more confident in continuing the investment. It will also allow you to have an immediate revenue stream once you release the product. Whether you are looking to partner with others or just working for yourself, that is a win!
Here are five free and easy steps to begin building your platform. Start now, because it takes time.
1. Start Making Contacts
This is easy if you think about it. Go where your kinds of people are. Are you an app developer? Join app development groups on Linkedin. Are you a game developer? Go to gaming stores and online communities. Want to write a book? Do you buy books in a store? Take time to get to know the clerks. You don’t have to tell them you are an aspiring writer now. But if you take time to build that relationship now, when you do get your book published you will already know who to talk to!
Get in a writers’ group. Writers are extremely supportive! When your book does come out, if you have built up a camaraderie with these people, they will be excited for you and will want to help spread the word about their writer friend who is making it! They may have also helped you write this book (Through editing, suggestive criticism, etc.). Your success becomes their success and they will expect the same help when it is their turn!
If you go to school, get in with department resources. There are so many more connections that you can make. Look at your life and your habits, find people you can connect with and start building those relationships now.
Volunteer in your community to help others learn your craft. Whether it is at an elder care facility, your local boys and girls club, or another organization. Sharing what you know and love will help inspire others. They become invested in you because you invested in them. Reciprocation is the word, people!
2. Start a Facebook Page
Most of you probably already have one, but this is more than just a Facebook page. This page should just be about you as an entrepreneur. You need to maintain a certain level of professionalism on your page. No posting drunken pictures, embarrassing pictures, or photos from when you were a goofy kid! You need to be involved and engaging, but you probably don’t want to be posting about your personal dilemmas, using abusive or foul language, or posting controversial materials that may turn people off of your brand. You need to build your friend list as much as you can. When you do make it; these people will know you, they will be invested in you and will probably buy your service or product! See more Facebook Tips here.
This was the hardest one for me. I had this mental image of Twitter. I figured it was a bunch of teenagers tweeting stupid crap like “I just got in the shower, think of me!” and… I’ll be honest, some of it is! You need to treat your Twitter like your Facebook page. Follow people who interest you and who might be related to the biz. Don’t just follow everyone who follows you, because a lot of them are spammers. Be selective. Post thought-provoking insights, inspirational quotes, your experiences, and links to other entrepreneurs’ work (or your own). It takes time to build up a good, legitimate following on Twitter, but in the end, it is worth it. These are more people that you can market to once your product launches. For a deeper guide on Twitter, don’t miss this article.
4. Get Involved
Entrepreneurs sometimes have this vision of them working all alone building their company until they can get investors, then blowing up. That is rarely how it plays out. Most companies that make it do so because the main founder discovered like-minded people who wanted to build the same thing together. How do you find those like-minded people? By getting involved beyond just the contacts. Be an active member in forums, in discussion boards, in associations. Don’t be so afraid of someone stealing your idea to even talk about it. File the appropriate patents, trademarks, etc. then talk about it. Find passionate people like you to network with. Help others who are building other dreams. The entrepreneurial community can be very competitive, but it is also incredibly supportive.
Writers often have this image of sitting alone in a coffee shop writing a book or hiding in a basement slamming out thousands of pages a day. But, there are so many great communities out there for writers and you need to get involved. This will teach you about your craft, and the movements in the industry, and give you a great support group and in the end most writers are readers so it is another great place to market your book! Some great sites I am active in are GoodReads, Association of Author’s Representatives, Horror Writers Association, Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Absolute Write Water Cooler, and many blogs written by agents, authors, publishers, and other professionals in the business. The important aspect of being involved is to comment at these sites. Get to know the communities. When your book does come out, you may be able to advertise with them, and in the case of the bloggers get them to interview you, review your book or otherwise mention you or your work! Plus, people become familiar with your name, comments, and writing style. When you get involved make sure that you are presenting a positive image that will help you market. Every post you make will reflect back on you!
5. Start a Blog
‘What? You want me to directly compete against you?’ You may be thinking. No, not really. Although competition is healthy. You don’t have to write an Entrepreneur’s Tip blog, particularly if you are new in the industry and not experienced with writing. Find your own unique angle to pursue that will drive the right audience for your products/ services. Show that you are doing your research for your market needs, show that you are listening to that audience, and provide updates on your progress.
You can start a blog on pretty much any topic. You can do a book review blog like my Friend Linda with Books For Me. If your interests are in Science and you are a science fiction writer, start a blog on Science and the exciting new breakthroughs being made each day. If you like to travel, or dream of traveling, start a travel blog. If you like Anime, start an anime blog. If you are into paranormal stuff, start a blog on paranormal sitings and your theory on them. It is best to keep it close to your publishing interests, as this is another source to market your book when it comes out! For example, if you write historical romances, you probably wouldn’t do well to start a true crime blog. Not a big cross-section of people read historical romances and are interested in the Serial Killers of the Century! But Clive Cussler would do o.k. if he started a blog on Environmental Science or Oceanography. Though his books are adventure books, they almost all happen at sea.
There are many other options for building your platform and all of them work. We will review this often because your platform should always be under construction. Each of these suggestions can and will keep you busy. In the beginning, you may not be able to handle more than a few. But the bigger your platform the more hands you can get your book into and that is what writing is about. We want to share our craft. Start building so that when it is time, you can start sharing!
Do you have any tips on building your platform? Please feel free to share them in the comments! Questions? Ask away, we will do all we can to help!
It is very easy to get sucked into Facebook. There are dozens of time wasters (farmville, who’s your celebrity lover, etc.) and if you have a very large network just keeping up with all of your friends can be overwhelming. In the beginning, I spent several hours a day… just on Facebook. At the end of the day, I would be so frustrated because I felt like I had accomplished nothing with my writing.
And man can it be toxic if you let it. So much political garbage, fake news, and negativity. It takes diligence, commitment, and a solid plan to keep from letting it overwhelm you.
Stick to your Brand
In Social Media 101, I teach how to come up with your worldview for your brand. You need to stick to that. Unless your brand is specifically targeting conspiracy theories, religion, politics, etc you should avoid such content. Remember, this is a professional page.
If you want to talk politics, religion, whatever then go hog wild on your personal page. But make sure your personal page is listed private and don’t accept random requests because the internet is a dangerous place to speak your mind. Screengrabs are easy and something you wrote 10 years ago can come back to destroy your career. Follow the 80/20 rule of content for your worldview and be sure to engage with other people’s content as your page so you can build your page’s engagement and brand.
Page VS Group
A year ago, Facebook figured out that we were working around their page exposure by using groups. So they found a way to limit and advertise through groups. So at this point, it doesn’t make a ton of difference what you have. I like having a main page that is for anyone interested in my blog and my books. Then I have two private groups that are targeted toward authors and my super fans. Both are spaces of exclusive content and I don’t really promote them much.
Get Greater Exposure
There are a couple of ways to expand your exposure on Facebook. The first is boosting posts. The second is to run ads. The third is to cross-post. Each of these options have their pros and cons.
Let’s start with boosting posts. The big con, obviously is that you have to pay to play. I’m sure you’ve noticed that any given post will only reach between 1-7% of your audience, depending on interaction. Facebook has arranged this to increase its profit margins. While it is tempting to only boost posts where you have a vested return (like your 20% content) that’s not wise. After all, the point of the 80/20 rule is to balance content so your fans don’t always feel like you’re asking for the sale. I prefer to focus on boosting posts that are performing better than most posts. They perform better because they are getting more engagement. Which means they are resonating with your audience. So boost that. If that is a sales post, cool. If it’s not a sales post, that’s ok too. I don’t let boosted posts make up more than 10% of my overall budget because they’re really just about building relationships, not getting sales.
This leads me to option 2- Facebook ads. Facebook ads are great for building your brand, and getting more likes, but the best way to use them is to add readers to your newsletter list/ to promote your book/ or to promote an event. Before you invest in those ads, A/B test them with your organic audience first. You can quickly spend far more than you ever wanted and see very little return if you’re not careful. As it is, the return on digital advertising is pretty low. 0.9% CTR is considered average on Facebook. You have to do a lot of testing before running with an ad to get those kinds of results. It is not for the faint of heart, especially when you look at the cost per click there. $3.77 is the most common cost per click. For most authors, that’s outside your budget. So you have to keep it tight.
Another alternative that many authors go to is cross-promoting. Sharing their post from their professional page to their personal page. (I do this with every post.) Sharing it to any and every group they can share to (called spamming.) and even sending it to followers via messenger. Those last two tactics can be valid tactics if you do it right. But they have been horrendously abused by people in the past and now you have to be super careful or you could get blocked and booted.
Make sure that if you are cross-promoting, your content is truly relevant and follows the community guidelines of the group you’re trying to post on. Make sure that you are visiting that group regularly and interacting with other people’s posts and building relationships. Don’t just post and ghost. And don’t abuse it. I have to kick people out all the time for abusing these rules in my Author Anon group. There is no call for it.
My last tip is to limit your time on any platform. Set a timer and then scan and engage with people as much as you can in that time frame. If you don’t interact with others then quickly neither of you will see one another’s content. It’s social media, not free TV ad spots. So be social on it or don’t be on it at all.
Do you have any Facebook tips to share? Let us know in the comments below.
Until next time,
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