Tips and Tricks for Setting Up Your Blog

By User Gflores on en.wikipedia [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By User Gflores on en.wikipedia [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Blogging is a lot of work, but it can be very rewarding. Are you thinking of starting a blog this year? Here are some helpful resources to get you going:

Getting Subscribers

Driving Traffic

Avoiding Mistakes

Guest Posts

Writing Posts

Monetization

Marketing Books with Blogging

Metrics

Trends

Tools

Advertisements

What Are the Ingredients of a Successful Marketing Plan?

By The Photographer [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By The Photographer [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Editor’s note: This post was originally published January 2016 on Digital Book World.

Today’s readers and book buyers are savvy. Ads are not enough to get a potential customer’s attention, and being bombarded daily with emails, texts, posts, tweets, shares, images and videos makes it incredibly easy, and more likely, for people to ignore ads.

In fact, people are going out of their way to avoid ads, installing plugins known as ad blockers to outright remove them. And despite what season 19 of “South Park” depicts—a world in which ads become sentient and quietly take over our lives—ad campaigns do not work as well as they used to when it comes to marketing products.

Enter content marketing, and the idea of gaining a community’s trust in order to sell products. In addition to sharing content that customers find worthwhile, and would potentially want to share with others, this method allows companies to forge connections with people by regularly communicating with them in a more pleasant manner.

Social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest are important tools in establishing that trust, but they should be considered just that—tools—and not strategies themselves.

While there are many components to a successful marketing plan, here are six aspects to consider.

1. Figure out the audience. What is it about a book or a book series that makes it stand out? Can it help to solve a problem, and if so, how? Who would be interested in reading the book, and where can you find them? When are they active and when would they be open to listening to you? One tool that may be helpful in answering these questions is Find My Audience, a website, currently in beta, that finds potential readers on Twitter. Users provide information about a book, and then the tool gives information on the target audience for that book. The site is free to use for now, but eventually users will have the option to pay a monthly fee in exchange for information on Facebook and Goodreads.

2. Have specific goals. Are you trying to build an email list? Do you want to increase sales? Would you rather current fans or followers be more engaged with the content you post? Focus on what you are trying to accomplish, and then work from there to achieve it.

3. Create a system similar to Chris Syme’s SMART method so you can actually build a fanbase and sell books. One tip to keep in mind is to deliver different messages, in different ways, to different audience segments. What to post and the number of times to post per day varies among Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. Also, younger readers tend to use Instagram and Tumblr more, and older readers tend to stick with Facebook. Keep your goals and audience in mind when coming up with a system.

4. Build trust. If you don’t have a customer’s trust, then how can you expect them to buy from you? Seth Godin goes into detail on his blog about permission marketing, which involves earning the privilege to send “anticipated, personal and relevant messages to people who actually want to get them.” You earn this privilege by delivering on promises, creating and sharing valuable content, and eventually having enough credibility that people believe in you and your products.

5. Engage with your community. Engagement can help build trust, and there are many ways to connect with your audience and make them feel special. A few ideas include:

• polling cover images or character names
• hosting weekly Twitter chats with a hashtag that promotes an author, book or fan group,
• shouting out to readers who email or share messages on social media
• giving away copies of books with personalized thank you notes
• posting videos that give behind-the-scenes information about a book
• sharing chapter reveals
• mailing swag, like stickers or illustrations
• sending email updates about upcoming novels
• setting up forums or groups on Facebook or Google+ to encourage discussion

6. Work agilely. Now that I work in tech, I get to see the agile method firsthand. Breaking down your marketing strategy and focusing on making it incrementally better, two weeks at a time, can make a big difference. You can take a loose interpretation of the agile methodology and apply it to marketing. The idea is to work on a two-week schedule, called “sprints,” and meet a goal or set of goals by the end of the sprint. To determine what to work on in each sprint, take some time to assess feedback and figure out what’s engaging people and what content they want to see. Then adjust your plan accordingly.

What components do you take into consideration for your marketing plan? What works best for you? Please let me know in the comments.

Book Marketing Tips for the Holidays and Year Round

By Ralph Daily from Birmingham, United States (Roasted American Turkey) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Ralph Daily from Birmingham, United States (Roasted American Turkey) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

It’s been a while since I’ve down a roundup of articles. Since the holiday season is coming up fast, here’s a list of helpful marketing-related articles (there’s even a few specific for the holidays)!

Holiday Specific

Growing Traffic and Followers

BookBub Tips and Tricks

Working with People

Trends and New Stuff

Helpful Tools

Self Publishing

Indie Author Marketing Guide: Google Plus

Google Plus is a social media platform that is not as talked about as Facebook or Twitter, but can be very important, depending on your niche.

Google Plus Basics

For those who may not be too familiar with Google Plus, here are a few of the basics. First, you fill out a profile, with a picture, a cover image, and whatever information you feel comfortable sharing about yourself. After you create a personal profile, you can create a business profile, or page, such as the one for my side project, I Know Dino. Continue reading

Indie Author Marketing Guide: Pinterest

Happy 2015! To kick off the year, I’m starting a series of posts that focus on using social media. Today is all about Pinterest.

Pinterest is all about sharing (or pinning) images, and there are many ways indie authors can use this social media platform to their advantage. You can pin images to different boards, and tailor your boards to different interests. Continue reading

Indie Author Marketing Guide: LinkedIn

LinkedIn is known for being a professional network, and a great place to share your resume online.

As an indie author, here are a few ideas of how to use LinkedIn to your advantage: Continue reading

Indie Author Marketing Guide: Goodreads

Next up in the Indie Author Marketing Guide series is Goodreads. Goodreads is a social network for book lovers, now owned by Amazon. Users can join groups, follow authors, rate and review books, compile lists of read books, and promote books with giveaways.

According to The Creative Penn, “Goodreads’ recommendation engine is an algorithm similar to Netflix” and “A book does need to get a few hundred ratings before it gets into the recommendation engine.” It’s also helpful to fully fill out the author profile portion of your account, and combine editions of your book.

One of the best features of Goodreads is the giveaway feature. Keep in mind that the giveaway is for physical books, and you will be responsible for mailing them to the winners. There are a lot of articles out there with tips on how to run a successful giveaway, but here are a couple links with a lot of especially useful information:

You should read the full articles, but some of the tips include how to determine the number of books to giveaway (less than 10 is actually ideal), why the process is worth doing, when to run a giveaway (Mondays are great), and how many entries to expect.

Like Amazon, Goodreads is a great place to get ratings and reviews. In late 2013, Goodreads changed its review policy so that comments primarily about an author, instead of the book, would be deleted.

Finding relevant groups to join is another great feature of Goodreads. There are many groups dedicated to indie authors supporting each other, where they share with each other ideas for marketing and promoting books.

Because Goodreads is so data heavy, the site gathers and aggregates a lot of information about people’s reading habits, and occasionally they share that data. Here’s an infographic depicting reasons why people stop reading certain books.

Goodreads also lets authors connect with readers with their “Ask the Author” feature.

If you’re looking for more ideas on how to use Goodreads effectively, check out The Ultimate Goodreads Guide for Authors (Building Blocks to Author Success Book 4) by Barb Drozdowich and Babs Hightower.

And if you have any other ideas for how to use Goodreads, please share in the comments!

Editor’s note: This post originally appeared January 2015, as part of the Indie Author Marketing Guide series.

Indie Author Marketing Guide: Twitter

Screen Shot 2015-08-25 at 10.31.31 AM

Twitter is one of the largest social media platforms, and when used correctly, can really help boost an indie author’s platform.

According to Social Media for Writers, “23 percent of online adults living in the United States are active on Twitter.” The post also breaks down the demographic of Twitter users, down to age, gender, education level, and more.

When you sign up for an account, you choose a Twitter handle. All handles begin with @, so for example, my Twitter handle is @sabsky.

Twitter has really expanded its functionality over the years. Of course, the main way to use Twitter is to communicate in short 140-character messages (and also photos and videos if you choose). After you sign up for an account, also known as a Twitter handle, and upload your cover photo, profile photo, and fill out your bio, you are ready to go. Twitter is often used to sign in to other apps or websites, and you can now even purchase items directly from Twitter (see more in your Settings tab, which pops up when you click on your profile image). Continue reading

Indie Author Marketing Guide: Facebook

Screen Shot 2016-06-13 at 7.22.08 PM

For indie authors, Facebook is one of the best ways to reach your audience. As of April 2016, Facebook has 1.65 billion monthly active users and 1.09 billion people logging in daily, according to Zephoria.

With that in mind, it’s probably safe to say that if you’re reading this, you are at least familiar with Facebook.  Continue reading

Indie Author Marketing Guide: A Primer to Social Media

By geralt [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

By geralt [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

Social media is a big part of indie author marketing strategies these days. But for those just starting out, it may seem daunting. When I first began using social media for platform building, I felt slightly overwhelmed. But now, after lots of practice and just incorporating social media into my daily routine, I’ve come to embrace it. And instead of seeing it like a chore, I see it as another way to connect and interact with people, and I’ve been able to build real relationships through it.

Here are a few things I’ve learned along the way. (And if you want guidance on how to overcome the feeling of being overwhelmed, read Your Writer Platform’s “Are You Building Your Writer Platform at Gunpoint?“)

Don’t use social media just to sell books

Kristen Lamb’s “Social Media, Book Signings & Why Neither Directly Impact Overall Sales” goes into depth on why this is not a good strategy, but basically you don’t want to spam people/just make noise, and you will not develop any real relationships this way (meaning, you won’t attract real fans).

Rachel Thompson suggests spending more time online finding people who may be willing to review your books, and she gives a list of suggestions in her article “Why ‘Read My Book!’ Doesn’t Work…And What To Do Instead

Focus on one or two platforms first, then build from there

Facebook. Twitter. Instagram. Pinterest. Google. Youtube. Goodreads. LinkedIn. Tumblr. The list goes on and on. You can be active on all these channels, but it’s probably best to pick one or two and work on growing an audience there first. Every social media channel works a little differently, caters to a different audience, and has savvy users who expect others to use the network a certain way. The Book Designer’s “Do You Make These Online Marketing Mistakes?” offers tips, such as establishing one audience per channel and using landing pages.

Social Media Just for Writers also recommends researching your target market and then choosing your social media platform based on that in “How to Stop Wasting Time and Focus Your Book Marketing.” For advice on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, and YouTube, read DBW’s “The Book Marketing Social Media Hierarchy: Which Sites to Use for Which Purposes.”

Business Insider broke down the demographics of some of the social media platforms. According to them, the 45- to 54-year-old demographic is growing, “27% of 18 to 29-year-olds in the U.S. use Twitter,” LinkedIn and Google+ are mostly male, Pinterest is mostly women on tablets, and Tumblr is mostly teens and young adults.

Eventually you can expand into other platforms. For a case study on why, read Kate Tilton’s “Why I Use Different Social Media Networks (And You Should Too) by @K8Tilton.”

For help determining which platform is best for you, read these articles:

Strategize how you will build your platform

Erindor Press’s “Platform Building Primer” is a good start, and advocates setting expectations and figuring out the best way to share content, either via blogging, email newsletters, or something else (and you can use social media to promote that content).

The Loneliest Planet shared a post, called “One Writer’s Platform (Part 2) Events and PR,” which goes over techniques of marketing offline (such as doing public readings and lectures) but also adds that it’s worth taping these performances and uploading them to Youtube to share.

Use lots of images/visuals

People tend to engage more with posts, tweets, etc. that are visual. According to Rebekah Radice’s “5 Steps to Get Massive Engagement With Your Visual Content,” “43% of social media users share pictures.” She recommends having consistent colors, using templates, appropriate fonts, and to create infographics, images, and videos.

Build Book Buzz recommends creating different types of images, including picture quotes, tipographics, and infographics. For tips on how to actually create these images, read Social Media Just For Writer’s “Writers: Use Visuals to Market Your Books.”

Make use of social media tools

Here’s a list of resources, along with helpful tips and links to additional tools:

Keep up to date on new platforms and tools

Lastly, the social media landscape is constantly changing, so it’s good to stay up to date. One example of a relatively new tool/platform is Aerbook, which according to PW turns social media into a virtual bookstore. Earlier this year, Social Media Just for Writers wrote about how indie authors can use Aerbook, which allows you to share previews and even sell ebooks on social media networks, as well as see analytics on your shares.

According to the article, there are three product plans to choose from:

Aerbook Retail is free, no credit card required. It gives you the social look inside the book, email capture popups within the sample, stats on how the book is used, and the ability to share the link and also get web page widgets that launch the Aerbook. This plan lets you sell the book directly through Aerbook, and our service earns 15% of the purchase price after credit card fees are deducted.

Aerbook Plus gives you everything Aerbook Retail delivers, plus lets you add links to other retailers, like Amazon, iBooks, or even your own purchase page. Aerbook Plus is $49 per year.

Aerbook Flyer includes everything above, but there’s no direct sale through Aerbook’s commerce service. You’ll add links to other retailers. Flyer also lets you do book giveaways, and includes 500 directly delivered, complete books annually. Flyer is $99 per year.

Got any social media tips? Please share in the comments!

Editor’s note: This post was originally published September 2015, as part of the Indie Author Marketing Guide series.