Hello Readers and Writers! Marketing is one of those pesky things that keeps intruding into writers’ lives. How to do it? And where? And do you really have to?
I recently had the opportunity to talk with author, blogger, and host of “The Merry Writer” podcast, Ari Meghlen (more on that conversation later!) and it reminded me of this gem of a guest post that I originally posted in July of 2018. These tips are still fantastic! With her permission, I’m reposting it today.
I hope you find it as helpful as I do!
Firstly, I want to say a big thank you to Anne for having me on her blog, The Naptime Author. I appreciate being given the chance to share my thoughts with all her lovely readers. Now, let’s get to it!
Marketing is one of those words that most writers dread. We aren’t really into tooting our own horns. Our comfort lies in building worlds, spinning tales, breathing life into characters…so this “marketing” malarkey doesn’t sit well with us.
So, for those of you who are not sure where to begin with marketing here are 10 Marketing bitesize ideas you can put into practice right now. 😀
01 – Stop using the word “Aspiring”
Is that really a Marketing thing? Yes. The reason it’s part of marketing is because how you present yourself is important. Your stories are not the only brand you have. You, the writer, are also part of that brand.
It’s time to be professional. You aren’t aspiring. If you write, you’re a writer. End of. Accept it. Own it.
02 – Make use of your Email Signature
First, make sure you have an email for your writer-side (especially if you use a penname). Stop using things like “gypsysurfer23(@)randomemail.com” Have an email with your name/penname or website name. Again, it’s part of the brand.
Once you have that, make use of your email signature. Add in links to your website, social media platforms etc. The quick rule is, keep it neat, simple and professional looking. Don’t list every single site you’re on. Just the main ones otherwise it can get cluttered.
03 – Be easy to find
If you want to be a professional author, people need to be able to find you online. Make sure your profiles are up-to-date with where on the net you can be located. If you accept emails, have your email address listed or on a website include a contacts page.
Check out all those less-thought-of places too, like About.me or Gravatar. Did you open a Facebook account but don’t visit regularly? Okay, but at least include a link to a place you are active on.
04 – Buy a Domain Name
If you have a website/blog for your Author/Writer platform then consider buying a domain name. It adds validity to your presence. Especially if you are published.
Most writers will use the name they write under. If that’s not available, consider adding “Writes” to the end or “writer” or “author” to the end or beginning.
Most web-hosting makes it easy to connect your website/blog to your new domain name. Though be aware, this is often only possible with a paid account. However, paid accounts are usually good investments.
Heck, even if you don’t yet have your website/blog or are able to get a paid account, it can be good to secure the domain name early. It usually costs very little. Mine is about £12 for 2 years.
05 – Make time for other people
It’s all about interacting, making connections. Take the time to visit other blogs and websites, other social media sites. Look at other writers’ sites, leave supportive and encouraging comments. Engage with readers without trying to sell them anything or drive in the point you’re a writer.
So often I meet new people online only for them to bombard me minutes later with comments about buying their books. I’m not interested in that. I want to connect with real people, not deal with some pushy sales guy.
I have met some incredible people since I started blogging. Writers and readers alike who share similar interests, who tell me their achievements and their setbacks.
We should never be on a pedestal, proclaiming things to the audience we perceive around us. We should be side by side, chatting and making real connections.
I have bought the books of so many people who just chatted with me, who reached out with comments and created conversations. It made me interested in their work.
I’ve had people support my blog so much more than I ever expected, because we engaged and made real connections and they liked that.
I hammer on about this all the time, but writing is about community not competition. We should be supporting and encouraging each other.
06 – Consider guest posting
Now I know many writers see that and go “but I have nothing to say” or “I’m not published, no one will be interested.” Wrong, on both counts.
A few years ago, I decided I wanted to offer slots on my blog for guest posts. I sought out people I thought might be interested. I often got these responses.
However, I managed to convince them they had something to share and that being published didn’t matter. Heck, I’m not published, and people still read my posts.
Guest posting is an awesome opportunity. It is another connection. It is getting your name and your voice and your thoughts out there. There are always things to talk about. Always ideas and suggestions to share.
I have the great honour right now to be sharing my thoughts with you because of this guest posting opportunity Anne has given me. Be brave! Visit blogs that offer guest posting opportunities and see if you would be a good fit.
07 – Maintain a consistent Brand
The word Branding sometimes feels strange when applied to writers. After all, we consider “brand” more for corporations. You know, the ones with easily recognisable logos and catchphrases. But we need branding too.
Branding can include things like colour scheme, font, imagery. It can include a logo or an avatar. It can include a style and voice.
You probably already have some kind-of brand, you just might not be consciously aware of it. The best way to work with your brand is with your online presence.
Keep your brand consistent on all your online platforms. That means banners, fonts, tag lines you might use. They should be the same or similar across each location. Think about it, Twitter, Facebook etc allow you to include a banner. This should be the same or similar as each other and your blog/website.
The colour scheme and fonts should be the same. Maybe even the photo or avatar. It doesn’t have to all be exact, but there needs to be a consistency. People need to see it and instantly recognise it as you.
I use the same avatar on all my platforms. The same banner or at least part of the banner on all platforms. I keep a colour scheme I work with on my platforms. Each of these pieces builds the brand.
08 – Work smarter, not harder
I don’t know about you guys, but when I decided to be more focused with my writing (which included being active on social media, urgh) I suddenly realised just how much effort was needed outside of the actual writing processes.
For the first year I foundered. Badly. I huffed and puffed my annoyance at all these platforms (I was only on two!), couldn’t find time to write blog posts let alone outline or write my newest WIP.
In the end I had to step back and work out a system. Putting things in place to take some of the pressure off.
This included creating a Content Calendar for my blog so that I wasn’t always scratching around for topic ideas last minute.
I looked into different scheduling programs to help ease the burden of posting on social media frequently without getting overwhelmed. This led me to Buffer (which I love).
So, take a step back. Make note of what areas are pulling you under, what areas you feel you never have time for. Is there anything that can help you? Any systems or processes that can ease those burdens? Reach out to other people, find out how they do things.
Most writers are happy to share their suggestions for things like time management and systems they find useful.
09 – Confirm your audience
This one still surprises me. I’ve met a few people who have written books and even published them but haven’t considered who their primary audience is.
Now there is some school of thought that says you need to drill down and come up with your singular ideal reader. You know their age, their sex, their race, where they live, what they do for fun, the colour of their hair…
It might work really well and be the best idea ever. But…not for me. That seems a little too restrictive.
However, you do need to know your audience in a narrow way. Think about it, if the majority of your audience is male teens to early twenties you need to know this – because then you can amend your marketing techniques to where those people are more likely to hang out.
Also, if you’re published, don’t make the mistake of assuming because you write, say, YA (Young Adult) that your main audience is Young Adults. There have been cases were books aimed for YA have been a bigger hit with older people.
I’ve seen so many people throw money into ad campaigns on social media platforms that don’t cater to their audience. Don’t waste your time and money marketing to people who aren’t going to be as interested.
10 – Be Authentic
As writers we have a defined voice. Don’t mimic others. Don’t try to copy other people’s styles. Yes, we can learn our own from studying other people, especially when we are new to writing and marketing.
But always make sure you are being authentic. If some other writer has a great following, a bigger platform, don’t just try to emulate that by sacrificing your own authenticity.
Be you. Always 😊
Thanks for the excellent advice, Ari! If you’d like more of her writing wisdom, she can be found:
About Ari Meghlen
Ari became a writer because she couldn’t become a pirate. When she is not immersed in her tangled worlds full of screaming trees, living gargoyles, vengeful demons or trapped souls… Ari is pretty much daydreaming about said worlds.
She writes fantasy, lots of it. She also blogs about writing to help other writers because apparently working on over 5 different novel series’ is just not enough “writing”.
Most days she is surrounded by cats and books though she also enjoys watching bad movies with her boyfriend. Like REALLY bad movies.