Platform Building and Marketing Stuff

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This topic contains 10 replies, has 6 voices, and was last updated by  Corine 1 month, 3 weeks ago.

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  • #89725

    MyClipboardIsMyViolin
    @myclipboardismyviolin

    After reading @daeus-lamb‘s recent concern over his possible marketing disaster, and after reading the Writer’s Journey Plan again and noticing the mention of “platform building stuff coming soon”, I’d like to open the floor.

    Because…I hate to admit this, but I still don’t know how to do this platform building stuffingans. This is coming from someone who has taken college classes and has degrees in pro web design. I can make you a web page in 30 minutes and run the WordPress and do all them schmancy stuff that you’ve never heard of. But how do you make a writing website? As opposed to another one.

    I’ve taken internet marketing classes about what I should be doing, sat in on Hubspot’s thing for certification, but they didn’t talk about writing, marketing writing in specific, so not much help. I read the Complete Guide to Self-Publishing that was out of date, and their methods of writing press releases are out of the date. (You probably should still write press releases.)

    And I’ve taken writing class after writing class, contemplated the grimness of the world hating us in a spiritual sense and all of us being doomed to starving artist failure, gotten myself published in a literary journal, grimly contemplated getting published in other literary journals, self-publishing, e-books, POD.

    Not only that, but I’ve spent time on YouTube and Twitter playing around with stuff. I gamed a Twitter account to over 1,000 followers in 3 months and contemplated the science of how best to do Internet projects (tease stuff and gradually release things). I’ve watched videos about how YouTube is the best way to grow a following.

    But there seems to be a big gap in my thinking. I know (some) writing stuff. I know (some) marketing stuff. But I seem at a loss to put the two things together. The fact that I have no plan to make the bank using my writing has actually been the #1 discouraging thing about my writing in general. I’m all for making impact for God’s glory and honor, but at some point you have to face the fact that your health insurance is running out, no? And it’s like, I’ve spent so much time learning all of this stuff, I should be able to make this work.

    Then I see writers giving away novellas for free, and I’m not sure I like that plan. I dislike giving away free stuff. And if I, someone who has researched myself into a black hole, have questions, I’m sure other people are lost. So, do any of ya’ll “experts” have ideas to start to close the gap?

    @josiah @faith_blum @r-m-archer

    Anyone else who is not an “expert” have ideas too, or questions that you want answered? I welcome any and all input, and I don’t expect everything thrown out here to work. Marketing is an art, not a science, and this is kinda a brainstorm space to put the complexities of all of this together. Get the wheels turning. The show on the road. The cats out of the bag. Something like that.

    Sarah, Miss S, Sierepica_Fuzzywalker

    #89735

    R.M. Archer
    @r-m-archer

    *laughs at being called an “expert,” even in quotes* Dude, I’m 100% making this up as I go. Or at least 99.99%. I have done some marketing research, and my granddad does marketing stuff professionally and recently went back to college for business and I’ve talked with him some, but mostly it’s trial-and-error. That said, I think I’m decently good (with what knowledge I have) at grasping marketing concepts, if not applying them to my own work. 😛

    Are you looking for just site-related advice at the moment? (That’s probably where my knowledge is weakest, unfortunately. :P)

    Fantasy/dystopian/sci-fi author. Mythology nerd. ENFP. Singer.

    #89738

    Daeus Lamb
    @daeus-lamb

    @myclipboardismyviolin Here’s my really quick answer.

    Step one. Build a large email list. Why? Because it will help you sell 1,000+ books with the click of a button. It will also give you the opportunity to…

    Step #2: cross-promote(!!!) with other people who have similar audiences. Which in turn will lead to more sales which will allow you to…

    Step #3: ride organic algorithms on Amazon and elsewhere, topping off your sales without any effort from you.

    I could list more, but the last thing you need is shiny object syndrome. 🙂

    If you want to do some reading by authors who are experts in this niche, I would probably recommend Tim Grahl and David Gaughran. Your first 10,000 readers, the book launch blueprint, let’s get digital (haven’t actually read that one, but I think it will be helpful for you), and Amazon decoded (check David’s website for that one).

    To be honest, it will probably take a couple years to get the hang of everything, but that’s on average. You may do better, especially if you can find some good mentors and support groups.

    😀
    👕👍
    👖 🐢🐢🐢🐢🐢

    #89749

    MyClipboardIsMyViolin
    @myclipboardismyviolin

    Quick answers are okay, but ah, me getting stuck is getting a bit deeper than that.

    Step one. Build a large email list. Why? Because it will help you sell 1,000+ books with the click of a button. It will also give you the opportunity to…

    And how does one build this magic email list? I mean, I can sit down and crank out a website with an email signup form, but that doesn’t build anything. I can crank Twitter for followers, but I have no success at getting them to actually even view my website (s), let alone sign up for anything.

    I could list more, but the last thing you need is shiny object syndrome. If you want to do some reading by authors who are experts in this niche, I would probably recommend Tim Grahl and David Gaughran. Your first 10,000 readers, the book launch blueprint, let’s get digital (haven’t actually read that one, but I think it will be helpful for you), and Amazon decoded (check David’s website for that one).

    Thanks for this, and for responding to my thread. I’ll keep these book recommendations in mind.

    *laughs at being called an “expert,” even in quotes* Dude, I’m 100% making this up as I go. Or at least 99.99%. I have done some marketing research, and my granddad does marketing stuff professionally and recently went back to college for business and I’ve talked with him some, but mostly it’s trial-and-error. That said, I think I’m decently good (with what knowledge I have) at grasping marketing concepts, if not applying them to my own work.

    Are you looking for just site-related advice at the moment? (That’s probably where my knowledge is weakest, unfortunately. :P)

    I tagged you because I recalled that you had work published. It’s not site advice that I’m looking for as much (I probably have that square, if my praise from my web design profs is anything to go by), it’s the “where are all my readers coming from” stuff that I seem to know nothing about. That and this weird place called Amazon where some authors are #1 and apparently that is a big deal in Cloud Author Land.

    By the way, if anyone wants site-related advice, I’ll be happy to answer questions about that, but that would be another thread altogether, I would think – probably similar to Daeus’ recent conundrum. In the meantime, thank you both.

    Sarah, Miss S, Sierepica_Fuzzywalker

    #89754

    R.M. Archer
    @r-m-archer

    @myclipboardismyviolin

    *nods* I might be able to help with that some. Um… as far as my blog is concerned, Pinterest drives a lot of my traffic. As soon as I started designing Pinterest-friendly graphics (and mine aren’t even the most Pinterest-friendly out there, seeing as Pinterest likes vertical pins and mine are square) my traffic skyrocketed. Now… I can’t say I’m retaining a lot of those readers. That’s where I tend to get stuck. Most of my email list subscribers are people I’ve connected with personally through their blogs or through writing groups rather than people who’ve come to read my blog posts.

    As far as books are concerned (I don’t know where you are in the process, so this may not be relevant yet anyway), I’m really only now dipping my feet into that. The book I published earlier this month is my third published work, but it’s the first I’ve really cared enough to promote, so I’m experimenting and trying to figure out what works. As with my blog, I’ve mostly sold to people who are already familiar with me on a semi-personal level (bloggers I connect with occasionally, family members, friends, etc.).

    The problems I run into most are 1) converting views into subscribers and 2) building familiarity with people who aren’t already familiar with me so that they join the ranks of those willing to subscribe to my content/buy my books. (Which sounds really egotistical and greedy when put that way…)

    What I’ve found most effective are reaching out to fellow bloggers and authors–ideally those who write similar content to yours or are at least interested in your brand of content–and building relationships, and calling on the relationships you already have with family and friends. The latter can feel really awkward, and generally I try to do it as minimally as possible, but chances are the people who care about you are going to be interested in supporting you in your interests and they’ll be some of your most consistent supporters if you let them. Reaching out to fellow bloggers and authors can be really fun, and I’ve gotten to know some super cool people that way. I’ve even learned that it’s not as scary as it seems to reach out to published authors (for me, at least, that’s mostly speculative-fiction-writing indie authors), and they tend to be super cool and willing to chat with people. One of my favorite authors actually added my book to her Goodreads TBR, and it’s because I worked up the courage to reach out and interact with her on social media (even if I probably do often sound like a crazy fangirl).

    I feel like I’m rambling (it’s late and I’ve been up for eighteen hours), but basically the gist is make friends, reach out to your friends, and then ask your friends to share with their friends. Hopefully that’s at least a little helpful. XD I’ll try to remember to come back tomorrow when I’m less scatterbrained and clarify anything that didn’t come across the way I wanted. 😛

    Fantasy/dystopian/sci-fi author. Mythology nerd. ENFP. Singer.

    #89761

    Daeus Lamb
    @daeus-lamb

    @myclipboardismyviolin

    And how does one build this magic email list?

    Well, I’m trying not to overload you to the point of analysis paralysis, but for starters, you might find this article helpful: https, though it’s somewhat non-fiction/business focused. videofruit.com/blog/how-to-build-an-email-list/

    As I’m sure you know, building an email list is all about traffic and conversions. With your training in design, you’ll probably do pretty well with design. That free novel/novella authors often giveaway is also a major part of keeping high conversions. Writing a book only to give it away for free is a lot of work, but I’d venture to say trying to build an email list without that enticing offer would be even harder. Besides, it gives readers a chance to try you out risk-free, which most readers want.

    About driving traffic. You can do ads as I’m about to try. The line between red and black here though can be very fine, so research is crucial, plus lots of experimentation, a period of losing money, and developing something to sell on the back end to recoup your costs.

    Giveaways can be a fairly cheap way to build your email list. It’s especially helpful if you build connections (everything’s about connections) who will help promote it.

    You can blog, though I only recommend this if you actually love blogging. It’s a lot of work.

    Personally, I don’t think using social media is the most effective way to drive traffic to your mailing list, but you might find it a useful method. Do a quick google search for how authors go about this, and I’m sure you’ll find lots of data.

    There are, of course, more ways to build an email list, but I’ve got to get some work done today. 😉

    😀
    👕👍
    👖 🐢🐢🐢🐢🐢

    #89782

    Daeus Lamb
    @daeus-lamb

    @myclipboardismyviolin By the way, I personally never worry about the world hating Christian fiction. There are even examples of explicitly Christian stories doing phenomenally in the secular market such as Cry, The Beloved Country, Ben-Hur, and Chariots of Fire.

    As Brandon Miller said in one of the first podcast episodes: “good stories get read.”

    And, of course, it’s especially easy if you’re marketing implicitly Christian fiction.

    Or you could make a whole career out of selling Christian fiction to Christians! There’s room for everybody. 🙂

    😀
    👕👍
    👖 🐢🐢🐢🐢🐢

    #90044

    Josiah DeGraaf
    @josiah

    @myclipboardismyviolin As some other people have said, I’d highly recommend email list building as your first step. In my personal experience, giveaways that target your ideal reader with the items you’re giving away combined with cross-promoting with other likeminded individuals has brought me the most success in building an email list.

    I would recommend having some kind of freebie you give to people who sign up to the mailing list as well. While you may not want to give away a whole novella to free, given the limited attention people have, you need to give some kind of incentive for them to sign up–the work you put into creating the freebie should eventually pay off if you set it up right.

    I also second all the book/program recommendations Daeus made.

    Let me know if there are any other specific questions we can answer for you!

    Lit fanatic. Eclectic reader. Theology nerd. Writing fantasy at https://josiahdegraaf.com

    #90190

    Edmund Lloyd Fletcher
    @edmund-lloyd-fletcher

    I’ve been doing a lot of reading on this recently.  I know this is strictly head-knowledge, and I haven’t achieved it, so take what follows for what it’s worth.  Here’s a 30,000 ft fly-over of what I consider the most important lessons.

    The publishing industry used to be a gated community where only the elite could get past the gatekeepers.  Now it’s a crowded middle-eastern bazaar with people shouting over eachother to try and make their voice heard above the crowd.  And of course, the barrier to entry is so low that it’s nearly all junk.  (See: Sturgeon’s Law)

    Contrary to traditional wisdom, the solution to this is to make your audience smaller / more specific.  Find who, specifically, would be excited about your stuff and focus on telling them about it.  “Tribe” is the buzzword that gets tossed around a lot these days.  Who’s your tribe?  For us, probably something like Christian+Your_Genre+Readers, but, of course, the more specific, the better.

    Gluten-free homeschooling single moms who are into steampunk romance… UNITE! 🙋

    Whether it’s social media, IRL, or whatever, the first step is to find and engage with your tribe.  And by-the-way, “engage with”, means PARTICIPATE, not spam them.  That means friend, like, follow, comment — be a part of the group.  The trend is that people are growing tired of the drive-by advertising schtick.  Real engagement is all about interaction.

    Which brings me to another little nugget I found:  not all followers are of equal value.  Modern search and ranking algorithms determine credibility based on engagement, so those that like (or better yet, comment) are far more valuable than those who just follow you.  This is one reason why things like: buying followers, bulk following, and follow-to-unfollow are all ridiculous.  Fake followers don’t engage, don’t click through to your webpage, and sure don’t buy any books!

    In other words, advertising is dead (to quote Seth Godin).  The future is a conversation, not a billboard.

    An interesting side-effect is that if you’re engaged and attentive, the tribe will tell you what it wants, give you feedback, then buy it, share it with their sphere of influence, and in some cases will even fund it!  (If you make that recipe work out, let me buy you coffee sometime!)

    Homeschooling father of 10, writing Christian action/adventure novels from my home high in the Rockies.

    #90336

    MyClipboardIsMyViolin
    @myclipboardismyviolin

    Thank you so much for the help so far, everyone! There’s probably more I need to research before I get to more questions, but I wanted to respond to these.

    Um… as far as my blog is concerned, Pinterest drives a lot of my traffic. As soon as I started designing Pinterest-friendly graphics (and mine aren’t even the most Pinterest-friendly out there, seeing as Pinterest likes vertical pins and mine are square) my traffic skyrocketed.

    Interesting. I spend too much time on Pinterest myself, and I do have a designer background, so this might work. Though the conversion aspect of it might be weird – it would only really work if you were selling an expensive designer book, which we aren’t doing. I’m looking at about a 6 book prose-fiction series that I’m editing/rewriting. Maybe the book covers would be enticing, like the Chip Kidd Ted Talk on that.

    You can blog, though I only recommend this if you actually love blogging. It’s a lot of work.

    Amen. Been there, done that. 😛 The word on the street is that blogs are supposed to be topical, and I know too much stuff about too many topics. Of course, then the solution is to have multiple blogs, but that’s too much work.

    Do a quick google search for how authors go about this, and I’m sure you’ll find lots of data.

    *googles*

    The Author’s Guide to Building an Email List (and selling more books)

    How to Build a Responsive Author Email List in Just 30 Days

    https://thewritelife.com/authors-grow-your-email-list/ <–this one was the best for actual traffic driving tactics, heh.

    Whether it’s social media, IRL, or whatever, the first step is to find and engage with your tribe.  And by-the-way, “engage with”, means PARTICIPATE, not spam them.  That means friend, like, follow, comment — be a part of the group.  The trend is that people are growing tired of the drive-by advertising schtick.  Real engagement is all about interaction. Which brings me to another little nugget I found:  not all followers are of equal value.  Modern search and ranking algorithms determine credibility based on engagement, so those that like (or better yet, comment) are far more valuable than those who just follow you.  This is one reason why things like: buying followers, bulk following, and follow-to-unfollow are all ridiculous.  Fake followers don’t engage, don’t click through to your webpage, and sure don’t buy any books! In other words, advertising is dead (to quote Seth Godin).  The future is a conversation, not a billboard.

    An interesting side-effect is that if you’re engaged and attentive, the tribe will tell you what it wants, give you feedback, then buy it, share it with their sphere of influence, and in some cases will even fund it!  (If you make that recipe work out, let me buy you coffee sometime!)

    You make a valid point, but you have to be careful that your group is not too small as well, otherwise you don’t have enough readers to make the bank…

    I think my biggest problem now is that I don’t know what my target reader for my book (s) actually is, which means I need to go back to the writing and figure it out. The overall thing is a sci-fi story with realistic fiction and fantasy elements in parts of it. It centers on a three-person family with the daughter as the lead character.

    Sarah, Miss S, Sierepica_Fuzzywalker

    #90339

    Corine
    @corine

      This is an interesting conversation, and I’d like to add my own observations. I’m a very newbie blogger myself but I’ve helped set up blogs for other people and I’ve done a good bit of research as well. Anyways, take what I say with a pinch of salt.

      The word on the street is that blogs are supposed to be topical, and I know too much stuff about too many topics. Of course, then the solution is to have multiple blogs, but that’s too much work.

      I don’t think the only solution is to have multiple blogs, I think you just need to decide which of your passions you’d be able to dedicate so much time and effort to as to blog about it.

      For example, I love God, reading, writing, geology, and ballet but I’ve decided to focus my blog mainly on faith-related topics because when I was brainstorming blog post ideas those were the ones I was most excited to write.

      www.thewritingcorine.blogspot.com

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