Start a Blog – A blog can be a great way to get your feet in the door far as reaching out to an audience is concerned. The frequency to which you can publish articles on the blog can help people to become familiar with you and your writing style. I think blogs are especially important for people who aren’t necessarily known for writing (a doctor or construction worker) but they’ve decided to write a book. Starting a blog first can introduce them to the writing community (whichever community that is) and get people familiar with them as a writer. It’s one thing to enjoy doing something but it’s an entirely different thing to translate that into a language that others will understand. The immediate feedback from the blog can help writers to access not just where they are with their writing (if they can engage a group of people or not) but also help to draw out the people who are interested in what they are writing about. Blogs also provide ample opportunity to network. It is the first step in learning how to do so. By commenting on blogs, liking posts, and sharing information you are networking even if you didn’t know you were doing it.
Incorporate Blogging into Your Platform Growing Strategy – Before I move on to the next bullet point, I am not finished with blogging just yet. I think more so than starting a blog, it’s important also to make it a part of your platform growing strategy. By this I mean it may help to try to learn to blog. (Something I think we never stop learning to do!) If the blog is going to be the place where you reach and interact with people the most, make it a part of your writing schedule. Be sure to carve out a day or time where you can schedule your blog posts so that you have regularly updated content but are not neglecting your life outside the blog. You can also schedule a day where you can catch up on the blogs of others (you are following other blogs right??) and be as engaged as possible.
I like to schedule my blog posts to publish anytime around 12:00 – 1:00am CST or sometimes as late as 2:00am. This gives people on the other side of the world a chance to read the post while I’m sleeping. I can then take the rest of the day when I am up and about and read the blogs of others via my mobile. This is why I am usually re-blogging throughout the day (depending on where you are in the world). It keeps this blog updated and consistent. I am not necessarily at the computer 24/7 but by having my main blog posts (such as articles, creative pieces or poems) scheduled to go out, my time is free to browse the rest of the day. Quotes, music, reblogs, I can do all of this via my phone. As long as the long posts are drafted, edited, and then scheduled to go out, I am free.
If you’re new to this blog, go back and read How to Blog in Your Sleep, a post I wrote some time ago on scheduling your blog posts to go out when you’re sleeping. This helps your blog to work for you even when you’re not awake. Also check out How to Make Your Blog Work for You (Even When You’re Not Blogging). Don’t be distracted by the numbers if they are low. So, what. Focus on being consistent and engaging with your content and the rest will take care of itself. Celebrate every victory and measure your growth with social media not by numbers alone, but by the feedback and engagement you receive. If people are liking, sharing, and commenting, that’s a good thing and the numbers usually follow.
Website – If you have no books out or just one or two books, it’s not necessary to go all out with paying for an expensive website (especially one that that will require e-commerce when you’re not selling), but you can set up something simple to help promote yourself as an author. For more, be sure to go back and read 3 Reasons You Need an Author Website (and why it’s not the same as a blog).
Sometimes, you don’t have to spend money on a full-fledged website. Just a landing page is great for those building an email list, have no books out, have only a couple books out, or are not selling books.
Landing Pages – I forgot to mention Landing Pages in the post about author websites. I forgot all about it. Not everyone needs a full-fledged website. For some of you, a Landing Page will do instead. A landing page is just what it sounds like, a mini website or page people “land” on as a result of clicking on the link from someone’s blog or website. It is like a digital business card or mini website. Landing pages are also good for encouraging email list sign-ups.
Email List – I hate to beat a dead horse (poor horse) but if you are publishing a book, it’s good to have an email list. No, it’s great to have an email list! Email has been around forever and remains the best way to keep in contact with people. You would want to set up an email list the same time that you set up your blog, website, or landing pages. (You can sign-up for mines HERE. Shameless plug. Gotta love it.)
Content is a big question when it comes to the email list. I started by just sharing updates of my work (and I still do) and my writing. Other writers I know share their writing as well. Exclusives are great (everyone wants to be exclusive). So exclusive or non-published content is a great way to start. Right now I am sharing excerpts from my unpublished memoir and I am happy that my readers are enjoying it so far. We are three chapters in and I am excited to share Chapter 4. These are works that no one, not even this blog, has seen. They are just shared with my email list subscribers. You can always start by just sharing exclusives of your writings or tips you have. We all have the insight to share. You’re an expert on something I am sure.
The email list, in short, will give you an opportunity to grow your platform even more and beyond the blog. There are people on my email list who don’t follow this blog or are even online like that. The email list gives me a chance to keep them abreast of my work. The email list is also more reliable than social media accounts and blogs. In the event, you want to stop blogging, (or something goes wrong and you can’t get your subscribers back which, I’ve heard horror stories! People with thousands and thousands of followers they lost either due to transitioning to self-hosted or something else) you don’t have to lose your audience. The email list helps you to keep in contact with those who support you beyond the blog.
Social Media – Finally, once you’ve got your blog, website, and email list, set up your social media handles. Your Facebook or Twitter or IG accounts. You will feed the content of your blog to these for more exposure. As people share your content, you grow your platform even more. Choose a few where you get the most engagement and dedicate yourself to them. Don’t try and be everywhere, just find the one place your readers are at and where you get the most out of.
- Start a Blog
- Build a Website / Landing Page / One Page Site
- Build an Email List
- Set up your Social Media Pages
These will help you to build a readership or at least start to. Of course, there are a gazillion other things, but this is a great start. I made the mistake of not starting out this way (I didn’t always be into the online scene like that. There was a time I didn’t even have a cell phone but that’s another story) but I know lots of people who did and they published their first book on a strong start. Their first books did very well just by doing the above. Remember, the foundation is everything. If the foundation is weak, so is everything else. Whether you’re Self-Publishing or publishing Traditionally it doesn’t matter. You will need a platform once the book is published. Don’t wait until you publish the book, do all of this before you publish. Start out strong and finish likewise.
I’ve put together a Promotional Website for The Nora White Story, my soon-to-be-released novel series. CLICK HERE to discover the launch schedule and everything you need to know about this project. My email list subscribers already know about it. Wanna get first dibs too? CLICK HERE TO SIGN-UP FOR MY EMAIL LIST. I am sharing my memoir, writing updates, and more. Thanks a ton!