Every new author has the same question: How do I build my audience? The obvious answer is a publicity campaign. But traditional media (ie. TV, newspapers, and print and online publications) may not be the right marketing approach for your book, especially if it has to compete with other major current events. Another way to raise your author platform is through content marketing.
Content marketing is the creation and sharing of content such as blog posts, infographics, social media posts, videos, and much more. With this kind of marketing, you’re not directly advertising your book. Instead, you’re building a relationship with your audience and encouraging them to cultivate a habit of coming to you for resources, inspiration, information, or entertainment. The more of your content they consume, and the more value they get from it, the more they’ll want from you—eventually encouraging them to buy your book, sign up for your course, or attend your events.
Let’s dive deeper into some of the most common forms of content useful in content marketing.
This is one of the most popular promotional tools for authors for multiple reasons: newsletters allow you to connect with your readers intimately, and they give you a chance to express your personality, which is the essence of your author brand. They can also be created and sent for free, at the basic level, and they’re easy to set up and maintain.
Newsletters can take many forms. Some authors send what looks like a regular email message, containing just a few paragraphs of text. Other authors send newsletters laid out like mini-magazines, with a banner, headers, and images. Do whatever feels most appealing to you.
The content in the newsletter should feel natural. Perhaps it is just your expert spin on the latest big news topic, or excerpts and links to your most popular blog posts from the month.
Promotions should be a part of every newsletter you send, usually as a line or paragraph about your book at the bottom. Don’t be shy sending out emails solely for promotional purposes from time to time, especially if you have a big announcement about your book or an upcoming event.
The frequency with which you send out your newsletter is up to you. Many mini-magazine-style newsletters are monthly, as they take longer to put together, while simple letter-style newsletters could be created and sent out every week.
A blog is a powerful tool that can help take your author profile and career to another level. Posting regularly to a blog can offer incredible benefits to your author platform. Here are three of the most important benefits:
- Expert status. Having a blog helps you to become known as an authority in your field. As your audience and even your peers turn to you for your information, you’ll become recognized as a go-to person in your industry.
- Shareability. Blog posts are as easy to share as they are to read. When your readers find something truly helpful or inspiring on your blog, they’ll let their friends know about it through social media.
- Subscriber generation. If your readers enjoy your blog posts, they may sign up to your mailing list. Once they’re signed up, you can let them know about other things you’re up to, turning them from blog readers into book readers.
Blog posts can take many forms including guides, reviews, opinion pieces, lists, and interviews. How often you update your blog is up to you, but try to post at least once every two weeks, and be sure to keep your schedule consistent.
Share graphics are a staple for Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and other visually oriented social media. They’re simply text placed over an image or design. The text is often a tip, quote, pithy saying or some other form of short, easily digestible information.
What makes share graphics great is that they’re so, well, shareable. With how easy they are to absorb, it’s no wonder many people are quick to share them with friends.
While it may sound like you need to be a design wizard to make these graphics, they’re actually very simple. With free online design tools such as Canva, you can use pre-made templates, or customize them as much as you want.
Making videos is easier than ever—sometimes even easier than writing blog posts—and can be as easy as sitting in front of your iPhone and answering a question you commonly hear from your clients, customers, or readers. If you come alive on camera, take advantage of this online form’s massive and growing popularity
Video trailers for books are common, and will look appealing on your website and YouTube. These aren’t for everyone, but if you think your book has some enthralling messages that you can get across in a minute or two, spurring book sales in the process, consider having one made.
If you’re making videos just for your website, like a book trailer or videos that can be used as reference material on YouTube, consistency in posting might not be an issue for you. But if you’re looking to grow your following through YouTube, you’ll want to commit to posting regularly. This might mean once a month for longer videos, or three times a week for short, vlog-style clips.
Getting professional help
It’s easier than ever to create blog posts, social media share graphics, and even videos, but with so much to do, you’re probably wondering: won’t this take a lot of time?
If you stick with one or two social media platforms, create a simple monthly newsletter, and post to your blog on a bi-weekly basis, you might be able to handle all your content creation in as little as three to four hours a week, especially if you find that it comes naturally to you. But for many people, the truth is, yes, content marketing can indeed be time-consuming. If you decide to post on your blog weekly, update Facebook and Twitter every few hours, and release a mini-magazine newsletter every month, all by yourself, you’ll probably find yourself overwhelmed—especially if you’ve never done this kind of thing before.
That’s when you should consider getting some help. Engaging a content marketer, digital assistant, or intern can help you create outstanding content that your fans love, letting you focus on the rest of your marketing.
For a new author, content marketing is often the main way to build your online author platform. Remember that your focus is on endearing your audience to you, not promoting your book. People won’t want to miss a word when they love your content, and if you do it right, they’ll share your content with their friends, helping you to grow your audience organically over time.
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