Let me tell you about David.
He’s a professional writer (blogger, fiction writer, non-fiction writer, etc.) who doesn’t like marketing his work. He says his job is to write, not to promote, and that if he works hard enough on his art, then his readers will come.
There’s just one problem.
Only a few people have come across David’s work. And when they do, they don’t stay long.
Does any of this sound familiar?
Not too long ago, I was David. And if you’re writer struggling to find an audience for your work online, he’s you too.
Writing is a hard, demanding craft and there’s nothing more disappointing than releasing your work into a vacuum.
Please don’t give up.
Through these three proven marketing strategies you can keep writing and make peace with your reluctance to promote your work.
Strategy #1: Research What Your Readers Want
Social media is a resource that marketers love because they can survey what their audience wants and develop personas.
You should view social media media as a tool for researching what your ideal readers want and to test how they will receive your work. You can also use social media to find writers or publishers who can help your career.
With BuzzSumo, you can use social media to research your current writing project. For example, when I type the term “marketing writing” into BuzzSumo, I can see most shared articles with this keyword or about this topic across social media.
This enables me to:
- Research blog posts like this one
- Find other writers I should work with or follow
- Identify websites I should write for
Similarly, if you’ve finished a new book or giveaway for your blog, you could A/B test the title or cover by running a free poll on Facebook or Google+. These types of polls helped me pick a more relevant cover and title for my book.
Finally, before you publish your next article, take five minutes to find and review what’s already out there and what your audience has shared. Then, share what you’ve created with this audience using a time-saving app like Buffer or HootSuite.
Tip: If you don’t have a large social media following (or if you’re just stuck), communities like the APE: Authors, Publishers, Entrepreneurs group will help you pick a great title or book cover.
And if you don’t believe that writers should use social media, check out what Paulo Coelho is doing. Or Neil Gaiman. Or Stephen King.
Strategy #2: Email Your Readers
Email marketing is a traditional digital marketing strategy, but it’s one that forward-looking writers should feel at home with.Think of your emails as a letter between you and your reader.Click To Tweet
There’s a long tradition of this. Harper Lee, Roald Dahl and C.S. Lewis are just three of the many authors who wrote letters to their fans.
Through email, you can tell readers about your best work, explain your ideas, ask for feedback and gather information that will help you improve your next book, blog post or article.
It takes several hours to write an auto-responder email campaign, but once you set this campaign up, it will direct new readers to your best work for as long as it’s active.
Meanwhile, you can concentrate on writing new articles, essays or books safe in the knowledge that your blog – and by extension your writing – is marketing itself.
Tip: Give members of your email list high-quality bonus content for free such as chapters of your book, worksheets or templates that they can use. This way, your most loyal readers will get more value from your work.
Strategy #3: Write Guest Blog Posts
You’re a forward-looking writer committed to the art of blogging. You know how important it is to have a digital presence, and that blogging helps you practice your craft.
Writing guest blog posts for high-profile websites is a great way to market your writing. When you write for a large website, your words will appear in front of a new audience that is unfamiliar with your work.
You can make peace with this marketing strategy because it allows you to keep writing and promote your work.
Every writer who wants to improve knows how important critical feedback is. When an editor of the website you’re writing for reviews your posts, you will receive feedback that will help you improve as a writer. This constructive feedback is something aspiring writers pay for – but you can get it for free through guest posting.
Finally, if you write several successful guest blog posts, you can ask the site owners to share your content or promote your book. This is cheaper and more efficient than trying to run an advertising campaign.
Tip: When your guest blog post goes live, write a second blog post on your website that links to the guest blog post. This should expand on the guest post or welcome new readers to your website. This way, your blog keeps up to date and your existing readers will read your guest posts.
But I’m a Writer, Not a Marketer!
Can I be blunt?
This is a cop-out, and it’s one I spent years making.
I’ve sat in writing groups and listened to myself and my peers describe how marketing a book or a piece of writing is debasing. I’ve agreed that marketing should be left to the marketers and writing to the writers.
We were wrong.
If you’ve read the Special Report on Engaged Audience Building for Authors, you already know talent isn’t enough. You may be a writer and your books, blog posts and articles may be art, but what’s the point if nobody finds your work?
He writes, “When you ﬁnd a story that works, live that story, make it true, authentic, and subject to scrutiny. All marketers are storytellers.”
Did I mention Godin wrote 17 books?
What You Need To Do Next
As a writer, your most important task for the day is to cultivate your writing routine and create. You can’t market your work if you haven’t produced anything of value.
However, your job doesn’t end when you press submit or upload your new eBook to Amazon.
Research what your audience wants, build relationships with thought leaders who can help and keep searching for ways to get in front of new audiences.
Don’t feel bad or sleazy about these kinds of marketing activities.
Instead, you are telling stories about your work. These are stories which you may know well, but which your future readers haven’t heard yet.
Are you a writer who feels uncomfortable marketing your work? Or have you found a way to make peace with writing and with telling people stories about what you create? Please let me know in the comments below.