This is the final instalment in a four-part author platform building series. Part 1 covered the basics of getting everything in place, Part 2 looked at choosing a suitable layout and pages for your website, and Part 3 focused on blogging.
Week Four is here already – that went quick, didn’t it? If you’ve been following the author platform building journey, then you’ll have an attractive website in place through WordPress and will hopefully be getting started with your blogging.
However, you have a problem.
You check your stats in the morning: 1 view. Oh, that one view was from you when you were testing your post.
You check again in the evening – damn, ten views?! Oh, those views are all from your parents as they clicked through every link on your site (sorry Mum and Dad, I know you read these posts). This is by no means a bad thing – it’s great to have the support of your family and friends – but the point I’m trying to make is that expanding your reach beyond your inner circle can be a frustrating journey. Just how do you get an audience to your website, engaging and responding to what you say?
Enter: Social Media
That’s right: social media isn’t all about bitching or memes. To writers and bloggers, it’s an absolute godsend when used correctly (we’ll get to that later).
However, there’s another problem. If you run a Google Search for ‘social media websites,’ you’ll see just what it is: there are so damn many of them.
Don’t fret. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to ‘be everywhere’. Instead, pick your social media sites wisely, and start off by focusing on one or two. I opened a Facebook page and turned my current Twitter account into a writing one (cheeky way of grabbing 100ish followers who actually already care). That way, you can expand to other sites if and when you’re comfortable.
Then, simply share your blog posts with your followers. There really isn’t much more to it than that.
Except, well – yeah, that’s a lie. There is much more to it than that. If you want people to read your stuff and truly engage with your author platform, you’re going to have to do a little bit of reaching out yourself.
Social Media Karma
Social media is like every social environment – if you treat people with respect, they’ll likely do the same to you. You can’t, I repeat, CAN’T expect to just spam your blog posts once every minute and expect people to engage with you.
Bizarrely, because it really really is bizarre, so many writers still do this. I can’t even begin to count the amount of times I’ve seen authors practically forcing me to ‘Please Like my Twitbookpinterestlinkedin page’ with tweets every five minutes. I can also slate them as much as I like, because I know they won’t be reading this. If they were, they’d have sorted themselves out a long time ago.
I used to feel sympathy for the compulsive link spammer. ‘If only they kneeewww…’ etc. But look – the thing is, the internet is full of help and advice and resources. I’ll name three off the top of my head right now: Duolit, The Creative Penn, and David Gaughran. Shall we go for a fourth? Okay, Wise, Ink.
You see, there’s so many resources out there with advice on social media etiquette that it’s hard to feel any sort of sympathy for these spammers. In fact, I’d call their tactics ignorant.
How to avoid social media ignorance
Fortunately, it’s much easier to NOT be ignorant on social media than it is to be ignorant. Firstly, give the links I just listed a skim through. Check out their Twitter and Facebook pages, and look at the sort of content they share.
I talked about a ‘rule of thirds’ concept on Twitter a while back. I still follow that loosely to this day. To cut a long blog post short: a third of the time, I tweet links to my website. A third of the time, I retweet links from others that I think my followers will find useful. And the rest of the time, I actually get social, because y’know, social media and all that.
Just a quick note – I’m not against self-promotion. Everything is self-promotion in a sense, right? This blog post is intended to bring people to my site, to maybe check out the rest of my posts, to perhaps sign up for the mailing list, and MAYBE even purchase a short story.
Just be subtle with your self-promotion. A link to your Amazon page every few days is fine. Every day if you balance it well with everything else. Just not every five minutes, please.
There are a few other ways of expanding the reach of your author platform that I will go into briefly. I’ll likely do dedicated posts on the topics in future, but let’s get to it before my word count target runs out:
SEO – or ‘search engine optimisation’
Wordpress is pretty good for getting your posts high in the search engines out of the box, but a good SEO plugin can make it even better. Since installing Yoast’s excellent ‘WordPress SEO’ plugin, I’ve jumped to the top of the Google search rankings in various search terms, and get loads of search engine traffic daily.
I’ve also learned a lot about SEO itself, which is a great skill for the CV, or whatever. If you’re ready to learn a little, download Yoast’s plugin and follow his amazing guide for search engine optimisation.
JKB – or ‘Just Keep Blogging’
This is one of my own little terms. Basically, the more you post, the bigger a back catalogue you will produce, and the more people will read your stuff. It’s the same as anything – bands with several albums see a boost in their early sales when a new release launches, movie franchise sequels see box sets rising to the top of the charts.
If you’re serious about expanding your author platform, then just keep blogging. Keep being social. Most importantly, keep on being yourself. Your followers will thank you for it in the long run.
Unless you’re a dick.
So, that brings us to the end of our author platform series. I really do hope these four posts have helped. There is so much more I’d like to talk about in loads more detail, as cramming everything into 800-1000 words is a real challenge. If you do have any questions, please leave a comment below, or drop me an email. I always respond.
A big thanks to everyone who has contributed to the comments section over these four weeks. Your advice has been fantastic, and I’ve learned a lot from what you’ve all had to say about your own author platform building experiences.
Any more tips or advice on expanding the reach of your author platform? How do you use social media to share content, and is there anything in particular that you feel you could do better?
Image courtesy of Karen Roe via Flickr