Blogger: Rachelle Gardner
I’m always talking with authors about marketing their books and growing their platforms. It’s a challenge for most writers, who are constantly trying to figure out the formula for gathering more fans (i.e. potential book-buyers).
While writers typically don’t love the idea of marketing their books, ironically they’re more suited to it than many other kinds of business people these days. Why? Because today the #1 strategy for marketing in every kind of business is CONTENT MARKETING.
And what is this newfangled, businessy sounding term?
According to Content Marketing Institute:
Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.
In other words: YOU WRITE STUFF.
And who better to write stuff than YOU?
It’s funny, the rest of the advertising-marketing-business world is calling it “creating content” like it’s this brand-new thing they’ve invented. Um, it’s called “writing” and YOU do it every day.
Another way of putting it, also from CMI, is:
…content marketing is the art of communicating with your customers and prospects without selling.
The key words: communicating without selling.
So to become an expert at content marketing, here is what I want you to do:
Post stuff your readers will love.
By “stuff” I mean “content,” of course: blog posts, Facebook and Twitter posts, newsletter articles, images on Pinterest or Instagram, or videos on YouTube or Periscope. Anyone who is trying to build a following on social media needs to be posting content regularly—at least a couple of times a day. The tricky part is knowing what that content should be.
The key to identifying the kinds of content you should post is in knowing who you are as a writer, and who your audience (generally) is. This is easier for non-fiction writers, who can create an online persona that swirls around the themes of their books.
But even fiction writers can develop a brand and a style so that people have a strong idea of what to expect. You don’t want to be “that girl who is always posting about her books,” but rather, “the one who always has great articles that inspire me (or make me laugh… or educate me…)”
The idea is that when people are accustomed to receiving material from you that they deem valuable in some way—whether it’s informational, inspiring, thought-provoking, or entertaining—they will eventually reward you with their business (i.e. they’ll buy your books).
Fewer than 1 in 10 of your posts should include “selling” language. The rest of your content flows from who your audience is, and the brand or online persona you’ve created.
Focus on your readers’ needs, not your own.
Interestingly, you don’t even have to be the creator of all the content you share. To keep your social media presence dynamic, you’ll want to use “curated content,” a fancy word for “other people’s stuff.” Make sure you’re following people or organizations whose content tends to complement yours, so that when you see an appropriate post, you can easily share it with your followers.
Of course, the problem with using curated content is that when someone clicks your link, they’re leaving and going to someone else’s website. One way to mitigate that is to use Sniply, an online tool that places a banner across the website to which you’re linking, bringing them back to your site. (That may be difficult to understand. Here is an image that shows Steve Laube’s website, to which I posted a link, with my Sniply banner across the bottom. When someone leaves my Facebook page to read Steve’s post, I still have a presence there.)
Content marketing should be easier for YOU than for most businesses. After all, you’re already a writer. In fact, companies using content marketing typically report that their #1 challenge is “producing engaging content.” But you’re a writer, so this is right up your alley!
The key in content marketing is that you are engaging your audience. You are in conversation with them through your interesting posts, and they’re coming to expect good things from you. So when you happen to share some news about your new book releasing, or your older book that’s on a promotional sale on Amazon, they’re willing to pay attention because you’re not continually bombarding them with marketing.
Of course, I’ve given you the highly simplified description of content marketing. It’s more than just writing great stuff—it’s writing great stuff as part of an overall marketing strategy based on your brand. But for now, let’s just start with the basics: write stuff your readers will love.
So: content marketing. A business-world term for what you already do everyday.
How are you already using content marketing? How do you think you might increase or improve that strategy in the future?
What is content marketing and how do I use it? Click to Tweet.
Writers are naturals at content marketing. Click to Tweet.