I often talk about the fact that many writers inherently display introverted characteristics. I am not sure why that is and it’s definitely not a one size fit all type of statement. However, the fact that many of us as writers have an issue promoting our work, definitely solidifies the thought in my mind. The reality is that writing this great thing is only the beginning of the process. You’ve labored, you maybe researched, you found the perfect rhythm and you hit publish or you printed the book, but NO ONE is going to know or care if you don’t learn how to promote it.
One of the biggest things for writers used to be getting jobs at big publications. You would get your bylines and build your buzz that way and boom you are a top writer and garnering buzz and promo for what you do. But I personally feel like those days are over. And even if you have the hot bylines in the publications that are left, it’s become all about your personal brand inside or outside of the coveted journalism job.
I think of Sofiya Ballin, fellow Temple alum who recently wrapped an awesome Black History Month series #blackhistoryuntold. She is a staff writer at The Philadelphia Inquirer, but she is still building a brand that will follow her in or outside of the job. And that’s clutch right now. For years, we have let jobs define us, but we are in an interesting time where jobs need our personal brands just as much as we need the jobs.
[Accept You Are a Personal Brand]
So, the first factor in learning how to promote your work is accepting that you are a personal brand. When you get the mental part of that down pact I believe you will get a lot more comfortable to market and promote yourself more effectively. We have unlimited access to the world, wide web here. There is no reason that you should not be utilizing social media to promote you work.
[Promote Your Work More]
What do I find is the biggest reason that people aren’t seeing a return on their promotion? They are not promoting their work enough. I know you feel all sleazy about saying “Hey, look at me, look what I wrote.” But the reality is, that one time that you posted at 2pm on a Saturday afternoon is not going to cut it. Yes everyone tells you to make sure that you don’t JUST promote your work, but you have to mix it in there with general engagement. For instance, I automate many blog posts throughout the course of the week. But I also hop on social to talk about events in real time, engage with people, and actually be social. You should be promoting your blogs posts at LEAST 5 times a day on an outlet like Twitter. Twitter moves really FAST. So there is no guarantee that even a tenth of your audience will see one little tweet about your article. Get over it and schedule a few more tweets a day.
We write now more than ever with the fact that there are so many social media outlets. We’re writing captions, and tweets and posts non-stop. But you have to write something that is interesting enough to actually compel people to click on it. Saying [NEW POST] is not going to work. Take a little excerpt from your piece and then add the link. People understand that this is an article they are about to click on. Make it interesting and switch it up. Don’t post the same repetitive copy. Make sure you have variations.
[Engage Your Audience]
We are past the days of the one way conversation of journalism. You write your opinion about something and the editor may or may not post the response from a reader to your piece. People are commenting and sharing in real time. And so you need to be willing to take some time out of your day to actually respond to comments. Even if you are writing for another publication you should hop on and respond to comments. People appreciate that. And no you don’t have to entertain the terrible people that will have awful things to say in comment sections, but healthy banter is great. People will become more loyal readers when they feel like they have been heard and engaged.
It’s not about throwing a bunch of posts out and hoping for the best. Social media makes it really easy for you to find the analytics about the best times to post. And this is specific to your following. Sure there are some general rules of thumb, but both Twitter and Facebook have pretty in depth analytics about posting. You can also use services like Iconosquare for Instagram as well. How can you maximize the time of day that you are sharing your articles? Which articles get the most engagement? Which social media platform provides the most engagement? For me personally, Twitter sends the most traffic to my blog. But many people have utilized Pinterest to gain more traffic. Figure out where the people are that are interested in the things you write about and make sure that you are there too and optimizing your post aesthetic to that specific platform. (I.e. vertical graphics fare way better on Pinterest.)
[Create an online portfolio or website]
Outside of social media, there should be some other central place where people can find your writing. Before I created WriteLaughDream.com, I had a simple About.Me page with a photo, links to my writing and a bio. If you don’t take yourself seriously as a writer, how are other people supposed to? You don’t have to go out and create an elaborate site for yourself, but it does not hurt. Check out my friend, Kev Carr’s site. He’s an author and freelancer and his site is clean and to the point. Remember, you are a brand, people should be able to find you outside of the publications that you write for.
If you want to get a little more strategic about promoting the awesome work that you have been writing, download this free worksheet so you can plan accordingly to maximize exposure for your work!
Are there any tips that you would like to add in regard to marketing and promotion? Drop a line and share in the comments.