Indie Author Series: Building a Platform

Some things to consider as you think about building your platform: 

  • Who are you targeting?
  • Are you making a personal connection?
  • Are you diverse in your social marketing efforts? Sharing other poignant books or storylines outside of your book?

It’s hard to assume that people are going to buy your book if no one knows who you are. That is honestly simple math. 

Funny enough, I barely had a platform when I released my first book. But I was able to pull on my network. That meant family, friends, and the few blog readers I had at the time. Even with as much as my audience has grown, there is still work to do. 

How is the content that you are producing currently relating to the book that you are about to publish? It’s very difficult to think that if you are producing a blog on fashion that people are going to buy your poetry book. I am not saying that there won’t be some overlap. Sure some people will just buy whatever you produce if they like you, but I am talking about the efficiency of building a platform that engages the people you actually want to read your work. 

This can create confusion with some writers. You can struggle with what you should be giving away for free and what you put into a book. The book, of course, takes precedent, but I think that you can dig into the book first and look for supporting topics to build free content around it. You need to begin cultivating the audience that will eventually want to buy your book. 

Indie Author Building Your Platform

Increasing Views

Regular blog posts are honestly the best way to gain interest in your book. In this day and age, I can’t think of a better place to hone your skill and to begin building an audience. And it can take time. Listen, 2013 was my “I’m taking it serious" year.  And it has been a long, slow-moving but rewarding road. I am a better writer today than I was in 2013 and it’s because for the last 4 years I have pushed myself to write 2-4 times a week. 

Do you want to increase visibility on your blog to garner an audience for your book? Here are a few things that I would suggest. 

  1. Consistency. No one likes to hear this because they want to be inspired every time they sit down to write. But I always encourage writers to learn how to be inspired by everything. 
  2. Engage your audience. Don’t think of them as just page views. They’re people. People that have invested in you. Invest in your work enough to keep them coming back. 
  3. SEO is a real thing. Search engine optimization. Can people find your posts? Are you using keywords or better yet key questions which are really how people search? Strategically using headers? Embedding keywords in the body of your post? You want people to stumble upon your blog and fall in love with your work. 
  4. Write better. Read the greats. Learn new words. Dig deeper even when you think you’ve told the whole story. Great writing will find its audience. 

Email Subscribers 

You’ve heard it over and over again. Email is direct access to your audience. If social media goes away tomorrow, having those emails is your best bet to maintaining your following. So you should be collecting emails from the beginning. 

Give people the opportunity to keep up with your appearances, signings, and new content without having to scroll down your timeline. 

Find ways to engage your list whether that be exclusive offers, giveaways, or bonus content. Again, this is another chance to treat your audience like more than numbers. Talk to them, give them something to look forward to, be the light amidst the spam in their inbox.  

Social Media 

Most writers hate social media, because well, we tend to be introverted. Not me, but you know, I get it. Many of us are. Nonetheless, why wouldn’t you be utilizing social media to build your platform? Stop being lazy. Stop treating it as if it’s just something else to do and look at it as an opportunity. 

I live in Philadelphia. The cold east coast. Yet I have connected with people in Atlanta, South Carolina, Los Angeles, Washington DC, New York and so many freaking other places that shock me all the time when I look at analytics or conduct a survey. I have NO idea how I would do that without being able to utilize such an amazing tool. 

And it’s not haphazard. I build a plan. I build marketing materials and promotions to engage people there. I think about it. I am strategic in the things that I share. This takes work. But it’s also fun to connect with people from all over. 

My advice is always to balance the social media that you like with the social media that your audience utilizes most. I don’t love Pinterest, but I hear it is a beast for garnering traffic and I may spend a little more time trying to utilize it this year. 

Click to Tweet /// Always balance the social media that you like with the social media that your audience utilizes most.

Sure, this is something we would love to pass off to a content manager if we could, but if you are anything like me, you can’t. You don’t have the resources to do it, so you have to do it. Come up with some interesting ways to create more visibility for your work through social media. Getting people to share your work here is a major key to building that platform. 

Why is a platform so important? 

Well, if you are looking to be published through more of a traditional sense, it’s dollars and cents. No one wants to take a chance on an author that they are uncertain can sell books. That’s just the bottom line. They are going to be looking for a return on their investment. The publishing company does not wave a magic wand to make you popular. They are looking for you to do the work too. 

If you’re self-publishing, well, it should be obvious. The more people that are in tune with your work, the more people that are likely to actually spend their $10-$15 on your book. I have literally doubled, maybe tripled my following since the release of my first book, but it is still a grind for every single book that is sold. It is long hours, lots and lots of writing, planning, and executing to get people to spend their hard earned cash on what I have to say. 

Click to Tweet/// The more people that are in tune with your work, the more likely they are to actually spend their $10-$15 on your book.

Here is also a great resource on building your social presence. Take what you need and begin to apply it to your unique cause or brand. 

How are you working to build your platform? What are some strategies you have used that have been fruitful? Feel free to drop a line in the comments below or shoot me a tweet! 

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