Copyblogger recently posted a few of their favorite must-click writing and marketing links on their blog The Lede, including some great tip-based posts including “How to Write Better: 7 Instant Fixes”, “33 Things to Ask Before Hitting Publish” , and “10 Things Your Customer Wishes You Knew About Them.”
Their post made us reminisce about the first times we were introduced to great publishing blogging. In case you’re new to the world of book blogging, we’d thought we’d give you the beginner’s guide to our favorite reading, writing, publishing, and book marketing resources around the web.
PWxyz is the blogging home to the staff at Publishers Weekly. PWxyz is a nice blend of publishing news, marketing tips, and creative, fun posts. Right now on the front page you’ll find a post about paid book reviews, the future of children’s ebook design, and a list of the top ten bestselling books on Amazon in 1995.
GalleyCat is another classic in the book blogging arena. GalleyCat, deemed “the first word on the book publishing industry,” is maintained by MediaBistro, a large online portal for jobs and classes in the field of communications. Like PWxyz, GalleyCat has a good range of topics and tone. They also post job opportunities frequently.
Shelf Awareness is a free newsletter for both readers and professionals in the book trade, with a focus on booksellers. The newsletter is tidy, interesting, and a great way to discover new authors. It’s one of the only emailed newsletters you won’t automatically delete.
Nathan Bransford is a former literary agent and current author who blogs weekly on topics in the publishing industry. He’s very conversational and encourages reader participation. If you subscribe to his newsletter, you’ll receive his infamous “This Week in Books” posts. Plus, you’ll have access to some hilarious archived articles, including this Publishing Process in GIF format.
The Savvy Book Marketer, run by author and marketing coach Dana Lynn Smith, is a great resource for authors embarking on their marketing journeys. She posts several times per week on relevant topics like content marketing, word of mouth, author success stories, and online marketing plans.
Penny Sansevieri runs Author Marketing Experts, Inc and the blog for the company. Penny does a nice roundup of the best web marketing tips each week. She also works with other authors and bloggers quite a bit, making the site a nice blend of perspectives.
While not strictly a book marketing site, Digital Book World does provide more tailored and online-focused content. They offer an extensive webcast database, many of which are targeted toward first time authors and self-publishers. They also have an excellent marketing resource section whose topics speak to popular author questions such as how to increase ebook sales during the holidays and how to get your audience to pay for content you give away for free.
BookRiot is a blogging community written and edited by a few well-known book bloggers. Several authors post several times per day, mostly about playful topics such as “5 books to watch out for in September,” “13 Terrific Bookish T-Shirts,” and “How Having Kids Changed My Reading Life.” They also post quizzes like “Name That Author” and host cover face-offs. If you’re looking for a new stack of books to read, this would be a great site to visit before going on a buying spree.
FlavorWire is a cultural news site that covers television, film, books, and music. Most of their book-related articles are presented in the form of slideshows, are great bookish eye candy, and verge on what might best be described as literary gossip. In short, we love it.
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The ability to interact directly and immediately with your readers is perhaps the greatest benefit you have today over authors in the past. Are you taking full advantage of this privilege?
As authors navigate the long and often confusing publishing process (not to mention the selling cycle!), many lose sight of the end goal of it all—that is, sharing your book and great ideas with others. Below are some gentle reminders of ways you can reach out to and connect with your important, invaluable readership.
GoodReads is a book cataloguing site, on which avid readers can list the books they are currently reading, have read, and intend to read with ratings. Authors have the opportunity to create a profile page with a bio and photo, share their favorite books, create quizzes, post videos, publicize upcoming events, share book excerpts, and more. The site has more than 2.8 million users, so if you’re not yet set up on GoodReads, may we gently suggest that you migrate over there right now.
We’ve said it once and we’ll say it again: social media is essential to making a lasting connection with your readership. Hopefully you’re already set up with a Twitter profile and Facebook fan page. As Amanda Nelson wrote on BookRiot: “At a time when the methods by which an author sells a book are in serious flux, Twitter may become (or perhaps it already is) a serious sales tool.” When you show readers your true value to them by providing great information (via news, blogs, information, jokes, etc.), followers will easily turn into repeat customers.
Taking the time to set up a fully equipped Amazon Author Page is one of the most important steps you can take for your book. Author Pages are a great opportunity to provide customers with a more in-depth view of your platform; you can provide a biography, video, blog feed, events, and more. To learn more about the benefits of an Author Page, check out our blog post here. @Author may also be a great tool; the forum allows readers to highlight certain passages within their Kindle books and ask the author questions about their books. The feature is still in beta mode, so only Amazon-selected authors are currently participating, but the site does plan on opening @Author to the world at large sometime soon.
Paying close attention to certain small website features can also be an unexpected (and easy!) way to foster great communication with your fans. Aside from having a blog, consider adding an events page to your website as well. Also be sure to include your contact information on your site (including links to your social media profiles) and get rid of the lousy contact form, which doesn’t exactly feel like the warmest greeting. The Write Network also suggests setting up an auto-responder to emails. Fans will feel like they’re being heard and will know what to expect in terms of response time, making them feel like the valuable customers they truly are.
You can also add a few features to your actual printed book that will increase communicability with your readers. Consider adding your email address or social media profiles to the front or back pages of your book (and making them link-enabled for e-readers). Reading group questions are also a great idea and one feature you could incorporate into your social media strategy as well (set up a hashtag chat where readers can weigh in on the book, and you can too).
Aside from the potential financial benefits of connecting more deeply with your customers, you might garner some valuable insight into your writing and recommendations for future works from your readers as well. Just last week author Steven Saylor wrote about how a reader’s comment influenced his upcoming book, The Seven Wonders.
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Publisher, distributor, publicist, agent, marketing team, editor . . . The list of titles in the publishing world could go on for half a page. It may seem like there’s a small army of people working on your book, and many authors become understandably bewildered by the number of job titles involved. It can consequently be difficult to discern who does what tasks for your book.
Have you ever found yourself wondering what the difference between your marketing team and your publicity team is, and what roles they play in relation to your book? You’re not alone. One of the most commonly confused and misunderstood aspects is the distinction between a publisher’s marketing duties and a publicist’s.
The truth is that the duties of a marketing team and of a publicity team do often overlap. But, in essence, your publicity team is trying to get you and your book media and public appearances, while your marketing team is focused on making your book visible to your target audience via ad space, online efforts, etc.
A book publicist is going to be the one writing press releases day and night, soliciting media, scheduling your book tour, and creating promotional materials. Meanwhile, your marketer will be buying relevant ads for your book, optimizing your Amazon account, distributing your book trailer, spearheading your online marketing campaign, and more.
Agent Steve Laube points out that marketing is “all about creating multiple impressions,” while publicity is “all about meeting the author.” He warns authors against confusing the terminology, and getting angry at marketers for not doing things like setting up media interviews or organizing speaking engagements—things that aren’t in their core business.
Oftentimes, publicity will feel “more real” to the author since its results (ie: television and radio appearances) are higher profile while marketing is more behind the scenes but equally important.
As you move forward with your marketing efforts, be sure to ask the people you work with what, exactly, they do. Your book’s success is going to be inclusive; it will depend on you and your publisher, and all of the employees therein. Knowing what they’re expected to do will not only make you more empowered as an author, it will also allow you to harness your team effectively to make the best publishing experience—and book—possible.
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You know that having a newsletter is an important component of your platform and that the list you send your newsletter to is invaluable to you. (If you don’t, check out our article on newsletters here.) What may not be so clear is how you can continue to grow that list over time. Below are some strategies to help you do just that.
Provide really valuable content in an engaging way
Above all other strategies, valuable content creation is king. If you are giving your readers useful, relevant, timely information that they can really use, your newsletter will be valuable and it will be shared with others. Word of mouth and forwards are your greatest ally in trying to achieve a bigger newsletter list.
Make it easy, obvious, and everywhere
It should be really easy to join your newsletter list, and it’s your job to make sure that is the case. You should have a “join” button on every page of your website, visibly situated on your blog and on your newsletter itself. You can even include an invitation to join your list in the signature line of your email. Make the link attractive and appealing to the eye, and have it say something catchy or meaningful in a tone consistent with your brand. That message may get more attention than a standard “join our newsletter” link.
Don’t forget to ask people in person, too! You are busy giving workshops or speaking to audiences. Ask them to sign up for your newsletter while you have them in front of you. Same goes for interviews. Share your web address and tell listeners or readers that they can join your newsletter there.
Incentivize new members
Make the invitation to join your mailing list an attractive offer to newcomers. This is where you can make great use of your “freebies.” To thank them for joining, give them access to an extra or two that they could not get otherwise. This could be some sample chapters of your book, videos, a free app, white papers, an ebook of your previous book, or a sneak peak at your new, yet-to-be-released book. Help them along by showing immediately what is in it for them if they join.
Incentivize existing members
In the same way that you want to thank new members for joining, give your already loyal followers a thank you gift for inviting others to join. You can make use of the same extra content you utilized to get new members or you can up the ante a bit and give existing members something unique just for them. Maybe that would be a personalized copy of your book, a guest blog spot on your blog, or a link to his or her website in the newsletter the following week.
Leverage social media
It’s safe to assume that there is not a one-to-one correlation between your Facebook fans or LinkedIn connections and your newsletter list. The same is likely true for all of the social media platforms you are engaged with. Make a habit of trying to convert those connections to subscribers. Contests are a great way to accomplish this. Give away something that your connections would want. This doesn’t have to be related to you or your content directly. It could be a free tablet or ereader device, a subscription to a service people love, or a simple versatile gift certificate. The cost of entry is simply joining your newsletter list.
It’s important to remember that you have to provide recipients a way to opt out of your newsletter, and it’s true that you may see some people utilize that option after the contest ends. Just keep in mind your best strategy for list building, which is delivering meaningful, valuable content, and you will earn their loyalty and they will stay.
Keep these things in mind as you go about your way building your platform and conveying your message out into the world and watch your list grow!
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Dana Lynn Smith, The Savvy Book Marketer, helps authors and indie publishers learn how to sell more books through her how-to guides, blog, newsletter, and private coaching. Get her free Top Book Marketing Tips ebook at www.BookMarketingNewsletter.com, visit her blog at www.TheSavvyBookMarketer.com, follow @BookMarketer on Twitter, and connect on Facebook at www.facebook.com/SavvyBookMarketer.
As a book author, you've probably seen the term author platform used a lot, but you may be wondering: what is a platform, how do I get one, and when should I begin?
Your author platform determines your reach in the marketplace and it's important to your book promotion success. There are lots of definitions for author platform, but it basically boils down to three things:
If you're hoping to land a book deal with a traditional commercial publisher, a strong author platform is critical. When publishers evaluate book proposals, they want an idea of how well known you are and how successful you will be at promoting your book once it's published. A platform is just as important for authors who publish independently.
The best time to start building your author platform is before you write your book or book proposal, because it takes time to build your platform. But regardless of where you are in your publishing journey, you can continue to strengthen your author platform. Let's take a look at the elements of a platform.
Branding helps you stand out in a crowded marketplace and makes you memorable. One of the most important parts of your brand is your author tagline – a concise and catchy description of what you do. Use your tagline after your name in your promotional materials and signature, like a title. Here are some examples of author taglines:
* Bill Wilson, The Productivity Pro
* Susan James, The Risque Romance Writer
* Walter Jones, Author of the Detective McGee series
* Beth Morton, Writer of educational children's books
* Dana Lynn Smith, The Savvy Book Marketer
Your author photo is another important branding tool. Be sure to get a professional looking photo and use it everywhere, to build recognition of you. Professional doesn't necessarily mean a studio portrait—think about how the background, pose and clothing in your author photo can be a reflection of your brand and the type of books you write. See this article for more tips on author photos.
Author branding can also include your logo, book covers, the color scheme you use, your distinctive style of writing or speaking, and your academic qualifications. All of these elements together constitute a recognizable brand that makes you memorable and builds credibility as part of your author platform.
Take a look at your own branding and think about what you can do to strengthen it.
Your author reputation is a factor of how well known you are, what you are known for, and how credible you are. Consider these questions:
* Do you have a degree, special training or extensive experience in the topic that you're writing about and/or in the craft of writing?
* Do you have (or can you obtain) a professional certification in your area of expertise?
* What awards or other recognition have you received?
* What kind of media experience do you have?
* How many people do you reach each month through speaking or interviews?
* How many people read your blog?
* How many articles have you written and posted or published in the past month?
* How well known are you and how much name recognition do you have?
* What leadership positions do you hold?
* Why should people listen to you or read your books?
Nonfiction authors can gain a reputation as an expert in their topic through such activities as writing books and articles, speaking and teaching, appearing on talk shows, being quoted in other people's articles, and writing the foreword for other books.
Fiction authors may become known for their writing style and their expertise in writing in a specific genre (such as children's, sci-fi, romance, or mystery) or for their niche within a particular genre (vampire stories, romantic adventure).
Your reputation and author platform can be enhanced by winning awards, receiving excellent book reviews, and getting testimonials and endorsements from celebrities and experts in your field.
What can you do to boost your author reputation and expert status and increase the number of people you reach? How can you highlight your credentials in your marketing materials?
When selling your book, it's not just what you know, it's who you know!
To sell books in today's marketplace, you need to be connected. Here are some examples of the type of connections that are valuable to authors in promoting their books and themselves:
Contact Database—Clients, prospects, colleagues, friends, and family.
Opt-in Mailing List—People who have given you permission to contact them.
Influencers—Well-known people in your field, book reviewers, celebrities, media, and bloggers. These folks can help spread the word about your book.
Online Networks—Connections on Facebook, Twitter and other online networks, groups and forums.
Blog Readers—People who read your blog or subscribe to the blog's feed.
Professional Associations—Fellow association members and leaders. Serving in a leadership position enhances your visibility within the organization.
Other Groups—Alumni associations, civic and service organizations, hobby clubs, etc.
What can you do to increase your connections and leverage the connections that you have? How can you partner with others to extend your reach?
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In case all of the Christmas music, blinking lights, gingerbread-spiced coffee, and secret Santa exchanges didn’t alert you, the holiday season is upon us. Marketing your book might sound like just an additional stressor in an already stressful season, but December can be a great time to build sales if you use the holidays to your advantage. Though the market can be crowded this time of year, the easy holiday marketing tips below will help you jingle all the way to the bank.
Focus on ebooks.
Sales of Kindle products on Black Friday increased by a whopping 400 percent from last year, reports the Financial Post, and Amazon is predicted to sell twelve million Kindle Fires by the end of the year. If you haven’t converted your book to a digital format yet, now is the time to do so (check out our blog post on digital conversion). Not only will an ebook be easier to market, they also offer more flexibility in terms of pricing and content tweaks.
Offer limited-time sales.
Although many believe that Black Friday and Cyber Monday are the best times to drop prices to encourage sales, people will be buying books as gifts throughout December. Market your sale as a “last-minute deal,” and offer special coupons to followers of your Twitter, Facebook, newsletter, and blog. Marking down prices on December 26 is also a good idea, as people around the world will be logging on to populate their new ereaders.
Make nice with Amazon.
Booksellers and self-published authors (understandably) spend a lot of time thinking of ways to drive consumers to their personal websites to purchase books, but now may not be the time to completely boycott the Internet’s biggest “etailer.” Carolyn McCray at Digital Book World makes the point that many customers will be buying other gifts on Amazon, and buyers will be more likely to add your book to their already stuffed cart than to buy directly from your site. “This is a sales platform they’re familiar with,” says McCray. “It’s just one click for them to buy your book.” Link your ads to your book’s Amazon page for the next few weeks, and make sure to optimize your account for the best search ranking possible.
Offer freebies to build trust and drive sales.
It may seem counterintuitive to offer your highly valuable content for free, but ’tis the season of giving! Plus, free content can be an excellent way to build backlist sales and name recognition. If you’re a nonfiction author, offer a shortened, teaser version of your ebook for free. Fiction authors can offer a free short story or a preview of their latest novel. Not willing to give away part of your book free of charge? Ramp up your blog posting and seek blog swaps over the next few weeks. Writing articles for online magazines can also be a good way to get your name and your holiday sale out there. All these tactics will familiarize consumers with your name, your message, and your expertise—and ultimately prove to them why they should buy your book.
Engage with consumers.
Showing others that you’ve got the holiday spirit is a great way to differentiate yourself from other sellers hoping that their products will make the gift list. Be sure to tweet, Facebook post, and blog about the holiday season with occasional links to your sale. Ask your fans questions, and respond to any comments quickly. Community-driven engagement is also a fun way to gain some sales. Author Miranda Parker suggests reaching out to local businesses to be included in their gift baskets, hosting a holiday children’s book drive at your local library, or sponsoring a float in your community parade.
Book marketing is a time-consuming and detailed task the whole year round, but it can be made especially tricky in the cluttered holiday market. Differentiating yourself with discounted prices, free content, superior engagement, and a personalized experience can help put your book under the tree. If all else fails, you can always bake amazing Christmas cookies and give them away to customers.
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A while back we provided some tips on how to go about securing endorsements for your book.
Endorsements can make a big difference when it comes to influencing behavior. If you’re a first-time author, you have a major hurdle to overcome in establishing credibility. This is a challenge you will face not only with readers, but with retail buyers—the employees who decide what stock to bring into their bookstores—as well.
Consumers are undoubtedly swayed by endorsements of all kinds. There are celebrities of every kind connected to products of every sort. Celebrity endorsements are a multibillion-dollar industry in our country. Though it’s impossible to track exact sales results back to specific endorsements, investors seem to think they work: stock prices are often positively impacted when a company secures a super-high-profile endorser. Companies also see an increase in sales when the right endorsement hits the airwaves. It’s true that not all endorsements have this effect, but it happens often enough for huge companies to spend huge budgets continuing the practice.
No one knows for sure what goes through the consumer’s mind when she sees an endorsement (except the consumer herself, of course), but the theory goes that the association of a particular product with a famous person influences the consumer to act. Maybe she thinks that the product must be the best in its category or else the celebrity wouldn’t be associated with it. Maybe she thinks that if she uses the same product the celebrity uses, she will somehow be like the celebrity. At the end of the day, the only thing that matters is that the endorsement influenced a purchase.
Relating this concept to your credibility as a first-time author is pretty straight- forward. Consumers don’t know who you are (yet), so you influence their buying behavior by being associated with someone they do know. That’s not to say that all your endorsements need to be from world-famous celebrities, though of course the bigger the name, the bigger the influence. Your endorsers do need to be recognizable and influential in terms of what they do, who they work for, or books they have written. Basically, they have to have serious credentials—credentials that will give your work credibility.
Strong endorsements work wonders with retail buyers for the same reason. Retail buyers know that those endorsements are going to sway their customers, so they take them into account when deciding whether to stock your book on their crowded shelves.
You can leverage endorsements in other ways that will help build your author platform as well. Below are some suggestions that will continue growing your reach and your audience.
- Leverage the relationship with your endorser to reach their platform through a plug in their newsletter or as a guest contributor to their blog
- Use your biggest endorsements as a lead-in when approaching media and bloggers about featuring your book
- Share your endorsements with your social networking connections and ask them to share the good news with new readers
- Connect with your endorsers through any social networks they’re on and ask if they will share their endorsement of your book with their fans and connections
- Ask your newsletter subscribers to respond to a survey about which endorsement is the most influential, letting them know that the winning endorsement will go on the front cover of the book (and of course, they can pass along that survey to friends and peers)
Always remember to give something of value to the people you are enlisting to help, whether they are the endorsers themselves or your already-loyal readers and subscribers. If you can find a way to benefit everyone involved—even if it’s in an intangible way, like connectivity to the final product—you will get less resistance and better results.
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On a recent trip to the Mohegan Sun casino, it occurred to me that many similarities exist in one’s approach to gambling and book publicity. I’ve working in this field for over two decades, and I’m constantly drawing mental parallels between promoting books and the other areas of my life. But this gambling connection proved particularly fruitful, so I put together a few truths that are just as applicable to your campaign as they are in the casino.
1. Don’t bet what you can’t afford to lose. Lesson: Invest your time and resources to support your book, but don’t mortgage your house or quit your day job to do so.
2. Never put all of your chips on one bet. Lesson: Don’t pin your hopes and dreams on one particular media outlet. Go after big, medium, and small wins. They all add up.
3. Diversify your efforts and play more than one type of game. Lesson: Don’t focus all of your efforts solely on blogging or TV interviews. Instead, approach a number of media, both local and national—radio, print, radio, and online.
4. Be aware that the odds are not stacked in your favor. Despite that, the only way to win it is to be in it. Lesson: You need to catch a lucky break, and it can only happen when you get off the sidelines and play the game.
5. Look before you leap. Watch the betting strategies of others before you play. Lesson: Observe the campaigns that result in the big successes, learn, and then live it.
6. Don’t bet on something you don’t understand or feel comfortable with. Lesson: Only market and promote in a way you feel secure in; otherwise, hire a professional or avoid it.
7. Enjoy the win. Celebrate! Lesson: When you do experience success in your PR and marketing efforts, celebrate it and value the moment.
8. Play the hot hand. Lesson: It may be luck or skill or being in the right place at the right time, but whatever it is, keep doing what works until it doesn’t.
9. Take a risk—the reward can be huge. Some bet on the long shot knowing that if they win, they’ll get a huge payoff. Lesson: Take a chance on the long shots publicity opportunities—the big-name holy grails of book promotion—and enjoy the reward if it comes through.
10. Know when to walk away. In gambling, the more time spent betting, the more likely you’ll lose. In marketing and PR, the opposite is true—you need to keep at it to have a chance at success. Lesson: In either scenario, assess where you’re at regularly and know when it’s time to call it quits.
In case you were wondering: I won fifty bucks at the Mohegan Sun’s roulette wheel—after being down $250. I got to walk away feeling like a winner.
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Writers are an enthusiastic and passionate bunch, but when it comes to marketing, we see more confused faces, blank stares, and resistance than in any other industry. It's easy to be idealistic about writing a book, but when it comes down to it, publishing is a business, and authors who want to sell books need to be on top of marketing. To offer some guidance on the topic, here are the top five mistakes we see authors make in their marketing efforts.
#1 Not Doing Any Marketing at All
The worst thing you can do as an author is nothing. Publishers and bookstores alike are concerned about bottom lines and profit margins. They won’t risk their money on a title with no marketing support. Even if you do manage to get it into bookstores, if you don’t drive people in to buy your book, you may be stuck with hundreds of returns as the books that never sell make their way back to the warehouse (leaving you looking like a dud not worth publishing again). In many cases, you have roughly three months from the date of publication to prove the strength of your title. If it doesn’t move, you can say goodbye bookstore and hello backlist.
#2 Waiting Until They’re Published
Everyone wants a bestseller. Did you know that bestseller status is based on velocity of sales and not on the total amount of sales? That velocity is built largely on preorders from retail stores? Retail stores start making their purchase decisions as many as six months before the date of publication, which means you have to prove you have the followers before you even have a book. You need to start building your author platform now. It takes three months to get traction, six months to see results, and a good year to build up a decent platform. Don’t wait.
#3 Expecting the Publisher to Do It All for Them
Again, publishing is a business. If you go out and start a business, you don't expect the bank who fronts the loan to do marketing for you. Publishers take on titles based on the assumption that you will actively sell your book, and they are expecting you to deliver. Even though this can be frustrating, it’s your career hanging in the balance if the book doesn't sell.
#4 Automating Everything
Too many people—not just authors—think that marketing is automated content. It’s not. I’m all for re-purposing content and streamlining processes, but a constant stream of one-way ads and promotional posts is a cop-out. Today’s market demands engagement. They want direct access to the real you in real time. Don’t set your marketing on cruise control.
#5 Not Making It Professional
Last but not least, too many authors plop a DIY website with no content and a few weak profiles on the Internet and attend one writer’s conference and call that being a professional author. You have to dress for success, and your marketing materials have to be up to snuff. You need to invest in professional websites, vibrant materials, and a professional appearance so you always make a great first impression. Any author with the intention of getting into Barnes & Noble should expect to spend at least $5,000 to $10,000 on marketing.
If you are an aspiring author, I implore you to take heed and put some thought and money into your marketing. To succeed in retail, you need great marketing in addition to a great book. Don’t leave it up to chance!
Shennandoah Diaz is president of Brass Knuckles Media, an uncensored PR & Marketing firm catering to creatives and the avant garde. Passionate about education, Diaz empowers creatives by sharing articles and teaching workshops on marketing, social media, and publishing. Learn more at www.brassknucklesmedia.com or at www.shennandoahdiaz.com.
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How to Establish Yourself as an Expert to Grow Your Network and Client Base
Everyone is an expert in something, whether it’s basket weaving, social media marketing, or book editing. Consider this: being known as an expert in your field or area of interest affords you (and your business) all kinds of good stuff: credibility, a wider network, new clients or readers, and chance to cut through the noise. For all types of authors, an expert status can lend itself to getting the word out about a book and grabbing the attention of new readers. Here are three easy steps to get you started:
1. Figure out what you know.
In which fields do you have credentials, a strong knowledge base, or passion? What do people ask you about? What do you just love doing? Answer this question and—voilà—you have your specialty. Next: specify, specify, specify. Don’t be just a branding expert; be an expert on personal branding for LinkedIn. A health guru could work toward becoming a clean-eating coach, and a leadership consultant could specialize in educational or nonprofit leadership. By narrowing your area of focus, you stand out among your competitors and peers and attract the attention of the right people.
2. Do your homework and build your message.
Once you’ve identified your area of expertise, it’s time to do some research. Figure out what leaders in your field are saying about the topic at hand. To continue one of the examples above, how do other experts approach the topic of clean eating? Scour books, industry journals, and the Internet to see what’s already been said so you can position yourself in a unique way. Your message is your value proposition, and it should continue the conversation in your voice, with several clear points. For the health guru, that could look something like this:
“Providing busy families with a clean-eating plan that sticks” or
“Teaching parents how to eliminate processed foods from the kitchen.”
3. Deliver your message.
So now that you know what you’re talking about and have surveyed the landscape, how do you get the message across to your people? There are several ways:
- Write helpful articles and post them to article aggregators and industry publications, or start a blog or newsletter and post your content there. You can also check out other blogs or websites in your field to see if you can write guest posts for them.
- Look for local groups, organizations, conferences, and seminars where you might be able to teach or speak. You could host your own seminars, webinars, or Internet radio shows to educate people on your topic of expertise.
- We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again—write a book! When you hand someone your book, or they see it on bookstore shelves, it’s instant credibility for you. Just make sure you do your research before you get started, as we’ve discussed many times. The book industry can be tricky, especially for newcomers.
These tips are meant to point you in the right direction, but becoming an expert is not something that happens overnight. It take quite a bit of time and hard work to amass the content you need to disseminate your message, so taking it slow and moving one step at a time is key. For more resources, check out Dan Schawbel’s Personal Branding Blog or one of these titles: Trust Agents by Chris Brogan, Good in a Room by Stephanie Palmer, or The Brand You 50 by Tom Peters.