The idea of marketing yourself online is still very confusing to a lot of people. Why? Because things change all the time on the Internet; if we didn’t have a dedicated department researching this and reading all the “geek stuff,” we’d never be able to keep up. But for right now I want to give you the bottom line basics, because at the end of the day, we all need to start somewhere and the best place to start is online.
Blogging: If you don’t feel like you can do anything online or you don’t have the time for extensive promotion, the quickest and simplest thing you can do is have a blog. A blog is a great way to keep your site fresh (search engines love sites that are updated often) and a blog is a great way to reach your reader. If you don’t have a blog or haven’t blogged in a while, take heart: start somewhere and plan to blog a minimum of twice weekly. You’ll need at least two posts a week to keep it current. The biggest problem for new bloggers is deciding what to blog about. Well, here are some ideas:
- Talk about trends in the industry you’re in (this works even if you write fiction, talk about the publishing industry…)
- Review other (similar) books – this is a great way to network with other people in your market
- Blog “in character” – readers love this!
- Develop your next story on your blog: you can ask for reader feedback on story direction, characters, etc.
- Lend your voice to a “hot” industry issue or controversy
- Comment on other blogs or feature them on your blog
- Interview people on your blog
- Talk about the elephant in the room: if there’s a looming issue in your market, why not offer your insight on your blog?
Feedback and blog comments: If you aren’t getting people commenting on your blog, don’t despair, it takes a while to get folks commenting and offering feedback, but the more you can tap into issues your reader cares about, the more comments you’ll see popping up on your blog.
Publishing content: The Internet has really opened the door to publishing and pushing a lot of content online. Whether it’s articles, audio, or video, there’s a home for all of it online. Consider doing article syndication to start pushing content online. Here are some basic guidelines for article syndication:
You don’t get paid for this syndication. This is always the first question I get when I talk to authors about syndicating their articles, book excerpts, or tip sheets. You post it online for others to use and promote you, what could be better?
Your articles need to be helpful, not self-promotional. The more helpful they are, the more likely they are to be used. Yes, you can mention your book, but my recommendation is to keep any and all promotion of it to your byline.
Article titles are important. Remember that the title of your article must be a description, don’t make people guess what you’ve written about. If you do, you’ll find your pieces aren’t as popular as you’d like them to be.
Articles should be a minimum of 500 words, max of 2,000. Generally the most popular pieces are 500 to 750 words. Don’t forget your byline and website address. Also, and very important, get those articles edited before they go online. Once you send them out, you can never get them back.
Participate: When it comes to online promotion, it’s really about participating. Think of the Internet as one big cocktail party. Go strike up a conversation with someone who you’d like to get to know better. Here’s a great way to do that. First, go to Technorati.com and find the top five blogs in your market, then watch them for a week or so and when you’re comfortable with what they’re talking about and the angle of their message, start posting comments and offering your own insight into their postings. Bloggers love comments and by participating you’re doing two things: you’re doing some virtual networking (aka cyber-schmoozing) and you’re promoting yourself via the link back to your site that’s part of your post every time you comment.
Conduct your own blog tour: After you’ve done some virtual networking and gotten to know some folks in your industry, you’ll want to contact them to see about guest blogging opportunities. Guest blogging is pretty simple, you post an article on a site (sometimes it’s also a Q&A) and you respond to comments that come in during that day or week that you’re guest blogging. Be ready to host a blog tour of your own, and unless the content is really off-topic from your site, I recommend that you consider it.
Blog carnivals: If you haven’t participated in a blog carnival and you’ve been blogging for a while then head on over to http://blogcarnival.com and get started. Honestly, it’s super easy. Just find a category/topic that you can speak to or have blogged on and submit those blogs for consideration. It’s a great way to virtually network and publish more content online.
Help promote the good stuff: Do you get Google alerts on yourself? If you don’t, you should and here’s why: how else will you know what people are saying about you online? Google alerts is a simple way to monitor the cyber-chatter and get in touch with folks who review your book or feature you on their site. You can also go to Technorati.com, plug in your name, company name or title of your book and see what you pull up, then you can subscribe to the syndication feed of the search (just hit the RSS button and it’ll automatically subscribe you to that feed). Once you have your feeds all ready to go you’ll want to promote all the good stuff. How can you do that? First, offer a cyber thank-you to whoever mentioned you, reviewed your book or featured you on their site. Next, link to their site from your blog, and finally, go to a few social bookmarking sites and bookmark these postings for enhanced exposure. Here’s how you do that: go to either Digg.com http://digg.com/, StumbleUpon.com http://www.stumbleupon.com/, or Delicious.com http://www.delicious.com/ and create accounts (this takes just a few minutes). Then follow the instructions to bookmark a blog post or page on the site that’s featured you. This will help drive interest (and possibly traffic) to the site (which site owners will love you for) because you’re placing it in a public bookmarking system.
There’s a lot more you can do online, the possibilities are really endless. What I’ve found is that the confused mind doesn’t take action, so the simpler you keep it, the more you’ll do. If only one thing on this list appeals to you, that’s great. Keep in mind, doing one more thing this week than you did last week keeps you moving forward and helps you continue to create marketing momentum for your book!
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