Method #2: Let Them Come to You
The good news is that method #2 can be far more powerful than the first method if you’re successful. The bad news is that it also takes a lot more work to get going and there will be some small costs associated with it along the way.
Here is what you will need to get started:
- Website hosting and a domain name through Bluehost – $50.00 for one year (required).
- A professional WordPress theme called Avada – $59.00 one time (optional, but recommended).
- Mailing list software such as Constant Contact or Mailchimp (optional, but highly recommended).
By the way, if you need help setting any of this up, check out my guide on painless author website design.
Once you have a website it’s time to start writing content and creating your list. This is called content marketing and it’s important for building an audience.
Content marketing might sound intimidating, but all it means is developing content (such as blog posts) and publishing them using a variety of formats and social sharing mediums. Another important part of it is producing content that will actually be valuable to readers. This is good news for writers because half of content marketing is doing the stuff you’re already good at – writing!
In the most simple of terms, content marketing means doing any combination of the following for a single topic:
- Writing a blog post
- Producing a YouTube video
- Making a podcast
- Creating a slideshow
- Posting to social media channels
- Interviewing experts
- And so forth
To reiterate, good content marketing means doing two things:
- Developing really high-quality content that people will get value out of. They will naturally want to read and share it.
- Using multiple platforms to develop and share your ideas.
Let’s talk about the second point and pretend you wanted to create a blog post about creative writing.
Step #1: Research what to call your blog post
You could simply name my post something like “How to do creative writing,” but it would be far more valuable to actually spend a bit of time researching what questions people are already asking about this topic. There are different ways to find this out, but for now, let’s start by using Google autofill. I can start by typing “creative writing” and then adding different conjunctions to see what people are already searching for. This kicks off the brainstorming.
I can also turn to Google’s free Keyword Planner tool for more ideas and information. I enter “creative writing” into the search bar and then click “Get ideas.”
Now when I sort by “Average monthly searches,” Google tells me “Creative Writing Topics” gets searched for about 4,400 times a month. Also, it has “low” competition, meaning that it should be relatively simple to get placed on the first page of Google when people search for this phrase. Well, as long as your blog post delivers some really good value and makes people want to read it.
“How to” or “list” posts are often extremely popular. Armed with this extra information, we now know that writing a blog post with a title such as How to Brainstorm Killer Creative Writing Topics or 10 Ways to Develop Unique Creative Writing Topics has a good chance of doing well.
By the way, instead of using Google Keyword Planner, I actually use a more effective tool called “Market Samurai” that gives you a lot of additional information about the competition. If you want to learn about it, head over to my book writing resources page and scroll down to the marketing section.
Step #2: Write your great blog post using different mediums
Besides having useful content, a good post should also be visually appealing and easy to read. To do this, you can:
- Format it into short paragraphs and have lots of white space
- Use images
- Use different headings and font sizes
- Use colours
- Incorporate bullet points and lists
- Ask questions
- Write in second-person (‘you’ or ‘we’)
Google also wants blog posts and articles to be at least 300 words long. This is sort of like their standard unit of measurement for ensuring a post is actually offering something of value and isn’t spam. Anything less and it risks appearing lower in the search rankings. Although this is Google’s bare minimum, I highly recommend takin the time to make your articles no shorter than 2,000 words. More content = higher value. Not just for Google, but more importantly, for your readers. Your goal after all is building an audience.
As for the posts themselves, here are a few ways you can get maximum exposure from a single blog post. You can do some of them or all of them.
- Write your blog post.
- Make a video that compliments your blog post. Use Powerpoint for the visuals and narrate it. Use screen capture software like Camtasia to record.
- Upload your video to YouTube and Vimeo. Embed one of the videos into your post using the provided HTML code.
- Upload the video slides to slideshare.com.
- Extract the audio and create a podcast.
Now your reach has already extended to 5+ websites for a single blog post, talk about building your audience.
But wait… there’s more!
Share your blog post to your Facebook page, your Twitter feed, your LinkedIn. Add any images used in the post to Instagram and Pinterest. Submit your blog post to social bookmarking sites such as Stumbleupon, Reddit and Digg. Hashtag everything where applicable.
Of course, if your blog post doesn’t deliver value in the first place then none of this will matter. There’s plenty of free content on the Internet and to make people want to spend time reading you over someone else, you will have to have a unique voice. Sort of like writing a novel. If only writers could do that… oh – wait a second…
Step #3: Building an Audience
So what does any of this have to do with building an audience? Actually, if people come back to read what you wrote because they’re getting value out of it, then building an audience is exactly what you’ve been doing. That’s what content marketing is all about and why it’s so powerful when done well.
Okay, we’re done.
There’s one more thing you can still do that will guarantee better results than everything I’ve talked about previously, and that is having a mailing list. Go to Constant Contact or Mailchimp or one of the other many other mailing list service providers out there and create an account. Ask any marketer and they will tell you that email marketing is one of the most powerful modern marketing strategies.
Building an audience is effectively synonymous with building a mailing list.
All you want to ask for in your mailing list is a contact’s first name and their email address. The email address is, of course, a requirement. The first name is so you can address them personally. If location is important to you then you can ask for their city as well. The more information you ask for, the less likely someone is to subscribe.
Simply asking someone for their email address so you can bombard them with emails is a bad idea, though. Today, our email inboxes tend to get overloaded already. If you want someone’s email address then you’d better be prepared to give them something valuable in return. Offering a free eBook, a PDF, or even a series of lessons goes a long way in making a fair trade for an email address.
Look at the mailing list I use as an example. I’m offering not one, but four immediate free incentives for you to register.
While it’s possible you might get one or two sign-ups by simply asking someone to submit their email and subscribe to your newsletter, you have a far better chance of getting a new follower by offering them something in return.
Not only is it a good idea, but it makes you feel good too. At least, it does for me.
Remember, “subscribe” is only two letters away from “unsubscribe.”
That’s a Wrap
As far as building an audience goes, that’s it for now.
What do you think? Which method will you choose to go with? Will you go to them or let them come to you? Please leave a comment below with your thoughts and ask any questions. I’ll be around to help out.