A Writer Platform is Essential To Your Success
Any writing guru worth his curry chicken and Basmati rice will tell you that you need a writer platform to sell books.
What exactly is this platform?
It’s different from a political platform (a formal list of party ideals) or the place where you board a train.
A writer platform is the method or methods you use to build a fan base and to stay in contact with those fans.
Essentially, a writer platform is your voice to your people.
“Platform” is a poorly chosen name. Considering its purpose, it should be called a writer’s “megaphone” or “bullhorn.” You use it to magnify your voice and get visibility. You want your readers to know about you and your book and you want to have an opportunity to interact with them.
Your Blog is the Foundation
If you have a book, you must have a blog. Truth be known, you should have a blog before you write your book. If you’re writing your book now, take a break and create a blog. It will be essential to the success of your book.
Why is that true? Because a blog is your home base. No matter what other platform-building you may do in the future, people will always be able to find you on your blog.
Sure, you can send people directly to Amazon or other point of sale, but you can’t build a following that way.
The chief benefit of a blog is that you have a place to direct people who are interested in you and your book. You’ll want a link on your site where visitors can buy your book, but you want them to come to you first.
Engage site visitors with your blog posts. Write about the topic you address in your book, your writing life, or share concerns that are important to you. Your goal is to attract visitors and keep them coming back for more.
How often should you post? Once or twice a week can be effective. You’ll lose your followers if you have lengthy gaps. Each post should be between 500-750 words.
Never start your blog on Blogger.com, WordPress.com or other free blogging sites. Many novices think these are good places to start since they’re free, but it’s a major mistake. Free blogging sites don’t have the platform-building tools you need. Importantly, you’re likely to lose most of your followers when you graduate to your own blogging site because it will have a different domain name.
Start right. Create your own site with your own domain name using an independent hosting service. That is one of the wisest book promotion investments you can make.
The Best Platform Builder
The best platform-builder available is your email newsletter. Why? Because you can capture the contact data of site visitors. You then contact them a few times a month with interesting content. This is how you develop a relationship with your fan base.
These email newsletter systems are automated. Sign up with a company like MailChimp.com which allows you to gain 5,000 subscribers before they start charging you. They offer detailed instructions about the entire newsletter process.
You use your blog as the place where you collect the first name and email address of your site visitors. Don’t ask for more data than that—most people have privacy concerns but are happy to provide those two details.
How do you entice visitors to sign up? Offer them a bonus of some kind. It may be a short ebook (2,000 words) in PDF format dealing with some aspect of your book topic. It might be a short email course (3-5 lessons) on your topic. This is an opportunity to use your creativity to lure your fans to sign up.
Remember, once you set up an automated newsletter, your involvement is minimal. Having a newsletter is an extremely cost and time effective to build your fan base.
Keep in mind that having a blog and newsletter is about enlarging your fans and engaging with them. This is Book Marketing 101.
Driving Traffic to Your Blog
You want large numbers of people to visit your blog and sign up for your newsletter. How do you get people to visit you? The process is commonly known as “driving traffic” to your site?
This is Phase 2 of your platform-building procedure. Here are the essentials.
Put your blog URL (domain name) on the copyright page at the front of your book. Invite people to visit your site. Tell them about the free bonus you’re offering.
It doesn’t make any difference if your book is fiction or nonfiction or what the topic may be. You want every copy of your book to help you build traffic to your site so you can engage with readers.
Have a Social Media presence. Choose Facebook or Twitter as your prime megaphones. Don’t make a rookie mistake, which is using your site to drive traffic to Facebook. You want your Facebook presence to drive traffic to your site. “Likes” have become nearly worthless for gaining social credibility. You want everyone to “Share” your blog posts on their pages—that’s how you build traffic to your site.
Be seen in the right places. Make it a point to discover the most important blogs on the general topic of your book and pitch the editor with an idea for a guest post. Thousands may see your post, and there will always be a link back to your web site.
Accept speaking engagements to talk about the topic of your book. That may include everything from conference speaking to over-the-phone radio interviews. It is essential to remember in all this you are not talking about your book. You are talking about the topic of your book. Once people see you are an expert on the topic, then book sales will naturally follow.
Your purpose is to drive traffic to your blog. That’s your home base where you build your readership.
It takes time to build a platform. That’s why you need to start sooner rather than later. The better job you do in building your platform, the wider your readership will be.