What drove your decision to self-publish, instead of going through a commercial publishing house? Did you want to save money, reach out directly to an audience that was most interested in your subject matter, and take a personal, organic approach to the process of getting your book out there? If so, the process of content marketing will likely appeal to you.
Content marketing is the process of generating interest in a product and brand by engaging a target audience with content that is relevant to them. Done right, it builds interest, trust, name recognition, and creates lasting relationships between brands and their customers.
The Benefits of Content Marketing for Self-Published Authors
As an author, you need to accomplish certain objectives in order to turn a profit from your writing efforts. You need to generate interest in and awareness of your products (books). You must also establish relationships with potential readers so that they are interested in you as an author, and what you plan to write in the future. It also helps if your target audience finds you to be a relatable, likable person. These are all things that can be accomplished through content writing.
Then, there’s the matter of cost. Content marketing isn’t free, but it’s something you can do at a lower cost than traditional, paid
Start with a Home Base
The purpose of content marketing is to send traffic to a central location where readers can order your product,or learn more about you and your books. For most authors, that’s going to be a website. However, you might also choose to use a social media page or anauthor’s page on your chosen book marketplace. Whatever you select, your home base should have the following:
- Your Author Bio
- Writing Excerpts
- Information on Each Book You Have for Sale
- A Mechanism for Your Customers to Place an Order
- Contact Information
- Press Kit
- Information on News and Events
Understanding The Types of Content That Are Available to You
There are many types of content that you can create and share in order to promote your books, and yourself as an author.Here is an overview of your options along with what you can accomplish with each type of content:
A blog post is one of the most popular forms of content. Blogging is your opportunity to share your thoughts and insights on any topic that you think may interest your readers. You have complete control over your blog posts, the topics you choose, and when and where your posts will be published.
You can use blogging to share your thoughts on writing in general, discuss your writing specifically, to speak on topics that you think are of interest to your target audience, to share insights about yourself. Your options are pretty much unlimited.
Podcasts have become exceptionally popular in recent years. These are regularly scheduled audio broadcasts that are generally focused on a related topic. As an author, you can create your own podcast. Just keep in mind that this is a sustained effort. Many writers take an alternative approach. They reach out to others who have relevant podcasts and seek out opportunities to appear as a guest on those.
For example, Brene Brown is an author and professor. She has appeared on a number of well-known podcasts including Armchair expert with Dax Shepard, NPR 1A, Magic Lessons With Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat Pray Love), and Pod Save The People. By appearing on these podcasts she has increased her own audience, established thought leadership, and provided listeners with information that is relevant to them.
Video is a popular and versatile content format. As an author, you can use video for:
- Question and Answer Content
- Sharing Your Story
- Revealing Insider Information About Your Writing and Characters
- Providing Writing and Publishing Advice to Your Audience
- Reviewing and Recommending Books That Interest You
- Reading Excerpts from Your Books
How you use video in your content marketing, or how often you use it is up to you. Author John Green (The Fault in Our Stars) is perhaps one of the more prolific users of video. He, along with his brother have created multiple YouTube channels including VlogBrothers and CrashCourse. Green uses his videos to discuss his books, current events, science, and other topics that are interesting to him. He has shown a willingness to share strong opinions.
Through his videos, Green has been able to reach a wider audience, and generate engagement. He’s also used video to educate and interest people about his products.
Articles are similar to blog posts in that they are written to share your thoughts and insights. The difference is that articles are generally published on platforms that you do not own. The challenge here is that in order to get your articles published, you must meet another person’s editorial standards. You must also pitch an article idea that generates interest.
This could be worth the effort. Freelance marketer and founder of Citatior, Christopher Mercer says, “By publishing articles, you have an opportunity to reach out to new audiences. Many publishers will allow you to include an author bio and a link to your own website. There’s also an implicit endorsement. If someone agrees to publish your content on their website or in their publication, they are communicating their approval. That can help you develop credibility.”
To be fair, an interview isn’t a type of content in the strictest sense. An interview can be an article, blog post, video, or some other format. Still, it is content, and it is a way for you to introduce yourself to a target audience.
If you are interested in sitting for aninterview, you have a few options. You can create a press release and reach outto media types who may be interested in you. You can also search the #HAROhashtag on Twitter and other platforms. This stands for Help a Reporter Out.These requests are posted by reporters who want to find subject matter expertsor people in certain fields to interview. There are a lot of niche #HAROrequests that are ideal for indie authors.
Social Media Posts
These are Tweets, Facebook updates, shared content, promotional posts, etc. This content can be used to create conversation on your social media pages, increase traffic to your website, and generate more interest in your products. You can use social media posts to reach out to your followers and influencers, promote your books, drive traffic to your website, or promote your longer form content such as blog posts and videos.
The Importance of Content Marketing Goals
Any writer can create and curate a variety of content. In order for your efforts to be successful, you need to have a plan and establish some goals. Here are some examples:
- Getting people to sign up for your newsletter
- Increasing the number of people who subscribe to your blog
- Driving traffic to a landing page for your latest book
- Encouraging readers to leave a review of your book on Amazon
- Developing thought leadership
- Building awareness of your brand as an author
Once you establish content marketing goals, you will find that it’s easier to determine the types of content you should produce, and where you should share that content. Find out where your audience likes to hang out.
The Role of Social Media Platforms
Social media and content marketing are closely tied to one another. Social media is where you will publish and promote your content. You can also use social media to curate content that you think your audience will appreciate. If you find GIFs, memes, videos, or content from other sources, consider sharing that on your social media. It’s also where you will engage in conversation with your audience. In order for your content marketing efforts to work, you’ll need to create a solid social media presence. This means creating accounts on platforms that are relevant to your audience and author brand, and regularly sharing content on those platforms.
Popular platforms include Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, and Reddit. To get the most out of social media, avoid spreading yourself too thin. Your best bet is to choose platforms that are popular among your target audience, and where your content is most likely to gain traction.
Final Thoughts: Action Steps
Content marketing is something that you will engage in as long as you have a product to market. It isn’t easy, but it is something you can do without being a marketing guru of any kind. You can start by defining your content marketing goals. Then, select the types of content and content formats are the best fit for you. Next, choose the social media platforms where you will share your content and engage with your target audience. Finally, establish a home base. This is where your audience will go to place orders, find additional information, or develop other calls to action.
Natalie Andersen is a chief content writer and enthusiastic blogger. She believes that everyone’s life has to be the result of the choices they make but a helping hand is always welcomed. You can follow Natalie on Twitter @getgoodgradecom or connect with her on LinkedIn.
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