OLD POST ALERT! This is an older post and although you might find some useful tips, any technical or publishing information is likely to be out of date. Please click on Start Here on the menu bar above to find links to my most useful articles, videos and podcast. Thanks and happy writing! – Joanna Penn
Authors are now expected to be building their platform, their online presence, as well as writing. There are new social networks added every week, new communities and groups that look like they could be the next big thing. For many people, it is overwhelming and they don't know where to start. It is very easy to waste time and effort online, and if you get frustrated, you may get no benefit from any of your activity.
Here are 3 steps to get you started.
- Decide on your goals and your brand, then be consistent. This is a key step that many people forget. They jump into all these sites, set up profiles, get involved and then realise that it isn't achieving anything. So decide what you want to achieve first. Decide on your author brand. Decide on your goals. Do you want to sell books you have already written? If yes, you will need to drive people to a sales page. Do you want to find contacts to help you write your book? Do you want to build an online presence so you can pitch a publisher, in which case you must gather an audience around your central book idea. It is important to decide on your niche so you can set clear guidelines around what you do online. For example, I only blog on topic and I tweet on topic @thecreativepenn . If you want the Joanna Penn who writes about career change, you will find her at HowToEnjoyYourJob.com. I don't mix my niches so that my audiences for my books can remain separate.
- Set up a blog. Authors need to have a blog these days, (even mega-publishers Simon & Schuster say so) Remember a blog is just a website with easy to use software that enables a conversation. It becomes your central hub and you own it. You can write what you want, put images of your books and drive people to it. I recommend you post at least 10 great articles before you start telling people about it, so they have something to read when they get there. Here are some useful related posts:
- 10 reasons authors should blog
- How to set up your own blog
- 10 ways to blog effectively
- Audio: Blogging Basics with the Blog Tech Guy (with transcript)
- Audio: Advanced blogging techniques with Paul Cunningham, the Blogging Teacher (with transcript)
- All about the ‘Blogging for Authors and Writers' course
- Start tweeting. Twitter is one of my top traffic providers for this blog, as well as providing the contacts for my podcasts and relationships with bloggers, readers and book marketers across the world. It is easy to use and easy to meet people (much easier than Facebook), and I am a huge fan! You can also join one of the many other social networks that are available, but I have found Twitter the most useful for promoting this blog, myself and my books @thecreativepenn. Here's my tips on using Twitter effectively.
If you do these 3 things, and then consistently post quality on your blog and network on Twitter, you will build an online platform that is quick and robust. You can then join other sites and create profiles elsewhere, but if you want success for the bare minimum, these are my recommendations.