Part 8: 7 Ways to Attract Readers and Market Your Work
So the creative part is done, you’ve written a novel, short story (or stories) or a blog post. Unfortunately, you can’t just post it and expect hundreds or thousands of people to read your words.
Since you are probably on your own as an indie and/or newbie writer, YOU are responsible to attract your own readers.
Here’s what helped me to attract now 10,000+ readers per month. From asking people to help me out in my own network, to sending out emails to influencers to social media and Medium.
#1: Take Inventory
You want people to read your work. But how to attract readers? In the marketing part of the book Perennial Seller which I mentioned in earlier posts in this series, Ryan Holiday expands on many different ways to get your work in front of others. One of the most important elements to achieve this is to create word of mouth.
To begin, take inventory of everything you have at your disposal:
Relationships: professional, personal, familial
Research from past launches of similar books/platforms and use what worked
Resources or allies (other bloggers)
If applicable: an advertising budget
Use these to your advantage and ask people to follow you, or backlink to your stories, etc.
#2: Drawing in influencers
It’s not easy asking for a favor from someone you know, the next part is even harder. Asking for a favor from someone you don’t know — yet.
The internet is full of them, influencers, other people with bigger platforms than you have, usually directed towards a particular subject. Who do you admire in your field? Or maybe even in other fields. Your work might complement their message.
After you have created the best work you’re capable of, you have to reach out to others to help you gain traction to your blog. In Perennial Seller, many useful tips are shared in order to do this (which I used to get a reply from Ryan Holiday himself):
Research into the influencers you want to approach.Ideally, they influence you already. If they don’t, dive in. Who has a big following in the field you’re aiming for? Who seems to have a hunger for content that you produce? Who is regarded as a trendsetter?
In making the ask, it is best not to ask for the thing you want directly.Establish a relationship. Talk about how they have inspired you (to do what you do).
Be a human being.Be genuine.
Don’t go where everyone else is going.Find the people who aren’t besieged by requests.
Make it about how your work makes the influencer look good to their fans.
Most people with platforms provide nonfictional work on their blogs.Sometimes I found that a message in one of my stories perfectly complemented theirs. I pointed this out and some people really liked that idea. For instance, my story The Money Tree resonated well with followers of debt and financial management blogs.
#3: Relationship Management
You have to invest in your network of relationships, contacts and influencers. Be generous, do favors, and help others with their writing, products or services. It’s all about developing a relationship and offering value. Then, hopefully, the favor will be returned one day.
The most important relationship you can have is the one with your readers/fans. What they think and want is the most important thing. And you should serve them well. A simple reply costs you less than a minute on most occasions. They’ve invested time to read your work, so invest time in them.
#4: You are the Marketer
Building a platform takes a lot of time and dedication. A lot. People need to hear from you multiple times and from different angles before they are willing to give your work a look.
So what is this platform thing you keep mentioning, Nick? Well, your platform consists of: your website, social media channels, your friends, influencers who appreciate what you do, media outlets, the community your work exists in, your email list and much more.
A platform is something you must seek to continuously feed with your creative work and effort to get it under people’s attention. It’s something you must control and nourish yourself. It is the most important thing you have in communicating with your audience.
Success requires an unstoppable author. You must continue to produce work. Then market it. Keep in touch with your relationships. And again, and again.
You have to do your own marketing. You have to “sell” yourself, your stories, your blog posts, your podcasts, your books, and YOURSELF. Growing your following, approaching influencers, interacting with readers, making social media posts, gathering email subscribers, you are responsible for that.
“If you don’t see any salespeople, you’re the salesperson.” — Peter Thiel
You will not get featured somewhere until you make the ask. Granted, out of 25 emails, there’s only one that’s likely to reply. But if you sent none, you will definitely get 0 replies.
Do the work. You are responsible for your own growth. Study. I’ve repeatedly recommended this book, but it’s the best in terms of getting comfortable with marketing your work as a writer: Perennial Seller by Ryan Holiday. Read that book or read the lessons I learned from it.
Build relationships, grow your social media presence, be youin your communication, build a body of work, maintain your relationships, try!
#5: Social Media
I actively post on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. I’ve also pinned all the illustrations on my Pinterest account. Twitter has proven to be the most interesting platform for me. It had resulted in the most visits to my work and the most engagement. Instagram is a close second although I find it more difficult to grow it.
Facebook is not working for me at the moment. Therefore, I chose to invest my time only on Twitter and Instagram, which is a great time saver. So, please choose and pick one or two platforms that work for you, otherwise, you spill your valuable time.
I try to grow my following by actively following people who like similar accounts to mine. I search for particular hashtags and like posts I find interesting. I comment on posts that intrigue me. I engage with people.
Naturally I have to mention Medium here. I was quite late to the party. In October 2017 I opened an account on Medium.com and started to post my short stories on it. I’ve come across articles on the platform on many occasions and found it to be easy to be featured there. You just had to set up an account.
It wasn’t until March 2017 that I found out what Medium really was.
In the past six months, I’ve gained over 2,200 followers, >35,000 views, gained new friends, learned a lot and have been able to expand my readership! I even earn some money from it every month.
You can post your work in publications to expand your reach, you’re able to post your work in tags related to your post. The short story tag is lively and followed by >90.000 people.
In order to grow your following on Medium and expand your reach I recommend the following:
Follow other people.Medium allows you to follow 150 per day. Follow active users, this means people who clap for the stories of other writers. Find articles and writers who are similar to you. I only did this in the beginning and focused more on my writing soon after.
Engage.Respond to articles you like, get yourself a membership and clap for stories, interact with other writers. It’s amazing how many great people I met through Medium. Now I’m in three active writer Facebook groups. All writers there support each other’s work and share tips, it’s great. I’ve landed a couple interviews, I spoke to some of my idol writers, had a phone call with one of them, etc. A new world awaits.
Write and publish consistently.There’s that word again. But it’s true! I know some authors who post every day, have a similar following as I have and earn at least $1,000 per month on Medium. To grow your following, reach and popularity it helps to post frequently. I aim for 3 articles per week, but I usually manage to post two every week. There are writers out there who post every day!
Get yourself into publications. It’s worth it, your reach expands! Some publications have >350,000 followers!
Use categories well. That’s how people find you (because people follow tags and get emails with curated stories), plus you get on the radar of the Medium editors too. If you do well in a particular category you can become a Top Writer in that category. It’s awesome. I’m Top Writer in four categories at the moment.
#7: Facebook groups
Ever since I joined Medium and participated in a couple of webinars and courses about writing I’ve been added to some great Facebook groups consisting of other writers. Some are starting out, some are at a similar stage as me, and some even are far ahead.
Those groups are very supportive. People read, clap, and comment on each other’s work. You can ask questions about writing and publishing, it’s awesome. A great way to connect with fellow writers, find inspiration and grow your reach!