I’m hosting a Back to School Giveaway!
No, I’m not launching a new book. I like to treat my readers to unexpected surprises now and then. I also hope to acquire new readership. This is one reason authors hold contests.
Contests are a fun way to help build your on-line platform. I’ve held several and they are tons of fun. My favorite contests were when I was launching my first novel, The Pastor’s Wife Wears Biker Boots. I held a Facebook Party and gave away gifts all throughout the evening to those attending. It’s fun to go back to the transcript of the party and read it! If you want to know how to do it for yourself, feel free to explore the page for yourself.
Online platforms are becoming an important part of the author package writers must present to prospective publishers. The first thing a publishing committee will do when introduced to a new author, or even a published one, is Google the author’s name. Does your name bring up any social media results? Do you have a website? Some publishers won’t publish authors who don’t have a healthy online-presence.
I’m like a lot of authors in that social media isn’t my favorite thing to spend time on. I’d rather not have the distraction. But, I look at it this way–it’s beats digging ditches. And it’s basically painless. Like scrubbing toilets, it must be done, and it won’t kill me.
If you don’t know where to start, here are the basics:
- Build a website. It doesn’t have to be fancy. I used Wix.com when I first started and later I used Weebly.com. There are other free platforms out there. Use the one that is the most user-friendly for you. I didn’t spend money to have someone design one for me until after I had my first novel published.
- Blog. You don’t have to blog every day but it’s common sense that the more you blog the more people will visit. What to blog about? Do a Google search for blog topics and you’ll have more than you’ll ever have time to write. Part of building your platform is projecting what you’re passionate about so write about what you love! I started my first blogs on Blogger, but now I use WordPress because that’s what my web designer used to design my site. There’s a learning curve to WordPress, but I love it. However, if you’re new to finding your way around the Internet, I recommend Blogger. Many successful authors use it and it’s what I use for my interactive eBooks.
- Facebook: I have a “friends” page with about 3300+ followers, an author page with a little over 500, another page for my book and several groups. But really, you don’t have to do all that. You can simply use your friends page if you wish. However, once you reach 5000 followers, you have to stop accepting them and direct them to your author page. So it’s a good idea to go ahead and build your author page. The nice thing about an author page is that you can host your giveaways on it.
- Twitter: for me, this is the hardest platform to build relationships on. But I am learning!
- Pinterest: I have almost 3,000 followers on Pinterest and it was super easy to build that following. Pick a popular subject and start pinning! (To keep numbers in perspective, most best-selling authors have followers in the five digits. I’m still working toward that!)
- Google+: I’m fairly new to Google+ but as more people learn to use it, I’m gaining more experience and developing relationships.
- LinkedIn: I post here every time I have a blog post.
- tumblr: I have about 800 followers on tumblr. I admit that tumblr is one of my guilty pleasures. I enjoy the people I follow there and I actually get the news before it’s published in most other forums. It’s a lot like twitter that way.
- Goodreads: I have about 1300 followers on Goodreads. I’m not very good at checking in there, but while I was promoting my book, I did give books away and I believe it was well worth the expense and time.
Those are the basic platforms/applications that most writers use to build their online presence. Many do not use all of them. Others use more. There are always new apps coming out that people use to connect such as Instagram and Snapchat. Some authors use YouTube and have a channel where they talk about things that are relevant to their platform (I’m toying with this idea myself).
You can also create podcasts to create traffic to your blog and website. You have to choose the best and easiest for you to use in building an audience online. In my opinion, a website, blog and Facebook are the basics to start with. You can branch out from there.
The downside to all this is that it takes a lot of time away from the “real” writing we want to do. I have my twitter and tumblr hooked together so that when I post on tumblr it posts on twitter. It helps me build relationships on tumblr, but it doesn’t help much on twitter because to build relationships on twitter you need to interact and respond to other people’s posts.
When the local college has students wanting internships, I use college students to add interesting tweets to my buffer app account. This app will schedule pre-created tweets throughout the day. Again, the downside, is having the time to respond to anyone who replies to your tweets. It keeps your feed active, but does it build relationships? Not likely.
As you can see, I’m not yet in the mega-following status and I’m still learning. A platform isn’t built in a day, or week or month. It takes time to build relationships, and that’s what successful authors do. No one likes to be bombarded with “buy my book” all the time. People want to connect with people, not products. If you build relationships, you’ll gain a faithful tribe. And making friends, loving one another and caring about others is what life’s all about in the first place.
Click to tweet: How are you building your online platform?
Don’t forget to go to my website and enter the giveaway! Today’s the last day! Have fun!
Leave me a message below and let me know how you’re building your online platform!
Thanks for reading and stopping by, Linda!
Very impressive, Karla. I am a contributor to a colonial blog, and I know I don’t post enough on my website. Twitter and Pinterest still seem foreign to me. But you have inspired me to make more effort. Thanks.
Thanks for reading, Janet. I think twitter is hard unless you have more time to be attentive to it, and I don’t. Facebook is a little easier. Pinterest is easy, peasy, too–you should give it a try! The easiest way to do it is to install the Pinterest button on your tool bar in your browser. Let me know if you want me to help walk you through that!
Thanks for sharing this, Karla!! You know how much this has been on my mind lately!
Mine, too, Patty! Thanks for dropping in and commenting!
Thanks for sharing this, Karla. It’s been on my mind lately too!
Good stuff, indeed!
So much to do, Kathleen! So little time! Thanks for taking your precious time and stopping by!
Great advice. I am in the building stages right now. My followers are few, but I think as I improve the content, they will come. Hmmm, sounds like something I heard in a movie once.
It’s work, that’s for sure, Jenny. I am looking forward to the day when it all crystalizes for me and I know exactly what valuable thing I have to offer my subscribers! Thanks for stopping by and reading!
Hey Karla, thank you for the great article. When I went to ACFW last year, I kept hearing about platforms and brands and really didn’t know what people were talking about. I’m so blessed though, because even in my ignorance, God blessed me and I had been doing what I should have been doing – well, not tweeting 🙂 – and just didn’t know it 🙂 tee hee hee I love this though and intend to come back often til it soaks in!
That’s awesome, Caryl! Thanks for stopping by and sharing!
This is excellent. I have spoken a few times to groups about developing personal learning environments and have had people do surveys like you discussed above so they can see how they are connecting with various groups and where they can add value and build relationships.
Valary with a y! So much fun to see you here! Thanks for stopping by and commenting!