In the last decade, marketing has become more than just catchy slogans and jingles. With the rise of technology, social media, and online businesses, connecting directly with your target audience and consistently offering valuable content has become essential.
The channels that we’ve always used to connect with families and friends have become a myriad of business platforms.
These business professionals want to connect with you because they figured out your needs and want to offer you their value. At this point, the catch is small. All they want is your contact in their list because it allows them to get to know you.
This is how start-up companies build their brands. Once you are on board, you become a lead that helps them define and refine their brand. In short, you are the reason for their existence. The brand personality they build will revolve around your needs.
Writers and authors must also use content marketing strategies to build a brand, even if they aren’t qualified marketers. While most businesspeople build a readership with content marketing techniques to define their goals and reach their audience, writers can do the same. In many ways, we write stories to persuade. So why not market ourselves?
Having studied creative writing, I had zero knowledge about marketing when I self-published my book. After ten years of writing, editing, and redrafting it, I felt proud when I got it out. I thought the most complicated piece of work was done.
Two weeks after the launch, it dawned on me that I hadn’t done any homework before the publishing process.
Only about ten friends had purchased the eBook in the first month, and I realized where I’d gone wrong.
I’d been too focused on the book itself. I was proofreading my novel twice, if not three times because I’d set that as my priority. The editing and formatting had needed attention, whereas marketing just didn’t strike me as the number one priority. Bear in mind the job of a self-publisher is to take care of everything.
When I wasn’t making sales, I tried to catch up on everything I should’ve done before the publication. My private blog’s readership wasn’t big, neither was it a professional enough website to promote my novel. So, I created an entirely new website for my book, which, unfortunately, didn’t have traffic despite the built-in SEO tools. (But little did I know about SEO strategy back then. You need to create content consistently, using relevant and high-ranking keywords.)
From experience, Amazon KDP Publishing doesn’t offer effective marketing services, nor does Amazon PPC Advertising, unless you strategically plan and invest in it. Even then, you will struggle because it’s not Penguin Random House’s publicist doing the job for you. Plus, Penguin has an existing audience.
While Ingram Spark and Draft2Digital are excellent distributors, it didn’t mean that people would intuitively search for my name on Google. My name doesn’t have a viral trigger. However, it still felt incredible to be on Kindle, Apple, Barnes & Noble, but the problem was…
No one knew me.
These platforms don’t do the marketing for you. If I had known the right strategies in advance, I probably wouldn’t have published my book for another year.
I want to discuss the purpose and significance of content marketing for writers and authors, and I hope you will learn from my mistakes.
Content Marketing Goals
You must make yourself known to people.
If you have a story idea, it will remain nothing until other people have a taste of it. The first step is to pave the way for community building—in other words—find your audience before you consider publishing anything.
While you write down your goals, you should research your book’s genre and study your readers and develop measurable strategies to reach them.
Brand positioning is projecting an image in your readers’ minds, introducing the mysterious personality behind your book.
Once you have initiated interests, you branch out your book’s mystery on different platforms.
Increase brand awareness: Create a professional author’s website if you haven’t already! If you have a decent number of followers on your social media with whom you engage regularly, encourage them to connect with you further and learn more about their passions, as they can inspire you. Continue to increase social engagement and track your reach.
Optimize website for SEO: My 11-year-old blog (or journal) with over 460 posts is not optimized, whereas my professional writer’s website is. If I had created this website before my book’s publication, I would have had more leads and built more connections. A great network would have certainly benefitted my book marketing.
I recently invested in an SEO tool to gain more traffic and rank for relevant keywords. But to see results and rank high, you need to create content regularly.
Are you a thought leader? Do you engage with your readers?
– One of my primary content marketing goals is to connect with like-minded writers and authors, especially those that have faced similar challenges as BIPOC writers or exophonic writers. I like to communicate with subscribers who are fellow fiction writers or avid readers. I want to learn more about who they are and what they want so I can refine my writer brand or author brand.
Educate the audience: I started tracking my blog and About page views to identify the organic searches. If lucky, somebody took an interest in my CTA (call to action) and subscribed, which allows me to ask them directly what they would like to learn more about and if there is any way I can share my experiences and be of service to them. I discovered that sharing tips and knowledge with fellow writers is precious. So, don’t let your introversion stop you from communicating with people. They can’t bite you through the screen.
Content Marketing Audience
Empathy—that’s ultimately how you connect with your readers and how you market yourself. The more your reader can relate to your experiences and struggles, the more they will connect with you. Show them your strong character and offer advice on how to take control.
Your CTA can be a bribe (i.e., a free “how-to” eBook or opening chapters of your novel). Offer readers some freebies so they become a part of your newsletter subscription.
Quote a mutual favourite author and see their reaction. Unfortunately, this is not like making friends at school. Even though connecting online is not quite the same, you can still make lifelong friends. Often, this is the ideal way for introverts to connect with others.
Remember that we’re writers, after all, not an enterprise or a multi-million-dollar company. They have a target audience within a specific niche. On the other hand, authors look at the relationship between a genre (or niche for copywriters) and a target audience. Choosing a category and narrowing down your demographic factors is crucial. It helps you stand out and limit competition. You should also track your competitors and analyze what makes them successful (an SEO tool will do that or use your Google Analytics statistics to see what you need to improve).
Your book will be similar to what’s already out there. Tell your readers what makes your book so different and unique. What does it offer that other books don’t?
Think ahead and see where your readers go to find answers and entertainment. Ask yourself how your ideal reader would potentially absorb your book’s content and then spread a similar vibe on your preferred social media platform.
How else can you convince them that they will love it?
Read their comments, engage, and connect.
If your SEO tactic brings leads or subscribers to your website, you will need to reach out and connect ASAP because people lose interest if you don’t show any. You will get a better idea about what they want to learn from you by directly talking to them. (What I love the most is making friends.)
Content Marketing Benefits
Content marketing is the central hub for boosting brand awareness, and this is also applicable for writers and authors. It is storytelling that communicates your vision statement and increases your visibility on all relevant social platforms where your readers are.
Once you have established a brand identity and defined your genre (or comp titles) and audience, you must deliver quality content regularly to keep your readers in the loop (blog, social media posts, email newsletters, surveys).
One of the most essential content marketing benefits is generating inbound leads and driving more traffic to your writer’s website. SEO best practices will improve your ranking in Google’s search engine too.
If you’re just starting, you shouldn’t count on advertising. Instead, write blog posts, tell engaging stories that help your readers identify themselves. Blend in your novel and tell your readers why you wrote it, and share any mistakes you made or lessons you’ve learned.
It may take months until you effectively drive traffic to your writer’s website, which is why consistent content management is essential and reusing the relevant keywords that define your brand. (I’m still learning too.)
A start-up business needs powerful market positioning to stand out among its competitors. Digital marketer, Neil Patel, states that content marketing is a long-term strategy that builds a stronger relationship with your audience, captures their attention, and improves engagement. The purpose of market positioning is to establish a unique brand image within your audience’s mind. That image represents your reputation.
In other words, writers and authors are the mystery behind their work. (Keep it exciting!)
However, writers aren’t necessarily entrepreneurs. You can be a freelancer or merely self-employed without being an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurs are very serious about their business models and take financial risks while focusing on the final reward. But we’re just writers—writers who want to write for a living.
To go more technical into content marketing benefits, they also generate a positive ROI. According to Demand Metric, 70% of consumers would rather learn about a company through articles than advertisements.
If a potential reader is fascinated by your book cover or blurb, they will want to read more about you. Or you happen to have hooked them with the comp titles, and now they are curious.
With the high demand for content these days, companies have started hiring content strategy specialists.
But guess what! We are writers; we can do that ourselves! Our readers want to learn more about the author whose book they are going to buy. This is your opportunity to shine on your About page, blog(s) and social media.
Content marketing involves lots of research, community building, and search engine optimization. The bad news is, it’s time-consuming and slow, whereas the good news is your efforts will pay off. Content marketing brings more rewarding results in the long run than paid advertising. You want to improve brand awareness by continually providing actionable content, education, and entertainment for your audience. Fulfilling the audience’s desire is the ultimate means that helps you grow as a writer and author.
Google Workspace will help you track and measure data of your website activity, and social media analytics will provide you relevant insight reports.
If you are a talented author, you certainly know your work inside out. Now, try to navigate your writing skills towards some content writing. Content writers determine and plan their content marketing goals by evaluating their statistics. Use your interpersonal skills and offer networking opportunities on your writer’s website. Build trust with transparency.
I learned that there is no need to consistently rack your brains over quality content that educates and excites your audience because it can get stressful. It helps to have a content calendar in which you plan your blog or social media posts. It’s also a good idea to “repurpose” what you have already shared. In other words, write from a different angle!
Still, plan ahead—research in advance. Check what’s trending on Google Trends. If it’s relevant to you, then creatively incorporate it into your content marketing calendar.
If you are a writer, author or simply a solopreneur that wants to drive more traffic to your website, invest in an SEO tool, as it will help you strategize effectively.
I recently invested in Ubersuggest, as it was the most affordable choice for individuals (whereas Ahrefs, Moz, and SEMRush cost a fortune and are more suitable for large enterprises).
It is an era where we should be content-driven. Through content marketing, writers and authors can grow their brands and build an engaging community that will love their work.
I’d love to hear about your experiences with content marketing. If you’re a writer (BIPOC writer, exophonic writer, etc.) and author of fiction or non-fiction, let me know what works best for you and what doesn’t. How do you create your community? How long does it take?
I look forward to your comments.
Very inspiring post, Paula. At the moment, SEO and marketing myself sounds intimidating–I don’t have a presence on social media, and I haven’t studied SEO yet. Still, like you said, if I start learning now, I’ll be in a much better position when I write and publish my first novel.
I know you have a casual and a professional blog. I’m gonna start with a casual blog, to get in the habit of consistency, and I’ll learn SEO along the way! 😃
Thanks for sharing, Jamal. I’m still intimidated as hell when it comes to marketing. Baby steps. 😊 My casual blog was for therapeutic purposes—very unmarketable stuff🙈! But yes! Still, use your casual blog to create a readership. It can always develop into a professional writer’s website. I wish there were another way except for patience and consistency, ha.
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This article was so on point. I’ve read two different books on content marketing and your words gave me the friendly reminder that we writers need to be patient and find comfort in the long term investments in others. Happy to be on this journey with you. Dee ☮️
Thanks, Dee! I like how strategic and careful you are with your planning–something I should’ve done too three years ago. Keep doing what you’re doing. This journey will be a rewarding one. 🤗 🤗