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How To Be A Writer: Five Ways To Build Your Platform and Promote Your Work
What Is a Platform?
Well that’s a fair question now isn’t it? Briefly stated, a writer’s platform is the writer’s ability to attract readers and promote their own work. Who is your fan base and how are you going to attract them to your writing? If you can answer that question and find a successful way to answer it, then you have a great writer’s platform.
With that as a definition, your first step then is to identify who your target audience is. The more focused you can be in defining your audience, the better your chance of reaching that audience. This is especially true for those who have written a book, or for those who write in a particular niche for magazines, columns for newspapers or a daily blog. Who are you trying to reach?
The first mistake most writers make when they are promoting their work is to use the shotgun approach. They toss their stuff out into the world hoping to attract a percentage of the seven billion inhabitants of Planet Earth. Quite frankly, the shotgun approach is a complete waste of time.
Ask yourself how you can reach the people you need to reach. Is your book or column about animal care? If so, you will design your platform completely differently than if your book or column were about quilt-making. Make sense?
Once you know who your target audience is, then you need to figure out how best to reach them. Where do they hang out? What websites are they most likely to frequent? What magazines do they read and what television shows do they watch? Would they be likely to attend a particular type of special event? Are they library users or do they hang with the Goth crowd downtown? Brainstorm and figure out where your audience is and then build your platform around that information.
Finally, once you know who your audience is and how to get in touch with them, it then becomes your job to get out there and meet them. As a writer, you are your own promotion firm. Gone are the days when writers simply had to find an agent or publisher and then sit back and collect royalty checks. Today most writers are part of that promotional process. If you do not have an agent or publisher then you are the entire promotional team. Get out there and promote!
Here are a few ideas to help you build that platform.
Create Your Own Website
If you have any visions of growing in your writing endeavors, then you really need a website. At the very least you need a blog. Put a professional face on your writing business and they shall come.
In today’s world, one cannot ignore the internet. Your potential customers are out there waiting for you, but the chances of them finding you without being online are slim.
There are many blog sites that will offer free blogs. Many website servers are inexpensive. Cost is not a factor, and the technical knowledge necessary to get a site up and running is minimal. I know because I have three blogs and a website and I know next to nothing about website construction.
My novel is one niche to follow
- The 1259 Shuttle from Yesterday to Today: William D. Holland: Amazon.com: Kindle Store
The 1259 Shuttle from Yesterday to Today: William D. Holland: Amazon.com: Kindle Store
Establish a Niche
If you have written a book then you have a niche. If not, then develop one. What are your passions? Are you crazy about gardening, or cooking, or automotive repairs? If so then go for it! Once you have established yourself as knowledgeable in your field, you will attract more and more readers. Keep building your niche and develop it online.
Will anyone take you seriously? Let me answer that question by saying every writer or expert in a field started out from zero and built upon it. Knowledge in a particular field is power, and writing excellent content based on that knowledge will pay you dividends.
Go online and find forums that are related to your niche. Become a part of the forum community and establish yourself that way. Remember that you are your promotion team. The more you intelligently promote the better.
Give Talks and Workshops on Your Niche
When I was teaching I was also coaching. I became fairly well-known in my area as a quality basketball and volleyball coach. Each summer I held sports camps for middle school players who wanted to improve their skills. I made good money doing so and I built a reputation by doing it.
What can you do? Can you give speeches at local sewing clubs, or give demonstrations at retirement homes? Brainstorm groups in your area that are related to your niche and then go meet them and share your expertise.
YouTube is a promotional bonanza
Post Book Trailers and Do Youtubes
The dream of every online promoter is to go viral on YouTube. Two minute videos that are viewed by hundreds of thousands are not unheard of, and it is all free advertising.
Do a video of you reading a passage from your book or an article that is related to your niche. Do a promotional video advertising a free book reading at your local library. Do a “how to” video showing how to bake a cake. Whatever your talent is, show it off!
Hold a Public Event
Hold a car wash for a local charity and network during the event. Schedule a book signing or hold a writers’ workshop free of charge. Don’t be afraid to work for free because this is advertising and promotion that will help you in the long run.
Get creative and think outside the box. There are millions of writers all doing the same thing. Find a way to be unique and people will notice.
Follow along on my blog for writers
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Tips, suggestions and discussions about writing
How are you doing with your own platform?
Odds and Ends
Sit down and brainstorm ways for you to establish yourself as an expert in your field. Brainstorm ways to get your face and your name out there and embedded in the minds of the buying public.
Write letters to the editor of your local newspaper. Go on high-traffic websites and blogs that are related to your niche and offer to do a guest post. At the very least, join forums and give your two-cents worth on your area of expertise.
Join Linkedin and start networking. Join professional organizations related to your niche and earn certificates that will support your claim of being an expert. Find out if there is a public television station in your area and be interviewed about your book or your field of knowledge. Do an interview on YouTube….heck, write your own interview using a fictitious name for the interviewer.
Do non-profit work for an organization that is related to your field, or become a board member for some group.
The only thing holding you back is lack of imagination. You must build that platform and then continue to add to it.
Best of luck to you as you begin the next chapter in your life as a writer.
2013 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)