Tweet chat 16th January 2021 Marketing Strategy

Participants: Sandy Stuckless, Gerald Hornsby, Elizabeth Holland, Maria Johnson, Anita Belli, Julie Charlesworth, Bradley Galimore, Deborah Klée

Why is a marketing/business strategy important? Do you have one?

Elizabeth: I think it’s so important for us small authors. My general approach to marketing is to put my book in front of as many people as possible and to use networking to assist that.

Deborah: I believe it is essential. If you don’t have a clear strategy you can end up chasing your tail, jumping on one good marketing idea after another.

Gerald: I think it depends on what you want from your writing. Some writers are happy to just create things for themselves. If you want to make a career out of writing, you need a roadmap to guide you – but we all need one suited to us as individuals.

Maria: It’s important to keep you focused on your goals and what you want to achieve, ideally maybe to get sales and generate an income. I vaguely have one, but at the moment it feels like I have the right ingredients but something isn’t mixing. Lots of interest but not many sales.

Deborah: A marketing strategy sets clear goals as steps towards selling more books. You may just start with attracting potential readers to your website or other funnels.

Maria: I think this is where I’m at currently. I have people express interest e.g., on social media or who check out my blog and am slowly building my newsletter list, but at the moment it feels like a huge chasm between people looking in the shop window as it were to sales

Deborah: Have you asked an expert or other writer to give objective feedback on your web site, sales info etc?

Maria: Other writers have, one writing friend in particular was really helpful in checking out my site and getting my newsletter up and running. Maybe I need more feedback if something still isn’t clicking. I have no background in marketing so definitely learning as I go!

Elizabeth: I think the hardest part is finding those people that want to buy your book. We can market till we’re blue in the face but if it’s to the wrong people it won’t work.

Maria: I absolutely agree with you and maybe this is the element that’s not quite working. Would love tips on how you find readers. At the moment it is mainly social media, website/blog, newsletter and then some sales in real life especially when a new book comes out.

Elizabeth: I’ve heard from people that local radio stations can boost sales! Other than social media I’ve not had much experience with selling to others.

Maria: So social media is where you find most of your readers/get sales? I’ve tried to find local interest (e.g. when my last book came out) but I didn’t have much interest other than people I know from church.

Deborah: Yes. You need to attract a following on a number of different sites. Not necessarily other writers. These act as a funnel towards your website and landing page.

Maria: I have Twitter, Facebook page and Instagram (they are linked) as my main platforms. I blog weekly and have newsletter monthly which I post on social media. Blog, newsletter and occasionally social media have links to my books etc

Elizabeth: Twitter has been my biggest source of sales/readers but Facebook has also brought in some. The tough part is just tapping into those readers and where they hang out. I think romance is such a broad genre that it’s easier to ‘stumble’ across readers. Posting on social media at certain times is quite an interesting strategy to explore. I tend to keep my marketing tweets to later in the day so that my overseas audience is also around.

Deborah: Good tip. I have only just discovered this. I am now scheduling some tweets for hours when I am asleep.

Sandy: Tweetdeck is useful for this. I need to utilize it more myself

Maria: Twitter for me in terms of social media. I thought fantasy might have more sales – it had a much bigger impact when it came out, but starting to lose that/sales drying up now.

Elizabeth: I think it’s quite common to ‘dry up’. In the past I’ve used sales to help pick it up. Constantly creating new images helps too.

Deborah: Can you explain further Elizabeth? How do you use sales to help pick up interest?

Elizabeth: I’ve found that a price discount can often encourage those that have been considering your book. Then this influx of sales helps boost your Amazon ranking and thus encourages readers to ‘organically’ discover your book.

Maria: I think this is one of the drawbacks on not being entirely self-published, as e.g. discounts or giveaways etc have to be worked out with my publisher, I can’t just decide to make my books free for a week on my own for example.

Sandy: (Developing a marketing strategy) It’s part of my 2021 goal package. It’s important because if you want to reach an audience you have to work at it and be visible

Anita: yes. (Have a marketing strategy)  But following feedback and support from the excellent 4Marketeers group on Wednesday, I have since revised it! It is important to do what is right for you; for where you are. I was doing stuff I thought I ought to do

Deborah: When posting on twitter try using hashtags to attract interest from the readers that match your reader profile. Mine tend to be public sector workers. I have even worked out what their interests are likely to be.

Elizabeth: This is an excellent tip! There’s also places such as specific Facebook groups for genres, etc. that you can advertise in

Bradley: These are great suggestions! (especially for those new to the #WritingCommunity on Twitter) I always recommend searching for hashtags that you are personally interested in and finding THAT community. An example for me is: #TeachLivingPoets

Anita: ‘Being professional means doing the things you love doing even on the days you don’t feel like doing it.’ I love a good quote, but I can’t remember who said it! And having a marketing plan helps to develop a professional approach

Gerald: I think it depends on what you want from your writing. Some writers are happy to just create things for themselves. If you want to make a career out of writing, you need a roadmap to guide you – but we all need one suited to us as individuals.

Bradley: Working without a marketing/business strategy results in a lack of direction which can: – Confuse your target audience – Cause you to lose potential clients, opportunities and readers. I definitely have a marketing/business strategy I follow strictly!

How has your strategy been informed? Useful resources and points of reference?

Bradley: I took some advice I heard a while back, and studied artists/writers that I found had the success trajectory I desired. I also HIGHLY recommend “How To Steal Like An Artist” by @austinkleon(austinkleon.com/steal/) The page on @MarthaStewart is my FAVORITE. 

Sandy: When I dig into it in more detail, I’ll be paying attention to what other writers of my genre are doing and try to replicate that. Of course, like writing, your marketing should have your personality and voice too. You don’t want it to seem canned. 

Deborah: Absolutely. The blogs and webinars I follow tend to be with characters who I warm to and who entertain me.

Elizabeth: Google has been my biggest help. It’s led me to blog posts and seminars. However, trial and error are key. Everyone’s book is different therefore everyone’s market strategy will be different.

Gerald: Since I have a substantial back catalogue of semi-finished and finished first drafts, I’m looking to multiple releases per year. I’ve found the 20booksto50k group on Facebook inspirational and helpful in this regard facebook.com/groups/20Books…

Deborah: There are too many experts out there telling us if we do as they have done then we will be best-selling authors etc. The truth is that everyone’s journey is different. Your strategy has to suit you and what you want to achieve

Sandy: And watch out for snake oil salesmen who say they have a sure-fire way to succeed. There are a lot of con artists out there looking to take advantage of artists, especially newer ones who might not know any better.

Deborah: So right. I watch the free webinars and take it all in but I do not believe any claims. I just take what is useful and apply it.

Maria: I have no marketing background so it has been a big learning curve/learning as I go. Mainly through writing resources and writers further along the path. One friend in particular was really key in helping me sort out my newsletter and ironing out website issues I had.

Anita: My strategy has been formed by conversations with other writers. I spent 6 months trying things out and realise there is so much out there that I got overwhelmed. I am now wary of following hyperactive webinars and band wagons which serve to make me feel inadequate

Elizabeth: Most of what I do is what I’ve learned from the blogging world. If you ever have any free time look at how bloggers and influencers drive traffic to their platforms. I think it can be really useful for authors to adopt some of their strategies. SEO can really help get your website ranking. Pinterest is amazing for directing traffic to your website. There’s a lot of information on phrasing questions/social media posts for maximum engagement

Maria: Pinterest is my least used social media/blogging account. It just kinda sits there. I need to look again at how I can use the platform effectively.

Elizabeth: Definitely look into Pinterest. There’s also Facebook groups where you post links to your blog post and interact with other bloggers, in turn they then interact with your posts. It’s a great way of getting your blog out there 🙂

Deborah: I found a blog on how to use Pinterest as an author. I will try and find the reference for the notes. I could not find this reference but a Google search found lots of info on Pinterest for authors. For example, https://helpmenaomi.com/pinterest-marketing-for-authors/

Elizabeth: Pinterest can be tricky but the heart of it is good graphics and keywords. I’ve let my Pinterest slip quite a lot but here’s the link so you can see what I do. One popular pin brings in 1000s of views on one of my blog posts pinterest.co.uk/Anxietyandliz/…

Elizabeth: Pinterest is great but quite time consuming so I’ve not been doing much with it lately. I know the highest earning bloggers rely on it to draw in traffic.

Maria: I would love to hear any tips you have on using Facebook groups to find readers. I’ve tried joining a couple of historical fiction reading groups to then find out promotion is banned. I get this but it makes it really difficult to then get my books in front of them.

Deborah: However, as you build a relationship with these readers then they may find you. Or share info that they would be interested in on your website. While they are there make sure your book links are obvious.

Elizabeth: I’ve mostly had sales from my own author page. I sometimes spend £5 on an ad and although it doesn’t really create any sales it does attract new followers and then they sometimes interact so the post then shows up on their walls so their friends can see it.

Maria: Interesting! I’ve considered doing paid advertising eg on Facebook.Paid advertising is an avenue I haven’t really tried as I’ve heard it has very mixed results.

Deborah: I have heard that it is worth advertising when you have published 3 or more books. So that comes later in my strategy.

Elizabeth: I think the general rule of ads is the more you put in the more you get out. However, I think you can also use them to encourage people to have a look at you. They might not be your target audience but if they interact with your post then more people will see it.

Deborah: Also, a person may need to hear about your book 7 times before buying

Julie: I can vouch for that. I bought a book two weeks ago as it kept appearing on my social media.

Deborah: I do look to other writers and bloggers to see what they have achieved in terms of followers, email sign ups etc and over what time period and so I can set realistic targets.

Do you have measurable targets? How do you know whether they are realistic?

Gerald: I have a financial target for this year for the first time. I have a goal to write / edit / publish 4 novels this year and a non-fic. But my aim is to double last year’s royalties. For me, that’s the bottom-line target. Realistic? Probably. Achievable? Maybe

Anita: No not yet. I am still identifying the purpose behind my marketing. I am thinking that 2021 for me is about: Developing a higher profile as an author and tutor. Engaging influential people in the Arts and Publishing. Becoming expert in one area of my writing business.

Deborah: My strategy has measurable and achievable targets but as I only started out last year they are initially about getting followers to blog, social media and email subscribers. The strategy being to direct traffic to sales.

Anita: I have a plan for how to achieve this (my goals). I find ‘measures’ difficult to identify. I have previously made them up, randomly. External forces influence what happens. I don’t know how to predict what they might be

Elizabeth: I usually set myself a goal of a minimum amount of books to sell each month. My goal is usually based on my previous month’s sales but upped slightly to push myself.

Sandy: One of the biggest things I have to do is pick a day that will be my marketing / promotion day. That’s when I’ll work on the website, the social media, the promotion, etc. My problem is making time in my schedule to actually do it

Deborah: I divide my time each day so half on writing and half on marketing. Usually, 2 hours on each.

Maria: I have some content targets e.g. blog posts every week, newsletter every month, social media most if not every day. I know I am getting more exposure but that doesn’t really translate much into sales. I don’t have any sales targets as this is the area I struggle with.

Bradley: When I started writing, I set a 5 year plan. It was absolutely outlandish and completely unrealistic. HOWEVER, my GOAL was always to follow my plan to the best of my abilities. That is what made it realistic and fostered many opportunities I’ve have/had. 

Bradley: “I always had hopes of being a big star…and as you get older you aim a little lower, and I say you still might make an impression. Everybody wants to leave something behind them, some mark upon the world.” – Dorian Corey Paris Is Burning (1991) (1/2)

How do you use statistics to modify your business plan, and which stats are most important to you?

Elizabeth: I mainly focus on sales. If they’ve dropped one month then I’ll look at what I did and change it up. For example, I know that certain graphics that I use result in more sales.

Maria: Looking at what you did is a really good tip. I had a fairly good sales spike around September/October so I might try looking at my marketing then to see if there was something I was doing/something that was working then that maybe isn’t at the moment for some reason. I don’t really know much about statistics. The only numbers I look at are stats for my website, especially my blog posts. I also keep an eye on my author sales rank for my books.

Deborah: If your strategy is to use your blog to attract traffic then these are important stats. You can find out a lot from the views and visitors

Gerald: I monitor sales of my books at least once a week. I like to see what’s happening with the fiction and non-fiction. I’ve done some Amazon ads, so most of my stats / modify work has been done on those.

Anita: This is an area I find challenging. At the moment, I am not looking at numbers, but I know I should. Numbers and me are not great friends. Words are my besties.

Bradley: Statistics is tricky because initial data can be discouraging. Here are some focal points: – Engagements vs Interactions. KNOW the difference. – Follower counts. They only matter WHEN they matter. That’s it. – # of Approvals/Rejections. These CAN help OR hurt.

Bradley: The only stats that are important to me is the number of people I genuinely reach out to in order to work with them because I believe in them/their work. If that number is low, I need to read/research/reach out more. SOLELY self-absorbed marketing is cliché.

What do you find most challenging in developing a strategy and sticking to it?

Elizabeth: It’s tough when you’re not seeing any results. Some strategies just take time and it can be quite disheartening to see all your hard work not amounting to anything.

Deborah: I think we all feel that at times. One week I can feel elated at how much progress I have made and then a few weeks later I will have a negative response to similar info. Stamina is needed and determination

Maria: Do you think you can know when your strategy is working and will just take time, or that it isn’t working? As again I feel like I am doing the right thing/have the right ingredients but then it feels like I’m still missing something.

Deborah: A strategy is a long term plan. You may try different approaches to achieve your goals but the strategy should be clear.

Elizabeth: I think if you’re generating interest then that means it’s working you might just need more time or to tweak a few things. If you’re getting nothing then I’d say it’s not working. Set yourself a time limit and see how it is

Sandy: That it can be energy sucking and leave me with none left to create my art, which I love. It’s a bit of a double-edged sword. If you want to sell art you have to create it, but you can become so busy selling it you don’t have time or energy to create it! 

Maria: I find it most challenging when I stick to the strategy I have (social media, blog posts/website, newsletters) and it doesn’t really lead to many/any new sales. Can feel discouraging when you put in that time and effort then still feel like you are missing something.

Anita: Challenge: Identifying the main aim of the strategy. Sticking at it is a matter of resilience; you can train this by writing every day, but discipline is hard to impose for outside. It needs to be honed from the inside out

Gerald: To be honest, I’m not over-focused on strategy. I set my goals at the start of the year, monitor what’s happening, adjust if it seems relevant, read and listen to others (a lot). I don’t beat myself up if things don’t go as desired.

Bradley: Measuring my success against others. Statistics is a game of evaluation, so it’s easy to compare your “stats” to that of others. It can quickly become discouraging. Just consistently do your best. The universe will work with you. There’s nothing else you can do.

What might you do differently as a result of this tweet chat?

Elizabth: I’m going to get myself back on Pinterest because you’ve reminded me what a wonderful tool it can be.

I’ve just checked my stats for 2021 on my mental health blog and I’ve already had 177 Pinterest referrals so it’s definitely worth investing some time into it! 

Sandy: Actually sit down and draft my plan. Split my time between business and art

Bradley: Measuring my success against others. Statistics is a game of evaluation, so it’s easy to compare your “stats” to that of others. It can quickly become discouraging. Just consistently do your best. The universe will work with you. There’s nothing else you can do.

Maria: have a look at my dusty old Pinterest account and see how I can use it effectively as an author. Think more about when I have had sale spikes and whether there’s anything I can do or not do to change the slump I’m in at the moment.

Gerald: Try to be a bit more diligent with my strategy monitoring.

Deborah: I am going to look at using Pinterest to direct traffic to my blog. Will read the link Bradley sent.

Sandy: Another thing I have to do is create my Amazon author account. I’m in a couple of anthologies that sell there, but I don’t really push them as much as I should.

Julia: I will look at the blogs of people involved today. It’s been enlightening. Thank you.

Maria: I think it is clear. I have a strategy for marketing, I guess I can just find it disheartening when it doesn’t seem to work when I try to do the right things etc. Maybe I just need to keep plugging at it and hope it will start to change.

Anita: Check my stats and measure what’s working! Make sure I am following my own strategy and not chasing other ideas, however good they are

Websites

If anyone is interested, they can find me here: sandystuckless.wixsite.com/sandyrstuckless Website is a bit basic right now, but there are a couple free short stories there for your enjoyment. #FriSalon

While you are here you might like to browse my blogs or find out about my books.

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