How Authors Should Use Facebook

Facebook for Authors - why it is an essential tool

Facebook for Authors - why it is an essential tool Authors are becoming more aware that they need to be using social media. Hearing tales of other authors missing out on publishing deals because the publishing house wanted them to have a loyal following not to mention hearing of writers increasing their sales of books because of their social media presence must evoke many different feelings in writers. Some may feel inspired to start using social media when they hear of such success stories, others may feel daunted and overwhelmed with a ‘where do I start?’ terror coursing through them. I can totally understand why hearing that writers should be blogging, using twitter, creating a facebook page, using linkedin groups and using pinterest at the very least, can be intimidating.  It’s not a case of starting with all of them at once but mastering one at a time, finding out which one works best and learning how to use it effectively.

I’m going to write a series of posts – showing examples of how authors are using the various social media tools effectively so that hopefully, writers will feel inspired to start, rather than feeling overwhelmed. I hope you will return each week to read each one.  I’m going to start with Facebook. Most people have a facebook profile so they tend to find it to be the easiest platform to use from a professional basis.

1. Create a Facebook Page

You must have a personal profile on facebook before you can create a facebook page, for example, my personal profile is under my own name Lorna Sixsmith, and it’s where I share news with many friends.  It is relatively straightforward to create. Sign up at www.facebook.com by following the steps and facebook will even help you to locate some of your friends.

To create a page, you need to visit this link, choose ‘brand or product’ and follow the steps to create a facebook page. Most authors names their facebook pages as their own name and add ‘books’ or ‘author’. You will need to upload two photographs. One is your avatar and will be resized to 180 x 180. Many authors use a photo of themselves, sometimes reading a book or holding their own book.  The cover photo is a wide landscape photo with the dimensions of 851 by 315. Many authors use a collage of their books or a picture from their launch for this image.

hazel_gaynor_author

As you can see from this image, Hazel Gaynor has an image from a book signing as her avatar and is using her front cover as the cover image – complete with a quote from a well known author.

This post shows how to create a  landscape collage on Picmonkey.

2. What Do I Use As Content?

Nobody likes a facebook page that is ‘sell, sell, sell’, there has to be an element of engagement with readers as well as providing them with information they want to see.

Many authors use facebook to inform fans about upcoming events such as book readings, signings and launches. People love good news stories and they love to see you share your successes occasionally with them too.

how to create content for facebook

Carmel Harrington is using facebook effectively to spread the word about a book signing. By using an image with text, the information can be seen instantly and will be easily visible when others shared it. It has worked – 12 people have shared this image for Carmel, thereby spreading the word further.

I shared some good news with my own facebook fans this morning as I was interviewed for a national magazine. People do like to see the good news stories and if they have liked the book, they almost feel part of the journey too.

How authors use facebook

Sharing images with an update can be very powerful – whether it is an image of the book, an image of an event or perhaps a photo of where the book is set.

How authors can use facebook to promote their book

Felicity Hayes-McCoy shares extracts from her book ‘The House on the Irish Hillside’ frequently, always making it sound poetic and beautiful and always teaming it with a photograph of beautiful Kerry, where the book is set. See how effective this is – 62 shares of this particular update.

You can create anticipation for a book and the launch on your facebook page too. Louise Phillips has been telling fans about the film trailer for her upcoming book, showing us images from the shoot and also of the lipsticks that will be available at the launch – all tie in with the killer in her book The Last Kiss. Louise has also used facebook to create a launch event so she can increase interest and gauge the number of attendees.

How authors use facebook effectively

I can’t wait to go to the launch, let alone read the book!

Reward your fans too – give them sneak peeks of the front cover, ask their opinion on something, host a competition for a signed copy of your book or another prize.  This will raise their enthusiasm for reading the book and telling their friends about it too.

How Often Should I Update My Page

It takes time to build up a good following on facebook so don’t leave it until the book is on the bookshelves.  If you have content to share three or four times a week (spreading it out across the week), that will be plenty. Once a day is definitely sufficient. The trick is to share content that educates, informs, entertains or amuses your fans.  Engagement on your page in the form of likes, comments or shares means that more and more people will see your content in their news feed and your brand awareness will increase.

How Will A Facebook Page Impress A Publisher?

I started off this post by mentioning that authors have had their books turned away at almost the last minute when the publishing house discovered a low social media presence. If you are in discussions with a publisher or even in your opening letter to them (or to a wholesaler if you have self published your book), you should highlight your following on social media. Apart from the fact that you have a means for communicating with your audience, you know the demographic that is interested in your book.

how authors can use facebook

On my own ‘book’ page, I can see from my ‘Insights’ that the majority of my fans are female. This has an influence on the content I share but it would also influence my decisions regarding the publications I might try for press coverage or for advertising. The publisher will now know who the future buyers of the book will be – and where they live.

You can also use facebook to attract people to subscribe to your email newsletter by using an app – if they like your content on facebook, they are likely to sign up for more updates and invites.  Facebook will increase brand awareness and it will probably encourage readers to choose your book over another one when they recognise it on a bookshop shelf or if buying online.

Have you any other suggestions on how authors can use facebook that I may have missed?

“Free

Tagged with: , , ,
Posted in Facebook, Self Publishing, Tips, Writing

How To Self Publish Your Book

how to self publish and print your book

how to self publish and print your book You’re writing a book. You have decided to self publish it, perhaps because you view it as a possible path to traditional publishing or perhaps because you are committed to staying as a self published author. You are going to publish it as an ebook on Amazon, Nook, iTunes, Kobo etc but you are wondering about getting books printed and onto the shelves. You know that lots of readers still prefer to read it in a hard copy and people still expect to see the book on bookshelves in shops so what are the steps in self publishing a printed book? That’s exactly what we are going to look at today.

Much of it is similar to an ebook – you still should get a professional to illustrate your front cover, you should hire an editor and unless it is all text and simply laid out (ie a novel divided into chapters), you may need help with the formatting too. However, the prospect of spending a large amount of money on a print run can be daunting, not to mention if you are wondering about the quality of the finished product.

Options for Getting It Printed

More and more authors are using print on demand services as it limits the risk of having 300 of your 500 book print run sitting gathering dust in your attic for evermore. It also means that you don’t have to make the financial investment or secure a loan (or run a crowdfunding campaign to raise finance).  Many authors use the Create Space model on Amazon – as an author, you can order multiple copies at cost price (although, as far as I know, there isn’t a discount the more copies you buy) and you can then stock the shelves of your local bookshop. This can be a cost effective way of trialing the success of a printed book via an ebook and paving the way towards getting your book into all bookshops.

The other option is to be brave and order a print run for your own book from a printing company. This can have a significant cost which is why more authors are using crowdfunding to part fund the printing cost and secure some pre-orders. It can also be the case that the cost to print 500 copies is very close to the print cost for 1000 copies which provides another reason to crowdfund – as it ‘saves’ money in the long run.

I opted to use a local printer, Naas Printing. Apart from the fact they were recommended to me, I recognised some good quality self published books on their website and when I called in, there were shelves full of their printed books. This was useful as I could check the quality and show them exactly the type of matte cover and matte finish on the pages that I wanted. It may have been more cost effective to look at sourcing a printer abroad but I wanted to be able to talk to them in person, ask questions, and see the quality of their printed products.

Self Publishing Companies

Many companies now help authors to self publish their own books. They will review, edit, format, design and publish your book either as an ebook only or as an ebook and a printed book. Emu Ink is an Irish company offering this service and their price of €1495 to do a triple edit, typesetting, cover design, provision of ISBN numbers and publish a book on all ebook providers seems fair. It is difficult to estimate what this might cost if doing it all independently (hiring a professional editor, illustrator and formatter individually) but it is unlikely to be less than €1000. If you wish to print your book, this cost will be additional but Emu Ink does offer a print on demand service.  Kissed Off Creations also offer a self publishing service with prices starting from £200.

Personally, I prefer to travel the steep learning curve, learn by my mistakes and benefit from my learning for future books but it can be helpful to have someone holding your hand with your first book and that’s where these companies are very useful.

Crowdfunding With Self Publishing Companies

I crowdfunded with an Irish crowdfunding company and then self published independently and separately but there are now plenty of companies that provide a crowdfunding service specifically for books and within the self publishing service. In effect, you are asking people to pre-order your book and the company will indicate how many need to be ordered before it can be deemed a success, i.e. your book goes into publication. In essence in terms of finances, it is a little like getting an advance from a publisher. It should have all the advantages of crowdfunding in terms of securing income, raising your self confidence, spreading brand awareness and securing sales. It will also require a loyal following to generate those pre-orders and ideally, that following should be on social media as it is easy for them to click once to the site and pledge. It has the advantage of having advice and help from those working in publishing and self publishing.

Although these companies will provide advice and support on the crowdfunding and will publish your book, they don’t necessarily offer an editing service. You have to submit your finished and edited manuscript for approval.  They decide on the cost per pledge (the pre-order price) and the number of pledges/orders required. Once that is achieved within a specified time period, they will publish the book and you can dispatch the printed books to your pledgers.

However, it is unclear how much ‘profit’ the writer makes on each book. According to the Britain’s Next Bestseller details, the authors get £1 for each book preordered above the minimum target set.  They promise significant marketing help if you surpass the pre-orders but I’m a little bit sceptical – you can easily do much of this marketing on your own.  It’s unclear at this stage if they remain as your publisher and what the percentage the royalties willbe. Yes, it is helping you by holding your hand along the way but I would prefer the independence of crowdfunding separately to the self publishing. Pubslush and Authr are more such companies and there seems to be many more.

 

Self Publishing your own book can be very exciting, liberating and successful – it can also be extremely terrifying and expensive. It can take considerable time for sales to roll in and to recoup your investment. Every situation is different and I hope this post has helped to make the choices somewhat clearer. If you have any questions, do ask in the comment box below. If you have self published, I’d love to hear of your experiences. 

Do check out my post on ‘How to sell your self published book’ too – lots of tips in there for when you receive your print run. If you would like to consider crowdfunding, do look at these articles reporting on my tried and tested method.

“Free

Tagged with: , , ,
Posted in Blogs, Self Publishing, Writing

To Publish or To Self Publish – That Is The Question

Advantages and Disadvantages of Publishing and Self publishing

Advantages and Disadvantages of Publishing and Self publishing If you are a writer, it is probably your dream to secure a publishing deal but while you are waiting for the right publisher and you feel your book is as good as it possibly can be, maybe self publishing your book is the answer.  You may be happy to remain as a self publisher or you may see it as a possible route to securing a publishing dea.  In this article, I’m going to compare the advantages and disadvantages of going the self publishing route with that of traditional publishing. I self published a year ago and wrote a recent update on sales to date.

Advantages of Traditional Publishing

1. The publisher takes care of the editing, the formatting, the cover design, the production of the book and sometimes they will help with the launch and press coverage too.

2. The publisher bears the cost of the production of the book, some publishers may pay for a launch or will help with the organising of it.

3. As Derbhile of Write Words mentions, having a book gives you and your book kudos and credibility.

4. You may receive an advance which could be very handy!

5. It is likely your book will be in most bookshops within weeks of the launch, you don’t have to worry about distribution or even how many to print. This suggests you will sell more books than if you were self published.

6. Your publisher is experienced with marketing of printed books and ebooks which should stand your book in good stead.

7. There’s a much higher chance of your book being reviewed in the weekend newspapers.

8. Your books should be in the bookshops within weeks and having a publisher makes it easier to secure book signings.  If you want to get into the bestseller lists (and who doesn’t), having a publisher behind you will maximise the chances of this as they know exactly what to do to try and make it happen.  They may also help you to secure press coverage although this doesn’t happen for all authors.

Disadvantages of Traditional Publishing

1. It may not be as lucrative as you think. I had always presumed that authors got 10% of the retail price but it is 10% of the wholesale price. My book sells for €12.95 of which the wholesaler takes 55%. If I was traditionally published, I would get 65c for every copy sold. Less than that if my book is included in a 3 for 2 offer in the bookshops. Unless the book becomes a bestseller, you are still going to need the day job.

2. It can seem like it takes a long time, often at least six months after you submit your manuscript before it is ready for the book shelves.  That doesn’t include the length of time spent waiting to secure a publisher.

3. Publishers don’t necessarily pay for the launch so you may have to foot the bill for that yourself and they may insist on a launch.

4. You don’t have control over your own work. You aren’t free to create bundles with other writers, for example, something that Paul O’Brien mentioned at the Wexford Literary festival last week.

5. It takes at least 6 months to receive payments and to receive reports on sales to date.

Advantages of Self Publishing

1. You have complete control over your book, that may be daunting for some but means that you are free to take any opportunities that come along.

2. You will make better margins on each sale, for example, I make €3 on each book sold in a bookshop and €7 for each one from my website.

3. Although you have to wait 3 months to be paid by the wholesalers (Easons and Argosy), they do pay monthly on sales after that. It’s much easier to keep track of sales and feel ‘in the know’. I have found Argosy to be very helpful in terms of letting me know the numbers each month (number of books sent to bookshops, not necessarily of books sold).

4. It may take more work but you can get your book into bookshops.  As you are ‘closer’ to what is going on, you may be more inclined to actively seek press coverage.

5. You will make mistakes along the way, it is a huge learning curve, but you will learn from them for the next book.

6. It feels more purposeful than waiting for a publisher and if you can sell 2000 units of your self published book, it may be a quicker route to traditional publishing if that is what you want.

Disadvantages of Self Publishing

1. This may not be a disadvantage for some but many writers find it difficult. You are going to have to market and distribute your own book, you have to treat your book like a business product to sell and you have to put yourself and your book out there – with press coverage and on social media. Having said that, publishers want their authors to have a social media following one (I know of authors who had their books turned down because of its absence and had to wait another year until they had built up a following) so if self publishing makes you get out there and blog, tweet, pin and set up a facebook page, it will stand you in good stead should you wish to go down the self publishing route in the future.

2. You do have to invest money in self publishing.  If your talents include graphic design, you will be able to format it yourself and design the book cover but if not, it is worth investing in the book cover design at least. Don’t skimp on an editor either – do hire an editor for your book. Most self publishers publish their books as ebooks and as print on demand but people still expect to see books on shelves. Some self publishers order printed books from Amazon’s Create Space for their local bookshops and this can be a good way to try it out too (make sure you order them at cost price by visiting your own dashboard though). Printing your book is a huge investment but can be worth it. If you print 500 or a 1000 copies, you will need a website to sell the book from so you will also have to invest in a website. Running a crowdfunding campaign can be a way to raise finance (and test the market too) but you do need to have  a good social media following first.

3. You have to work at it to gain credibility. Self publishing is still looked down upon in some circles as it doesn’t carry the stamp of approval from a publisher. Therefore, your book needs to be as professional as you can make it and you need to get it out there. Prove it is a great book with sales, reviews, radio interviews and local press coverage if you can.

 

I would really recommend getting to know other authors. It’s not a competition, you are all in the same boat, just writing different genres for different target audiences.  Apart from having others to bounce ideas with or ask for feedback or just share stories, I’ve found that supporting each other has helped each of us get press coverage, just to give one example. One author provided me with a contact for a TV programme (having a direct contact makes such a different) and I secured a TV interview. I just heard that another author, whom I had provided with a contact for a national radio show, is being interviewed on Monday morning. You can’t beat networking and friendship amongst people in a similar field.

What other disadvantages or advantages of publishing or self publishing have I missed? I’d love to hear your thoughts and your experiences. 

Tagged with: , , ,
Posted in Blogs, Self Publishing

How To Schedule Your Content To Social Media Platforms Using Co Schedule

How to use Co Schedule as your editorial content planner and to schedule pins to Pinterest If you are looking for a handy way to organise your blogging timetable and your scheduling of blog posts to Pinterest and other social media platforms, Co Schedule could be your answer. I signed up for the free trial and have given it a try. It seems to be particularly useful for group blogs and larger business blogs but also for sole owners who need more organisation in their lives. It also a very handy tool for scheduling your pins to Pinterest.

Scheduling your updates across your social media channels is so important. Your blog is the hub of your website, you are using platforms such as facebook, pinterest and twitter to drive people across to read your content and connect with you. Being able to reach your target audience when they are online is really important – particularly if they are in a different time zone to you and the optimum time is midnight where you are!  Scheduling also saves you time – you can schedule your posts in a ten minute slot and you’re done for a while. No risk of being sidetracked when you pop into twitter to send a tweet.

How to use the Editorial Content Scheduler on Co Schedule

You have to sign up at Co Schedule and connect your self hosted wordpress blog. Effectively you are adding Co Schedule as a plug in – so you will need your ftp password.

Once you are connected, you can go straight into the scheduling calendar, click on the little pencil on the top right of a relevant date, and add in titles, date, and of course, the date for publication. You can assign it to a specific author too – which is where it really works well for larger businesses or group blogs.

How to schedule posts

I often tend to create draft posts when I have an idea for a blog post – I simply type in a title, assign a category and write a short paragraph. However, those draft posts are sometimes in danger of being forgotten about but now I can actually schedule them into my content schedule planner by using the plug in further down the dashboard page and filling in a little more detail – then it automatically appears on my calendar. Easy peasy.

Co_Schedule_Calendar

You can then see all of your planned content at a glance – have you made the most of writing about appropriate topics for specific days in the year, for example, today is Social Media Day – have you a post assigned to it?  Are your posts too heavy on one specific topic? Do they focus enough on a particular area? By looking at the content schedule, you can evaluate it and you can drag and drop content if you wish. As you can see, I have planned some blog topics around publishing and selfpublishing, authors and social media for this coming month. Here’s a good video that demonstrates how it works too.

You can also see your planned content at a glance by looking at your dashboard (My Activity page) . It will also show you your top posts in terms of social shares.

Using Co Schedule

How to use Co Schedule to Schedule Pins

1. Add your social media profiles.

How to use Co Schedule

2. As far as Pinterest is concerned, you have to add each board that you wish to schedule too individually but once they are added, they remain there.

3. Click the pencil button on the top right and opt for ‘new social message’.

co_schedule_how_to_schedule

Co_schedule_to_pinterest 4.  It is then a case of choosing the Pinterest board, twitter account or whatever you wish to schedule to. Add in the link for the blog post, and of course, it doesn’t have to be from your own blog. As you check the content in your feedly reader on a daily basis, perhaps first thing in the morning, you can use Co Schedule to schedule out the content that you would like to share.  It will pull up an image and you can choose another image if you’d prefer. Don’t forget to add in your own comment.  Choose a date and time and click to confirm. That’s it. As you can see, where it says ‘published’, you can check the selection there if your post isn’t published as yet and choose a scheduled post.

5. If you are happy using Buffer or hootsuite to schedule your updates, you’ll be glad to hear that this works with buffer too.  You may be happy just staying with either of those. Where Co Schedule is helpful though, is the ease with which you can schedule your blog posts to Pinterest that makes it a winner for me and some of the other Pinterest scheduling tools are getting very expensive so this could be a cheaper option.

It really is a case of getting used to using it and having it open when you are reading through your feedly if you wish to use it to share good content throughout the day.

6. What is also handy is all of your scheduled updates to your various platforms show up on the calendar too so you can see if you’re being a little too sharing-heavy!

Co Schedule offers a free trial for 2 weeks. Thereafter, it is $10 a month. I will be honest – I still like using my content schedule planner that we designed for We Teach Social but I can see that scheduling those impulsive draft posts I create would keep me on the straight and narrow!

Where Co Schedule would be really handy is for those who wish to schedule their posts to Pinterest, particularly if your target audience is in a different time zone and you know that 2am is the optimum time for getting those click throughs and repins.

If you give it a go, do let me know what you think of it.

Posted in Blogs, Content Marketing, Pinterest

15 Blogging Mistakes To Avoid

15 blogging mistakes to avoid

15 blogging mistakes to avoid Many articles tell you what you should be doing to improve your business blog, including many of the blog posts here at Write on Track. I’m going to cut to the jugular here and tell you what mistakes you should look out for on your own blog. If you don’t find any, well done and if you do find a few amongst our list, you will know how to correct or amend them.

Blogging Mistake #1 Difficult To Read

If the font is small or too fussy, it can be difficult to read. Remember that people skim read when they are reading online so it has to be in a reader-friendly font.

White or coloured text on a dark background can be hard to make out too. A blog post has to have extra special content if readers are going to stick with it if it is hard to read. Personally speaking, I dislike reading white font on a black background and rarely make the extra effort required! Do you have a font or colour you dislike?

Blogging Mistake #2 Blog Separate From Website

Sometimes businesses start up a blog that is separate from the main website if both are set up at different times in an attempt to save money. Some argue that having a blog separate to the website means that links add more value in terms of SEO juice.  I would argue that having a blog central to the website’s navigation means that people will see the other pages more easily and are more likely to access them.  Considering your blog posts are what draw readers with its freshly updated content, it makes sense to make it central to your website if you can. Having said that, having a blog that is separate is much much better than no blog at all.

It should be easy for visitors to access other pages on your website as well as being able to find you on your other social media platforms such as following you on facebook or pinterest. I often like facebook pages from the sidebar of their website. It means that even if a visitor doesn’t buy your product or service today, you have a chance of connecting with them and engaging them from facebook, twitter or pinterest.

Blogging Mistake #3 Vague Titles

Ideally titles should indicate clearly what the post will be about, it should be hooking readers in, intriguing them to read more. A vague title isn’t going to attract interest. People have so much choice on the internet – from links on twitter to other posts to read from their feedly account. In addition to that, it is going to be harder to be ranked by Google if your title is lacking keywords.

List titles have become very popular. People know that a list blog will deliver ‘what it says on the tin’ in relatively succinct language. As with the title of this blog post ’20 Blogging Mistakes To Avoid’, I hope the title will indicate that it is worth reading and of interest to all bloggers. Lists also help with the layout of blog posts, preventing the content being a solid wall of text as they are broken up structurally with sub-headings.

 Blogging Mistake #4 It’s All About Us

While we might think that our blog serves to tell people about our businesses, what we sell and provide, how to buy from us and where we are based, that’s not what good blogging is about. Blogging should be about your target customer in the sense that you provide information that they want to read, you entertain them, you help them solve their problems. Hence, it is important to work out your target customers’ likes and dislikes, problems and wants, age, gender, location and income levels.

Blogging Mistake #5 Features not Benefits

When writing about a new product, some business bloggers make the mistake of describing its features rather than extolling the benefits for the target readers. For example, if an interiors business is planning to post about a new design of wallpaper they have in stock, rather than describing what it looks like, how beautiful it is, the various colourways etc, a more effective post would be concentrating on how that wallpaper solves a problem e.g. a post on how to make low ceilinged rooms appear taller or how to make a small room seem larger.

Blogging Mistake #6 No Niche Content

Some new business blogs will jump all over the place with their topics – think quality not variety.  If you want to stand out from your competitors, you need to become known for your quality of product or knowledge under a specific area. It’s difficult to be good at everything particularly if you are a small business. When I think of Amanda’s blog at Spiderworking, it reflects her knowledge and understanding of facebook and twitter in particular plus her enthusiasm for finding cool tools to increase efficiency. I tend to concentrate on pinterest, blogging and self publishing here.  I’ve found that concentrating on Pinterest has meant I’ve been included in some ‘Pinterest expert’ crowdsourced blogs too as well as the general perception regarding my knowledge.

15 Blogging Errors To Avoid

Blogging Mistake #7 Too Much Jargon

Keep it simple. If you can use a word that is shorter and easier to understand, use it. If you have to use a term that people may not understand, explain what it means or link to an explanation.

Blogging Mistake #8 Writing For Google

We all know the importance of including keywords in our title, our permalinks, our meta descriptions and our content but don’t overstuff your content with keywords as it can stand out a mile and just doesn’t make for pleasurable reading. People won’t stay around to finish it.

Blogging Mistake #9 Poor Visuals

The appearance of your blog post is just as important as the content, it has to be easy on the eye!  That includes ensuring that your images are attractive, even if you may think that images aren’t important to your business. They still should be of good quality, appropriately sized and help to make the structure of the post more reader-friendly. You can find wonderful images on photopin which are free as long as you credit the photographer.

Blogging Mistake #10 Unnamed Images

Readers won’t notice that you haven’t named your images so this won’t detract from the readability of your post. However, they will notice if they go to pin your blog post and see that an image is named 98759384.jpg or something unsuitable. They may cancel the pin or write their own description which probably won’t include a good keyword.  The other reason for naming images is, of course, that Google can’t read pictures so it needs your description to include a keyword if it is to register properly.

Blogging Mistake #11 No Social Sharing Buttons

I’m a firm believer in your blog being the central cog or hub of your social media activity and one of the reasons for using twitter, facebook, pinterest etc is to drive traffic back to your blog where they can contact you or buy your product or book your service. If you have social sharing buttons on your post (e.g. like the flare plugin I use here), other people will share your content more readily, thereby doing some of your work for you.

Blogging Mistake #12 Irregular Posting

Don’t post every day for a fortnight and then abandon it for a month. Unless you have really good content, don’t post every day. Keep up the quality and post once or twice a week if that is all you have time for. There are very few blogs that I want to read on a daily basis, I much prefer to check in with them twice or three times a week. But if you do post daily, keep it up. I usually post twice or three times a week on this blog but I know I am going to be busy this summer with other things so am limiting it to one post a week for the summer months. Set up a content schedule to keep you focused too. I tend to concentrate on a topic each month now, for example, this month my posts are all about blogging. I’m planning on focusing on providing quality posts on publishing and self-publishing next month. Other bloggers have set days for various topics.  I’m going to be trying Co-schedule this week for its various tools, one of which is scheduling content, and I’ll review it in next week’s post.

Blogging Mistake #13 Blogging In A Vacuum

Don’t blog in a vacuum – don’t just blog without connecting with other bloggers, engaging on twitter or facebook, without visiting other blogs to learn and to comment. If you do this, don’t be surprised if your traffic reaches a level and doesn’t grow beyond that.  It can be a good idea to reply to commentators who comment on your blog, unless you get tens and hundreds of course.

When you read the posts of key influencers, do you take the time to comment on their blogs?  How else are they going to know you have read it and that you learnt from it?  Write an engaging comment and show up on their radar.

Blogging Mistake #14 No Calls To Action

When I first started blogging in 2008, I didn’t know about calls to action. It took a few months for the penny to drop that although I was getting good traffic to my blog, the sales weren’t what they should be – because I hadn’t linked to the products in the online store nor had I reminded people where they could be purchased as I was ending the post. Therefore, many people were reading it simply as a review post in a way. Even inviting engagement by asking for a comment is a call to action. If readers have read your full post and enjoyed it, they are much more likely to comment if you invite them to do so, or buy the product if you remind them.

Blogging Mistake #15 An Out-dated About Us Page

Your ‘about us’ page is probably the most popular page on your website or blog. It is surprising how easy it is to forget to update this, to re-read to check that you are still offering the same services, to update with new photos or details of new staff or the winning of awards. Although it is ‘about the business’, do make it clear how your business can help your customer too.

I hope you found this useful. I’d love it you shared it using the social sharing buttons and do let me know if you think of any blogging errors that I have missed. I hope you have a lovely weekend, Lorna

photo credit: Pedro Vezini via photopin cc

 

Tagged with: , , , ,
Posted in Blogging for Success, Blogs

Blogging Check List: Ten Things To Check Before You Click ‘Publish’

Bloggers check list ten things to check before you click on publish

Bloggers check list ten things to check before you click on publish 7 out of 10 marketeers are planning to spend more time and money on writing good blog content in 2014 according to this Social Media Examiner report. However, writing a blog post is so much more than getting an idea, writing up some content, adding an image and hitting ‘publish’.  There are many things you can do to improve the readability of your post, to ensure that it is SEO-friendly and will attract traffic, to maximise the sharing potential of your post and to encourage people to take action upon reading it. Some of these will almost happen automatically as you put the post together, some may require a little more thought and effort. Do you have a blogging check list yet? If not, here’s one with ten things to check:

1. Structure

Click ‘preview’ to look at the structure of your blog post. Does it look like a long wall of text? Remember that people read books and newspapers very differently to how they read online articles. Your blog post will need images, white space, sub-headings and bullet points to make it ‘easy on the eye’ and improve the readability. Never centralise all of the text, it makes it very difficult to read.

2. Proofread

I have to admit I dislike proofreading my own work and I’m not the only one. I type quite quickly though so typos can creep in. My spelling is good but I have been known to make silly errors such as writing ‘there’ for ‘their’ or not adding on an ‘s’ to make a word plural in my haste and those errors won’t show up with a nice wiggly red line underneath.  Always proofread. If you find it hard to pick up on the errors, either read it aloud or ask a friend to check it over.

3.  Images

Are your images well positioned? Are they large enough? If they are beautiful images, don’t detract from their quality by making them too small. Have you named each image and included relevant keywords? With the increased use of Pinterest, there should be at least one portrait image in the post as that works better on Pinterest. Are the images relevant? There is one social media blog that I read regularly but I never pin from it as the only images are the same ones from the sidebar every time – the blog logo and the blog author.

4. Keywords

Have you included your main focus keywords in the title, the first and last paragraphs, the body of the text, your metadescription and the permalink? The Yoast plug in is really handy (with wordpress blogs) as it tells you how well your blog post is performing for that particular keyword. Here’s how to add the Yoast plugin to your wordpress blog.

Yoast_Plug_in_Blogging_check_list

5. Crediting Sources

Have you credited the source of your images (if relevant)? Have you linked to any written sources that you have quoted from or derived inspiration from – using a hyperlink means that it is inobtrusive and neat.

6. Your Reader

Have you focused on your reader in your blog post? Your post shouldn’t be about “me, me, me” or “my product, my service”, it should be about how your product or service can benefit your reader. Perhaps you are providing information on key benefits, perhaps you are entertaining your reader, maybe you are focusing on sharing a story so they can learn something from it.  Have you looked after your reader in your blog post? Have you addressed them as ‘you’?

7. Easy To Follow

Is your argument easy to follow? Is there a clear beginning, middle and end to your blog post? Are your sub heading clearly visible by being of a larger size and perhaps a different colour?  Are there long words and difficult jargon? Do you have bullet points to summarise the main points? Just like a good presentation needs a good speaker as well as good content, a good blog post should be easy to read.

8. Title That Hooks Readers

Is your title compelling? Will it hook readers in? Lots of bloggers use a draft title to write their post and then revisit it to make it more focused. In a tutorial post such as this one, list titles are good as readers will know what it will do what it says on the tin, that it will provide a checklist with ten things to look out for.

9. Call To Action

Now that your readers have read your blog post, you need to tell them what you want them to do. They may not do it but if they have enjoyed your content, a percentage of them will take the time to sign up to your newsletter, write a comment, like your facebook page or look at the product you have recommended – if you ask them to do so. Calls to action are important as otherwise people will just read and leave.

10. Keep Readers Reading

Your blog post is one of many on your website. If the reader isn’t going to visit another page, how about attracting them with other blog posts. I use a “related posts” plugin to display 5 related posts at the bottom of each post, some bloggers suggest other posts within the text and hyperlink across to them. Apart from encouraging readers to read more of your content, these cross links are good for your website’s SEO.

 

Once you have hit ‘publish’, don’t forget to share it on your social media platforms too. There’s your blogging check list. I hope you found it useful. Do let me know if you have something else that you always check before you click ‘publish’.

Tagged with: , , ,
Posted in Blogs

Why I Blog

Ten benefits of blogging - what blogging does for me Why do you blog? What does your blog do for you? Many people equate blogging with business or writing diary like journals but with over thirty different categories in Blog Awards Ireland this year, it is very evident that there is much more to blogging than that.

My Blogging Journey and What Blogging Does For Me

#1. Driving Traffic

When I started blogging in January 2008, I was trying it to see if it would bring traffic to my new business website. I couldn’t afford to spend much on advertising or google adwords so I decided to try blogging and see what happened. Within eight months, my blog was getting about 10,000 views a month and I didn’t even know about things like using highly searched keywords. I still use it to drive traffic to my three websites by blogging frequently on all three blogs.

#2. Free Press Coverage

Within two months of starting my blog, I was featured in a national newspaper because the journalist found me via my blog and decided the story was interesting enough to write a full page feature. Therein started my journey of generating free press coverage for my business through my use of social media.

#3 Friends and Like Minded People

I found myself coming across bloggers with similar interests and as we all started to use facebook and twitter, friendships developed. While social media gets a lot of negative press for the amount of time people spend on it not to mention the cyberbullying, it has so many positive aspects to it too. In the last six years, I have made so many friends via our blogs and for the most part, I’ve found that when we met in real life, that we got on like a house on fire then too. What also brings comfort to some people is when they find that others are experiencing similar emotions to themselves in times of trouble, e.g. when diagnosed with cancer, reading blogs may be as helpful as talking to friends or family who don’t quite understand how you feel. Therefore, meeting people online who have experienced similar experiences or trauma can be invaluable.

#4 Testing Ideas

I like using my blog to test ideas on my readers. Many people ask their audiences whether they might like particular products so they get instant feedback, using facebook, twitter or their blog as the vehicle. When I first wrote a particular blog post back in September 2012, I had no idea that its popularity (and the feedback I received) would inspire me to write a book. Some of the best feedback I receive is when people tell me how much they enjoyed it but also that it is completely different to anything else out there. For me, this proves how testing an idea via your blog can work so well. By the same principle, I know that if an idea within a blog post doesn’t get much response, I know that it may not work so well.

#5 Reach Target Audience

Blogging isn’t just about bringing traffic, it’s about bringing people that are interested in your product or service. When I ran a crowdfunding campaign and self-published my book, my blog was instrumental in generating press coverage and gaining sales. Once you identify your target audience and write for them, a proportion will respond by buying your product or service. It’s becoming more important now for many sectors to prove they have a following on social media, for example, publishers expect authors to have a good social media presence and following, so a blog can be instrumental in generating success too.

#6 Improving Writing & Knowledge

Practice makes perfect and while I’d never claim my writing to be perfect, I do believe that blogging has helped me to develop my writing style. The popularity of my blog also gave me the confidence to try and write the book. It is often said that everyone has a book inside them, maybe the blogging will help more books to evolve!  Whenever I experienced writer’s block or feeling overwhelmed by the enormity of having to still write half a book, I told myself that it was just a blog post and then I had a thousand words written reasonably quickly.

I don’t like to describe myself as a social media expert, after all, social media changes so quickly that it can be hard to keep abreast of all the changes. However, I know a lot about blogging, self publishing and Pinterest now and I feel that by sharing my knowledge with my readers, people then see me as an expert and it helps to grow my reputation as a good social media trainer, as a person who knows her stuff. If someone searches for my name, they will come across multiple sources which indicate what I do which means I have a lot of control over my own online identity.

#7 Educate Readers

I am passionate about educating others via blogs and  I don’t necessarily mean the content in a curriculum. People learn about a variety of topics from reading blogs such as how to cook various dishes to where their food comes from and how it is produced. I find that I often get a good response from non-farmers to my posts on how we produce our milk and our meat. I would love to see more farmers doing the same to really showcase Ireland’s wonderful food products across the globe.

#8 Research

Blogs contain up-to-date information and research and are usually well-structured and clear to read. If I need to research a topic for my teaching, I will often turn to blogs as my source of information. I will also use my blog to help me understand something before I teach it, in that, I will write a blog post on the subject and having to structure it in an easy-to-follow way ensures that my lessons are going to be well prepared.

#9 Inspiration

Reading other blogs often inspires ideas for my own blog. I don’t mean that I copy their posts but it can often happen that reading something triggers a memory or an idea for a blog post of my own. It’s one of the reasons I try to read a number of blogs every week.

#10 Enjoyment

Perhaps this is the most important reason. I love tapping away on my laptop, writing about my interests whether they are social media or farming or both as a two-in-one. I love teaching so I enjoy writing informative and educational posts. Blogging is a great way to engage with people who are interested in your topics.

I think I will be blogging for many years to come. I’m sure there are lots of other benefits to blogging that I haven’t mentioned here. What has been the biggest benefit of blogging for you? If you are an Irish blogger, don’t forget to enter Blog Awards Ireland as nominations are open now. 

Tagged with: ,
Posted in Blogging for Success, Blogs

How To Sell Your Self Published Book

how to sell your self published book

how to sell your self published book Selling your self published book seems to be full of double edged swords,  ’which comes first, the chicken or the egg’, and various ironies. However, it is a myth that self published books are only sold as ebooks or from the author’s website. It is very possible to have your book stocked in all good bookshops.  This is where the chicken or egg situation crops up as you need to prove it is selling before bookshops and wholesalers will take it.

Many self published authors will sell their books as ebooks on kindle, kobe, smashwords, iTunes and others. Some will use Amazon’s Create Space to sell printed copies of their works and it all makes sense as these methods drastically reduce the financial investment. However, some books are more suited to ebooks than others – be it because their target audience prefers to read ebooks or it suits the genre (e.g. fictional novel).  I have found that my own book (non fiction humour) is selling much more successfully as a printed book than as an ebook (1200 printed sales to about 100 ebooks) so this needs to be a consideration – do you need to print your self-published book? I ran a crowdfunding campaign to raise some of the finance required and to ascertain if there might be a demand for my book and I’d really recommend this method to raise finance, secure pre-orders and increase brand awareness.

Why You Need To Get Your Book Into Bookshops

No matter how much press coverage you get, people still expect to be able to purchase your book in a traditional bookshop. While some will buy from your website, you’ll get many more sales if they are on the book shelves. My local Easons bookshop stocked my book before Easons Nationwide took it and I enquired if the first lot had mostly sold due to people asking for it or if they were picking it up off the shelf. It was the latter which proves (I think) that sales increase when people can see the book in front of them. People expect to be able to purchase books from bookshops too.

How To Get Your Book Into Bookshops

Judging by some of the questions I was asked, it seems that some self publishers don’t secure an ISBN number for their book. For your book to go on sale on Amazon as an ebook, it needs an ISBN. It requires the barcode on the back cover of the printed book for bookshops to be able to sell it. In Ireland, there are two entry points to the bookshops. Argosy Books are the wholesalers for independent bookshops. Easons have a large number of stores around the country and will distribute to branches as they see fit. Both warehouses are based in Dublin.

This is what they will require:

1. Evidence of sales (e.g. 250) to date. A well formatted book with an attractive front cover and the ISBN barcode on the back cover.

2. Evidence of a social media following. It’s not all about numbers either. To have an effective social media community behind you, you need to be engaging on social media, chatting with followers, putting up interesting content, limiting the ‘buy my book because it is wonderful’ updates and don’t forget the blogging. Blogging will bring much more traffic to your website.

3. Evidence of press coverage received to date. You could include bloggers book reviews here too.

4. A marketing plan for the next few months. The bookshops nor the wholesalers won’t do any marketing on your book. You will need to be blogging about it to get the word out online, you also need to be planning news angles for press releases.

 

How to get your self published book into bookshops Once the wholesaler has your book, the next job is to ensure that the bookshops have it on their shelves which can be easier said than done. The wholesaler will promote it to an extent but realistically, they have hundreds more books to promote, books with publishers behind them. To get the book into as many bookshops as you can, this is what you need to do:

1. Email some bookshops. I emailed 17 independent bookshops last week when I knew that I was going to be on morning television with my book. Some replied to say they had it in stock, a few replied to say they would order it and about ten didn’t respond. However, a chat on twitter revealed that two of those also had it in stock.

2. Call into some bookshops with your book. I have to admit I was a little nervous doing this, what if they laughed me out of the shop?! However, I was very pleasantly surprised. One bookshop even said that they had had people ask if they had it (which made me wonder why they hadn’t got it in yet) but on seeing it ‘in the flesh’, she ordered five copies from the wholesaler immediately. It is interesting that she hadn’t ordered it until she saw it. As you can see, I left a poster with one of the bookshops and they displayed it, giving it more prominence.

3. Use twitter – if you are engaging with bookshops on twitter, ask them (in a non spammy way) if they have your book. If someone tweets me asking where they can buy my book in a certain town or county, I look for a relevant bookshop on twitter and include them in my reply.

Book Reviews and Press Coverage

Catherine Ryan Howard suggests that people need to be reminded of something at least three times before they will buy it (hence if it is in a bookshop, seeing the physical copy will serve as a reminder). However, I would argue that it might have to be five or seven times for some people. But as the Easons local shop example above demonstrates, sales increase when the book is on the shelf. Apparently if a person touches a product, it gives it a much higher chance of being purchased so picking up your book, looking at the back cover and flicking through the pages is all positive.

Apparently it can be very difficult for self published authors to get reviewed in newspapers and I would believe that. Therefore, if you want to get some press coverage, you need to come up with a suitable and interesting news angle. I stopped sending out press releases for a couple of months as I just didn’t have a new angle (plus I was too busy with other things). With two events coming up though, I decided to try again, secured some email addresses and spent half a day sending press releases. The best result was a 10 minute interview on morning television which gave my self published book huge kudos and credibility (I think!).  What was interesting was that the TV interview paved the way for more PR – local radio interviews in other parts of the country and two magazine features will be coming up too. Sales have increased from my own website and the wholesaler ordered more books yesterday too.

Submitting articles to appropriate newspapers can be an effective way of getting press coverage. I’m doing this now with one publication and intend to increase it. The newspaper or magazine receives free editorial content and you reach a new audience. It will not be a review of your book but as the article will be written in a similar style and theme, it should engage your target audience. Your name will be on the article as the freelance writer and there will be a reference to your book at the end.

A Bloggers Book Tour is a good idea too whereby you ask a number of bloggers to review your book. This could be five bloggers over five days in a row or perhaps one per week for five or six weeks.  I suggest that you choose bloggers you have engaged with to some extent. The reason I’m saying that is I was asked by a book promoter company if I would like to receive a novel about Ireland, I duly received it but I have yet to read it and review it. It’s not that i don’t want to, it just that I am pretty busy with a long ‘to be read’ list. Now, if I knew the author in some way, I would have made their book more of a priority. I sent my book to a blogger reviewer a while ago (after emailing for permission) and she did warn me it would take some time.  In comparison, bloggers I know to some extent reviewed it within weeks. You just can’t beat having that personal engagement which is another reason to blog and get to know other bloggers.

Suggested Read – How to get press coverage for your book

Getting your self published book into bookshops should drastically improve sales. Do let me know how you get on – I’d love to hear.

Tagged with: , ,
Posted in Self Publishing

How To Prepare For A Media Interview

How to prepare for a media interview

You have read articles advising on attaining press coverage, you have perfected your press releases, you have contacted all the relevant journalists on your media list and you have secured some print and radio coverage. Then the email comes – a television programme would like to interview you. Once you stop dancing around the kitchen, you need to prepare for this opportunity.

I attended for my first live TV interview today for a morning chat show on Ireland’s TV3 (unfortunately the link isn’t available yet to show you amongst their highlighted clips) and here’s some tips from my first live TV experience.

How To Prepare For A Media Interview

How to prepare for a media interview 1. Celebrate: I danced around the kitchen and squealed like a mad thing!

2. Maintain Contact: The researchers will have various questions for you so remember to provide them with your phone number should they need it.

3. Have Photos and Bio Ready: The researcher required high res photos of my book, of my farming family, a biography and answers to a few questions so they could prepare some graphics. This was handy as I then knew what some of the questions would be focused on.  Always have high res photos available.

4. Main Points:  I also submitted details regarding what I would like mentioned – e.g. that the book is available in all bookshops and that I will be signing books at an event next weekend.

5. Hair and make-up – I queried if I should arrive ‘made up’ or if they would prefer to do my make-up. I was told to arrive with make up and they would ‘touch up’ if necessary. I was also advised to have my hair ‘done’ which confused me as my ‘doing’ of my hair involved washing my hair daily and letting it dry naturally. It never looks that much better if done by a hairdresser so I decided to opt for my ordinary look and it was fine.

6. Time of arrival – I was told to arrive 40 minutes before my allocated slot, I arrived an hour early but stayed in the car park. It was clear that they didn’t want people waiting around for ages beforehand.

7. Appropriate Clothing- Should you dress smart or casual? Colourful or neutral? I checked the colours of the decor, it had a red sofa with orange cushions so a red or orange outfit were going to be out. I wore a black/grey/white dress with a hot pin bolero cardigan – smart yet casual. Comfortable yet helped me to feel confident as I felt it looked good.

8. Three Main Messages – Have three main messages in mind that you wish to communicate but bear in mind that the conversation will be guided by the questions the presenters decide to ask you. I only got to mention two of the three but the interview seemed to go so quickly, I didn’t mind.

9. Nerves are good – to an extent! I was nervous when I was waiting in the carpark but was fine when I went in. The butterflies turned to a little surge of adrenaline. If you think you are going to be nervous, practise answering various questions the day before and get someone to help you by giving you feedback.

How to prepare for a Media Interview

10. Settling in – It is the presenter’s job to make you feel comfortable and relaxed. It is much easier to chat if they are smiling and nodding at you. If it is a TV interview, they will look like they are hanging onto your every word. However, if it is radio, they might be looking at their notes or for something under the desk and it can be a bit unnerving as you try to keep talking but just keep at it. Don’t forget to get a photo taken with the presenters (I did, but they haven’t sent it to me yet and the interview isn’t available as a separate clip which is a shame, hence poor quality of photo!).

How to prepare for a media interview The TV programme also shared the image of my book on their facebook page to publicise the interview. It has had over 200 shares and almost 200 comments which also means that the photo is working to spread awareness as well as generate sales.

The benefits of a TV interview go much further than the actual day it is shown on television. Yes, there will be a flurry of sales but there may be more press coverage on the back of the media interview. So far, I have had an extra local radio interview and a magazine has contacted me to do a feature. A television interview definitely gives your product (and you) extra kudos.

Have you been on television as a result of your business? What long term benefits did it bring and do you have any other tips to share? If you have any further questions to ask, please ask away in the comments below and I will answer if I can.

If you would like to learn how to get more PR from your blog and other social media platforms, we have a one week online course running in June. 

 

Tagged with: , , ,
Posted in Blogs

Why Pinterest Works

pinterest-logo

Pinterest pin Pinterest has made quite a few changes recently and as other Pinteresters have explained them so well in their blog posts, I’m going to do a curated Pinterest post here, sharing some of the best explanations with you. As you will see from these links, Pinterest is becoming an increasingly influential social media tool for all types of businesses.

How to use Pinterest Guided Search

This video by Pinterest shows how guided search can be used by consumers to discover new things, have fun, be inspired, collect ideas and learn. As businesses, it is all about working out how their use of guided search can help them to find you as well as establishing how your pins and descriptions will make them feel. What experience are you giving them on Pinterest? How will they remember you?

Vincent at McNGMarketing explains how businesses can use guided search. It’s interesting to think that Pinterest may soon be used by tourists to plan an itinerary when visiting an area. There’s lots more potential for business growth too.

This post explains how guided search may mean that Pinterest is fast becoming Google’s biggest competitor particularly as it can now help people find what they are looking for especially when they aren’t sure what that is!

pinterest-logo

Reaching Your Target Audience

Sprout Social explains how you can reach various target audiences, from college goers to empty nesters and retirees, with appropriate content that they are interested in. They concentrate on financial brands in this post, showing how providing useful tips for different life situations can help them reach their audience.

This post by Profit Pinning explains how to showcase your staff and your customers to draw in more clients. It’s also relatively easy to demonstrate your family ethos and community involvement on Pinterest. People love a sense of nostalgia too so a board that celebrates the past in a visual way is sure to be a hit too.

This post shows 7 interesting ways that brands (and you) can reach your audience. What it shows is that those using Pinterest most successfully are showing how their product can fit into and improve a person’s lifestyle, even suggesting a dream lifestyle. We all know that people buy from people and the visual nature of Pinterest makes it so much easier to show the people working in the background behind your company, thereby reaching your target audience with human interest stories.

Small Business Trends shows how you can reach your local audience by using optimising your account for local search.

 

If you are still wondering if Pinterest is right for you, this post shows how it is sneaking up on twitter and facebook in terms of influence. This one explains how Pinterest is becoming essential for ecommerce success.

If you feel your pinning isn’t as effective as it might be, do enrol in our Pinterest Advanced online course where we show you how to turn browers into buyers, improve your pins, increase your repins, use the various Pinterest tools and analyse your analytics so you can build on your Pinterest strategy.

Tagged with: , ,
Posted in Blogs, Pinterest
* indicates required
Learn To Use Pinterest
Learn To Use Pinterest
Learn How To Use Pinterest
Learn How To Use Pinterest

We now teach Pinterest courses online. Click the image to see the course details and book your place.

Archives
Categories