How to Market and Sell Your Non Fiction Book

How to market and sell your non fiction book

How to market and sell your non fiction book You have written your book, you’ve had it edited, you have hired a professional to design the cover art, you are going to sell it online on Amazon and Smashwords and you are have printed a substantial number or printed a small number via a print-on-demand. You have your ISBN numbers, the blurb is written, it looks as professional as a traditionally published book – how are you going to market and sell it now?

From what I hear from many traditionally published authors, while they don’t have to worry about getting it into bookshops, most of them are having to do all of the marketing of their books. The differences between independently published and traditional published books are certainly diminishing. Whether your non fiction book is a business book or a humourous gift book, writing a book will certainly raise your profile.

Marketing Your Non Fiction Book

Press Releases

One way to market your book is to send out press releases and hope that the local, if not national, media will pick up on them. However, you have to work out how to make it topical. Just stating you have published a book is unlikely to gain coverage, your local paper may publish a story about you if they have plenty of space or if you’re well known by them.

Aim to tackle a topical news angle within the press release – either focusing on the content of the book or your own status. If stay-at-home mums becoming successful in business have been getting coverage in lifestyle magazines and you are a mum, business owner and a writer, then focus on the stay-at-home mum angle.

Another possible angle is to share some tips from your non fiction book within the press release so you are, more or less, writing the article for a journalist. For example, when trying to get press for my ‘Would You Marry A Farmer?’ this September, I included five tips on how to find eligible farmers at the Ploughing Championships! As a result, I got eight radio interviews and about four print articles. Take tips from your book and show how your target market can benefit from them.

Read, Look, Listen!

Listen to the radio, read the newspapers and set up google alerts for related topics. Then send a copy of your book or a press release to the journalist or radio presenter. Two weeks after self publishing my book, I sent a copy to  Ryan Tubridy of 2FM after hearing him discuss a related topic and received a phone call the next day with an invitation for a radio interview.

Be prepared! Have a high resolution photo of your front cover available to send to a journalist at a moment’s notice and it’s a good idea to have an ‘author photograph’ ready too.

Book Reviews in Newspapers

It’s not easy to achieve book reviews in newspapers as the publishing companies will be keeping those reviewers busy with a steady stream of material. However, sign up to the books4media email alerts and you might spot a relevant request. My book was recently reviewed in Horse and Countryside as a result of an email alert.

Book Reviews in Blogs

Ask book bloggers to review your book but ensure that you have checked out that the blog material is relevant. There’s no point asking a reviewer of mostly romantic fiction to review your self published gardening book. You should also ask bloggers writing about your topic, many may be delighted to receive a free book in exchange for an honest review.

It’s a good idea to arrange a ‘book blog tour’ whereby the bloggers all feature the book on a specific date. I organised my tour over six consecutive days as it was getting close to Christmas but it can also be a good idea to have one post a week over a number of weeks. Do ask the bloggers to link to the previous blogger and to the next blogger too. Do share each blog post on your own social media platforms and comment on the blog post too.

If you can ask the bloggers to post a slightly modified extract of their review on Amazon or Goodreads, that will help too.

Goodreads

Listing your book on goodreads may gain it some traction there. You can host a competition there for free, just for the cost of your book (not an ebook) and posting it to the winner. Catherine Ryan Howard wrote an excellent post recently on how best to run competitions on Goodreads.

Social Media

Using social media is crucial but the trick is to use it well! Do not send out ‘buy my book because it is 99c’ or even ‘buy my book’ tweets. You can send out occasional ‘call to action’ tweets but try to include a benefit of buying the book within the tweet. Remember that people buy from people and if they are impressed by your content on twitter, they will be much more inclined to follow the links to your blog posts and from there, they will see your book for sale, particularly if you have a link to it in your sidebar.

A blog is really important – not only can you write posts in a similar style to your book so you attract your target readers but your blog will also publicise your book. You never know what journalists might be reading your blog and decide to write a feature on your book! That has happened to me. Sharing relevant content with your fans on facebook will help to grow your loyal fanbase too.

Pinterest is becoming effective as a marketing tool for authors too, pin any reviews you have received, pin links to where your book can be purchased. If you had created secret boards for planning your book, consider making it public so readers can see the thought processes and inspiration behind your book too, it’s a little like letting them in behind the scenes.

 

How To Sell Your Non Fiction Book

Book Launch

Having a book launch is a good way to really kick start the sales of your book and gain some local press coverage too. I didn’t have a book launch for my first book as I’d already received a lot of pre-orders with my crowdfunding campaign (plus it was such a tight schedule, I didn’t have the time) but I managed to secure sales of 750 copies in the first three weeks due to crowdfunding, social media and press coverage (all pre-Christmas too so the gift season helped). I will be having a book launch for my second book though.

Own Website

Do sell it from your own website. Although that will involve design costs for a website, you are going to need a website in any case.

Bookshops

While you will have to prove steady sales to have your book stocked nationwide and by book wholesalers, you should be able to get your book into local bookshops. In Ireland, the two main wholesalers, Easons and Argosy, take 55% of the RRP so do take that into account when you are deciding on your pricing. If you are supplying directly to a bookshop, they will probably look for 30-40% of the RRP.

If you can show that you’ve got some press coverage, local bookshops should be open to stocking your book. If they’ve had people coming in to ask for it, they’ll be delighted to see you.

Do bear in mind that while the local bookshops may pay upon receipt of the books or at the end of every month, the wholesalers wait three months before making their first payment.

Boot of your Car

Always, always, always keep copies of your book in the boot of your car. You never know when you might get into conversation with someone who shows an interest in your book and you then have a sale.

Shows

The advantage of selling your book at shows is that you get the full RRP so it can be fairly profitable – depending on the cost of your stand and your set up costs (promotional material such as a pop up banner and bookmarks / leaflets). Another advantage is you get to talk to your buyers and your readers. You find out why people are interested in your book and more importantly, their reasons for not buying it.  What is really lovely is when people come up to you to say they’ve already bought your book and enjoyed it – it’s all the sweeter if they say that while beside someone who is wondering whether to purchase or not, it really helps the sale along!

 

Enjoy your self publishing journey – it can be a rollercoaster but with a good book, some planning, plenty of leg work, substantial sales can be achieved. As you’ll see from the tips above, you can’t start too early – so much of it is building up relationships on social media and offline while you are writing the book. Another advantage of putting in all the legwork with the first book is that you have all the contacts when you bring out the second book.

“Free

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Posted in Blogs, Self Publishing, Tips

How To Use Twitter: Twitter Conversations

How to use twitter, twitter conversations

“I just don’t get twitter.”

“I’ve been using twitter for a while and haven’t sold anything yet.”

“I send about one tweet a week but haven’t had any response.”

“It takes me ages to work out what to write in a tweet.”

How to use twitter, twitter conversations This are some of the comments I often hear at the start of social media training. Do you empathise with any of them? Have you ever felt like that? Are you wondering how to use twitter, how to have a twitter conversation, how to sell within a tweet?

The truth is that twitter is about being sociable, it’s not about direct sales.  It’s where you have conversations, where you can answer questions to show your expertise, it’s where people can find out more about topics they are interested in, perhaps going on to purchase your product or service. I’m going to share a recent twitter experience with you to demonstrate how twitter is about having chats with like minded people to build relationships and yes, often for mutual benefit.

I use my @IrishFarmerette twitter account to promote my book about farming. During the summer of 2013, I used twitter to promote my crowdfunding campaign which involved sending out many ‘call to action’ tweets. I was very conscious that I didn’t want potential pledgers to look at my tweets and see a list of ‘please pledge’ type tweets. That meant I engaged in many conversations on twitter, I wanted to be seen as chatty and friendly, as well as knowledgeable about my subject area.

A couple of weeks ago, I met another self published author on twitter. As a farmer’s wife, she bought my book. I was genuinely interested in her just-to-be-published fictional novel and purchased it, saying I would also review it on my blog in a couple of weeks. We have plans to meet for coffee to share experiences of farming, writing and self publishing and I know from experience we will learn tips from each other as well as exchanging PR contacts.

 

 

This came about because of a twitter conversation. I was busy writing a Nativity Play one day, one in which Joseph and Mary are using a Sat Nav which inadvertedly brought them to the wrong Jerusalem (the village near Carlow town) and from there they had to travel up to Crettyard (our village) to the portkey there! My tweet mentioned Crettyard and a mutual twitter contact picked up on it and tweeted us both, including a link to Karen’s recent blog post where she had judged a Strictly dancing competition organised by Crettyard GAA. Small world!

People buy from people and twitter makes your business much more personable. Don’t be afraid of it or believe that each tweet has to be perfect.  It helps you to have conversation with like-minded people, with those who are interested in similar topics or even your product. Twitter isn’t about direct selling.

Have you any stories to share about how twitter brought you in contact with like-minded people or how conversations resulted in sales?

 

 

 

 

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How To Schedule Pinterest Pins Using Tailwind

How to schedule pinterest pins with Tailwind

How to schedule pinterest pins with Tailwind Scheduling your pins on Pinterest is good for business because:

  • You should pin ‘little and often’ to maximise your exposure.
  • Scheduling offers you flexibility and can save you time.
  • If your target audience is in another time zone, scheduling is an essential tool.
  • If you schedule pinterest pins, you can experiment by pinning at various times of the day and night so you can find your ‘best day and time to pin’.
  • Pinning is addictive and it’s very easy to get carried away, pinning and repinning away with enthusiasm. Spread the love by scheduling so you’re not overwhelming your audience. Your followers might even unfollow you if they see too many of your pins in their home feed at the one time so scheduling is definitely a good idea.

Some time ago, I wrote a post showing you how to use some scheduling tools but Tailwind, one of the most useful Pinterest tools in my opinion, has eventually added a scheduling mechanism to its site and I do think it is now the best scheduling tool.

 

 

Here’s how Tailwind Scheduling Tool works:

1. Once you sign up to Tailwind using your Pinterest log in details, you can add the scheduling bookmarklet  to your toolbar, making it very easy to schedule pins when pinning from any website as well as your own site. Alternatively, you can pin using the usual Pinterest bookmarklet tool and choose the ‘schedule’ option.

How to schedule Pins with Tailwind

2. You can also schedule repins of any pins directly from Pinterest.

How to schedule pins on PInterest

When you see a pin you would like to share to one of your own boards but would prefer to repin it at a different time, click on the little ‘Tailwind’ icon on the pin, choose a board from your dropdown menu and a time and click ‘Schedule now’. It is as easy as that.

How to schedule pins on Pinterest

What is also handy is that when you are pinning from a website, you can now opt to schedule that pin then and there. No need to go into another website. Simply click the ‘schedule’ option and then choose a day and time and that’s it.

3. If you are using the Chrome browser, just as the ‘pin it’ button will show on any photo if you hover over it, the Tailwind ‘schedule’ button will also show now too, making it very easy to schedule your pins.

4. You can also schedule repins of your own pins on Tailwind. Why might you schedule a repin of your own pin, I hear you ask!  If a pin is doing well or if you would like it to do even better, it’s a good idea to share it to two or three other relevant boards too. It’s very easy to forget to do this so by scheduling a repin, you are ensuring that your pin gets more visibility amongst your own and group boards.

Schedule_a_Repin

5. You can even check your scheduled pins on Tailwind, alter the time, add to different boards and edit. You can shuffle the pins in the queue.  You can even change your mind about the scheduling and decide to pin right now, if you wish.

how_to_check_your_scheduled_pins

Some of the Tailwind packages are expensive for small businesses but it does provide excellent data on your account. It’s scheduling tool is easy and efficient to use too. If you upgrade, it will also provide you with information on your ‘best day and time to pin’ but don’t forget to put in your own timezone. I believe the package with the scheduling tool is $15 per month.

Tailwind is now offering a free trial for 100 pins at the moment- all you need to do is log in with your Pinterest details so I suggest you give it a go and then decide if it is worthwhile paying for the service, particularly in the run up to Christmas.

Do you think the scheduling tool will be useful for your business? Let me know how you get on if you try using Tailwind to schedule pinterest pins for your business.

Follow Lorna Sixsmith’s board How To Use Pinterest on Pinterest.

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Pinterest Tips & A Speaker’s Experience – Web Summit

Lorna Web Summit People's Stage

There’s been much written about the Web Summit in the last few days and yes, it was a brilliant event, being described as the ‘Ploughing Match for nerds’ (The ploughing match is the biggest agricultural 3 day festival in Ireland, attracting almost 300,000 people this year). It was even better in fact as @GoodFoodIreland were providing the food in Herbert Park and there were a number of food/farming talks too. As a dairy farmer / social media trainer, I loved seeing the merge of #websummit and #foodsummit, and of course, Paddy Cosgrave is a farmer’s son. It was my first visit to the Web Summit and I really enjoyed the relaxed and slightly chaotic atmosphere. Many of the speakers didn’t ‘present’ as such, their nuggets of wisdom were delivered in a conversation / interview with both interviewer and interviewee sitting on a variety of comfy armchairs and sofas on various stages. I was also chuffed to be there as a speaker – more on that further down!

Lorna Sixsmith Web Summit

One of my favourite talks was by Joanne Bradford on Pinterest:

Pinterest Is About Your Future

‘Pinterest is about your future’. I loved this opening line by Joanne Bradford on Tuesday. Pinterest is where you and your target audience plan things you want in the future – be it inspiration boards for decorating a new home, travel boards for a holiday destination, patterns and inspirations for arts and crafts, find book reviews to help you find new reads, new fashion trends, gifts to purchase for Christmas and much more. Of course, we also use it for enjoyment as well as education but so many of people’s boards contain pins planning their future.

For the majority of pinners, Pinterest is about inspiration and then action. Pinterest is where people find the perfect pair of shoes, the nicest hotel, the wallpaper for their hallway, the best books to read, the most impressive birthday cakes, the most inspiring ideas for transforming pallets into furniture and so much more. Once they have compiled sufficient pins in their ‘My Dream Kitchen’ board, they have plenty of ideas to help them decide on their perfect kitchen. From a business perspective, it is just a case of working out how your products can inspire your target market to take action.

There are now 70 million users with 30 billion pins in 750 million boards on Pinterest so there’s no getting away from the fact that this social media platform is a significant player.

Pinterest is now delivering up to 25% of traffic to some websites. If you have an ecommerce store, the potential is significant. All online stores should use product rich pins. By doing so, the shop’s name and logo will be displayed as well as the product description. The price is also visible and all pinners will receive an email notification if the product price is reduced, this is a really effective way to reach these pinners again. People are now using Pinterest to bookmark information too so it’s a good idea to use the article rich pins so your blog posts stand out amongst the other pins.

There are three elements to a pin’s success, to helping it gain repins and drive traffic to a website. The pin itself must be striking and attractive. The pin description should be compelling and the pin must be linked to the correct (and attractive) landing page if it is to increase your website traffic and help conversions to sales. While the majority of a pin’s repins are within a couple of days, pins are ‘evergreen’ and can re-surge in popularity again after months or years.

Shoes on Pinterest

Bradford argued that Pinterest provides a much more varied yet tailored search than Google. If you search on google for ‘shoes’, you are going to see  links to well known brands and shops. In Pinterest, you will see a wide variety of beautiful shoes and with the new ‘Interests’, you can choose to narrow your focus into subcategories, making it easier to find those perfect shoes. From a business perspective, it highlights that the pin description needs to be quite focused – ideally incorporating the relevant ‘interest’ subcategory name into the description too.

Did you know that humour is the most popular category on Pinterest? I hadn’t realised, I had presumed it was women’s fashion or home decor. According to Bradford, ‘Pinterest is as much comedy as cupcakes’ – be it funny captions, humourous images, hilarious quotes with hilarious images of animals being one of the most popular. I’ve made a note to make more use of Pinterest for my humourous guide to marrying a farmer book!

My Web Summit Speaking Experience

I wasn’t on a big stage with hundreds or thousands of people in front of me – I started small!  I was on the People’s Stage in the corner of the Enterprise Summit but there was still a buzz. Maybe it was the drama of the stage curtains beside us that added drama to the occasion, maybe it was the attractive and relaxed assortment of chairs for the audience that added character, maybe it was all the background noise, it still felt special to be speaking at the Web Summit.

Lorna Web Summit People's Stage

Delivering a rehearsed presentation is very different to being on a Q & A panel. When I spoke at the National Women’s Enterprise Day a couple of weeks ago, I knew that the butterflies would ebb a few seconds into my talk, I knew what I was going to say, I had slides to prompt me in case I forgot anything in any case. By the time the Q&A came around, I was perfectly relaxed and ‘in the zone’.

Being on a panel means that you’re not quite sure what the questions are going to be, and while you know you can adjust your points to suit the question, it still lends that element of uncertainty. However, the atmosphere at the Web Summit is really relaxed and between chatting to the other panelists and meeting friends who had come to hear me talk, I didn’t have  a chance to feel nervous in front of our small but significant audience.  The questions were all fine – based on best practice for blogging and using social media, how blogging can contribute to a business’s pillars of growth and why businesses should consider outsourcing their blogging if they don’t have the skillset inhouse.

One thing I liked about the Web Summit was its relaxed nature, everyone was friendly and happy to be there. The sun was shining so the ten minute walk between the 3 areas was a pleasurable stroll. I liked the relaxed dress code too – most male speakers wore jeans, open necked shirt and a jacket rather than a suit and the ladies were ‘smart casual’ too. It suited the atmosphere of the Web Summit. While the rest of the country seemed rather bemused that the failure of wifi at the Web Summit was getting so much attention, it was a tech conference with most attendees using twitter to take notes, share nuggets of information with their followers and have conversations with other attendees.

LornaSixsmith RTE Digital

And that’s one of the beauties of twitter – how friendships and business relationships can develop. I first ‘met’ Jojanneke van den Bosch when we were both listening to RTE Countrywide, an agricultural radio show on Saturday mornings, we were both tweeting and when Jojanneke realised that I also taught social media and as she was coming to Ireland for a holiday, she got in contact and came down to the farm for an afternoon. We met again at the Web Summit and in conversation with RTÉ Digital, they decided they’d like to interview us about our similarities – we both teach social media, we’ve both self published book unrelated to our main jobs and we’re both interested in agriculture!

Were you at the Web Summit? What was the highlight for you?

 

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Posted in Blogs, Pinterest, Tools for Conferences

Writing for the Web: How To Improve Your Blog

How To Improve Your Blog

Did you know that readers of online content only read 28% of the text (Nielsen study)? I was aware that we tend to scan, rather than read, when we read text on our computer screens or gadgets but I hadn’t realised it was such a low percentage. How do you ensure that readers of your blog engage with the most important information, that they act on calls to action, that they even read to the bottom of your blog post?

When asked to speak at the National Women’s Enterprise Day conference last week, I was provided with the topic ‘Writing for the Web’ and decided to concentrate on the anatomy of a blog post.

Do you visualise your target reader when writing your blog posts. Writing successfully for the web involves writing for your reader. First you need to identify:

  • Is your target reader male or female?
  • In what age bracket do your target readers fall?
  • Where do they live?
  • What is their disposable income? Are they on a tight budget or can they afford luxuries?
  • What is their knowledge about your industry, the products you sell, the services you offer? Do you need to explain things in simple terms?
  • What do they need from you?
  • What questions might they need answered?

Once you have answers to these questions, you should be able to visualise what a typical target reader looks like. This makes it easier to write for your target market if you visualise them when writing, you can even imagine telling them about the blog post over a cup of tea, this will add a friendlier tone to your posts.

Remembering that people scan online content and can be distracted easily, so make your content attractive and easy to absorb. Here’s how to improve the content and presentation of your blog posts.

Improve Your Blog Titles

Just as in newspapers, it’s the title and the first paragraph that helps people decide if they will reach the whole article or not and blog posts aren’t any different.

Questions

By using rhetorical questions, readers know that you will answer them, thereby providing them with the answers to questions they may not have even considered yet.

Questions for blog titles

This question by Saucepan Kids attracted my attention. As a mum, I fall into their target market. My daughter makes the most delicious bread occasionally and I was intrigued by the play of words on ‘our daily bread’.

It’s a good idea to make a note of questions that customers ask you. After all, if customers pick up the phone to ask you a question, it is likely that others will be typing the question into a search engine. Many of my most popular blog posts have been written in response to questions asked.

Twist on the Negative

Warnings as blog titles

Providing people with tips on ‘what not to do’ or how to prevent mistakes also work well in that people always want to know how to stop themselves committing errors. As you can see from the shares on this post, the title worked well.

Lists

Lists tend to work well too. If people see that the blog post promises tips or entertainment within a certain number, they know it will ‘do what it says on the tin’. Lists are usually divided by numbered subheadings or bullet points so they suggested short and focused paragraphs under each number or subheading.

Lists as blog titles

Many online newspapers are using the number 10 when creating articles now but apparently odd numbers such as 9 or 11 gain more attention. Maybe the rounded numbers suggest that the last paragraph was included just to reach the round number?

Tips / Secrets

Blog Titles with Tips

Promising your readers tips on how to attain something, such as the example here from StyleCaster with their promise on how to look taller with 14 different fashion tips, will prove popular.

Guides / Tutorials

Blog Titles as Guides

Promising readers a tutorial, guidelines or instructions promise that you will be sharing your expertise and that your readers will learn from it. Amanda also created a post recently that shows you three tools that are handy when helping you come up with good titles and testing their effectiveness.

Emotional Appeal

Appeal to their senses. As it is coming into winter and as nights draw in, our thoughts turn to log fires, armchairs, good films and books, warm jumpers and cosy Sunday afternoons. Okay, many of us will also be thinking of evening classes and exercise but nonetheless, the emotional appeal of honest to goodness comfort food, preferably wholesome and lashing with custard, is bound to attract.

Titles with Emotional Appeal

 

I loved this title by One Man’s Meat and yes, fruit crumble is on my ‘to bake’ list since. The line ‘food to heal your soul’ seems poetic, warming and comforting.

Puns, Alliteration, Assonance

puns_titles

Playing on words is a fun way to engage your audience too. This blog post by Dolly Rouge demonstrates that their target audience are in their twenties with the use of the word ‘lippies’ rather than lipsticks and the pun on Aren’t / Orange.

Storytelling

Titles that promise stories

People love stories and this blog title by Drawn to Sport suggests that there is quite a story to be told as Rachel moved from being a city slicker to a country girl. Rachel doesn’t disappoint and continues on the story to reveal how she started painting country sports, ending with a skilful call to action to view her new Etsy shop. Extremely well done for a blogger who has only been blogging a couple of months.

First Paragraphs

The first paragraph must continue to hook the reader, provide more insight as to the value of the blog post and encourage them to read on. Remember that many of your readers will only see the title and part of the first paragraph in their feedly reader so you have to hook them within that limited content. For those seeing your blog post in the search engines, they will also see the beginning of the first paragraph if it acts as your meta description.

How to hook your blog readers

This blog post by One Fab Day clearly has winter brides as its target market. By the time I got to the end of it (even though I got married in the summer many years ago), I wanted a winter wedding. I almost felt as if Naoise was confiding in me and sharing the best moments of the photoshoot, how it will inspire you to make the most of the winter season for your wedding.

How to hook readers in the first paragraph

Presentation and ‘white space’ are just as important as the content and this post by Mona of Wise Words uses white space and punctuation effectively to emphasise her disbelief of being asked to plant potatoes as a challenge, with the idea of harvesting them on Christmas Day. The full stops between ‘I.Know.’ emphasise it further. Do you want to read on to hear how the planting went? Would you like to visit the blog at Christmas to see if the challenge worked? I would.

Body of Blog Post

Readers will be turned away by a solid wall of text. No matter how long or short the blog post is, do divide it into reasonably short paragraphs using subheadings, numbers or bullet points to break up the text too. Use italics or bold to bring attention to your main points too.

Photographs

How to hook your readers

How to attract your blog readers with interesting titles, compelling first paragraphs, excellent presentation and strong calls to action.

A picture tells a thousand words and serve to emphasise the main points of your blog post. Photos work to break up the text, providing visual relief. If  your business involves selling attractive products, you should have plenty of photos to choose from. Do ensure that your beautiful images are large enough to be clearly visible, ideally the full width of your blog post.

Portrait images are best for sharing on Pinterest and Amanda’s guide gives plenty of tips for ensuring your blog photos are sized well for the various social media platforms. She also advises on sizes for uploading to the various platforms too.

Don’t forget to add a watermark or your logo to the photos too. I usually add my Write on Track logo to my text images so they can be instantly identifiable on Pinterest and other social media tools too when shared there.

Calls To Action

If your readers have read to the end of your post and either been entertained or being informed by your content, it’s time to ask your readers to do something – not just for you but to benefit them too. Examples of calls to action would include:

  • Ask them to buy your product or use your service
  • Ask them to sign up to your email newsletter (tell them what the benefits are)
  • Ask them to follow you on one or two of your social media platforms
  • Ask your readers to comment on your post and continue the conversation

Social Sharing Buttons

The social sharing buttons should be clearly visible on your blog post, encouraging your readers to share your wonderful content with their followers. Your blog post should be the hub of your social media activity, once people arrive at your blog they are in the centre of your website and can act to purchase or contact you. If more and more people share your content, you’ll really increase your web traffic.

 

I hope you enjoyed the slides and this blog post. Let me know if you agree with my analysis of the anatomy of a blog post and if you have anything else to add. I’d love if you used the social sharing buttons to share this post with your followers too. 

 

photo credit: stavos via photopin cc

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Posted in Blogging for Success, Blogs

How To Defeat Bloggers Block

How to get your blog back on track and defeat bloggers block Do you find you suffer occasionally from bloggers block? I’ve been experiencing it lately even though I have plenty of material to blog about and I know that once I commence blogging again, the fingers will tap away on the keyboard and I’ll get back into the habit reasonably easily. Although I love writing and really enjoying blogging about social media, I found that breaking the habit of twice-weekly blog posts meant I lost my momentum.

1. Not Maintaining Consistency

I generally write a blog post twice a week here but when I was busy with the blog awards (Yes, I recognise the irony in this!), my posts slipped from two posts a week to one and then to none. Even though the awards event was on 4th October, I had a number of appointments slotted in last week and it just seemed to take more energy than usual to restart the writing. Losing consistency meant that it was harder to re-start.

2. Limited Time

Writing a good blog post takes time.  Being short of time meant that I was prioritising my ghost blogging work for clients and simply hadn’t scheduled in enough time to write my own posts. Being tired after the awards, I just didn’t have the energy to write my own posts ‘after hours’.

Maintaining consistency is the easiest way to keep on track with your blogging and that means being realistic with your expectations. If you feel you will struggle with writing two posts a week, then write one but stick to it. Don’t beat yourself up about something that isn’t realistic.  Maintain the quality of your posts by giving yourself sufficient time to devote to writing a good post. Allocate yourself up to 90 minutes on a particular morning of the week to write your blog posts. After all, if you finish early, you can reward yourself with the treat of going for a walk or reading. Pushing your blogging to be fitted in at the end of the day means that it turns into a chore.

3. Advance Planning

I underestimated how busy I was going to be – organising an event, organising judging, publishing posts about the blog awards sponsors, client work, training, putting a proposal together, taking a stand at a 3 day event with my book and achieving significant press coverage meant that all those interviews ate into my time too, it all added up for a hectic month. I knew it was going to be busy but I should have planned in advance and written some posts to schedule. Alternatively, I should have arranged for some interview posts or some guest posts. Although these take time, they can be effective in time saving.

Planning content is important too so it’s a good idea to brainstorm some topics for your blog. If you are struggling with getting back into blogging after a break, choose your favourite or the easiest topic to increase your motivation.

4. Not Using A Content Planning Tool

I was using Co Schedule for a while to ensure I stayed on track regarding my planned theme for each month. However, once I realised I wasn’t sticking to my schedule, I reverted to writing my ideas for posts in my trusted notebook. I had plenty of topics in mind so lack of material wasn’t an issue. However, if I had maintained my use of Co Schedule, it may have kept me on track.

I recently explained how to use Co Schedule to help you stay on track with your blogging and also for sharing your posts to social media platforms such as Pinterest. Amanda posted a video tutorial yesterday too. Using a content planning tool with a realistic timetable really aids successful blogging.

5. Ignoring Traffic

Even though I was still getting enquiries about training and ghost blogging, I wasn’t paying attention to my google analytics reports. When I did look, the results weren’t good. My traffic had decreased by 20% over the last month. This just proves that regular blogging really helps with traffic. I’m sure if my blogger’s block continued, it would have an effect on enquiries too.

Stay motivated by keeping an eye on your website and blog traffic. Give yourself a pat on the back when you see increases in traffic and when you know that sales and conversions happen as a result of your blog. This will motivate you to maintain your consistency.

6. Not Celebrating The Achievements

Writing a good blog is hard work and you should reward yourself by celebrating your achievements. Many Irish bloggers celebrated their achievement of getting into the finals of the blog awards by attending the event on 4th October. I had been too busy to celebrate the fact that my blog was generating more paid work but it’s important to stop and give yourself a clap on the back – even if it is just an extra cup of tea and an extra big slice of cake on a Friday afternoon!

It can happen that we are too busy to celebrate the achievements or sometimes we just aren’t kind enough to ourselves, that we drive ourselves too hard. Take time to stop and smell the coffee as well as rewarding yourself.

I’m back in the saddle now and yes, I enjoyed writing this post. The next two weeks will be busy so I’m going to be realistic with my schedule and I plan to write one post a week, then I should get back to my norm of two posts a week!

What do you sometimes struggle with when keeping up with your own blog? I’d love to hear.

If you are a businesswoman in Ireland, do come along to the National Women’s Enterprise Day conference in Galway on 22nd and 23rd October – I’ll be presenting on Blogging and Writing for the Web on Wednesday afternoon.

Posted in Blogging for Success, Blogs

How To Improve Your Blog – Navigation

How To Improve Your Blog - 6 Navigation Tips Bloggers sometimes tend to overlook the navigation of their blog when it comes to assessing how easy it is for your visitors to find their way around your blog but it’s hugely important.  We’ve all been in situations where we have been standing in a shop and we don’t know where to find the product we want. What do we do? We ask a sales assistant or we leave.  When people visit your website, they are likely to leave if they can’t find what they want. It’s up to you to ensure that the navigation makes it easy for them to contact you or purchase from your website.

What are the important aspects of a blog’s navigation?

1. About Us page

It may sound obvious but visitors to your blog are more than likely going to want to find out more information about you if they enjoy your blog or have found it useful. If they are considering doing business with you, then they are definitely going to want to know more information such as your location, your background, your pricing, services and products. They will also want to get a sense of who YOU are, if they feel they might like to do business with you so a friendly approach with a nice photograph of you (plus the team if relevant) are important.

Herbi_Carni

I really like the Herbi & Carni About Us page – it tells of how two people with very different diets can eat from the same menus – simply by adding or taking away ingredients or altering the recipe in some way. It’s no mean feat for a herbivore with severe allergies and a carnivore but Tony and Marion smile their way through it and now share that learning experience with other families.

2. Contact Us

Again, this may seem another obvious one but while organising the Blog Awards, it has become apparent that many bloggers make their contact details very difficult to find, with some even withholding that information completely. If you have a business, you must be easy to contact. Apart from potential customers, imagine if a popular blogger or a journalist from a widely read publication wants to interview you.  Ensure that your contact information is either available in a designated page listed on the navigation bar or visible on the sidebar. Some businesses limit their contact details to a contact form, I’d recommend adding your email address, postal address and telephone number.

3. Layout of Posts

Make it easy for new visitors to your website to see the selection of topics and content in your blog with a snapshot of your most recent blog posts. All they need to see are the title, thumbnail photo and part of the first paragraph in order to entice them to delve in and start reading their favourite from those available.

saucepan_kids

The Saucepan Kids blog is a nice example – lovely photographs and a brief excerpt to draw you in.

4. Easily Accessible Archives

Visitors to your website may have particular questions they are asking when they arrive at your blog post. They might find that the blog post they are reading doesn’t quite answer their questions but they are interested in finding out more about your product or service or they need more information. Make it easy for them to find related material by adding a Related Posts plugin to your blog posts – see how this post has suggestions for related material at the end.

It’s also a good idea to have your archives of posts available – usually in the sidebar of the blog.  Having a search box is also important. I like the way One Fab Day invites readers to search amongst their archives using the search box.

One_Fab_Day

 

5.  Categorize

Categories are crucial to the organisation of a blog. Remember that readers will differ in their needs and requirements, they won’t want to wade through all of your posts. Make it easier for them to find the material they want by having your categories listed in the sidebar or elsewhere as in this example on the Teddy & Alex blog where the archives are located in the sidebar.

teddy_and_alex

Gobblefunked have their blog posts listed under various categories on the home page which makes it so much easier for parents and children to find material in the relevant sections.

How to categorise your blog posts

Categorising your posts also improves the SEO of your blog and ensures that relevant content is rewarded with higher rankings on the search engines.

6. Call to Action

If a reader has read an entire blog post, it is likely that they like your content and want to read more or they wish to book your service or buy the product you blogged about. As mentioned above, the Related Posts plug in will help them to find related material. A call to action at the end of the blog post with a link to the relevant page will make it easy for them to find that product. See how the end of this blog post on One Fab Day provides stockist details for various wedding accessories and providers featured in the post.

One_Fab_Day_stockists Many business bloggers will include a call to action for a comment, to like their facebook page, sign up to their email newsletter or purchase their product, somewhat like I have done below with a link across to our online courses.

The best way to assess the navigation of your blog is to give a friend a list of things to find on your blog and watch them navigate it. Are they finding it easy or difficult? Have you any other tips to share with regard to improving the navigation of your blog? 

Our online blogging courses over at We Teach Social start with a beginners blogging course on 15th September,a business blogging course starting on 27th October and  a 2 week course focusing on getting more blog readers on 24th November. 

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Posted in Blogging for Success, Blogs, How to Blog

10 Tips For Writers On Using Twitter Effectively

10 Tips How Writers Should Use Twitter

10 Tips How Writers Should Use Twitter I’m a huge fan of twitter for so many reasons. The main reason is I see it as being extremely effective in terms of sales and for today’s post, I am going to concentrate on how authors can use twitter well to drive sales for their books.  I found twitter to be the most effective social media tool for my crowdfunding campaign and I’ve found it to be influential in selling my book too. However, using twitter to raise the profile of your books comes with a word of caution as an inappropriate use of it can turn potential readers away and they may even unfollow you or worse still, decide that they will never read your book! This post by Tara Sparling (and the comments) reveal twitter to be a good friend to authors but a cruel enemy if used inappropriately.

1. Don’t Self Promote

Many authors send self promotional tweets almost demanding that their twitter followers buy their books without giving them a good reason to do so. e.g. ‘Buy my book [insert title] today for just 99c’ or even worse, they may give their book away for free for a review. Do I want to buy a book from someone who ‘buys’ reviews. No, I do not. Remember that potential followers may look at your most recent tweets and a list of tweets all saying ‘buy me’ will turn them away. Yes, you can let your followers know if your book is available at a good price on kindle or in the shops but mix those tweets with chatty updates and with tweets showing the quality of your book.

2. Tweet in the Style of your Book

140 characters is usually too short to include an excerpt from the book within a tweet. However, if you tweet in the written style of your book or include updates on the subject matter, your target audience should find your tweets interesting.  Charles Stross tweets links to his blog posts, is chatty, includes some political type tweets (similar style to his books) but is also amusing in recounting normal life.

Charles_Stross

3. Reply to Readers

Always reply to those who say they have read, enjoyed, reviewed or purchased your book. People will tweet you to tell you if they have purchased it, if they are part way through reading it, and will often tell you what they thought when they finished. Always take the time to thank them for purchasing and that you hope they enjoy it or that you look forward to hearing what they think.

louise_phillips_001

If they have reviewed it (and you are happy with the review), you can link to their review with a tweet something like ‘Many thanks to XXX for reviewing my book on her blog’. If your readers have taken the time to tweet you, do take the time to respond. I always favourite and sometimes retweet their tweet of praise too just as Louise Phillips has done here.

4. Google Alerts

Set up a google alert for your name and the title of your book – then you will never miss a mention for your book as it will send you the alerts by email. Sending a tweet can be the handiest and quickest way to acknowledge it.

5. Create Content

This may seem obvious but you need to tweet on a regular basis. I just did a search for a very popular author as her book is on my list to read next. She has almost 3,000 followers but has never tweeted! Being engaging and chatty will encourage readers to talk about your books, to share their perceptions of your books and increase the ‘word of mouth’ brand awareness.

6. Background Information

It’s surprising how many people don’t complete their biography properly – you need to include that you are an author and preferably the name of your latest book. Provide a link to your website or to where the book can be purchased. The bio needs to be written in your own style so don’t be afraid to add personality.  Having the cover of your book as your header photo or the background to your twitter account serves as a non pushy reminder to readers too. Colm O’Regan, author of the Irish Mammy books, tweets in the style of the books and has the front covers of both books as the header image.

Irish_mammies

7. Share Progress

Share the progress of your next book but be careful about giving too much away. I’m not sure that readers would be impressed if they buy the book and find that they have already read quite a bit of it on twitter! However, you can keep readers informed and help them feel part of the journey by letting them know how it is going. I like this tweet by Hazel Gaynor who proves that writers are perhaps as susceptible to procrastination and nerves as everyone else.

Hazel_gaynor Let people know if you are going to be in the press by sharing behind the scenes news. Maria Duffy will be featured in the Sunday Times this weekend and shares photos and updates of their new pup being photographed in her first photo shoot! Apart from wanting to read the interview with Maria, I want to see the photos of the pup too!

Maria_Duffy

8. Interesting Content for your Readers

Provide content that your readers will enjoy by searching for relevant newspaper articles, tweets, photos, blog posts – whatever is relevant to your genre and you think your readers will enjoy it. People follow you for your interesting content so try to provide it.

9. Find Relevant Tweeters To Follow

You can find people who are interested in your topic area by using Advanced Search. It can return results based on the terms used in their biography or in their tweets. Do not spam them with ‘buy me’ tweets but follow them, look at their tweets, respond to a tweet if it is relevant and a ‘conversation starter’.  You can identify people of influence by using a tool like followerwonk too.

Don’t forget to create lists to categorize those you follow, for example, you might like to put writers into a ‘Writers’ list so it is easy to check their tweets on a regular basis and it means it is easier to help them promote their work and engage with them too.

10. Use Hashtags

Join in with writing conversations by using relevant hashtags and engage with other writers. Examples include #amwriting, #amreading, #writingtip, #askagent, #MustRead and of course, there are hashtags for each genre too e..g #nonfiction. There’s an emphasis on reading more female writers this year and the hashtag #readwomen2014 is being used to promote it.

Some writers create their own hashtags for their books too. Jo Baker had the hashtag #longbourn printed on the back cover of her book which meant it was easy for readers to provide feedback and even discuss the book with each other. I would recommend responding to some of these tweets – the hashtag provides a wonderful way to receive feedback and engage in conversation.

Have you any other tips to add regarding an effective use of twitter for writers and authors?

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Posted in Blogs, Self Publishing, Social Media Platforms, Tips, Twitter, Writing

Why (and How) Writers Should Use Pinterest

How and Why Writers Should Use Pinterest Pinterest tends to be one of the last social media tools that authors use for their writing purposes. Many writers may be using Pinterest to store pretty pictures and dare I say it, even to procrastinate! Pinterest is much more than just a place to find and categorize inspiration photos for your kids birthday parties or your home. It can be a good inspiration tool for your books, an excellent promotion tool and of course, a good selling tool.

#1. To Sell Your Book

Pinterest is a visual tool, used mostly to catalogue pictures into different ‘mood’ or inspiration boards. The beauty for those selling online is that every pin (picture) carries a link to its source so if you have pinned the front cover of your book from where it can be purchased online, it will always carry that link, no matter how many times others might repin (share) it. That means that people all over the world can click that link and purchase your book. However, Pinterest works best when you use it with your target market’s wants in mind – what might they like to see on your account besides pictures of your front cover? How can you add value to their Pinterest experience? How can you become someone that they want to follow?  Do read on.

Derelict_barn #2. Gain Inspiration

You could use Pinterest to find inspiration for your novel. Find pictures of people that resemble your characters and pin them to a secret board so that you are the only person who can view them. This can help you in describing the character’s appearance and make them ‘come to life’ for you. The same goes for settings for the book. Imagine writing a description of a derelict barn on a stormy night – you’ll find plenty of images on Pinterest to inspire you.

#3. Show Potential Readers Some Sneak Peeks

When your book is published, you could show your fans and readers these pins, either by making the secret group a public board or by repinning those pins into another board. Enthusiastic readers of your novel would love to see more insight into the work behind the book.

Abby Green, an Irish author of romantic fiction, has numerous inspiration boards on her Pinterest account. Lisa Wingate uses Pinterest to inform readers about the historical background to her fiction as well as showing them artefacts and dresses that would have been worn by people during that time period.

#4. Reading Groups

Encourage reading by sharing your recommended reads, those books you enjoy reading. It is likely that those who like your taste in reading will also enjoy your books. Remember that when pinners repin a pin, a pop up box encourages them to follow another board that same pin has been pinned to – the more you pin and repin, the more chance you have of growing more followers – particularly by this method.

Why authors should use Pinterest

Therefore, pin and repin books in the same genre as your own book – and books you genuinely enjoy reading. Even better, you could link to your book reviews on your own website, thereby encouraging people to click the links to read the review and arrive on your site where they can also see your books for sale.

#5. Connect With Readers

Remember to consider how readers will use Pinterest too – they will comment under the cover image of your book when they are pinning or repinning. If you find glowing tributes and recommendations, you can follow them, comment under the pin and thank them, and generally engage – encouraging them to follow you back (if they aren’t following you already). See how this pinner recommends this book to other readers of historical fiction:

how authors should use Pinterest

You can find out who has pinned from your website by typing in http://www.pinterest.com/source/yourdomainname.com to the address bar, inserting your own website address. You could also do a search for the title of your book and see what comes up.

#6. Create Relevant Content for your Target Market

What are your target market interested in? If you write parenting books and your potential readers are going to be interested in finding tips on educating children, storage tips for children’s toys, recipes for suitable weaning foods, educational toys etc, then create boards to interest them (as well as you). Find quality content online (as well as your own books) and pin to these boards. You will then become seen as a person to follow for excellent content as well as your words of wisdom in print.

Laura Frantz, an author of Historical Fiction, has numerous boards to interest those who like history – historical houses, art, letters, lace, antique silver, Russian history, antique dolls houses, American Revolution, 18th century dress, Early American life – a treasure trove of interesting pins for history lovers.

Don’t forget to create content for all book lovers too – boards for interesting bookcases, book storage, libraries, quotes about books, plays – anything you can think of really.

#7. Become Part of a Writing Community

You can get to know other writers, learn from them, share stories, ask advice, share successes and become part of a writing community on Pinterest as easily as on Linked In or Facebook. You could even become a ‘leader’ by starting up a contributor board for other writers and inviting others to join.

See our post ‘All you need to know about shared boards’ for more tips. Always remember to pin quality content and to be extremely active within the board when you are its creator if it is is to work well. For example, this community board for writers includes inspiring quotes for writers, stories of the writing process from established authors.

I hope you found this post useful. If you would like to learn how to use Pinterest more effectively, do check out our online Pinterest courses at Beginners and Advanced levels

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Posted in Pinterest, Self Publishing, Writing

Why (and how) Writers Should Blog

why and how writers should blog The easiest part of blogging for writers should be the actual writing shouldn’t it? Yet it can be difficult for authors to work out what to write and whether to write in the same style as their ‘normal writing’ or not. Blogging has similar advantages for writers to what it has for all business people:

  • It builds brand awareness of one’s books
  • Drives traffic to website where people can read about your books / purchase them / click the call to action that brings them to Amazon, ie increase sales
  • Get to know other writing bloggers
  • Build relationships e.g. ask book review bloggers to review your book during a blog book tour
  • Show the person behind the business / books  - remember people buy from people. People are more inclined to purchase your book when they feel they ‘know’ you.

Another advantage is that you can test writing ideas on your target audience via your blog, you can use your blog to hone your writing skills and writing a blog post can be a handy way to get the fingers tapping before you settle into writing your book each day.

What Do Writers Blog About?

Here’s some of my favourite author blogs to give you some ideas:

Show The Person Behind The Book

How authors blog

MT Maguire blogs regularly – about her life, about occasional scatterbrained moments (the one advantage of being a writer is that is is not only permitted to be scatterbrained but positively encourages – well, that’s my excuse too), about metal detecting, about her self publishing, about the writing process and showing sneak peeks of the front covers of her fabulous sci-fi books too.  Although I’ve never met her, I know we’d chat for ages if we did get to meet. Notice the facebook like box in the sidebar too – all about encouraging readers to stay in contact with events.

Talk Directly To Readers

Pat Fitzpatrick provides regular updates on his book sales on his blog, explaining various things he has tried to improve sales of his self published book. What I particularly enjoy is the fact that Pat is very open regarding what the book cost him to produce (not counting the time he spent writing it) and how much revenue it has achieved.  He also shares his thoughts regarding the effectiveness of his blog, twitter, KDP Select and more.  As I also self published my book, I provide occasional updates re the journey and progress of getting a self published book into bookshops and how sales are going.

Share Sneak Peeks

Imen McDonnell is busy putting the finishing touches to her memoir/cookery book and occasionally includes photos from the book in her blog posts, or an occasional recipe to whet our appetites as well as updates on the progress.

Imen_McDonnell

I don’t know if this exact photo which includes the dog will be be featured in the book but it adds humour and a cute element too not to mention the fact that those cakes look pretty tempting in the background.

Share the Success

It’s a good idea to share the successes with your blog readers too. That helps them to feel part of the journey and share in your excitement. Louise Phillips is launching her third book within the next couple of weeks and has just posted a screenshot of a featured article in a publication.

Louise_Phillips_blog

If you do well, share the joy. It can be a good idea to have a ‘press’ page too where people can see the press coverage you have achieved.

Insight Into Your Style

Most authors will write their blog posts in a similar style as their books.  Others will break into that style at times yet still letting people see the real person behind the blog and books.

Tara Sparling includes great variety on her blog – musings on the vagaries of writing, wondering why so many writers are penniless and writing in freezing garrets, how to come up with a good title for your book, what makes people buy self published books not to mention the effect of an arts festival on one’s inspiration and concentration – she has only been blogging for a year and seems to have amassed a good following to date not to mention the fact that I know I will find any of her books absolutely hilarious and will snap them up at once.

Featuring Authors

Carmel Harrington has a regular slot on her blog where she features other authors asking them a variety of questions in a very chatty and humourous style. You just don’t know what the next question will be or where it will lead. Not only does that build relationships with other authors, it’s fun to see who she has next on her couch.

Many writers review other books too. After all, most writers read lots so it makes sense to review those you enjoy. Reviwing books can be another way of building relationships with authors although you may have to be careful about what you say! I review a book every Sunday and write honest reviews. However, if I didn’t particularly enjoy a book, I don’t write a review. I only review those I enjoy. 

Many of the authors featured here use a variety of the techniques described, I hope these give you some ideas for your own blog and if you’re not blogging already, that it will inspire you to start. Remember too that publishers will use your blog to determine the extent of your following and the quality of your writing so there’s many advantages to having a good blog. Have you any tips or examples to share that I have omitted?

“Free

 

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Posted in Blogs, For Beginners, How to Blog, Self Publishing, Writing
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