How To Influence Your Target Market Using Facebook

How to influence your target market using Facebook

How to influence your target market using Facebook Do your social media platforms influence your target market? Do they have the intended influence that you want? Are they delivering what your fans and followers expect from you?

Or are you sending mixed messages? Are your target customers confused which can translate into lack of trust and confidence?

I attended an ‘Influence Mastery’ conference by Owen Fitzpatrick last week. There was lots of content on motivating people, negotiating successfully, telling stories and more. One point that Margaret Considine made during the negotiation training was that in preparing for the meeting, consider how you want them to feel during and after the negotiation. That includes do you want them to like you, do you want them to feel confident, do you want them to feel in control, do you want them to feel they got a good deal from the negotiation (as you walk away happy too)?

The emphasis on ‘how you want them to feel’ comes into all our business communication. We want our target customers to feel happy and confident using our products or services, we want to show them what their lives will be like in the future if they use our products / services and we want them to like us. Liking us is particularly important as people do more business with those they like and they will believe you if they trust you too.

How To Influence Your Target Market Using Facebook

I’m going to use Facebook as an example as it’s been getting some bad press lately with some businesses dissatisfied with their reduced reach. The thing is – if you can provide content that people expect from you, they will engage.

First of all, you have to work out how you want them to feel when they see updates from you or visit your Facebook page. Do you want them to feel inspired, motivated, informed, educated, amused, sad or entertained? You need to decide on that and then work out if your updates fit with that mood creation.

Creating Nostalgia

Felicity Hayes-McCoy frequently uses a quote from her book, a link to where it can be purchased and a beautiful photograph from Dingle (where her book is set) as updates on her Facebook page and it works a treat.

How to use facebook to influence your fans

They always get good engagement, demonstrating that her fans want to enjoy the feelings of nostalgia, of retreating to a place of peace from the rush of city life as well as admiring the scenery. These are exactly the feelings that are invoked in readers of her book The House on an Irish Hillside too so she is targeting her readers perfectly.

Always Creative & Helpful

I like the way Glenisk Organic shows us what is going on behind the scenes, such as their team members training for the Mini Marathan and support Marie Keating Foundation but I particularly like how they share different ideas for using their products. Not only do they share their own ideas, they share ideas sent in by users too – whether published on their blogs or emailed to them.

How to inform your fans of new products

Fans of Glenisk know that the Facebook page will provide friendly information on how best to use their products. They are currently launching a new product and are using social media to answer queries and raise awareness too.

Humour within Realism

I am far from being a comedian but my farming books contain tongue-in-cheek humour, yes, there is a sense of realism but it’s very much with a glass half full approach along with a pinch of salt. Therefore, the majority of my Facebook updates for my Irish Farmerette page are in a similar spirit – showing the reality of being a woman in farming with some humour. My followers have grown to expect that and react appropriately.

How to use humour on facebook

The idea of wearing bright pink wellies on the farm got a good response – from women who either loved them or were amused at the idea. My average reach per update is usually about 400 (the page has 900 fans) and as you can see, this one reached 1700.

Inspiring

Magnumlady, a personal photography blogger, takes beautiful landscape photographs. I just know when I see her updates that I am going to be awestruck by the beauty and majesty of the landscape in her photos, whether of ruined houses, barren fields or cityscapes are featured.

How to influence your target market using Facebook

It is the multiplicity of beautiful photographs that serve to showcase her skill and talent. Not only am I impressed by her photography but it compels me to want to visit Sligo all the more too.

Knowledgeable

Amanda at Spiderworking provides key information on social media, particularly on handy social media tools. Not only does this show her expertise and personality but her followers have confidence in her knowledge and her training abilities.

How to help others have confidence in your expertise

How do you want your followers to feel when they see your updates, visit your page or follow you on other platforms? Are you providing the right kind of content / message to influence those feelings? I’d love to hear what you think.

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Is Your Business Ready For 2020?

Tayto_Park_reviews

Where will your business be in 2020? Have you plans for expansion, more staff, greater turnover, more sales? I have to admit that while I create plans for the year ahead, I’m not so good at setting goals for five years time yet the year 2020 isn’t far away.

Carlow LEO are having a Women in Business event on 27th May focusing on preparing your business for 2020 and it made me think. As I’m reasonably social media savvy, I don’t have that aspect of the business to worry about. When I started up my first business in 2008, I started blogging straight away and while not exactly an early adopter of Twitter and Facebook, I was using both early in 2009. I started using Pinterest relatively early so found that easy and as for Instagram, I was using it for personal reasons for some time and am now going to use it for business use too.

However, as this article points out, many Irish SMEs are in danger of falling behind – not just in terms of growing sales via their website but even engaging with customers via social media. Here’s some statistics:

While 63% of Irish SMEs have a website
- 91% cannot process sales online
- 62% cannot (in the first instance) take sales orders online;
- 68% cannot process payments online
-  51% don’t have the ability to interact directly with customers through social media or web chat;
-  54% don’t have responsive website designs for tablet or smartphone;
-  66% don’t have video content on their website;
- 4% have the capacity to run analytics on their website performance.

I fully appreciate that not every business necessarily wants to take bookings online or sell online, for example, hairdressers may prefer to take calls and slot different requirements in together but is it something that they (and other businesses) should be thinking of? Will people expect the option to purchase everything online soon, to make bookings online, to get their queries answered? It’s certainly worth thinking about. Customers are already moving to communicating with businesses by twitter and their facebook pages, partly because they know they will get a reply within minutes if not hours and it saves them having to telephone. Would you believe that 42% of customers expect a reply within 60 minutes (and they don’t necessarily take differences in time zones into account either).

 

 

Large businesses have staff manning the twitter account almost continuously – providing customer service, answering queries and dealing with complaints as well as thank yous. If you are a small business, customers won’t expect immediate replies but they will expect a response within 24 hours at most. If 51% of Irish businesses can’t communicate with customers online, that’s 51% of businesses missing out on valuable engagement opportunities.

People buy from people and being personable and chatty on Twitter is so much more engaging than being salesy. I’ve purchased many books written by authors (self published and traditionally published) I follow on Twitter, not because they have posted ‘buy my book’ tweets but the opposite – they post the occasional tweet about their book so I know where to buy it but other tweets are chatty, friendly, informative. Even if I’m not a keen reader of a particular genre, I’m often keen to give it a go because I like the author.

Facebook isn’t just about selling either. Followers who are potential customers will engage via comments, likes and shares, and yes, if they like your brand personality, they are likely to purchase. Your Facebook page is also a great way to get testimonials as well as receiving feedback on your business. Tayto Park has over 3,000 reviews on Facebook alone.

Tayto_Park_reviews

With the growing popularity of Pinterest, where each pin links to the website page it was pinned from, businesses are missing out if they are not selling their products online. Two years ago, I made the decision to grow my business by offering eLearning courses whereby they could be booked online, delivered online (by email) and thereby my target audience grew from just being in the SE of Ireland to worldwide. As a result, Pinterest is a key social media platform for generating traffic and sales for my business now.

Bold New Frontiers large The number of people embracing social media is growing daily with Instagram users now surpassing the number of people on twitter. Customers expect businesses to have websites, they  expect to communicate with them on social media, they expect to be able to purchase or book services via the websites. We’re only in 2015. This week saw mobilegeddon whereby Google will be penalising any websites that aren’t responsive to mobile – many changes are afoot. It will be interesting to see what changes come about by 2020. How will you prepare for business growth for the next decade?

If you’re near Carlow and are a Woman in Business, do come along to the Bold New Frontiers event on 27th May – it should get us all thinking about the future and the possibilities.

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Ten Pinterest Board Ideas for Writers

10 Pinterest Board Suggestions for Authors  Writers

10 Pinterest Board Suggestions for Authors  Writers You can promote your book from day one of writing  by using Pinterest. The beauty of Pinterest is not only will your fan base wish to follow you but it is an effective way to reach potential readers who are interested in your genre – you just have to work out the best way to do that and I’m going to give your some tips in this post. As you probably know, your pins can be shared (repinned) by others on Pinterest and no matter how many times they are shared, they will still contain the link to where the book can be purchased or your website.

Pinterest is about sharing the love, it is about sharing enthusiasm and knowledge of particular projects, it is not about hard sales. People are using Pinterest as a search engine, for example, to find recommendations for good reads. They are using it to share their own reading experiences and recommendations. They use Pinterest to create lists, for example, their favourite reads of the year or books they want to read. People will collate their favourite book covers, their own book reviews, their writerly gifts, their favourite quotes or even the best first lines from books.

As an author, what boards should you set up in order to promote your book but also engage with your target readers?

Ten Pinterest Board Ideas For Authors

1. Information About The Genre

Create a board designed to be filled with pins related to your genre. For example, if you write historical fiction set in the 18th century, creating boards focusing on fashion, historical details, wars, feminism, writing, art, interesting facts and more from the 18th century will help you to gain those interested in this era as followers.

How Writers can use Pinterest

Laura Frantz has numerous boards focusing on historical fashion, perfect as her novels are historical romance. In a similar vein, if you book includes details of steampunk, sharing images of steampunk fashion and inventions will help attract that audience.

2. Book Related Boards

Create boards to cater for your own interests in anything book related bearing in mind that they will also appeal to all readers. Boards devoted to writing seats, reading nooks, bookshelves, fabulous libraries, book art, gifts for writers, gifts for readers, they will all prove popular and gain you followers amongst avid readers.

How authors should use Pinterest

I like these examples by Writers’ Relief.

3. Book Reviews / Recommended Reading

The obvious board is devoting one to book reviews. You could create a board devoted to links to book reviews that your books have received but why not create one for book reviews you enjoy reading or indeed, some that you write on your own blog too. People enjoy reading blog reviews and will bookmark them on their own boards if they see a book they might enjoy.

Ideas for Pinterest boards for writers

The TBR Pile reviews indie books frequently and it’s a good one to follow. I like it because it helps me to find self published books I might not come across otherwise. If you can encourage readers to take photos of your book in different (and wellknown) locations and send them to you, that would be a fun board too.

4. Quotes

People love quotes, particularly if the pin has an inspiring image under the text. Creating a board which focuses on inspiring quotes for writers or quotes focusing on the theme of your work (e.g. travel quotes for travel writers) or even create pins quoting lines from your book.

Book_Quotes

Visit the Book Quotes board by Ned Hayes at your peril – you might find yourself lost for hours, in a nice way of course!

5. Merchandise

If you sell merchandise related to your books, do use Pinterest to promote it. If the quality of the images are good, they should do well on a dedicated board. Remember to pin those images to your ‘Gifts for xxx’ board too!

6. Your Country

Celebrate your heritage with a board dedicated to your country. It can happen that readers will read books by an author because of their nationality as they are interested in writing from that country. I have a couple of ‘Ireland’ boards as I enjoy sharing pins celebrating our humour and our beauty but they also reinforce part of my identity too.

7. Favourite Authors

Devote a board to your favourite authors particularly if they write a similar genre to you. You could pin interviews with these authors, reviews of their books, images of adaptations and actors, quotes from the books – anything that fans of those authors would enjoy and could lead them to investigate your new book.

8.  XXX in the Media

You often need to prove your worth in this industry – to publishers and to readers. In my experience, what tends to give kudos are the interviews on national radio stations and on television. Include pins of each piece of press you get – from reviews in the local press to photos of yourself being interviewed on radio (with the presenter).

Lorna_Sixsmith_in_the_Media_board

I set one up a while ago. I also include articles that I’ve had published. Not only will it impress and serve as a pictorial curriculum vitae but it will also help you to feel good about your own achievements when you are adding to it.

 

9. Day in the Life of an Author

Share your life with your readers. If you read interviews with authors, they often always include a question on their writing routine, where they write, what they need to do to get the muse going, if they write best at 6am or midnight …. the answer provide an insight into the life of an author and people are fascinated by it. Share that information with your readers by including photographs of your writing desk, your ‘to be read’ reading pile, your scribbles over a printed draft, where you take exercise and much more.

Day_in_life_of_an_author

See this good example by Joanna Penn - I bet you could add lots more to your own board though. Think of it as a pictorial ‘About Me’ board with a focus on the interesting and the inspirational!

10. Inspiration Boards

Don’t forget your inspiration boards for your books. While you are writing the book, you might like to keep these private as secret boards or you may like to make them public with the aim of intriguing your fans. I think it is a good idea to keep it secret and then you can unveil the board by making it public around your launch day. Readers will be vying to see what inspired a particular storyline or a character.

How writers use Pinterest

See Carmel Harrington’s inspiration board for The Life You Left as an example.

Remember, the secret with Pinterest is to use good quality images and well optimised descriptions ensuring that each pin links to its proper source (ie a book review pin links to the review itself) but also to pin little and often. Pinning lots increases the chances of being repinned and that increases the likelihood of new followers. 

Have you used Pinterest to promote your writing? What has worked best for you so far?

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Understanding Pinterest Analytics: Finding Your Best Boards and Your Key Influencers

Understanding Pinterest Analytics Finding your best boards and your key influencers

Understanding Pinterest Analytics Finding your best boards and your key influencers Your Pinterest Analytics can provide you with a mine of information and this tip will show you how to identify your top performing boards, the top performing boards by others that your pins have been pinned to and those group boards you might want to consider leaving.

Have you accepted invitations to group boards and you’re not sure if they are providing results for you? They are showing up on your profile, you have pinned to them but they are either not that active or they’re not delivering with clicks, impressions or repins? Your analytics will help you identify the good, the bad and the ugly.

Are you wondering if you are following key influencers in your field? Those people who have pinned or repinned your pins and have boards that are performing really well? Pinterest analytics will identify them for you.

Here’s how to find Top Performing and Under Performing Boards:

1. Go to your Pinterest analytics by clicking on your name in the top right hand corner and you’ll find analytics in the drop down menu from the cog. If it isn’t there, you’ll need to convert your account to a business account and verify your website first.

2. When you visit your profile page, scroll down to see the ‘boards’. Decide what determines success for you – is it the number of impressions, likes, repins or click throughs to the website? I’m deciding on click throughs.

Interestingly, my board ‘Social Media 2014′ has had a reasonable number of click throughs but no repins or likes which makes me wonder if it’s accurate but it is a good indicator. I’m pleased to see my own board at the top followed by a popular group board.

How to find highest  performing boards

3. Read down through the list, ticking off the group boards that are performing well for you and do the same with your own boards too – there may be some that you created that just aren’t cutting the mustard.

4. Complete your spring cleaning by deleting any individual boards that aren’t providing results.  It can happen that you create a board impulsively and forget about it. It’s time to delete it now rather than having it cluttering your profile You can do this by clicking on the board title, click on ‘edit board’ on the top right, then click ‘delete board’ within the pop up box.

5. You can also remove yourself from any underperforming group boards by clicking on the board title, clicking ‘edit board’ on the top right. A box will pop up with the word ‘Leave’ beside your name – all you have to do is click ‘leave’ and confirm.

 

To find Key Influencers / Your Brand Ambassadors:

What about those who have pinned or repinned pins from your website – would you like to find out if their boards are worth followin? Indeed, if they are a group board, you could apply to join.

1. Click ‘Activity from your website’ at the top of the page.

2. Select ‘Clicks’ if click throughs to the website are your main ingredients for success.

How to find  key influencers

3. Scroll down to look at the list of boards. When I clicked on the third most successful board on the list, I discovered that pinner / board had helped my pin achieve  406 repins so no doubt, it achieved more click throughs than listed beside this board. I interacted with the pinner by commenting on the pin and of course, followed her.

4. Click on each of the boards that are delivering click throughs and decide if you would like to follow that board. I’d recommend it.

 

If you enjoyed this Pinterest tip and would like to avail of more, do download our ebook on Amazon – 365 Social Media Tips.

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How Writers Can Get More From Facebook

How writers can increase their book sales using facebook

Should writers use Facebook?

How writers can increase their book sales using facebook Can writers benefit by using Facebook? Will it help them sell more books, build a community, increase brand awareness?

I’ve recently come across a number of authors who are saying that Facebook, for them, has been a waste of time, that their reach has dropped, that they are finding it hard to increase their likes, that it just isn’t resulting in click throughs to their website or to book purchases. While I agree that increasing your reach on Facebook has become more challenging, I still believe it is well worth the effort.

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 name 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.

You should have a number of goals for your Facebook page, I’m going to list them below and show you examples of how I (using my own author page) and other authors are doing it well. I hope it inspires you to stick with it and increase your own book sales from your use of Facebook.

#1. Test Your Market

One reason I like having a Facebook page is because I’m interesting in the response to particular stories. If I’ve written a blog post about a subject that I might include in my next non fiction book, I’m intrigued to see if I will get much response on the blog, Facebook page and Twitter. As my next book is going to be tongue-in-cheek humour, focusing on farm wives, I was delighted to see that a post  focusing on a similar topic I shared from Buzzfeed reached over 6000 (my usual reach on facebook updates is 200-400 from a follower number of 850).

Use Facebook to test the market

Think of Facebook as a place not to sell, sell, sell but to communicate with your readers and one of the benefits of that is receiving feedback – both on existing books and perhaps on ideas for your next ones.

#2. Promote Your Book

All authors want to promote their books but that doesn’t mean that every update can be about book promotion. It will come across as too salesy and just won’t interest people. However, there’s a number of ways you can promote your upcoming or new books, pique people’s interest and gain sales – all without seeming a hard sales.

If you are genuinely excited about your new book and share those emotions with sneak peeks of illustrations, the front cover or even very short extracts, they will all serve to whet the appetite of your potential readers.

Sharing news with your readers

Louise Phillips shares a photograph of her finished first draft – as one of her avid fans, I’m already looking forward to reading it.

Most authors display their books on the cover image or avatar. Adding a testimonial by a well known author or critic will really give it kudos and sparkle!

Use your cover image and avator to promote your book

 

Hazel Gaynor won an RNA award recently and it’s displayed quite subtlely (yet is noticeable) on her avatar. Both avatar and cover image look very effective in promoting both books.

#3. Grow A Community

Many of your followers will become your community, your brand ambassadors and yes, your friends. I now feel that I know some of my followers so well (because they comment regularly) that I’m almost surprised I haven’t met them in person yet, I actually feel like I have. Be chatty and friendly on your Facebook page, acknowledge any comments with by clicking the ‘like’ button or replying individually to them.

Have you ever thought of having a Facebook book launch for those who can’t make it to your launch in a physical venue. You could run it for an entire day, uploading a new update every hour on the hour.  Content could include quizzes, sneak peeks, competitions for a free copy, sharing some new information about the inspiration for your book, making your secret ‘inspiration’ boards on Pinterest public and share them to your Facebook page, include a video, share photographs from where you are spending the launch day – anything people will be interested in but ensure they come back again and again by promising competitions and they will come back to see who won too.

 #4. Tell Them You’re An Author Worth Reading

If others are enjoying your books, you will feel that you want to shout it from the rooftops and compel others to go out and buy it.Don’t make every update a bragging one but when you achieve something, be it getting into charts or being featured in a magazine, do share the good news. Sharing occasional reviews is a nice way to do it too – just mix these with entertaining or informational content too.

How Authors Can Use Facebook To Reach Fans

 

Here, Nat Russo shares his good news about getting back in the US charts. Remember that images are good so taking a screenshot or photograph works well to emphasise your progress.

I find that, in particular, those who supported you in your early days will really go out of their way to congratulate you as they feel part of the journey. They are your ambassadors so always thank them for their comments or shares.

#5. Grow Your Readers

How do you increase your fans and grow your readers? You can, of course, pay for Facebook Ads and / or boost posts but if you want to do it for free, here’s a few tips.

Optimum Timings

Check your insights (Facebook analytics) and check the time of day when the majority of your fans are using Facebook. As you’ll see from this screenshot of my account, posting updates in the evenings will help me reach many more people than posting in the early mornings. While I do vary content throughout the day, I do tend to post most material about my own book (links to blog posts especially) in the evenings.

  FAcebook_-_when_your_fans_are_online

Schedule three of the next five Facebook updates to go out at those times and see if that increases your reach. It should do. Measure the effectiveness over the next month and then evaluate. Don’t saturate your account with content – I would recommend posting once a day, twice occasionally but don’t go mad and post three or four times. Create good content and spread it out.

Provide Relevant Content

You need to work out why people are following you – are they just interested in you, your book or are they looking for content that’s related to the genre of your book. If you write crime fiction, your audience are bound to be interested in hearing about true unsolved crimes as well as tips on how crimes are solved, stories about detection dogs and your opinion of other novels. . If your style of writing is comedic, then provide some content designed to make them laugh. If you are writing cookery books, share links and pictures of recipes you would recommend and yes, a few of your own too.

Those who follow my author page do so because they are interested in farming but they’re also looking for some humour – preferably to do with farming.

Use text on photos for emphasis

Anyone who has ever bottle fed lambs, calves or any other young animals will know the relief when they feed easily as a couple of slow feeders can wear you out when you’re already tired from lack of sleep. Adding some text to this photo of my daughter bottle feeding a calf achieved good reach because of the humour. Without the text, I doubt it would have worked as well.

Size of Images

When using images, remember that portrait images will be displayed with white space at the side so when uploading an image, it is better to use square or landscape images for more impact.  It’s very easy to share a photo from your smart phone but remember, taking a few minutes to edit it in terms of size or adding text could make all the difference in terms of increasing the engagement and reach.

(Here’s how to add text to a photo using Picmonkey)

Author Jody Hedlund has a very active Facebook page and rewards her followers by telling them about various giveaways so they have a chance of winning copies of her book. This photograph of her latest book is an excellent image but you can see the white space beside it lessens its impact.

Use square or landscape photos on Facebook

Whereas, this landscape photo within the blog link fills the space and the collage of the three books should certainly capture attention in the newsfeeds.

Landscape photos work well on Facebook

Sneak Peeks

Another way to grow your readers is to whet their appetite and Felicity Hayes McCoy always does this very well by incorporating a quote from her book with a beautiful photograph from where her book House on an Irish Hillside is set in beautiful Co. Kerry.

facebook_-_sharing_quotes_and_photos

Use Video

Videos are getting increased reach on Facebook now. The videos don’t have to be elaborately edited pieces although more authors are creating trailer videos now to promote their books. Vine videos are easy to make and as they can be watched in six seconds, they will get high numbers of views in people’s newsfeeds.

Using vine videos on Facebook

Suzanna of Zwarbles Ireland isn’t an author as yet but just watch this space I think. She’s recently started making Vine videos of her beautiful sheep and has received millions of views to date. Sharing them to Facebook increases the charm of both her page and the number of views.

Any Other Ideas?

If you’re an author and you’ve found that something else works well to engage your followers and generate sales, do share it with us.

Remember if you are hoping to get a traditional publishing deal, most publishers will be looking for evidence of your following across various social media platforms so having an engaged following on Facebook will help your cause. Having a Facebook page isn’t all about selling but by creating good content, interacting with your followers and growing your community, the sales will follow.

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Creating A Compelling Crowdfunding Campaign – I Interview Creator of Pogwin

Pogwin_Picturebook

Crowdfunding is a really interesting concept and is becoming increasingly popular – it works by creators presenting their community, creative or business idea on a crowdfunding platform, providing rewards in turn for pledges and ask people to pledge money to make it happen, quite often asking them to pre-buy a product and wait a number of months for delivery.

I first met Jamie when he delivered a talk introducing the concept of crowdfunding as part of an ACT Ireland Wales conference. As I sat there listening to him talk about the crowdfunding campaign he had assisted, a germ of an idea came into my head regarding the potential of using crowdfunding for my book idea. Would crowdfunding help me to test the market and see if there might be genuine interest in my book? Would it help me to raise finance so I could minimise the risk of printing numerous copies? Might it help me to increase brand awareness of the book? I spoke to James about my ideas and he was very encouraging. He told me afterwards he knew I was determined to do it but I think even he was surprised when I launched a campaign just seven weeks later.

I’ve written some blog posts about the steep learning curve I experienced when running my crowdfunding campaign. Coincidentally, I was interviewed recently about my crowdfunding adventure, sharing tips from my experiences. My interview, along with two others, is available on this podcast.

Jamie has now launched his own crowdfunding campaign for a beautiful picture book and I am delighted to bring you an interview with him, revealing his inspiration and some insight into the whole process.

Hi Jamie, many congratulations on producing a beautiful book, it looks like it is the fruit of many many months of hard work, love and attention to detail. Do tell us about the inspirations for the book and the creation of Pogwin.

The inspiration was a roundabout! I wonder if anything so mundane has ever inspired a picture book before? The roundabout is on the outskirts of Neath in South Wales and in its centre is a large grove of trees. We see this quite often on our travels and Chris imagined that, hidden amongst the undergrowth is its only resident; a quiet, solitary character, very comfortable in his own skin.

The creation of the book is collaboration between the two of us. We both developed the story outline. Chris is the illustrator and I’m the writer. The whole thing is told through Pogwin’s words; a strange rhyming babbling language that reflects what he’s thinking at every moment.

  Pogwin_Picturebook

We’re both passionate about conservation. I’ve noticed too many urban developments that have just quietly flattened ‘scruffy’ woodland and built on it. Who knows how many creatures like Pogwin have been made refugees! Education is the most powerful weapon that you can use to change the world and picture books help educate the young. Pogwin is our attempt to capture the imagination of children and also introduce them to problems with deforestation and unrestrained development. We are also planning to plant trees if we are able to raise enough funds to publish the book. We have 7 acres available! Please help support by sharing.

Why have you decided to crowdfund? Are the reasons more than monetary? 

Traditional routes to children’s publishing are difficult with many gatekeepers. We want to connect directly with the audience for the book. We’re keen to develop more books in the Pogwin series and retain creative control along the way. Kickstarter is more than just a site to attract funding; although that’s a crucial part of it! It’s where we hope to connect with a community. We’re also making friends across social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook.

Writing a book for children is incredibly difficult as you have to please and interest both the children and their parents. Did you find it difficult to write?

I love writing Pogwin and I don’t find it difficult at all. Maybe that’s because I identify with the little chap. People who know me would laugh at that.

Pogwin speaks in stunted rhythmical stanza’s; “Bend and stoop. Munch and nibble. Nettle soup. Makes me dribble”, etc.

What is difficult is to write well! I often go back to the things I’ve written days before and edit or discard. It’s part of the process.

Pogwin Over City

 

Many congrats on achieving £1548 in just six days. I know there’s some way to go but that’s a great start. What methods are you using to try and secure pledgers? Are you trying to get press coverage?

There are so many approaches we are taking. The main channels are Twitter and Facebook. On Twitter we are posting regular content that we hope is interesting to followers and the wider world. Careful use of hashtags are important. Our main tweet is pinned to the top of the page. We have asked for retweets and sent direct messages; this has lead to backers. I’ve joined a number of relevant Facebook Groups relating to children’s publishing and also the environment. I regularly post to these and this have proved successful.  I make sure the timing of these posts are right though. It means a late night if we want to attract the attention of our friends in the USA.

When I ran my crowdfunding campaign, one of my aims was to test the market. I didn’t really have anything to show potential pledgers apart from a popular blog post. When I look back, I wonder how  I succeeded as I didn’t have a front cover to show, I didn’t have any illustrations not to mention extracts from the book. I’m wondering how on earth I managed to raise €6,000 – pure determination perhaps. Your campaigns looks very polished in comparison, partly as your book looks ready to go to the printers. What made you decide to wait to launch the campaign at such an advanced stage? (Incidentally, I think it’s an excellent idea and know it will pay off for you.) 

 We both write and illustrate so holding us back from doing the creative work is difficult! That’s the bit we love. There’s room for changes to the storylines and some of the illustrations. I think it’s important to leave space for this for after the campaign has finished because feedback may influence our creative direction. We’re not creating by committee but we will be influenced by our potential readers and will respond if we feel that’s the way to go.

You had something amazing; a great idea for a book and a large connected following. We’re not so connected so we’re relying on the message getting out. It’s essential. The more people share the better. Hint to your readers : )

I notice you are crowdfunding with Kickstarter which means it’s an ‘all or nothing’ campaign. If you don’t raise the total, you don’t get anything. Personally I prefer pledging to campaigns like that but why did you decide to opt for an ‘all or nothing’?

It was more the platform. I have some experience of working on Kickstarter campaigns so that has proved useful. I also wanted a to work on a publishing project, a new thing for me, and test the market via Kickstarter. ‘All-or-nothing’ is good in that it forced me to develop a carefully considered income and expenditure forecast.

The obvious reward for a campaign for a book is a copy of the book – did you have difficulty in coming up with rewards for higher and lower values? What is proving to be the most popular reward?

It wasn’t too difficult as there are established structures for reward tiers for children’s picture books i.e. providing limited edition prints of illustrations and even offering original artwork – which I’d highly recommend people look at! Chris’s illustrations are beautiful.  The most popular reward is the hardcover book but the lovely slip-case version is popular too. Both would make a great gift. One fun reward for all the tree lovers out there is that we will plant 100 trees if we reach our target. It’s in keeping with the theme. I have seven acres to play with so we’ll start our own copse just without the roundabout.

Treeplanting3

 Have you had any influential people support you and has their recommendation resulted in more pledges (I noticed a tweet from someone with 90K followers last night)?

That’s an interesting story. Zach Weinersmith (@zachweiner) is a gent. He successfully funded a chillden’s book called Augie and the Green Knight on Kickstarter. I emailed him for advice and asked him what he thought of the campaign. He thought the book and the pricing looked good. What I learnt from him was that he was very well connected during his campaign, much more than we are. So we are working on it! This project is a fantastic way to learn and we’re working hard on those connections.

know you have helped others with their crowdfunding campaigns in the past, is there anything about running your own campaign, as yet, that has surprised you? Is it more work than you had anticipated?

The hard work is in getting the message out. It’s a lot of work. You never know when or where it will pay off but getting the message out is so important. I’m very keen to talk to key influencers, such as yourself, about the project. Thanks for the interview Lorna!

PogwinhasChlorophilia

There you have it. Less than a week into their crowdfunding campaign and Pogwin is doing well having secured $1548 from 36 backers. The grand total in this ‘all or nothing’ campaign is £7,500. I suspect you will pledge for this book planning to give it to a child (son / daughter / niece / nephew / grandchild) as a gift but you just might end up keeping it for yourself! It’s a great example of a well planned and executed campaign – beautiful images and graphics, snapshots of the writing, clear indications of the quality and a video which shows the product and the two creators. What are you waiting for? Go and have a look at the wonderful Pogwin.

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How To Give Your Blog The Gift Of Eloquence

How to give your blog the gift of eloquence

The Irish are renowned for their ability to chat, to blather, to talk baloney and to have the gift of the gab. Visitors to Ireland can allegedly gain the similar gift of easy chat and eloquence by kissing the blarney stone. Rather than having to hang over a steep precipice supported by two strong men, to be granted the gift of eloquent speaking, I’m going to show you how you can make the tone of your posts much more friendly as well as appeal to your target reader.

How to give your blog the gift of eloquence Photo Credit: Blarney Castle

Visualise Your Reader

To be eloquent and chatty, it really helps if you can visualise what your ideal or target reader looks like so you can imagine him or her smiling and nodding back at you as you are writing. Imagining their favourable response as you are writing really helps to make the words flow.  Hence, you need to work out:

  • Gender of your target market?
  • Age profile of your target market?
  • Where do they live?
  • What is their buying power? Do they want to know about luxury goods or how to shop on a shoe-string?
  • Are they single? Married? Parents?
  • What do they need from you?

Once you have a picture in your mind of your target reader, some people find it convenient to find a photograph of a suitable person, print it out and pin it to your desk so you can look at him / her while typing.  For example, for my other blog Irish Farmerette, I visualise my reader as being female, probably 25-50, involved in farming to some extent or certainly interested in learning more about farming and looking for something that is amusing and entertaining to read. Almost without realising it, I find myself picturing one of my regular commentators reading it and this really helps to focus my writing.

Purpose – Fun, Information or Help?

Consider the purpose of your blog posts – I know you want to increase sales, leads or bookings but in attracting those customers, what’s the best way to do it? What do your readers want from you to persuade them to buy?

If you are selling tickets for a comedy show or a humourous book, then your readers expect to find humour in your blog post – they come to be entertained. If they enjoy the humour in your post, there’s a much higher chance of them going on to book tickets or purchase your book.

If your business involves selling electrical items, your target market is going to be looking for information so posts comparing and reviewing different electrical items would be deemed useful and should lead to sales. If I am going to buy a vacuum cleaner, I’d love to find an honest post reviewing the best hoovers for pet owners (then I know it will cope with what my children produce!)

If you are involved in healthcare, for example, a dentist, optician or osteopath, your target market won’t be expecting you to be cracking jokes but will be looking for helpful tips so posts on preventing back pain, the best teeth whitener to use or how to take care of contact lenses are going to be appropriate and will encourage faith in your professionalism.

Once you focus on what your target market want and need from you, it makes it much easier to decide on topics, your approach and your tone.

Answer Questions

Listen to your customers when they ask questions. Are the same questions being repeated again and again? Ask your customers what do they want from you as well as checking out the highest searched keywords on the google keyword planner.

Write down those questions and use them as topics for your blog posts. I find that my most popular blog posts on this blog are the ones I write in response to questions. The reason is if a few people are wondering about something, it’s a pretty safe bet that others will be looking for the answers in the search engines and there’s your blog post with the perfect answer.

Not only are you providing useful information, you’re reaching a new audience too – all because you knew exactly what they wanted to know.

By knowing your target readers, focusing on what they want / need and answering their questions, your blog posts will be focused and fluent as you write about your services or products with conviction. By all means, visit the Blarney Stone but maybe follow these tips too for your blogging!

If you would like to learn how to improve your blog, our next eLearning Blogging For Improvers course starts on 23rd March and runs for three weeks. It covers many technical aspects of blogging such as improving your images, adding plugins and widgets as well as showing you how to hook in those readers and convert traffic to sales. You will receive a lesson by email each weekday morning and once you complete the assignments, you’ll get individual feedback too.

“Free

 

 

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Pinterest Tip: Your Pictorial Curriculum Vitae

Pinterest Tip - Using a Pinterest Board as your Pictorial Resume

Pinterest Tip - Using a Pinterest Board as your Pictorial Resume Have you considered using Pinterest as your “Pictorial Curriculum Vitae”? A picture tells a thousand words – you can show people just how good you are by including pictures of you at work or within press coverage.

I have a ‘Press’ page on my other website, that page contains links to book reviews as well as a number of images showing me with various TV or Radio personalities having being interviewed. However, when I decided to create a board entitled “Lorna Sixsmith in the Media” and went looking through my photo archives, I discovered I actually had many more photos than I originally thought.

Setting up the Pinterest board has also taught me to always save the link for radio interviews and to always get a photograph taken with the interviewer – if I had done so, I would have many more. If you can’t get a photograph taken with the interviewer, get one taken standing beside the radio station or TV channel logo.  The collection of press coverage highlights and showcases my writing, my involvement in social media and the community via the blog awards coverage, and my social media knowledge.

Lorna_Sixsmith_in_the_Media

Pinterest Board – Lorna Sixsmith in the Media

What are the advantages of setting up a Media board on Pinterest?

People can see, at a glance, where your skills lie. It’s unlikely a business person will get press coverage and interviews unless they are reasonably good at what they do. The links to newspaper articles, features and interviews means they can check you out in more detail but a number of press clippings curated within a single board should convince them of your expertise. Think of this pinterest board as your pictorial LinkedIn profile too.

What if you haven’t got any press coverage yet? It doesn’t necessarily have to be print or radio coverage. If you are interviewed within a blog post , featured within a curated post or if you guest blog for notable blogs, I suggest you include them within a Pinterest board too. I was recently included in a curated post featuring 27 Social Media Marketers and I’ve included that within my “Media” board.

You can also emphasise your skills within your pinterest boards. Create boards showing you in action – whether it is sharing “Stuff I’ve Written” or showing you teaching or doing demonstrations or designing and building that kitchen from scratch. For example, if you are a kitchen designer, don’t just take photographs of the kitchen design and the completed kitchen, take photographs of you designing the kitchen on AutoCad, on choosing the materials, on planing the wood, on putting the kitchen larder in place, of standing beside the finished kitchen. If you are an author, create a board for your book signings and photographs with other (famous) authors. I was delighted to be photographed with Donal Ryan when we both spoke at an event last Christmas.

I hope you find this Pinterest tip useful and that it inspires you to showcase your expertise on Pinterest in new ways. One more tip by the way, if you are pinning lots of material to this board when first creating it, you might prefer to create the board as a secret board, fill it with all of your images and then make it public. You probably don’t want to flood your account with ‘me, me, me’ media coverage pins all in one afternoon.

Follow Lorna Sixsmith ‘s board Lorna Sixsmith in the Media on Pinterest.

For more Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Blogging Tips, do download our book 365 Social Media Tips

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Pinterest Tip: Going Green for St Patrick’s Day

Go green on St Patrick's Day on Pinterest

Go green on St Patrick's Day on Pinterest Have you thought of doing something on social media for St Patrick’s Day?

Here’s a quick and easy way to celebrate St Patrick’s Day on your Pinterest account.

If you wish to emphasise the Irishness of your business, to appeal to customers who are Irish (be it living in Ireland or outside Ireland) or appeal to those who enjoy celebrating St Patrick’s Day, create a St Patrick’s Day board today (there’s two weeks to go) and position it at the top of your boards page once you have populated it with pins.

You can move your boards around by dragging and dropping them into place on your boards page. Once dropped into place, they will stay there until moved again.

So many pinners have St Patrick’s Day boards. After all, this festival is celebrated all over the world, the parades are shown on television, millions of people take part, our Taoiseach visits the White House each year. It is an occasion that gets immense coverage and it’s also a hugely popular board title on Pinterest.

Pinterest Tip: Going Green for St Patrick's Day

Take it one step further and make the cover image of each of your boards a different shade of green. After all, they say there are ‘forty shades of green’ so there’s plenty of choice. If you sell products, feature a different product on each board – just make sure each one is green!

Here’s how to change your board covers quickly and easily.

Going Green for St Patrick's Day

It’s a little more difficult for me as I don’t sell products but here’s what I’ve done with quite a few of my Pinterest boards.  Have fun with going green and I hope you have a lovely St Patrick’s Day on 17th March.

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