Inbound Marketing is an inexpensive way for writers to get found. The premise is simple — getting found is much more effective than seeking out fans. Inbound Marketing uses Social Media to make it easier for your potential fans, followers, or tribesmen to find you. The traditional marketing model (Outbound) relied on you actively pursuing customer or followers. Big companies spent big bucks on this model and it mostly worked but not anymore — Social Media has changed the game. For the independent writer, Outbound Marketing is a nonstarter. Not only is it unaffordable, but the results are also mediocre boarding on dismal.
Writers should apply Inbound Marketing techniques because it’s the best way to build your writer’s platform. We all know that our platforms are an integral part of getting known and making a living as a writer. Building this platform through Social Media is the power behind Inbound Marketing. There are many steps to building your Inbound Marketing strategy. The first step is to determine your belief system.
Step 1: Determine Your Belief System
I was introduced to the idea of a belief system by Paco Romane (check out his site). The premise is simple. Write down what you believe and what defines you. This could be your core values, what you find funny, how you deal with people, or what you find important. As long as it relates to how you live your life or do your work, write it down. Everything you do, in some way, should relate to your belief system. If you get stuck, don’t know the path to take, or are just in a rut, refer to your belief system to get you back on track. Your belief system will form the core of your platform that you will build by Inbound Marketing.
Step 2: Build Your Blog or Website
Once you have figured out your belief system, the next step is to develop your main Social Media hub, namely your website or blog. This is a critical step that needs to be wholly controlled by you (e.g. your own domain name). The reason is simple. All the work you will do to build your platform, you want to be directed to you and only you — not some other site. By owning your own domain, you get all the benefits.
Step 3: Network on LinkedIn
If you are not on LinkedIn yet, you need to set up an account. It’s free and a great way to network. Once you create your account and profile, you can start to connect to other writers, publishers, and industry experts. This step is critical to building your network of potential prospects and collaborators.
Step 4: Find Friends on Facebook
Creating a Facebook account is another way to build your network. Facebook is mostly for your friends and is a wonderful way to marshall support for your latest project. It’s also a great venue for tracking other authors you admire via a fan page. You can also set up a fan page for your latest project so others can follow your progress.
Step 5: Stream Your Thoughts on Twitter
Twitter is the latest social networking tool that allows you to follow others and be followed. It’s a short messaging system (140 characters) that is the real-time stream of the collective thoughts of those who are tweeting. Being involved with Twitter allows you to monitor real-time events and offers another promotion venue.
Step 6: Build Rapport with Others
Once you have all of these Social Media channels established, it’s now time to build rapport with your potential fans. The whole point of getting these accounts is because they are high traffic sites that people go to. Interacting with them will drive traffic to your blog or website. As with anything, quality and sincerity are the best traits to project. The best ways to build rapport include:
- Follow and Comment on Other Blogs: Create a list of blogs that you like and follow what they have to say. Comment on posts that interest you and where you can add unique insights.
- Tweet and ReTweet: Twitter is all about the ReTweet (RT). ReTweeting is a way to pass along information that you find useful. ReTweeting also shows that you value the original tweeters’ content. This allows you to build relationships that will benefit you both. It’s also important to Tweet original content as well.
- Guest Blog: Once you find a blog that you enjoy and have commented on, it’s now time to request to guest blog. Guest blogging is a great way to validate your expertise by getting others to publish your work.
- Publish Articles for Free: There are several sites (like Ezine Articles) that allow you to publish your work for free. These sites are searched millions of times a day. Getting picked up by a search or site will give you another channel for people to find you.
- Answer Questions: There are several sites (like Answers OnStartUps) that allow users to ask and answer questions. If you are an expert on something, you might want to answer questions or contribute to a collection of knowledge. This will build your creditability as an expert in the field and also show up more in search results.
Look Around and Update Often
Social Media is a fluid environment. Your Inbound Marketing plans will be fluid as well. Keeping up with all the new developments can be a daunting task but it’s the name of the game. Luckily, there are writers/bloggers that you can follow that will keep you abreast of the latest developments. Check out the reference section for a list. Aside from monitoring new developments, you need to engage with the world around you and update or contribute quality content. As writers, we all know that the quality of our prose is what matters, and thankfully the rest of the world values that too. Good luck.
Some Additional References
- Check out this post by John Jantsch (Author of Duct Tape Marketing) on some additional small business social networking sites beyond Facebook and Twitter. Good to look into for readers and fellow subject matter experts.
- Book Promotion thread from Answers OnStartups.
- Great sites to monitor what’s going on: Daring Fireball, The Bloggers Bulletin, Quicksprout and Problogger