You know by now that whether you write fiction or nonfiction, growing your author platform is key.
Connecting with readers before, during and after you write your novel showcases your commitment to agents and publishers—and creates an audience for your work.
But with the myriad ways to find readers, it can be overwhelming to get started and stay consistent. Should you blog? Focus on your email list? Be more active on Twitter or Instagram? Or try something else entirely?
Defeat marketing anxiety
After I started my writing podcast, I wanted to find new ways to reach out to potential listeners.
I decided to boost my Twitter presence, get on Instagram and restart my newsletter. But with limited time (I want to write, too!), I kept putting off posting and hitting “send.” I felt like I couldn’t get a handle on my platform.
I’m a big fan of spreadsheets–I already use one to track my submissions to lit journals and magazines. But it took me a while to realize that I could use a spreadsheet to fight the overwhelm I felt when I went on Twitter or checked the traffic to my website.
The day that I did, I started posting.
Maximize your marketing with this handy spreadsheet
A spreadsheet–you can download your very own customizable copy of mine here (it even comes with instructions)–can help you in several ways.
First, it allows you see the entire picture.
Your platform might have several pieces: social media, blogging, guest posting or other venues where readers find your work. Noting where you are sharing what can keep you from saying the exact same thing over and over again. It can also help you remember to share your content in different places; you can turn a guest post (like this one) into a tweet and a link for your newsletter.
A spreadsheet can also help you see which avenues are most effective for your goals.
By keeping tabs on traffic to your website, you can narrow your focus to the most useful tactics for you. I’ve had a lot of fun connecting with fellow writers and podcast listeners on Instagram, but you might get more traffic via Twitter or YouTube.
Focus on what works
Tracking your efforts can also keep you from getting discouraged.
Rather than feeling lost and unsure of what to try next, you can look at what has worked and what hasn’t and adjust your course. You’ll have a record of what you’ve done that you can check against blog traffic, newsletter sign-ups or content downloads.
For example, I kept track of podcast downloads after sharing each episode on social media; instead of feeling bummed whenever downloads stayed flat, I used this data to help me decide where to spend my time.
Time is what it all boils down to: writers, perhaps working at another job or taking care of family, have very limited time, and marketing can easily eat up most of it, leaving little for you to actually write. My spreadsheet doesn’t track every single tweet you send-;what it does is give you space to brainstorm and plan what you want to say in each place that you share your work, so that you can spend an hour or two planning, and then just a few minutes checking in each day or each week.
Make it work for you
Whatever system you use to plan your marketing, make it work for you.
I used my spreadsheet for a few weeks, then tweaked it to reflect what I actually needed: a sheet for each place I shared my work, with columns for dates, ideas and whether or not content had be scheduled or posted.
This system maintains my sanity, maximizes my writing time, and keeps me from reinventing the wheel every time you log on to Twitter. You can add more detail (what time to post) or less (I include space for links and images) so that it does the same for you.
Download your copy here–and please share tweaks that make it better for you!
How do you get a handle on your platform?