Content marketing for Authors by Jessica Fritsche
There are a lot of buzzwords and phrases that get thrown around in the world of marketing and social media. “Content marketing” is a phrase that is getting a lot of attention lately, and I think it’s important for authors to understand what it is, and how they can use it to help build their platforms.
So what is content marketing, exactly? Other than being the sole focus of my day job, content marketing is the practice of creating and publishing interesting and relevant content via a number of channels to create interest around your brand, establish expertise on a subject, and attract and engage your target audience. Sound familiar? When it comes down to it, almost every author with an established online presence is practicing at least one facet of content marketing. And it’s a perfect approach for authors, because the very thing we’re all peddling IS content.
But building your content marketing platform is a little more complicated than you might think—it’s not quite enough to just create some blog posts and make sure you update your Twitter and Facebook. What you need is a plan and someone who can write my essay, or as we refer to it, a content strategy. A content strategy is the key to making sure you are pushing out the right content to the right audience at the right time, using the right communications vehicle (a prime tenet of content marketing). Sound complicated? It’s really not. Let me give you a few tips to get started.
1) Learn about your audience. One of the things my agency does for our clients is research on their buyer personas. These are the people who are most likely to buy their products and services, and they are the target audiences for all the content we produce for our clients. The content has to be relevant to their interests, written with their likes and dislikes in mind, and distributed to them in the right way.
It might seem like common sense, but have you ever stopped to think about who you want to target with your content—your books, your blog posts, your social media? What’s the key demographic for your readership? Who’s reading your site now? Is that a different audience than you had in mind to begin with? Make a list of the types of people you want to be reading your content, and think of the kinds of content that would be interesting and helpful to them—not just to you. If you have analytics set up on your site, check those out to see where your traffic is coming from and the search terms people are using to find your site. That can help you further target your content to your true audiences.
2) Understand your communication channels. Not every piece of content is going to be appropriate for every communication channel. If you use social media at all, you already know that—for example, Twitter’s 140-character limit makes it most suitable for shorter messages or teasers to longer content. Other channels like Facebook, blog posts, ebooks, and more have their own version of channel-appropriate content.
But you should also keep in mind that just because a communication channel exists, you don’t have to use it. Concentrate your efforts on the channels where your audience hangs out, because you can’t get them to listen if you’re shouting into an empty room. If your audience doesn’t use Pinterest, don’t jump on the Pinterest bandwagon just because it’s the hot new thing to do. My best marketing advice to you is to do what makes sense for your audience, not what everyone else says you should do or what’s most popular.
3) Create a solid editorial calendar. When you have ideas for blog posts, Twitter or Facebook campaigns, or other marketing efforts, don’t just put them in a list and cross them off when you’re done. Create an editorial calendar that details the idea, the channel you’ll push it out in, any supporting content in other channels (like promoting a blog post with a targeted tweet or Facebook message), and how it can link back to any existing content you’ve already created for further promotion.
An editorial calendar may seem like overkill, but it is your roadmap to success. It helps keep you organized, helps you push your content out in the most appropriate channels, and gives you the detail you need to keep track of what worked and what didn’t. That is invaluable when you’re trying to make your audience happy and establish yourself as a trusted resource for information and entertainment.
4) Engage your audience. I know, I know…that demanding audience again. But it’s not enough to just give them content. Building a rapport with your fans and readers is not a one-way street. The authors with the best content marketing are the ones who engage their readers in places like blog comments, on Twitter, and on Facebook.
I love getting a response back from an author I truly enjoy. Gail Carriger is a great example—she creates content that really works to fulfill her author image and interests her audience. Plus, she talks back to her fans and actively gives them ways to engage with her. We have chatted on Twitter multiple times and via her LiveJournal comments. Not only does engagement make your fans happy, but it’s a great way to find out what they want from both your books and your other content.
Building your author platform takes hard work and dedication, but if you keep these things in mind as you create content and interact with your audience, you’ll be a must-read blogger and author in no time!
Jessica Fritsche is a writer from Dallas, TX. She has over 12 years of experience as a published author and blogger, and is an expert in marketing and social media. She works at an integrated content marketing firm by day and writes urban fantasy, alternative history, and romance by night. You can find her on Twitter as @jfritsche or online at jessicafritsche.com.