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The Complete Guide to Attracting a Loyal Audience for Your Writing

11 June 2019

From Medium:

Admit it. You want more fans for your writing.

You’re tired of writing posts nobody reads and being jealous of other online writers who hit a home run every time they publish.

You know it’s possible to attract an audience of loyal fans because you see others doing it, but for you, it feels like trying to solve a Rubik’s cube while blindfolded.

. . . .

The Subtle Psychology of Attracting an Audience Online

I have many author friends.

We all collaborate in a Facebook group and talk about strategies to attract more readers and sell more books.

I found a tactic that virtually guaranteed I’d get 100 subscribers to sign up to my mailing list with each post I wrote. I shared the strategy with them.

They loved it. They all told me they’d try it.

I checked in with them a few weeks later to see their results.

None of them tried it.

A few weeks later, I checked the group again. They were still asking each other about strategies to attract more readers for their list, even though I gave them a solid strategy none of them tried.

Why?

Moments like this cement the idea that tips on their own don’t help. If you want to build a writing career and attract the fans you need to make it happen, start with your psychology.

. . . .

The strategy I gave my author friends was straightforward, but they overcomplicated the situation.

Attracting an audience is simple — You find out where your potential audience hangs out, and you write posts they resonate with.

That’s it.

I’m giving you the step-by-step playbook to help you. If you follow it to the letter, it’ll work. It won’t work, however, if you get in your own way. Your mentality either provides a path to success or a series of obstacles.

. . . .

The Number One Lie Writers Tell Themselves

John starts a blog or creates an account on Medium. He writes a few blog posts. Maybe he shares them on social media. He hits publish, waits, and no one shows up.

He decides this writing thing is a sham. After all, he did all the work and no one showed up.

“Why even try?” He thinks. He gives up and blames everyone else but himselffor his lack of success.

John doesn’t realize the importance of promoting his work. He believes great work should stand on its own and attract people.

There are many writers like John, who think, “If I build it, they’ll come.”

If you use logic, it makes no sense.

How are people supposed to find your writing if you don’t promote it?

. . . .

If you want success so badly it causes you to become self-centered, you’ll focus on yourself too much and ignore the signs pointing you in the direction of your desired outcome.

I fall victim to my ego at times.

I’ll write a blog post I think should be written instead of asking my readers what they want to learn about.

I’ll hastily launch a new product without doing enough customer research.

I do my best to remember my work is for you. I’m here to help you because I know how it feels to be stuck in the weeds and lost. When I remember why I’m doing the work I do, the process is ten times easier.

If you focus on your goals and your vision alone, you can lose sight of the people who will make or break your writing career. You can’t be a successful writer if nobody reads your work.

Your writing isn’t about you — not if you want to make a career out of it and income from it. Writing for an audience means writing at the intersection of what you love and what people want to read.

. . . .

Tools of the Trade

If you want fans for your writing, you need to create a “home base” online for people to find your work.

You want to have your own website instead of having an account on a blogging platform like Medium or Blogger.

Why?

When your writing is on your own website, it looks more professional.

Also, you’re free to do what you want with it. Other blogging platforms have restrictions on the features you’re allowed to have. Some forbid you from selling anything on their platform.

You want to make money, right? Owning your own website gives you the freedom to build a business around your writing.

. . . .

Why You Absolutely Must Have an Email List

You need an email list because it’s the lifeblood of your writing career.

Email marketing is still the number one channel for reaching fans and customers.

An email list helps you:

  • Communicate with your readers and send them new material
  • Learn about their needs and give you new ideas to write about
  • Create a relationship with your readers
  • Sell books and other products to your readers

The first three are more important than the last item. You want to develop a relationship with your readers and learn about them before you try to sell anything to them.

Link to the rest at Medium

Advertising-Promotion-Marketing

13 Comments to “The Complete Guide to Attracting a Loyal Audience for Your Writing”

  1. I find this advice amazing. I’ve never subscribed to an email list and have no intention of doing so. I’m flabbergasted that such a thing can be a “cornerstone” of someone’s marketing.

    • I have. It lets me know when authors I like come out with the next book in the series. And when they boost another author who has a new release, they often add a freebie read from their own series. It might be a genre thing.
      As for my own newsletter, yes, those kind people are the cornerstone of my marketing. They buy my books, whether on large platforms or on PayHip, where they get to save some $$. Some of them are members of my ARC Team and leave reviews in exchange for a free new book. I get occasional feedback. Some visit my FB fan site just to see the latest joke or recipe or whatever. Or to take part in a poll evaluating prospective book covers.
      Readers are awesome. Storytelling would be mighty lonely without them.

      • +1

        One of the hardest things to wrap your brain around as a marketer is that your personal behavior is only a single data point, and while it can be extrapolated out to groups, it does not describe everyone’s behavior. In fact, you, as a writer, might not even be your target audience.

        It’s really weird, but once you get over that hump (“just because I enjoy my work doesn’t mean I am the type of reader I should be marketing to”), you do much better.

    • I have the same response to the newsletter advice. I’ve been an avid reader for decades and never felt the urge to sign up for an author’s anything. Still, the email list thing seems to “work” at least for some genres. I know romance authors swear by them and their reader polls show that they really do want to hear from “their authors” once a month. I have no idea if that holds true across other genres, but it definitely doesn’t hold true for me as a reader.

    • Most authors who have shared numbers with me have at least a few thousand newsletter subscribers, sometimes many more.

      • I have 12,000 newsletter subscribers built up over 10 years. Yet only 250 can be counted on to buy whatever book I am releasing. So lots of these names were gathered in ‘inorganic’ ways such as contests, freebies, etc. rather than a self-interested reader clicking on ‘sign up’.

        My goal in 2019 is to get 250 more reliable subs and forget about the overall number of 12k+.

        In addition to New Release alerts I often have a $0.99 sale of freebie each week I send to these lucky souls as well.

    • I am subscribed to one writer’s email list, simply because he wrote fast enough that I wanted to be sure of catching the next book in the series. I never crack open the newsletter and read it; its presence in my email box just alerts me to go to Amazon to buy the next book.

      I would guess that’s all most fans might ask of an author: let them know when your book is out. Newsletters serve that purpose very well as a reader, especially as I’m not on Twitter or Facebook. And it’s rare and unusual for me to go to a writer’s website.

      • Newsletters are reminders I don’t have to set up and monitor.

        That said, I’m not much of a fan of authors who send them when they don’t have real news to impart. I’ve unsubbed from many a list over that kind of thing. The whole automation thing could die tomorrow and I’d love it. Some people go crazy with it and ruin what could have been a good thing.

        • Agreed. I only signed up to the author’s newsletter because he promised up front he would only send it when he had a book out. He kept his word.

      • I’m happy to subscribe to newsletters as long as they are pretty much just advertising flyers telling me things I want to know to help with my book buying.

        So I pretty much agree with Lynn, though I don’t mind getting a “pre-order links are up” newsletter as well another when the book comes out. What I dislike is getting a newsletter saying the pre-order link is there and finding that it’s a repeat and I’ve already ordered the book (and being told that the iBook and Kobo links are up and the Kindle one will follow just pisses me off, though not as much as authors who assume that all their readers are in the USA when giving Kindle links).

        I don’t mind if a prolific author very occasionally sets out their release plan for the coming year so I can look forward to the books in the series I’m following and I can accept free short stories or notices of sales if they are not too frequent (ideally they should be combined with a book launch rather than standing on their own).

        YMMV of course so it’s hard for an author to find an approach that keeps most readers happy. I think that all the personal stuff, pictures of pets, political diatribes and the like belong in a blog not a newsletter.

  2. “Attracting an audience is simple — You find out where your potential audience hangs out, and you write posts they resonate with.”

    Uhhh, isn’t this a variation of what Larry Correia did?

    He hung out on gun blogs and posted gun porn. People bought his stuff.

  3. Terrence OBrien

    In a nation of 300 million, it only takes a small percentage who like newsletters to make money.

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