Marketing is a big part of being a successful author. It’s almost as big as writing a book that’s worth publishing and selling (as that is definitely the pre-requisite to marketing).
Problem for most authors is they have no idea how to do marketing. They either never learned, don’t want to learn, are afraid to learn or think they don’t have enough time/don’t have what it takes to build a following.
I often hear writers in my free Facebook group say that they have no idea how to market themselves. And while it’s totally fine to not know what you’re doing, it’s NOT fine to let that be an excuse that stops you from learning what to do and then doing it.
I talk to a lot of writers on a regular basis, and one of the commonalities is their ultimate dream—to make a living from their books, to have their novels turned into movies, to have millions of readers all over the world, to land on the NY Times Best Seller list.
Sure, not all writers want this, but I’d argue most do and just aren’t willing to admit it or to fully allow themselves to want it because they have no idea how they’ll bring it to life.
And the truth is, all of those dreams stem from one thing: marketing.
If you’re a professionally self-published author (or are going to be) or even if you go the traditional route, marketing is absolutely a skill that you must master. Because in the digital age, authors aren’t just writers, they’re also marketers and sales people.
I know—SCARY, right?
Because now you can’t just sit in a room all alone writing your books. You have to actually put yourself out there and be seen and get known.
At least if you plan on accomplishing your dreams of making a living from your books, hitting the NY Times Best Sellers list and having millions of fans all over the world who love your books so much Hollywood decides to turn them into movies.
None of those dreams can be achieved without visibility and mastering marketing (unless you hire someone to do all the marketing for you, but even then, you still have to be visible).
And one of the BEST ways to do marketing that doesn’t feel sales-y or self-promotional is to learn how to create value for an audience.
Now I’ll that there’s nothing wrong with being sales-y or self-promotional IF you are creating massive value for the people who follow you (aka: your audience). Value + Selling = Making Money from Your Books. Selling or Self-Promotion by itself does not.
Example: I create a TON of free value for my audience on a daily basis. And that’s also why I sell 30+ books a day and growing, and get people signed up for my workshops and programs that I offer.
Because when you create value for an audience, they will buy from you. Multiple times over.
So what does “create value” even mean?
Value just means creating something useful. Something your audience can enjoy, be entertained and/or educated by.
I did a livestream the other day all about creating value for an audience (you can watch the replay here). If you want to become a master of marketing so you can grow your readership and your author brand, and sell more books, here are 8 ways to create value for an audience:
1. Share Your Thoughts and Feelings On A Topic You Care About that They Also Care About
This may sound strange, but people love to see what other people think and feel about a topic they care about. When I go off in a blog post, ranting about my opinion on professional self-publishing or believing in yourself or whatever other topic I decide to share my views on, that’s when my audience becomes most engaged. It’s when I get the most emails from people, replying to what I sent out, sometimes even sharing their opinion back to me.
So consider the topics that would be of interest to your audience and share your thoughts and feelings on it with them. Doing this builds the Know, Like and Trust factor, and gives them a deeper look at how you think and what you believe, and why.
I know this may seem strange—why would anyone want to hear me talk about my opinion on a topic? But that is what connects people.
Think about anytime you’ve met someone new. When you’re conversing with them and discovered all the things you have in common, didn’t it just make you like them more? Didn’t it make you feel more connected to them as a person?
Well, the same thing works for your audience.
Sure, you have to know who your audience is and what they care about, but once you figure it out, you can create some seriously awesome value for them by starting a conversation around a topic you all care about.
2. Teach Them Something They Want to Learn
People go online to be entertained, educated or both. So think about ways that you can teach your audience something they want to learn.
I’m always teaching in my free content (this blog post would be a great example). Because I know my audience well enough at this point to know exactly what they care about and the struggles they have and where I can most help them.
I teach the stuff my audience most needs to know. And that creates massive value for them.
3. Teach Them Something They Need to Know But Don’t Realize They Need to Know It
I love this one. You may not have realized that you need to learn how to create value for an audience if you want to grow your readership. But now thanks to this blog post, you know.
And not only are you now aware that you must create value, but you have a whole list of ways to do it.
That’s what it means to teach your audience something they need to know but don’t realize they need to know it.
The awareness alone creates a ton of value—because not knowing what you don’t know can cause you to get stuck or to feel like nothing is working.
4. Entertain Them
Like I said, people go online to learn how to do something or to be entertained because they’re bored. So if you can find ways to entertain your audience (and as a writer and author, you ARE an entertainer), you’ll be able to create value that makes them want more from you.
Think of all the stupid memes and videos you see online. While you may not think about them as marketing (especially when they’re random and have nothing to do with anything) they are still creating value.
Because when you watch or read, you’re being entertained. You’re laughing or having fun or enjoying the moment.
And that’s what makes it valuable.
Most people aren’t having enough fun or laughter or enjoyment in their lives. So if you can give that to them with the content you create, you’re giving them something they badly need in their lives.
5. Make Them Think
I love this one. Because as humans, we’re thinkers. It’s a part of our nature.
Which means if you can create content that makes people think, you can also give your audience value that connects them to you and makes them want more.
Making them think can be as simple as asking a question that goes deeper than just the surface-level stuff. Questions like, what would you be doing right now if you already achieved your dream life? or if you were already the author you dream of being, what would you do first thing in the morning? actually help people figure things out.
Questions create an open loop in our minds and we have to find an answer. So we think about it. And in the thinking about it we come to a conclusion of some kind.
That conclusion or response to the question could be something that totally changes your life.
And that is valuable. Insanely valuable.
6. Share Your Message
I talk all the time about how authors need to have a message to share. And that message becomes a part of your marketing and a big part of the content that you create that gives value to your audience.
For example, my message is that you can create anything you set your mind to. That is the core message in my life and in my writing business.
I share this message every day, in all different ways, through the free content that I create. And sharing this message is valuable for the people who need to hear it.
I sent you an email yesterday that talked about the fictional stories that we tell ourselves. In it, I mentioned over and over again that you can create and achieve anything you set your mind to. I may not have said it exactly like that, but it’s the overall message you pick up from reading the blog post.
I shared that post over the weekend on my personal Facebook page. And one of my college professors loved it so much she shared it on her Facebook page and told people to follow me. From there, another woman saw it and reached out to me to tell me how much it resonated with her and that she wants to step up her career as an author.
And then she joined my free Facebook group.
So by sharing my message, I connected with people and created new audience members who love what I have to say and want more of it. And, of course, created a ton of value for whoever read it and agreed with it.
Now your message may not be for everyone and some people may be turned off by it. That’s OK! Those are not your people.
A really important thing to remember about marketing is that you don’t want to reach everyone and you don’t want to target everyone. You want to think very specifically about who needs to hear your message the most or who will resonate the most with it.
For me, I know multi-passionate writers, authors and creators are the people who need to hear my message. And that’s who I tailor it for. Because those are the people who make up my audience.
7. Tell Them A Story
You may not realize this, but stories are valuable. Not just fictional stories that you make up for a reader’s enjoyment and entertainment (although those are insanely valuable too), but also stories about your life and your experiences.
When I share stories about things that have happened to me, I always get people who respond and resonate with it.
For example, last week I told you I’ve been dealing with an annoying health issue that flared up from making a massive overnight change to my diet. I didn’t even share a ton of detail, just that little bit and that I’d been a lot less productive because it was causing me to need more downtime.
From sharing that little bit of story about my life, I received a bunch of emails from people wishing me well, telling me to feel better, giving me suggestions for how to move forward, and even sharing their own experiences with annoying heath issues.
I created a connection with my audience by sharing this story. And that is valuable, especially since humans crave connection.
8. Get To Know Them
This also comes down to creating a connection. When you know your audience and know them well, you will know exactly how to create value for them.
I no longer have to think about what to write my blog posts on or what freebies to create or what workshops or programs to offer. Because I know my audience super well. I know what makes them tick, I know what they love, I know what they hate, I know what they dream of.
And all of this came from spending time getting to know them.
I run a free Facebook group which creates a ton of value for my audience and allows them a safe space to learn and grow in their writing lives, and get support and guidance when they need it. And when I first launched my coaching business, I gave away a ton of free sessions so I could get writers on the phone and get to know them better.
You can create value for your audience by getting to know them too.
Ask them questions about themselves. Offer up a free call to anyone willing to let you interview them (so you can ask them the questions that will help you get to know who they are and what they need and want from you).
The value you create—aka: free content—doesn’t have to be fancy. But I always recommend mixing it up if you can and giving your audience a variety of content, like:
- Blog posts
- MP3 audios
- Whatever you can think of
Now if you’re a fiction writer, you may be thinking—this would work for a nonfiction author, but not for me. And if you think that, you’re totally wrong (sorry!).
Because what works for a nonfiction author can work for a fiction author. It’s all about knowing your audience and understanding who they are and what they want.
If you write fiction, your audience is readers of a specific genre. So what do they want? What would be super valuable for them? The same ideas I listed here apply for fiction too.
My recommendation is to take some time to go back through the list and brainstorm ideas for how you could create value for your audience using each of these 8 suggestions.
One thing I will add is that no matter what kind of free content you create, you always want a Call to Action (aka: a CTA) to tell the reader what to do next. A Call to Action can be anything from, “buy my book” to “go to my website and grab the free eBook I created” to “subscribe to my YouTube channel.”
There’s nothing wrong with being sales-y or self-promotional when you’re giving enough value.
I sell stuff in pretty much every email I send out. I promote my programs, workshops, books and offers in pretty much every piece of content I create. And some people may have a problem with it.
But most people don’t mind at all, because they know I’ve given them a ton of value for free… and if they’re not interested, they can just ignore the promo and they’ll still walk away from my blog post, video, livestream, etc., with something valuable they can use in their own lives.
And that’s what creating value is all about.
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How do you create value for your audience?
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