Something every emerging author needs to know how to do is build a following. And that’s because without an audience (aka: people following you), it’s pretty hard to sell books.
Of course, you can always run paid advertising and reach them that way. Or go the traditional publishing route (can we say, waste of time?).
Or you can do the free (or nearly free) version: build your following organically.
Now depending on how you do it, the organic way can take awhile. It took me 8 years to get to where I’m at right now. But I’d argue I could’ve gotten here in half the time (or less) if I had just stopped worrying about everything and just consistently took massive action.
That’s why I’m going to give you the secret 7-step plan for building a following online and creating raving fans who buy all of your books.
It took me 8+ years and six-figures+ investing in my writing career to learn all of what I’m divulging here. So you better listen up, because this is the golden ticket to exploding your fanbase.
1. Say What You Really Think
The world is full of people who are PC and who people-please and say things just to make everyone happy and comfortable. But here’s the thing, vanilla doesn’t sell books.
That’s why you have to be someone who says what you really think. Who stakes a claim and takes a stand on the topics that are important to your industry and/or genre.
Share your opinion on the stuff that matters. Don’t be afraid to tell-it-like-it-is.
The world needs more people like that. Funnily enough, they’re few and far between, which is why when an author stands up and speaks their truth, people listen.
So be that author too. Be an author who says what you really think and takes a stand on the issues and topics that are important to you and to your industry and/or genre.
2. Jump Off the Fence
This one goes with number one. You’ve gotta jump off the fence and stop toeing the line. You’ve gotta pick a stance and stick with it (and if you change it later–which is totally fine, people’s opinions do change sometimes–you can justify it by sharing how or why you can to this new conclusion).
Authors who are on the fence, in general, do not build massive followings. The authors with massive followings have created them based on taking a stand for something that’s important to them. And their audience almost always knows exactly how they feel about that issue.
For example, you now know how I stand on the matter of self-publishing. I’m crystal clear on it. There’s no more wondering how I feel. You know.
Same goes for you. What issues or topics are there in your industry and/or genre that you can get off the fence about?
It’s especially good to choose at least one issue or topic that’s controversial. Controversial topics are always more popular.
Which brings me to…
3. Piss People Off
Sounds harsh, right? We should all just play nice and get along.
Maybe. If you want to create an online following that resembles a child’s daycare center. All roses and nice-nice.
But if you want to build a massive following of raving fans who read all your stuff and buy all your books, you can’t play nice and try to make everyone like you. You have to talk directly to your target readers and say things that no one else is willing to say, but that people need to hear.
Make an opinion–one that your target readers agree with (unless, of course, your opinion is opposite your target readers. Don’t lie to them… but at the same time, why would you target readers who don’t believe what you believe or think like you think? Think about that one.) This will cause them to resonate with you more.
I piss people off all the time when I use swear words (especially FUCK) in my writing and also when I say things I believe to be true but that others don’t agree with (like you control your own destiny and everything that happens to you is of your own design).
But doing this is what tightens my tribe. It’s what makes people who aren’t my true tribe leave and unsubscribe, and what makes my true tribe called in.
Your true tribe–the people you resonate with and who love who you are and what you do–will not be able to find you if you’re always playing nice. Because they won’t be able to relate to you.
When you say state your opinion and piss people off, your tribe can find you, because all the people who don’t resonate with what you’re saying will go away, and the ones who are left will be your true tribe.
Think of it like this, in a room full of 100 people, it’s hard to know which ones like pizza and which ones don’t. The only way to find out, is to shout out to the group, “Pizza is the best food that exists! Who’s with me?!”
The people who love pizza will start to cheer and will agree with you and move in your direction, where you can all gather to talk about how much you love pizza…and how much you don’t understand people who don’t. Meanwhile the people who hate pizza will leave the room or tune you out completely, making more room for the pizza lovers.
4. Give Massive Value
This is a tough one for most writers. In fact, this is what really separates the authors with a following from the authors no one cares about.
The authors with a following give massive value to their audience, in whatever way makes sense for them. Value comes in all forms.
But the two biggest things people are looking for online is: education and entertainment.
So you’ve either got to educate your audience, entertain them, or–and this is the best one–both. You have to be interesting or you have to present things to them in an interesting way.
They want to be inspired and motivated. They want to feel the love and know they’re not alone. They want to connect with other human beings who are just like they are.
The best way to give massive value is to create content, lots and lots of content. Content that your target audience will LOVE.
Here are some examples of what counts as content:
- Blog post
- Short blip (Snap Chat, anyone?)
- Guest post
- Print book
- Audio recording
- Whatever else you can think of
You have to focus on the kind of content you enjoy creating and that your target audience enjoys as well.
For example, don’t force yourself to make videos if you hate videos (although I will say that video is pretty important in the digital age, so you should probably just get over yourself and do it anyhow).
Once you’re giving enough value, you’ll start to see your following skyrocket.
5. Be Who You Are–And Show It
Whoever you are in real life, that’s who you need to be online. People will connect more with you if they know you’re human just like they are.
A lot of authors think they have to sell the dream life or that all people want to see is the good stuff. But giving your audience a highlight reel of your life isn’t the best way to connect with them.
It’s humanity that makes you real. It’s your vulnerability that will resonate with them.
A few months ago I made a video talking about the worst hater situation I’ve encountered since I started my blog (back in ’08). The guy was a true asshole and crossed the line several times in his comments. It was ugly.
And I could’ve chosen to not ever mention it to anyone. To not ever bring it up and just act like everyone loves me and life is all roses.
But that wouldn’t be authentic, and people totally see through that. No one’s life is perfect. So don’t pretend like yours is for the sake of trying to build a following. Doing that will cost you your following.
So I talked about it. I talk about the haters and I talk about the negative stuff that goes on behind the scenes. Because I want you to know exactly what to expect on your journey to being the writer and author you dream of being.
If I didn’t do those things, I wouldn’t be being me. I’d be covering up who I really am, which is someone who tells-it-like-it-is.
Be who you are. Embrace it and fly your “freak flag,” because the world is waiting for more authentic people to show up and lead.
6. Be Accessible
In a world where customer service is mostly talking to a recording and people just want to automate everything, there’s something to be said for being accessible. For giving people access to you and not just hiding out.
I have serious respect for the big-name people in the writing world (and the world, in general) who still run their own social media accounts. This is a task so easily passed off to someone else or pre-set up using a scheduling software.
So to be an author who actually posts live and responds to people’s comments and engages is HUGE. It’s really huge.
A lot of people say they love my Facebook group more than any other out there because I’m accessible. I check in DAILY and I respond to pretty much everything (sometimes I’m miss stuff, but overall I try to respond to everything).
This shows people that I actually give a fuck about them and about the group, and I’m not just trying to automate or be at an arm’s length from them.
I let people into my world. I give them a behind-the-scenes look at my writing life (even more so for the members of my Bestselling Author Mastermind group–they get an all-access pass). I show them exactly what I do and exactly how I do it.
I’m accessible. And you should be too if you want to build a following.
7. Set Your Mind To It
It wouldn’t be an article by me if I didn’t mention something about mindset. So here it is, number seven. The thing that makes everything else on this list work ten million times better.
If you want to build a following, you’ve first gotta set your mind to it. You’ve gotta decide that you’re going to build a following and grow your audience and you’re gonna do whatever it takes, for as long as it takes, until it takes…and then keep going.
That’s the key. That’s everything right there. In setting your mind to it, you’ve just brought yourself 90 percent of the way.
The final 10 percent is taking massive actions that are aligned with your goal (whatever it may be).
Share With Us
Which one of these 7 things can you start doing today?
Want to explode your following and take massive action so you can gain a readership and sell more books (now or whenever you’re ready to)? Check out GROW YOUR FOLLOWING, a virtual workshop for emerging authors and authorpreneurs who want to create a raving fanbase. Full details HERE.