Thursday teaser: The Complete Mailing List Toolkit

Share

By Barb Drozdowich

Welcome to The Complete Mailing List Toolkit part of an ongoing series of author “how-to” books, which is designed to help you navigate the technical issues of self-publishing. This box set specifically focuses on how to create optimized reader newsletters, how to grow your mailing list, how to ensure your newsletter arrives in inboxes and how to master email marketing services such as MailChimp.

I will use the word “communication” a lot in this box set. I feel to be successfully engaged with your audience, you must communicate with them, not simply bombard them with email and social media posts. Whereas many experts focus on simply gaining subscribers, I argue that this is too narrow of a focus.

Why this book?

Two reasons:

  1. This book is well researched and pulls information from many different schools of thought, and
  2. I take a holistic view of communicating with readers.

Initially, my intention with this box set was to collect information from a wide variety of sources and condense it into a neat and easy-to-understand package for you. However, as I was researching, my opinion changed. I found that much of the information available online and in various webinars seemed to miss the boat in terms of accuracy, while others just seemed fixated on adding people to a mailing list like hoarders would add one more item to a collection. They weren’t looking at their readers as individuals, nor were they treating them as such.

I wanted to create something more “bigpicture-ish” (is that a word?)—that looks at all aspects and all facets,of communicating with readers using newsletters. Hence the box set. For authors who just want to attack one part of this puzzle, the books are available individually, but my wish is that they are all read together.

I come from a background of technical training and while I’m certainly comfortable with technology. I tend to be holistic in my view. I want to break subjects down into manageable sections, and I don’t want to skip topics because they are difficult to explain. I feel that I haven’t done my job unless I can explain complicated things and make them relevant to you. I’m holistic in terms of looking at one subject within a larger context.

In terms of communicating with readers, I don’t focus on only one part of the puzzle in this box set. I want you to understand why I suggest using shorter subject lines for a newsletter. I want you to understand why entertaining readers, is as important as communicating with them. I want you to understand why it is necessary to use an Email Marketing System right from the get go to communicate with readers. I want you to understand how to work within the laws that govern your actions when you communicate with readers. I want to explain why the technical aspects that many overlook are really important to success in your endeavors.

Most importantly, I want you to understand that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all methods of communication. The way you communicate with a teenager isn’t the way you would communicate with a senior. The material that fans of romance are interested in is not likely to be the same as fans of horror. I want you to learn what your audience wants, not take the advice of an expert without thinking about it and without testing it out. I want you to learn to talk WITH your audience, not AT your audience. I want you to see your readers as more than a wallet.

Seems like I have a huge objective! We are going to break the subject of communicating with readers down into four books. In the first book we are going to address the topic of gathering the names of interested readers. We’re going to view it as something other than hoarding.

Next we’ll learn to use MailChimp really well. There are many Email Marketing Services, but MailChimp is the most popular with folks just starting out. If you have already chosen a different service, note that the lessons in this section are transferable to other services.

In the third book we’re going to talk about making sure that our newsletters actually end up in the inbox of our readers. This book will be fairly technical, but you’ll have a good understanding of why best practices are what they are.

Finally, in the last book, we’re going to talk about how to create really great content that is appropriate for our readers. We’ll bring in some science, some psychology, and some good old-fashioned marketing to help you form a plan for going forward.

I guess it is too soon to say that I’ve really enjoyed writing these books … but I hope that you appreciate my efforts and learn to be better communicators with your readers!

About The Complete Mailing List Toolkit

Is a broken mailing list holding back your author career? Discover how to transform your marketing and attract dedicated readers.

Does emailing your subscribers feel like shouting into the void? Are you struggling to come up with newsletter ideas that resonate with readers? Author consultant Barb Drozdowich has spent decades teaching writers how to navigate the technological pitfalls of publishing. Now, she’s here to help you master your mailing list.

The Complete Mailing List Toolkit provides a holistic approach to reader engagement through the power of direct communication. This bundle of four essential books provides strategies for list building and step-by-step guidelines for creating content that turns readers into lifelong fans. Through a series of easy-to-follow explanations, you’ll finally discover how to optimize your use of MailChimp and revolutionize your author platform.

In The Complete Mailing List Toolkit, you’ll discover:

  • How to create attractive newsletters your readers will eagerly anticipate
  • How to troubleshoot deliverability issues so you can reach more readers
  • How to understand and measure open and click rates to gauge your success
  • How to tailor your message to meet the needs of your unique audience
  • Why quality engagement matters more than subscriber quantity, and much, much more!

The Complete Mailing List Toolkit is your how-to guide for mastering email outreach and connecting with more fans. If you like practical solutions, down-to-earth explanations, and empowering guidance from an industry expert, then you’ll love Barb Drozdowich’s career-changing box set.

Find it on Amazon.

About the author

Social Media and WordPress Consultant Barb Drozdowich has taught in colleges, universities and in the banking industry. More recently, she brings her 15+ years of teaching experience and a deep love of books to help authors develop the social media platform needed to succeed in today’s fast evolving publishing world. She delights in taking technical subjects and making them understandable by the average person. She owns Bakerview Consulting and manages the popular blog, Sugarbeat’s Books, where she talks about Romance novels.

She is the author of 15 books, over 45 YouTube videos and an online WordPress course, all focused on helping authors and bloggers. Barb lives in the mountains of British Columbia with her family.

She can be found on her

Share

Monday Musings: The Author & Social Media Hang-Outs

Share

by Kathleen Valentine

Lola2As I continue my never-ending quest to navigate the ins and out of social media marketing for books, I, like most independent authors, spend a lot of time wondering what on earth I’m doing. Lately I have been reading about “social media hang-outs” for fans of an author’s books or series. It took me awhile to figure all this out, but what it amounts to is creating a place on social media—Facebook, Reddit, and Twitter seem to be popular platforms—where an author can interact with readers in sort of a secret club. Some of these groups are by invitation only and are closed to the uninvited, others are open to whoever wishes to join. Since I don’t belong to any, I don’t know what goes on in them and, frankly, I prefer not to think about it.

However, recently I started thinking about how to go about creating one. I have a personal account and an author’s account on Facebook. I have a blog that gets a decent amount of traffic. I’m active on Twitter, less active on Pinterest, so I sort of felt like I didn’t need another social media distraction. Besides, as I contemplated my books I thought it would make better sense to focus on a series and create my hang-out with that series in mind. My Beacon Hill Chronicles are my best selling books and they are all set on Boston’s Beacon Hill. However, that setting is a little scary—people get killed there. A lot. Who wants to hangout at a crime scene? And my Halcyon Beach series is set in a dilapidated, run-down, off-season tourist trap and is filled with ghosts. Not enticing.

Lolas

Then there are my Marienstadt books. They have not been as popular as my other series but they have very loyal followers. The fourth book in the series, The Legend: A Marienstadt Story, came out in February and the people who have read it tell me that they love it. So I had an idea.

In all my Marienstadt stories, no matter what is going on, everybody is always popping in to Lola’s Strudel Shop on Main Street, a few doors down from the police station, to get coffee, order strudel for parties, give themselves a treat, and catch up on gossip. If it happens in Marienstadt, it gets discussed at Lola’s. So bearing that in mind I started a Facebook community page for Lola’s Strudel Shop. I was lucky to snag the URL www.facebook.com/Marienstadt, too.

One of the ways I amuse myself is by writing scenes that may or may not find their way into books. Since finishing The Legend, I was missing my Marienstadt people so much that I wrote half a dozen scenes. I do not know whether they will turn into a book or not but I decided to share them in Lola’s Strudel Shop. I’ve also posted links to pages of interest to Marienstadt fans, and several of the pretty quote-graphics that I make for Twitter and Pinterest. When I had a few posts that I thought might be of interest, I made the page go live and invited friends. In two days nearly a hundred people joined and my posts began to gather Likes.

It’s too soon to know how this will turn out but I’m having a good time doing it and what is more important than that? I am using Facebook’s Notes feature to post my stories and am hopeful that I’ll get some feedback. It might be fun to co-create stories with readers.

So, if you want to take a look, please do. I hope my efforts will serve as inspiration for other writers trying to figure this marketing business out.

Thanks for reading.

Share

Monday Musings: More Thoughts on Blogging

Share

by Kathleen Valentine

bloggingFor the last several weeks I have been blogging here about using social media for marketing. My emphasis has been on book marketing—I am a writer after all—but a lot of these techniques can be used for nearly any sort of marketing. As I have been working at increasing my social media presence, I’ve come to the belief that getting readers to come to my blog is probably my most worthwhile effort.

I started my blog in June 2006 which means I’ve just passed my 10th anniversary. Recently, when I was looking at my blog stats, I realized that a lot of my old blog posts had very low numbers of visits. Then I realized that a couple years ago I changed my blog’s URL to include my name (www.KathleenValentineBlog.com) and all the stats reset at that point. So, though I’ve been blogging for ten years and have over 2,000 blog posts, the actual stats are only for the past two years.

When I set my blog up I chose Blogger as the host so I am familiar with how they present stats. I am sure other blog hosts have similar reports, I just can’t tell you where they are. Recently, for the first time ever, I had over 1,000 visitors in one day and I credit that to using Twitter to promote past posts. Over the years, I’ve kept an eye on my stats and am frequetly baffled why some posts get so many more hits than others. One post about my cookbook has had over 20k hits but I suspect that is because the word “bacon” is in the title. I don’t get any special credit for that. It is not always easy to figure where traffic comes from, but I do notice that a lot of it comes from Facebook and Bitly URLS that I use on Twitter. Some observations on the value of blogs:

It gives readers a sense of who you are. I blog a lot about events in my town, mysteries, legends, and lore that interest me, and how these things are useful in my writing. I also blog about books I am reading, recipes, knitting and sewing, and random thoughts on life. If a reader reads my blog regularly, they know how I write and what I write about. If they like all that, they may like reading my books.

Individual pages/Tabs add extra information. It took a long time for me to set up separate pages in tabs across the top of my blog, but I’m sure glad I did! My individual pages have received a lot of hits. The largest number of hits have been on About Kathleen (over 5,000), a separate page for my 4 Marienstadt books (over 4,000), and a separate page for my 4 Beacon Hill books (over 3,500). What that tells me is that visitors to the blog were sufficiently interested to have a look at those pages.

All my books are listed, with buy links, in a single column on every page. Do people use these? I don’t really know but I do know that regular readers of my blog cannot escape noticing them. They know how to find what I have to offer.

How important is all of this to the individual blogger? Only time can tell. I’ve blogged regularly for 10 years but it is only since I’ve started using social media to promote my blog that I’ve seen a BIG increase in traffic. I am happy about this.

Another good thing about blogging is participating in blog events, like the A-to-Z Challenge and the TMI Challenge. If you participate and, as part of your participation, visit other blogs and comment, you build community and attract new visitors.

Let’s face it—we all know that getting the attention of potential readers is what marketing is all about. We don’t like it, but we do it. By making it as much fun as possible and following our own bliss, we cannot help but attract new audiences and isn’t that what we want. Have fun.

Thanks for reading.

Share

Monday Musings: Anatomy of a Tweet

Share

by KathleenValentine

tweetLast week I wrote about learning to schedule Tweets on Twitter. Twitter is a very good way to attract attention to your work on the internet, especially to your blog posts. If you have your blog set up to show your books and to offer pages/tabs with more information, increasing traffic on your blog will give you greater visibility overall on the internet.

I have been blogging for over 10 years. I blog mostly about things that interest me—especially interesting places, stories, legends, and folklore which I use as background for many of my stories. However, I also post recipes, talk about my knitting and sewing projects, about local events, and about authors and artists that I love. Before learning to promote my blog on Twitter, I would write a post, post it to Facebook and Twitter, and hope people saw it. Occasionally one of my posts would be picked up by another site (I’ve had posts reposted by Huffington Post and the New York Times) and then I’d see a lot of traffic for a few days. Then traffic would die down again and go back to normal.

By creating a database of Tweets to blog posts I hope people find interesting, I can schedule posts throughout the day. By doing that I’ve seen traffic on my blog quadruple in a little over a month. What I do is:

  • go through past blog posts that I think people might find interesting

  • create a Tweet for that post

  • find an appropriate, interesting picture to go with the post

  • save the Tweet in a DOC file

  • schedule the posts using TweetDeck to post throughout the day

I usually try to schedule one Tweet per hour and, since I now have around 200 Tweets, that means I can go for days without repeating a Tweet. Some Tweets—ones that promote a special I am running, for instance—get Tweeted every day. Others might only get Tweeted once a week or so. I can tell by the number of times my various Tweets get Liked and Retweeted which ones are working for me. I can also check my blog stats and see how traffic has increased. A lot of my posts that had around 100 views now have 5 or 10 times that many. Here is a typical Tweet:

The Legendary Fisherman’s Sweater bit.ly/29DKi8S Historic #knitting #FolkloreThursday @FolkloreThurs pic.twitter.com/CjFt5p3lK1

This is what it looks like on Twitter: anatomy And, this is what all that means:
 The Legendary Fisherman’s Sweater – This is the title of the post.
● bit.ly/29DKi8S – this is a link to the blog post that has been shortened. Usually URLs are fairly long but you can shorten them using a service like bitly.com. It is free. All you do is cut and paste your long URL into their box and it magically shortens it. They even have a special shorten version for Amazon links.
● Historic #knitting – a little bit of description including the hashtag for knitting. This Tweet will be visible to anyone who tracks or searches on that hashtag.
● #FolkloreThursday – This is a hashtag that has proven to be very useful for me. Whenever I make posts about folklore and legends and Tweet on Thursdays using this hashtag I get a LOT of Likes and Retweets. Finding hashtags that are particular to your needs is very valuable. I often go to Hashtagify.me and search for hashtags that might be good for my Tweets.
● @FolkloreThurs – This is the Twitter handle for the people who started #FolkloreThursday. By including it in my Tweet I am making sure that they have a chance to read and possibly share my Tweet.
● pic.twitter.com/CjFt5p3lK1 – This is the address of the picture I include with this Tweet. I liked this picture and thought it was amusing. I try to keep the images fairly lo-res so they load faster.

As you get more active on Twitter you will find hashtags that get a lot of attention. For instance #MondayBlogs and #SundayBlogShare can help a lot. You participate by using the hashtag in your Tweets and randomly Retweet other Tweets containing that hashtag.

As I said before, my purpose in doing this is to increase traffic on my blog where people can learn more about me and what I have to offer. So far it seems to be helping.

Thanks for reading.

Share

Monday Musings: Streamlining Twitter

Share

by Kathleen Valentine

twitterIn the past week or so two different author friends told me that they need to learn how to use Twitter. I felt that way myself a couple months ago but after attending Rachel Thompson’s #BookMarketingChat on Twitter, and doing some research I’ve learned a lot. If you have never used Twitter you would be better off getting an account and learning how to use it first. If you have a Twitter account and have done some tweeting, this might help.

First understand what Twitter can do and what it can’t do. With every Tweet you have 140 characters to get your message across. Therefore you want to do this efficiently. Twitter can help you attract followers, show what you have to offer, and help build relationships. Twitter by itself is not a good medium for selling (whether you sell books, art, handcrafts, etc.) However, Twitter is very good at getting people to visit your blog and web sites. Since I started using Twitter regularly I have seen an impressive increase in blog traffic. Whether this will translate into sales remains to be seen but traffic on my blog has quadrupled and I receive an increasing number of Notifications every day.

Watch your Notifications. Once you get active on Twitter, watch your Notifications. Notifications tell you when someone Follows you, Likes one of your Tweets, adds you to a List, and Retweets you. Most people are worried that they don’t have enough Followers, but that will grow as you get active. When someone Follows me I usually follow back unless they are very far outside my fields of interest. There are people who subscribe to services that build their following, which I have never done. It is up to you to decide how to acquire Followers but learning to use hashtags can help this. I’ve discussed this on another blog post. What you really want are Retweets. Every time someone Retweets you, your Tweet goes out to a whole new audience. This helps increase your exposure.

What should you Tweet about? This is the most important thing to learn. Spamming buy-my-book will get you nowhere—people get tired of those Tweets and rarely pass them on. What I do on an on-going basis is create Tweets that I keep in a DOC file on my desktop. Every day I use a Tweet scheduler (more about that later) to schedule Tweets throughout the day—usually one per hour. Now that I have a couple hundred Tweets in my files, I can log on in the morning, schedule a day’s worth of Tweets in about 20 minutes, and forget about it for the rest of the day. The Tweets I save are:

  • Inspirational Quotes for Writers—these consist of a quote from a writer on an attractive background. I’ve been doing this on Facebook for years and now have an arsenal of a thousand quotes. I usually schedule 4-5 of these every day.

  • Articles from My Blog—Getting people to come to my blog is important to me. Once they are there they can see all my book in a column on the right, plus tabs for my series books, bio, and the giveaway I am running. Over the years I have blogged about cooking, sewing, knitting, folklore (a special interest of mine), and many other subjects. It took awhile but I’ve created a list of Tweets about these subjects that include a link, hashtags, and images. I made a post about this a few weeks ago.

  • Quotes from My Books—These are just pretty pictures with quotes that I hope people will like. All that is included is the quote, the title of the book, and a link. These get Retweeted a lot. I posted about these before.

  • Tweets to Interesting Articles on Other Blogs—Sharing is caring and I’ve acquired a lot of links to blog posts by others that I like. For example my friend Skye Alexander writes a blog about exploring the afterlife, not a subject I know much about. I have created a variety of Tweets to her articles and I schedule them regularly. They get a lot of Retweets, more traffic for her, and good karma for me.

  • Tweets about Specials, Giveaways, Promos, etc.—I create Tweets for specials I am running, giveaways, contests, etc. I try not to run these more than once a day.

Once you have acquired an inventory of Tweets that you keep in a file, subscribe to a Twitter scheduler. I use TweetDeck but there are others like Hoosuite and a lot I never had any experience with. Once you are set up with TweetDeck, you can schedule Tweets throughout the day by just cutting and pasting them from your file. I usually schedule 4-5 inspirational quotes, 4-5 articles from my blog that I vary to include recipes, knitting patterns, and articles on legends, book reviews, travel, etc. I schedule a few directly promotional Tweets for giveaways and sales, then fill up the rest with my own book quotes, and articles on other people’s blogs.

Next time I’ll write about the anatomy of a good Tweet. Learning to do that can make all the difference. For example, I wrote a blog post about a local curiosity in Erie, Pennsylvania, where I once lived. In a city cemetery there is a mysterious crypt that is said to house a vampire. I wrote the blog article about it some years ago and it got maybe a hundred viewers. However, once I made a Tweet for it, including links, hashtags, and a creepy picture, and began Tweeting it a couple times a week, the views went up to a thousand in no time. That means a thousand people who now know about my blog and who had the opportunity to check out my other posts and books. Not a bad investment of my time.

Thanks for reading.

Share

Monday Musings: Enhancing Web Presence

Share

by Kathleen Valentine

We’ve all heard it before, you need a strong web presence in order to market anything. Especially books, it seems. Over the past two months I’ve been working to connect my social media accounts with my web site and blog, and am trying out a few ideas to get more readers. Here are a few with some links I hope will be helpful.

SM05

Make sure your social media buttons are on your web site and blog. Right at the top where you can’t miss them. I always had the full roster of my buttons across the bottom of the page but recently I moved the most important ones to the top of the page, too. There are lots of places on the internet with instructions on how to add these buttons, Simple Share Buttons is one.

SM02

Add your Twitter feed to your web site. Adding a Twitter feed is easy and it lets visitors to your web site see what is new with you. There are lots of ways to do this. Probably the easiest is Twitter’s own code How To Embed a Timeline. Not only can visitors see what you are Tweeting but they can Share and Follow.

SM03

Add your Facebook page to your web site. Like adding Twitter, Facebook Plugins can let people see what you are posting on Facebook. They can Share and Like without leaving your web site. Facebook actually provides a lot of Social Plugins that are easy to install.

SM04

Entice readers to join your email list by offering a free ebook. Recently I was part of an anthology of short stories by 9 women authors. We decided that we would give the books away through book retailers but also on our sites. I’m offering a free copy to anyone who joins my email list. I used the widget provided by my email service.

SM01

Sponsor a giveaway. Because I am an avid knitter I always have lots of pretty “goodies” I can give away but you can give away books, swag, anything you like. I am running this giveaway on my blog by asking people to help promote one of my books. I created Tweets, Facebook Shares, Pinterest Pins, and Google+ Shares using a Share Link Generator and participants get a an entry for every time they share.

I’m not kidding–this all takes a lot of work but I have seen a jump in my traffic already so I’m going to keep trying. I hope this gives you some good ideas, too.

Share

Monday Musings: To Thine Own self Be True

Share

by Kathleen Valentine

flyingbooksIn January 2012 I sold 10,000 ebooks. I was in the midst of an unimaginable sales run and between October 2011 and May 2012, I sold so many copies of one 99¢ (The Crazy Old Lady in the Attic) book that I was able to pay cash for a new and much needed car—not a fancy car, but a good one. That was the peak of my glory days as an author. It’s been an increasing struggle ever since and the slide into oblivion is omnipresent.

These days I’ve been working at learning how to market my books by using social media, blogging, finding unique ways to advertise, etc. As I work on all these things I can see how slipshod my marketing efforts were in the past. I have been making a concerted effort to rewrite and improve my bios on all my author pages, pay attention to my “brand” (though I’m still not clear what that is), and cultivate relationships on the various platforms. As I do this I am discovering something that makes me uncomfortable.

Obviously, the purpose of social media is to get as many followers as possible—preferably of the sort who will buy and read your books. That is easy to understand. But I am not real comfortable with the whole process of just “liking” or “following” for no reason other than hoping the other person will like or follow me back. I understand the reason for it, but it makes me feel kind of false. Even worse than that is trying to attract attention to my posts, blog posts, etc. by concocting titles that are very attention-getting, but then offer empty content or content that contradicts the title.

For example, the other day I saw a Tweet about a blog post titled Seven Tricks Guaranteed to Get You Instant Followers (I changed that slightly but the concept is the same.) Naturally, I clicked on it and the first thing I got was a pop-up asking me to subscribe to the author’s newsletter. How do I know if I want to subscribe before I even see what you offer? It took me awhile to get past that. Then I found a list of seven bits of advice that, while useful, were fairly involved. All of them required a registration process on one site or another, setting up a landing page, adding all kinds of info, and connecting it to other social media. I followed the instruction for a couple of them but there was nothing “instant” about it—and I still haven’t seen all the promised followers.

There is also a tremendous amount of dubious advice. I Googled “tips for getting followers on social media” and got 16,400,000 results in 0.49 seconds. Whew. I started clicking on them one at a time and realized in short order that most of them said about the same things and a lot of the advice was of the thanks-a-bunch sort. My favorites are “write interesting content.” Well, thanks so much, define “interesting content.” And, “write what your readers want to read.” That’s an admirable goal but not exactly enlightening. There was a time—back when I was selling thousands of books a month—that I wrote what I felt like writing and people seemed to love it.

What does all this mean? Basically, the book business has changed a lot! Once it was hard to get books published. Now publishing is a piece of cake but getting people to notice is hard. The indie publishing boom has spawned a lot of business opportunities for entrepreneurs who will promote your books for you for a fee—in a lot of cases it’s a very hefty fee. The days of running a sale and sending out a few Tweets, then sitting back and watching the ebooks fly through the ether are over. Selling books is a slog and each author has to decide what they have time and energy for. Some authors take the spam-everything approach, others take the limited, but targeted, approach. I would not be so bold as to say which works better.

I guess we have to sell our books the way we live our lives. Some of us live large and grand and out there, in your face. Others pace ourselves and cling to the belief that cream rises. You have to do what’s best for you, and you have to live by your own moral code. Trust yourself. I can’t give you any better advice than that.

Thanks for reading.

Share

Monday Musings: Let Me Be Graphic

Share

by Kathleen Valentine

OMTquote02As I continue to navigate the torturous path of using social media to improve my book marketing, I am finding that a lot of advice sites talk a lot about using graphics to capture attention. For me this is a good thing because I have a degree in art and worked for 30 years as a graphic artist. You’d think that would mean I’m all set, but such is not the case. I know HOW to create art, I just don’t always know what to create.

I mentioned in a past post about the Daily Inspiration for Writers quotes that I’ve been posting on Facebook for a couple years. I make a new one every day and post it first thing every morning—to my personal page and then I share it to my Author page and my design page (which needs work!) This is easy because author quotes can be found all over the internet and I select pretty backgrounds from free or public domain image sites. A few weeks ago I started posting these images to Twitter, too, scheduling 4 or 5 of them throughout the day. I notice they are getting retweeted a lot and I’ve picked up some new followers.

In a recent Twitter #BookMarketingChat on using Pinterest, I got the idea to also start sharing quotes from my books on an attractive background (above). Those also seem to be retweeted and shared enough for me to consider it worthwhile. I use Photoshop to make my graphics but I realize not everyone can do that.

Two very useful online sites that let you create graphics are Canva and Pablo. Both are free and are easy to use. I registered on each of them in a matter of minutes and watched the tutorials which were very easy to follow. What they provide are catalogs of backgrounds, selections of typefaces, choices of colors, etc. that let even a novice designer make pretty cool graphics that you can then save and post on any social media site. I have read that posts/tweets with attractive graphics are shared/retweeted much more frequently than those without.

Another fabulous resource is Hubspot’s Ultimate Cheat Sheet. This is a great resource because it has compiled all the sizes you will want for Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and more. That way you won’t create a lovely graphic and then upload and discover it is badly distorted or cropped in a way that chops off parts of your design.

Like most authors, I’d love to be able to just focus on my writing and not spend hours and hours marketing. I know some authors that have done well enough that they now hire assistants to do their social media scheduling but even the most successful authors seem to rely on regular interaction with their friends and followers. These days even those authors who are published by traditional publishers are doing more and more social media. It’s where marketing is done today.

So, play around with Canva or Pablo. Use the dimensions specified on the cheat sheet, and see if you can add some pizzazz to your pages. It’s fun, it’s attention getting, and you might find a new passion.

Thanks for reading.

Share

Monday Musings: More About #Hashtags

Share

by Kathleen Valentine

hashtagIn my blog post last week I mentioned learning to use hashtags and I got a couple emails from people asking me to say more about that. I am just learning these things myself so I may not have it all clear, but this is what I know about hashtags—they make your social media life simpler and they can garner more attention for your posts.

First of all, for those who don’t know, a hashtag is when you put a number or pound sign # in front of a word or string of words. Some people make up their own hashtags and pepper them through their post on social media. This is relatively harmless but it also serves no purpose. Writing a post about some dumb thing you did and adding #imsuchaknucklehead #whatwasithinking is cute but doesn’t do much of anything. However, there are millions of hashtags in use across social media and they do several things:

Help people interested in your hashtag find you. Even if you don’t have ten thousand followers on Twitter, there may be ten thousand or more people following a particular hashtag. Recently I made a post about a genealogy project I was working on and I added the hashtag #genealogy. I posted to Facebook and, because I’ve connected Facebook to my Twitter account, it showed up on Twitter. Later I got a Twitter Notification that my post had been picked up by a genealogy curated content newsletter. This means my post not only went to Twitter but was now being included in a newsletter that went to thousands of subscribers. Pretty nifty.

Allow you to organize posts on your blog into subjects. You can do this with tags, but by adding the hashtag your posts will show up when people search from other platforms. On my blog I regularly blog about cooking, sewing, knitting, and writing. When I add those hashtags in the title of the blog post it increases their reach and we all know that reach is what it’s all about.

Participate in Twitter chats. Last Wednesday night I participated in a new Twitter chat about book marketing. The hashtag was #BookMarketingChat and everyone who used that hashtag showed up to everyone who was following it. The way I did it was to set up a separate column on Tweetdeck and then type #BookMarketingChat, copy it to my clipboard (Control-C) and add it to all my Tweets (Control V). Simple. That way I could see what everyone else was saying because it showed up in my column and I can make it possible for everyone to see my Tweets.

Find new users following unique hashtags. Lots of people create unique hashtags that grow in popularity. For example #amreading and #amwriting are used by thousands of people to reach new readers and other writers. There are web sites that find these hashtags and track their reach and popularity. The one I use is called Hashtagify.me and I’ve found a lot of great hashtags that way. So, if you want to promote, say, your book on vegan recipes, you go to Hashtagify.me and type in “vegan recipes” and immediately you’ll find #veganlife, #whatveganseat, #MeatlessMondays, and more.

Like anything, hashtags can be overdone. The general guideline is to not use more than 2 or 3 hashtags per Tweet. It’s a little higher for other social media. But learning to use them is an effective way to #getattention and #findnewusers.

Thanks for reading.

Share

Monday Musings: Connecting Social Media

Share
Home page of my Author Web Site with social media buttons along the bottom and newsletter subscription box on the left.

Home page of my Author Web Site with social media buttons along the bottom and newsletter subscription box on the left.

by Kathleen Valentine

Every time I read an article about book marketing one of the first things they tell you is to learn to use social media. One of the first things you discover when you start using social media is that it can suck the life out of you and you wind up spending hours and hours and hours for not very much result. However, one of the things a lot of people don’t know is that you can maximize your social media time by interconnecting posts. This saves a tremendous amount of time. Here are some screen shots of my pages that I hope will help you see what I mean.

First of all, make sure that you have social media buttons on your author web site. On the left is a screen shot of my author web site home page. As you can see there are social media buttons along the bottom—in fact they are on every page of my web site along with a sign-up box on the left for my newsletter. I used to have a lot of video and fancy stuff on my web page but have recently simplified it to make it mobile-friendly.

Below is the top of my blog. Along the sidebar you can find links for most of my books, a subscribe box, a newsletter sign up, my Twitter feed, and my Goodreads feed. These are widgets that I copied from Twitter and Goodreads and inserted into an HTML Gadget in the Layout feature of my blog.

The top of my blog.

The top of my blog.

Below is the dashboard on Networked Blogs where I set up the syndication to other sites. Once it is set up, every time I post to my blog it will automatically post to Twitter, my Facebook Profile page, as well as several other Facebook Fan Pages I use.

Networked Blogs Dashboard

Networked Blogs Dashboard

This is my Facebook Author page. Both it and my Facebook Profile page are linked to Twitter so every time I post to Facebook it automatically posts to Twitter. You can also set it up so that your Twitter Tweets post to Facebook but it is best not to do both because you can get into an endless loop of posting back and forth.

Facebook Author's Page, Kathleen Valentine's Books

Facebook Author’s Page, Kathleen Valentine’s Books

This is my Twitter feed. I use TweetDeck because it allows me to schedule posts ahead and then not worry about them for the rest of the day. Some people prefer HootSuite which also lets you schedule ahead. TweetDeck also lets me set up separate columns to keep track of groups and activities I participate in like #MondayBlogs, a cooperation among bloggers to share one another’s blog posts.

My Twitter feed through TweetDeck

My Twitter feed through TweetDeck

And, this is my Goodreads page. When I set up my Author page through the Author Dashboard, I included my blog posts. Goodreads also feeds my Goodreads activity to my Facebook Author page.

MM-Goodreads

Finally, this is my Amazon Author page which also automatically posts every new blog entry. It also allows me to post my YouTube videos. You can set this up by using Amazon’s Author Central.

Amazon Author's Page

Amazon Author’s Page

I’m not going to lie—it takes time to get this all set up but once you get it done it maximizes your time spent on social media. There are many other social media sites that can be integrated—Pinterest, Instagram, Google+, and more but this is a good start. Also, many sites that I use regularly (like Pinterest and Goodreads) offer me the option to post my activity to Facebook and Twitter just by checking a box. Amazon lets me share when I buy, review, or want to recommend a book. All of these little share features help maximize your social media time.

Good luck and happy networking.

Share