Few writers make the most of content to sell their writing services and books. While content isn’t a magic bullet — witness those who say “blogging doesn’t work!” — companies both small and large are betting big on content in 2018.
Firstly, let’s establish what we’re talking about. What is content marketing?
“Content marketing” is the process of regularly creating and distributing valuable content to specific audiences. Blogging is the simplest form of content marketing.
Done well, content both makes you visible, and helps you to sell
Lack of visibility is the curse of freelancers and self-publishing authors — and of traditional authors too, of course.
That said, you can BUY visibility with advertising. Unfortunately, the cost of advertising on LinkedIn and Facebook will bring tears to your eyes. Amazon Marketing Services (AMS) ads are less expensive, but Amazon’s reporting is woeful. AMS advertising takes a lot of time too, as well as patience.
Content, on the other hand, while it takes time to create, is less expensive and the results not only last longer, but are cumulative too.
So let’s look at some content secrets to help you to sell your writing services and books.
1. Make your content informational and/ or entertaining, rather than overtly promotional
Everyone wants to learn something, even if it’s only the latest celebrity gossip, but few people want to be sold. Stories and information have sold for centuries, and they sell today.
To sell using content, kick your inner sales person out of the way, and welcome your inner storytelling muse.
I’m often asked whether “content” works to sell fiction. Yes, of course it does. Use fiction to sell fiction. You’ll find that any blog posts you write with titles which include the words “free short story” become the most popular posts on your blog, over the course of a year.
(I know this because I’ve recently checked on the 2017 blog stats for a couple of my pen names. “Free short story” is a powerful keyword. )
2. Define your audience: who will buy your stuff?
Whether you’re advertising or using content, defining your audience is key. If you slip up on this, your advertising will fizzle, and your content marketing will be more challenging than it needs to be.
Some strategic Facebook advertising with “look alike” audiences can help with this. If you’re an author, your chosen audience will be similar to that of another author. Freelance writers can use the same trick.
Important: beware of direct advertising on Facebook. Yes, it can work, but you’ll have much more success when you use a lead generator — that is, a freebie. Authors can offer a free ebook or short story; freelancers can offer a freebie too. Consider an email marketing course, or a webinar.
Wary of webinars? They work for many freelancers. Consider joining forces with a graphic designer and/ or a web developer for your webinar presentation.
3. Promote your content to your audience: be where they are
You’ve created some content, and you want your chosen audience to visit your website, and read the content, as well as take action.
Be where your audience is. For freelancers, that’s LinkedIn, and to a lesser extent, Facebook. Create a Company Page on LinkedIn. On Facebook, create as many Pages as you like. You might have a Page for each service you offer. Or, if you’re a self-publisher, you might create a Page for each of your books.
4. Add a Call to Action (CTA) to your content
Never create content without knowing what you want your audience to do, AND creating a CTA so that your audience will act.
For example, let’s say that you’ve just written a blog post about blogging for lawyers. You’re hoping that a lawyer or two will hire you to blog. Don’t leave it up to the lawyers to read your mind. Put a great big CONTACT ME link on the end of your post.
On the other hand, maybe you’ve written a clever 800-word short story, and you’re offering it for free on your blog. Promote your latest novel, or your series, at the end of the post.
5. Power-boost your content with strategic advertising
Strategic advertising works, and it needn’t be expensive. Facebook will send people to your website for $3 a day.
Before you do that however, make sure that you’ve created a blog post or something else which will encourage your site’s visitors to either hire you, or buy a book.
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People respond to content. It attracts attention, and ultimately drives action. Provide content, and you’ll get great clients, and if you’re self-publishing, you’ll sell more books, even though you’re publishing fewer books.
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