m is for marketing

The internet’s a cool place, no doubt about it, especially if you’re a writer. Reading the work of other fledgling writers is inspiring: although it’s easy to feel like a small fish in a vast pond, its also refreshing to see others who aren’t any more successful than me, who are just getting their feet (or fins?) wet. People I can talk to, exchange ideas with. As much as I admire celebs on Twitter, those snippets of engagement aren’t worth a thing as far as developing my craft. The human connections, even mediated through machines, are the lifeblood–or power supply–of online writers.

I’ve been going through the latest issue of Writer’s Digest, all about making the most of online resources. Gabriela Pereria of DIY MFA fame outlines the ABCs of creating a blogging platform, which surprisingly mirrors what I do as a nonprofit grant writer:

  • A is for Audience: Everyone’s got a niche, because no one writes about everything that pops into their head. I mean, you could blog about anything and everything, but that’s hard to successfully market, and the aim of having a niche at all is to make finding potential audiences easier. Audiences = likes & shares, so find that niche and research what blogs people are already into, and how your content can fit in.
  • B is for Brand: Ah, yes. Marketing. I’m so familiar with the term that it’s almost meaningless now. But in summary, I think good branding comes with a strong idea of who you are as a writer. What relationship do you want to have with your audience? Are you going to use an illustration as your avatar, or your photo? Are you positive and upbeat, or brooding and intellectual? Are there puppies on your home page, or is the background black and the site title blood red, typed in Chiller font?
  • C is for Content and Conversions: If A defines our audience, and B is how we portray ourselves to said audience, then C is how we captivate them. Pereria makes an excellent point when stating, “Oodles of bloggers have built their platforms by being curators of great content.” It’s both the combination of our own writing and our ability to promote other people’s content that creates an audience, because well established writers can draw people to your own work. If that sentiment seems kind of opportunistic, it shouldn’t: I’m sure that if your writing is inauthentic, and you’re unable to form meaningful relationships with your audience, no amount of curation can help you succeed as a blogger.

Last but not least, Pereria reminds us to self-promote every chance we get, not just when we’re publishing a book or something. That said, if you like my content, come find me on Twitter @oldmannelson, that would be awesome. Thanks!