Tag Archives: platform

The Power of Podcasting: Four Reasons to Have an Author Podcast

It seems people are jumping on the podcasting bandwagon. They want to grow their audience and build their platform in order to sell their books (or whatever other product or service they have to offer).

Four Reasons to Have an Author Podcast

This makes sense. Look at the recent surge of interest in audiobooks, with people who “read” books by listening to a recording. They do this during their commute to and from work, as they exercise, or when they attend to projects around the house. They have become voracious “readers” without ever opening a book or turning on their e-reader.

Podcasting extends the audiobook mindset. A podcast simply becomes another audio expression for these folks to consume.

Here are some of the benefits of author podcasts:

Another Channel to Reach Readers: A natural communication channel for writers is the written word. Blogging connects nicely with that. Readers read books; readers read blogs. It makes sense, a lot of sense. However readers who listen to books won’t likely read a blog, but they will likely listen to a podcast. With podcasting, writers have two ways to reach their audience.

Another Means to Connect with Readers: When we read a book or blog post we use the sense of sight to see the words. When we listen to a book or a podcast we use the sense of sound. With audio, we use voice inflections, interject emphasis, and add timing to each sentence as we speak. These benefits of audio all allow us a better means to connect with our audience.

Another Creative Outlet For Authors: Writing is a creative art; so is speaking. Both communicate but in different ways. Both provide creative outlets, but which tap different aspects of our creativity.

A Fun Break From Writing: No matter how much we like to write, we all need to take a break. After all, once we spend a full day working on our book, do we really want to spend another hour writing a blog post? Not likely, but spending that hour on podcasting provides a nice alternative to writing. Then we can return to writing with a refreshed perspective.Use a podcast to build your author platform. Click To Tweet

Given these great benefits, you might be ready to jump on the podcasting bandwagon. Not so fast. First, you need to consider whether podcasting is right for you. Next week I’ll look at my experience with podcasting, which should provide some more insight into this intriguing communication option.

Do you listen to podcasts? Have you ever done a podcast? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

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Is Your Website Responsive?

With more and more people viewing websites from mobile devices, it’s critical that our sites work well with smaller screens, that they are “responsive.” In simple terms, a responsive website is one that automatically resizes to fit the viewing area of the appliance accessing it.

In the past this meant making a separate version of each page for mobile screens, be it a smartphone, tablet, e-reader, and so forth. Now many website themes have this functionality built into them. If a theme isn’t “responsive,” then don’t use it.

Having a responsive website, one that is mobile-friendly, is important for two reasons. First, we are near a point where the majority of sites are accessed not by a computer but by a portable device. Not having a responsive site hampers half our readers from having a usable experience.

The other key reason is that Google is reportedly rewarding responsive sites by placing them higher in search engine results. This means they are effectively penalizing sites that do not play well with mobile devices.

Although you could test your site with every size and type of mobile appliance to see if it is responsive, Google has provided an online tool to check for us. Just enter your web address (URL) and click “analyze.” It takes less than a minute.

If it says “mobile-friendly,” then you are all set. If it reports your site is “not mobile-friendly,” then find a responsive theme or hire a website developer to correct the problem.

Whether we are selling books or promoting something else, our websites are there for people to use. We don’t want to eliminate half the population because our site doesn’t work well with mobile devices.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

Platform Building Gurus Should Issue a Disclaimer

The production of books is only the first step of book publishing; the second—and more important part—is selling them. To sell books, whether we traditionally publish or self-publish, we need a platform. This is something most authors struggle with.

Fortunately, many people will tell us how to build a viable brand-building, book-promoting, product-selling platform. Most take their personal experience, package it as a formula, and sell it in the form of a book, a class, or personal coaching. They will show us how they grew their Facebook likes or Twitter followers or Google+ circles to astronomical heights. Others explain how to develop a huge blog following or compile a gigantic email list or generate enviable website traffic. They generally say something to the effect of, “Look what I did in such a short time. If I can do it, so can you!”

Unfortunately, I suspect that in most cases their formula is not replicable—at least not for the majority of people. When these experts experienced their success, they were in the right place, at the right time, with the right conditions. But as we attempt to follow their advice, we are in a different place, at a different time, with different conditions. With all the variables changing, it’s unlikely to expect we’ll enjoy the same results they achieved.

When they market their platform-building formula, they should include a disclaimer, similar to what is required for investments, such as “Past performance does not guarantee future results.” Seriously, this is critical.

Sure, they can likely point to a handful of success stories, but there are many more failures, of people who paid them money, followed their steps, and missed reaching the desired results. These people aren’t failures who didn’t follow directions, they are people faced with a different situation: in a different place, at a different time, with different conditions.

This doesn’t mean we should dismiss all the platform-building gurus. We can learn from them, and we can grow our platform, but we shouldn’t expect the same results, because “Individual results may vary.”

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

What’s More Important, Your Book or Your Platform?

Most writers, myself included, would prefer just to write. We don’t want to pitch, sell, or market our book or ourselves. Some may not even want to blog, develop a social media following, or build a platform. Yet, the reality is writers need a platform, a vantage from which to gain a following and move books.

Sadly, in most cases, the platform is more important than writing. Really.

A person with a great platform and a not so great book is in a better position than a person with an excellent book and a small platform. Really.

If a writer’s best work still needs more work before publication, help is available. Editors, collaborators, and even ghostwriters can come in and rescue a needy manuscript. If that author has the means to promote and move books, a publisher will go to the trouble and expense to shore up their weak writing.

However, a well-written book by an author with no platform will seldom receive much attention from a publisher. Even if the writing is great, they will still be reluctant to publish it; the risk of losing money is too high if the author doesn’t have the means to move books.

Though it pains me to say it, if you want a book deal from a traditional publisher, focus on the platform first, and then worry about writing. Really.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

Integrate Blogging With Your Author Platform

As the final post in this series on platform building, we’ll address blogging. Although blogging isn’t right for every author, it is something that warrants serious consideration. After all, you are a writer and you wrote a book, so blogging is a natural extension of what you do: using words to connect with your audience and build a following.

Your blog should be integrated into your website, not a separate, stand-alone effort. (Conversely, you can expand your blog to become a website.) There are two aspects of blogging: the technical part of setting up a blog and the writing part of producing fresh content on a regular basis.

In upcoming posts, we’ll look at both, starting with a series on using WordPress for your blog and website. This website, by the way, uses WordPress.

This series on blogging will be a great primer for those who want to start blogging, provide helpful tips for those already using WordPress, and may even inspire bloggers not using WordPress to switch.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

Six Tips on Using Social Media as Part of Your Platform

We’ve been talking about making your website the center of your book-selling, platform-building tool and not to depend on social media, which could change at any moment and thereby destroy your efforts. That doesn’t mean social media isn’t important, because it is. The point is not to make social media the star but instead, a supporting player.

1) Pick Carefully: Accept that you can’t be on every social media platform, or even the top five. No one has that much time. Pick a couple to focus on, and invest your time there. Choose ones you understand and like, but also look for where your potential readers are. It makes no sense to be active on Pinterest if most of your audience is on LinkedIn.

2) First Things First: Before you do anything, set up your full profile; don’t leave that for later, because if you’re like me, you may never get around to it.

3) Walk Before You Run: Learn how to navigate your chosen social media hangout. You won’t become familiar with everything until you actually use it, but proceed with caution until you feel comfortable. That way you can avoid rookie mistakes and look professional instead.

4) One at a Time: With a good understanding of your first social media site, you may proceed to a second one, if you want. But don’t try to learn two at the same time. That’s just confusing and counter-productive. I know.

5) Include Links: Add links on your website to your social media pages. And most certainly, make sure your social media profiles point back to your website. That’s the main goal of social media.

6) Interact and Redirect: Use your social media presence to engage people and then point them to your website, your primary online station, the hub for all your activity. Your website is home base for your platform, and that’s where you want everyone to end up.

Although an important part of an author’s platform, social media is a means to get there and not the end goal.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

Capture Email Addresses

A key to using your website as a book-selling, platform-building tool is to capture email addresses. You will use these email addresses to regularly communicate with your followers, such as through a monthly newsletter. Keep them up-to-date on your writing and share interesting or helpful content. Then, when your book is ready, let them know. They will be more likely to read your email because you have been in regular contact with them.

Offer Them Something: You can just ask for email addresses, but most people won’t share this information without receiving something in return, such as a free e-book or a subscription to your newsletter.

Provide Assurance: For those who may waiver, assure them you won’t misuse their email address. Let them know you will not share it in any way with anyone else, that you will not spam them with irrelevant content, and that they can unsubscribe at any time.

Follow Through: Provide what you promised (a free book or newsletter), when you promised (either right away or each month), and do what you promised (don’t share their email address or spam them; honor unsubscribes).

Logistics: When they give you their email address, have them sign up directly through your email platform. (I use MailChimp.) It will automatically handle the verification (that is, the double opt-in procedure), handle unsubscribes, and maintain the database. Use the final step in the sign-up process to provide a link to your e-book or incentive.

Example: You may have noticed, that I’m not following my own advice on this site, but I am doing it on my main website and blog. So check that out as an example – and feel free to sign-up for my newsletter and get my free e-book!

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

Three More Tips for Your Book-Promoting Platform

In using your website as the foundation of your book-selling, platform-building initiative, there are several key points to follow. The first three are to make it mobile responsive, remove clutter, and delete slow plugins. That is, to pursue a minimalist design; less is more.

Here are three more website tips:

  • Fix Broken Links: Broken links – be it internal links to other pages on your site or external links to other websites – are disrespectful to visitors. At the very least, broken links will frustrate them and at the worst, cause them to leave. Search engines also don’t like broken links. If they find broken links on your site, they will lower your ranking and thereby suggest your site to fewer people. Fortunately there are programs that can search for and notify you of broken links so you can fix them.
  • Implement SEO Best Practices: Books have been written detailing search engine optimization (SEO), so a brief blog post won’t cover everything. But the basics are to use alt tags on your graphics, appropriately include your targeted keywords in your content, consider both people and search engines when writing your titles, and include a good description and relevant keywords. Whatever you do, don’t try to game the system, because you will eventually be caught and penalized.
  • Keep Your Site Up-To-Date and Regularly Add New Content: Regular visitors (your biggest supporters) and search engines both like to see new content on your site. Keep them happy with regular posts. Also, be sure to remove outdated information so you don’t frustrate visitors.

That’s it for now. Next week, we’ll talk about the importance of capturing email addresses.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

Less is More in Website Design

In my post The First Step in Building Your Platform I laid out a number of recommendations for a website, as the foundation for a book-promoting platform. The first three were to make our sites responsive to mobile devices, remove the clutter, and delete slow plugins. In short, embrace the concept that less is more.

Minimalist designs are in; including every possible item on one page is out.

As more and more people access websites from smartphones, we want to make it easy for them to find what they want, access it quickly, and not introduce needless delays. By showing them less, we give them more.

A few years ago, I hired a website designer to provide a fresh and up-to-date look for my main website. Although pleased with the results, even from the beginning it felt a bit cluttered. Last month, I unveiled a new look for the site, embracing the less is more mantra. As a bonus, I retained all key information and simplified the navigation. Although I’ll never proclaim it as finished, I like what I see.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

The First Step in Building Your Platform

After you write and publish your book, the next step is to promote it. This requires a platform.

However, don’t build your platform around a social media site. You can’t control that. Overnight they could change the rules, limit your reach, make you pay to be seen, or even summarily turn off your account. Then, you’ve lost the platform you worked hard to build.

Instead, make your website the home base for your platform, a website you control and own. Then use social media as a tool to point people to your site.

So, the first step in building your platform is to have a website – or fix your existing one. Do this before you spend another moment on social media or even think about growing your platform or reach.

On your website:

  • Make your site responsive to mobile devices.
  • Remove the clutter.
  • Delete slow plugins.
  • Fix all broken links.
  • Implement SEO best practices.
  • Keep your site up-to-date and regularly add new content.
  • Capture visitor email addresses.
  • Link to your social media sites and other online content – and link them back.
  • Integrate your blog with your site, and make it your primary means to interact with followers.

Once you complete these steps, then, and only then, should you work to build out your platform.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!