Want to know what the real difference between a successful writer and an unsuccessful one is? It’s not talent, it’s not even luck. It’s marketing.
You can fight me on this if you want to. You’d lose.
In a previous episode of our podcast (shameless plugs always), we discussed how essential it is for up-and-coming authors to have a presence on social media. This is an excellent, free way to build your audience and start establishing yourself in the industry. Potential publishers will see each follower as a potential buyer for your book, perhaps tipping the scales in your favor if they’re on the fence about picking up your work.
But social media comes with its own set of challenges. First is an obvious issue pertaining to privacy since most platforms count success as perfectly filtered selfies and story rants of family matters you’d usually reserve for a girl’s night over your third round of margaritas. The second issue is the one I struggle with… social media does not reward longform content, verbosity, or wordiness for the sake of being wordy.
So, if you really aren’t sure if social media is for you, then what do you do? Well, lucky for you, a little something called blogs did not die like the rest of the 2000’s trends. Maintaining a high-quality blog and author website is a low to no cost opportunity for you to promote yourself in new and exciting ways.
One of the best things about maintaining a blog and website is that it serves as a portfolio for your work. Not only can you list your publications, helping turn one-time readers into every-title readers, but your blog posts all become miniature opportunities for you to show off your writing style to potential readers, agents, and publishers. They’ll get to know your writing style and whatever limited or unlimited filter of your private life you choose to share.
These blog posts also become *automatic* social media content. For those who struggle with what to share, you can fill your whole profile with links back to your site – though you may want to throw in a bit more or a few retweets to give your profile more value. One of the best parts of this is a few retweets will help you establish authority in the industry. Once you’re considered an authority, those retweets of your content come easily, the followers even easier, and you’re just one tweet away from promoting your next book to a larger audience.
Another excellent reason to invest in a quality author website is because it has room to grow with you. In addition to housing your blog, you can put up pages directing your audience to places to purchase your books as they’re released. You can also use your site as a launch pad for a newsletter, podcast, or Patreon (ahem… see our homepage). As you have new opportunities to market yourself, connect with readers, and grow, you will already have the platform ready to grow with you.
The argument against maintaining a site is either that you haven’t the time, money, or technological ability. Well guess what…
Time: If you don’t have time to maintain a website, then the tough reality is that you aren’t likely to succeed as a full-time writer. If you read our article on writer finances a few weeks ago, then you know just how hard it is to earn a living as a writer. The only way you move from a low earning author to a high earning author is sales, so you need to make the time to maintain every possible marketing platform if you want to attain those sales.
Money: Very few of us have the money to throw at a website. But the great thing about the internet is that there are so many platforms out there to help you get started at various price points. Major blog hosting channels WordPress, Blogger, and Wix all have options that can help you fit your needs to your budget. For those who really want to get into it, they have options to create quality, classy sites by paying a premium. On the opposite end of the spectrum, they all offer free options that leave the excuse of no funding behind. In the interest of transparency, Three Houses Press operates on WordPress’s Premium plan, which costs us less than $100/year.
Technological Savvy: One of the best parts of technology is that it continually evolves. Unlike days of old, where building a website required knowledge of code, modern blogging and website hosting platforms have made it easier than ever for even those who aren’t tech savvy to operate a website. The other great thing about technology is that there are people who are obsessed with helping you. Whether you grab the guy down the street, hire a freelancer, or just pull up a ton of YouTube videos, there are people out there who can help you put your site together.
So, if you are ready to up your marketing game, get your hands on a website! Then send us a link – we’d love to check out your stuff.