Whether you’re a freelance writer or a creative writer or both, it’s no secret that self-promotion doesn’t come naturally to us strange writer types. We spend far more time writing about other people, real or otherwise than ourselves.
It can be easy to forget about ourselves when writing but when it comes to marketing, this is exactly who we should be thinking about (as well as readers of course.)
People want to see the person behind the blog post or story and they won’t see either unless you figure out the minefield of self-promotion.
Why is self-promotion necessary?
It may sound cheesy or make you want to cringe, but promoting yourself is okay!
If you want to get your name and your work out there, you’re going to have to learn to love it and you’re going to have to do it well in this increasingly competitive marketplace.
You may be thinking, this is not what I got into writing for. You just wanted to tell stories. But the world is a big place, with many stories and many voices and if you want to be heard in all the noise, you’re going to have to do something about it.
So this is a basic introduction to those still new to this world who want to master the art of self-promotion either for creative projects or for freelance writer wannabes.
Do you need a website?
This might be one of the first questions you ask yourself. The answer is yes, probably. You might not need a flashy website in the beginning but if you’re serious about promoting yourself online then you should have a solid online presence.
Everyone is online and having a place for you and your writing is becoming more of a necessity. If you’re looking to get published, a publisher or agent will probably search for you online and if they find no online presence that’s not going to make them want to hand over a major book deal is it?
What does every writer site need?
Whether you’re a novelist or a copywriter there are a few basic things that everyone should have on their website.
About me section
You should have a section about you and your work. Don’t feel the need to go too personal. Just think about what you would like to see when reading another writer’s about me page and apply it to your own work.
Make sure you also include a photo. People like to see what everyone looks like. We’re all a bit nosy like that and it of course makes you seem more human, because well, you are.
Contact details are essential, otherwise how do you expect anyone to reach out to you? Whether it’s another writer, a reader or someone interested in publishing your work, they need to be able to get in contact with you easily.
This part is optional but many writers find it useful in drawing traffic to their website, finding readers and also placing yourself in a community of writers. It’s also good for improving your writing skills as you get used to regularly editing and writing for an audience.
If you’re a creative writer, it’s good to have a list of work you’ve written and details on what you’re currently working on so that people know what to expect from you.
If you’re a professional writer, you might want to put together an online portfolio in order to reassure potential clients that you’re the right writer for the job.
If you’re planning on selling copies of your work, then you could use this section to advertise where to buy them or include download links.
Social media marketing
Chances are you’re already on some form of social media. If not, embrace it! Don’t be scared, it can be a great place to connect with others and promote yourself. Just remember to be friendly, helpful and relevant.
Make sure you put links to your profiles on your website too. People can then follow you and you can promote your work in a place where your audience will likely be spending more time.
How not to do social media marketing
Don’t go on a social media spree
Don’t be tempted to sign up to every single one platform. You won’t be able to give them any of the attention that they deserve. Instead pick one or two to start off with and then only expand if you see a need for it. Try to pick ones that you actually enjoy and that your target audience seem to be most active on.
Don’t define success by the amount of followers you get and don’t buy them. They won’t do you any good and you’ll just be wasting money. Having a lot of followers doesn’t mean anything in itself unless they are engaged.
Bombarding your followers
While self-promotion may be the main reason you’re on social media, it’s important to remember not to just bombard people with it. No one likes that, it gets irritating very quickly.
Instead of throwing your own material out tweet after tweet, share thoughts, news, updates, share other people’s work and comment on other people’s posts. This is a better way to develop relationships with others online.
Competing with other writers
How to compete with other writers? Don’t.
It’s important not to lose sight of why you’re in this world. You love writing and sharing your writing. So do other writers, so try not to see them as some evil force of competitors. You might be fighting for attention and want people to choose your work over others, but that’s not to say you should regard other writers as the enemy.
In fact, one thing about writers is that they love to read. This means that other writers are not your competitors, they’re actually your potential readers.
With that in mind, you should try to connect with other writers, rather than ignore them and hope they go away.
Participating in an online writing community
One way you can participate in the online writing community is to get into the habit of contributing to writing blogs and forums. This will help get your name out there and you will soon be recognised as a regular and become more visible to others.
The best way to do this is to find a small number of blogs that you enjoy and would like to write for and start contributing on a regular basis. You will get to know other contributors and commenters and soon start to build up a small community.
So what if you’re completely new to this? What if you’re still working on your novel or trying to break into freelancing?
You might not think there’s any point in doing any of this if you’re an unpublished writer. However, if you’re serious about this, you’re going to have to do this anyway when you do get published.
Setting up your online presence before you’re published allows you to find your feet, as well as a potential audience. It prepares you for networking and shows potential publishers that you’re not afraid of a little self-promotion.
Do you have any other tips for writers new to the world of self-promotion? We’d love to hear your thoughts!