Earlier this year, my friend K. Kris Loomis wrote a great post about the results of her book marketing experiment and whether or not you can successfully promote your book on a tight budget. She inspired me to conduct a book marketing experiment of my own.
After running several unsuccessful Amazon ads and feeling like I was wasting my money, I decided to get back to basics and try marketing my book for free. I'm only about a month into the process of marketing my book using free methods, but my sales are already increasing and I’ve found a new excitement around marketing my book.
I started by identifying seven free methods that I think will be the most effective for me. It's not surprising that these seven promotional methods are mostly based around social media. Regardless of what you are selling, social media is usually the fastest way to get the word out.
Twitter has always intimidated me with its character limits but I started getting more serious about it after following several authors and learning about the best hashtags for authors. Like most social media, it takes a bit of experimenting to figure out which hashtags work the best for you. The only way to find out is to try them and see what happens.
This past month, I have been consistently tweeting, retweeting, and commenting on other people’s tweets every week. My goal was to tweet at least twice per week and it was so fun and easy that I ended up doing at least double that. That still isn’t very often and I’ve made many new connections and increased the amount of visitors to my website from Twitter.
I still have a lot to learn about Pinterest. For starters, it’s a great place to share your blog posts. What I’ve noticed as I’ve gotten more serious about it as a marketing tool is that the descriptions of your pins are really important and so are your images.
If you plan to use Pinterest as a marketing tool, you’ll want to make sure you have pinnable images on your website and with every blog post. Pinnable images are formatted so they look better on Pinterest than other images you might have on your site.
Keywords are important on Pinterest because it’s a search engine. The easiest way to incorporate keywords on Pinterest is through your pin descriptions. Make sure when you pin something, it’s an accurate description of what the article is about and includes some frequently searched keywords. If you’re not sure which keywords to use, you can type your ideas in the Pinterest search bar and see what comes up as an autocomplete.
My Pinterest strategy is pretty simple for now. I make sure to pin every blog post I publish as well as repin interesting content I find that is related to my boards and my books. And if I read an interesting blog post, I try and remember to pin that too.
Like Pinterest, YouTube is also a search engine. There are tons of things you can do to optimize your YouTube channel like put up some professional looking channel art, include an accurate description of what people will find on your channel (another great place for keywords), and make sure your videos are useful.
Improving my YouTube channel is one of my goals for the summer. I’m going to start by adding proper descriptions with keywords as well as thumbnails for my videos. My content, going forward, will focus on topics related to my books.
LinkedIn has really changed over the last couple of years. It’s no longer just a site for professionals to share their virtual resume. You can share updates, articles, full length blog posts, and even video.
For quite some time, I’ve been hearing that video is where it’s at if you want to make connections with readers and sell your books. I’ve been on LinkedIn for a while but it was the introduction of the ability to share videos that got me interested in using it more to promote my books.
My experiment for LinkedIn is to share a series of videos over the summer. I’m calling them “2-Minute Biz Tips” and they will include helpful information from my book Keep More Money. I will also put the videos to work on YouTube. Since they will be created anyway, I might as well add them to my channel which will also help me accomplish my goal of improving my YouTube channel.
I recently deleted my Facebook author page. Some experts would say this was a huge mistake. My reasons for doing this were two-fold. I started my Facebook business page when I was promoting a fitness business. I felt like starting over was the best thing to do so I could attract fans who are interested in my books rather than the previous business I had.
Long before deleting my page, I noticed the posts that got the most comments, likes, and shares were the posts I was sharing on my personal Facebook page. I decided to try sharing my blog posts and other author updates on my personal page and see how that went. So far, I haven't missed having an author page but I'm sure I will create another one as I get busier and write more books.
The trick with marketing your book through blogging is to provide consistent posts that contain information that is valuable to your readers. I have been blogging once a month for about a year now. As part of my experiment, I am getting more specific with my posts as they relate to my books and my author business, and increasing the frequency of posts to once a week.
You can blog for free but there is a small cost to set up your website. This includes purchasing your domain name as well as hosting which can be paid monthly or annually depending on who your provider is. Blogging offers a number of benefits that are well worth the costs to set up your website.
Through blogging, you can establish yourself as an industry expert, share excerpts from your books, and offer a more in-depth personal connection your readers might not get through social media. Last summer, I created the short guide Blogging for Busy People with four co-authors. In it we cover SEO, images, content ideas, scheduling, and guest blogging. It even includes a checklist to help you create the best post possible. The guide is a available as a free download here.
Not only does guest blogging help you make connections and network with other online entrepreneurs, but it also helps you grow your following more quickly than simply blogging on your own site. The key with guest blogging is to find sites where your readers are already hanging out. Ideally, these will be sites that also have a large following so you can get your writing in front of more people.
As part of my marketing experiment, I hope to guest post on six blogs before the end of the year. I have reached out to two large mom blogs with respect to writing posts regarding teaching kids about money. Scruffy Muffin Loses His Money isn’t published yet but it’s never too early to start marketing! Finding sites to guest post on takes a bit of research. It’s important to read the content to make sure it’s a good fit as well as carefully follow the submission guidelines.
The key with promoting your books, whether you are using free or paid methods, is to know where your readers are. You aren’t going to sell books if you aren’t getting in front of your readers. Marketing is one of the toughest things about being in business for yourself. I try to make it a little more fun by choosing the methods that appeal to me while also keeping an eye on what is actually working.
Continuing to pay for ads that weren’t generating sales just didn’t make sense to me. In the month or so that I’ve started being more serious about the many free ways I can market my book, I’ve already seen an increase in my sales.
As time goes on, I may find that some of these methods are working better than others and there’s a good chance I will switch gears and focus more on what’s working. I may try paid ads again too once I get my sales to a consistent level using these free methods.
I would love to know if you have a favourite free book marketing method or one I haven’t mentioned. Let me know in the comments.