SPQ 013: Author Platform — What’s the Step-By-Step Plan to Build an Audience?
Jane is a new author who wants to build her platform while she writes a book. She wants to know a simple step-by-step plan for building and maintaining an author platform.
Steve feels all of his success is due to having an established author platform.
He recommends following the 80/20 rule when building a platform: focus on what works and ignore what doesn’t. Steve says the focal point of every independent author’s platform should be an email list.
You must have three things to make an email list work for you:
- Lead magnet
- Squeeze page (sign-up form)
- Email marketing tool
A lead magnet is something of value you offer people in exchange for signing up for your list. Your squeeze page collects the names and email addresses you will use to market your books. Finally, you need an email marketing tool such as AWeber to manage your list.
There are many additional ways to build a platform, but many people don’t realize how valuable their books are when it comes to marketing. The inside of your book is the perfect place to let people know about your email list and drive traffic to your squeeze page. When you publish on Amazon, you also get an Amazon author page to help you drive traffic to your website.
Steve recommends taking advantage of free book promotions via KDP Select if you don’t have an established platform. These promotions are only available for books sold exclusively on Amazon. Using this technique, Nick Loper, Spencer Hawes and Scott Britain each generated more than 10,000 downloads during their launches.
There are three additional tactics Steve recommends to build your platform:
Focus on one of these at a time, or else you will stretch yourself thin. Each of these tactics has certain advantages. Blogging, for example, helps drive traffic to your website when people search for keywords related to your content.
If you’re writing a lot, you might want to try podcasting as an alternative. Podcasting also allows you to connect with an audience. YouTube has massive reach, making it easier to tap into a large audience. Creating YouTube videos is ideal if you want to show readers how to do something.
Steve recommends drilling down and tackling a very narrow topic each time you create a piece of content. The exception is when you are working on epic content, or content that delivers massive value to your audience.
Authors also need to focus on content upgrades, a concept Steve is implementing with his podcast and habit books. An upgrade is something that enhances your existing content. People in your target audience have to give you their email addresses to receive the content, so using this tactic is a good way to build an email list.
If you use social media to market your books, pick one or two platforms and stick with them. Don’t open so many accounts that you can’t keep up with them. These social media platforms are among the most popular:
Steve recommends using social media in four ways:
- Connecting with people in your audience
- Finding leaders in your niche
- Promoting your content
- Promoting content from authorities
A major drawback of using social media is that it can take up a lot of time. Steve says you should track your social media usage so you don’t spend more time networking than you do writing.
Networking is also essential for building an author platform, but focus on quality over quantity. Reach out to people who are at your level or a little higher, not people who are already wildly successful. Make connections by sharing content and providing value with others. Once you establish a relationship, ask if the other person would be willing to share your content.
Steve recommends spending 30 minutes to two hours per day writing content. Then focus on building an email list and tracking your opt-in rates to see what is working. If you have extra time, do one or two of the following:
- Start a blog
- Create a podcast
- Upload videos to YouTube
- Promote your content
- Connect with audience members
- Network with other authors
- Spend time using social media
Email Marketing Techniques (SPQ 007): Steve discusses the email marketing techniques he uses for his publishing business
The Productive Person Book: A book filled with daily schedules and productivity hacks
AWeber: A marketing tool to help you manage your email list
SPQ Resources: Resources to help you build your author marketing platform
Backlinko: Brian Dean teaches marketers how to double their traffic