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SPQ 013: Author Platform — What’s the Step-By-Step Plan to Build an Audience?

Written by Steve Scott on January 6, 2015. Listen to SPQ: iTunes | Stitcher | RSS Feed
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Author Platform: What’s the Step-By-Step Plan to Build an Audience?

The Question…

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.

Biggest Takeaway…

Steve’s Answer…

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:

  1. Lead magnet
  2. Squeeze page (sign-up form)
  3. 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:

  1. Blogging
  2. YouTube
  3. Podcasting

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:

  1. Connecting with people in your audience
  2. Finding leaders in your niche
  3. Promoting your content
  4. 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:

Key Takeaways

SPQ 013: Author Platform – What’s the Step-By-Step Plan to Build an Audience? from Steve Scott

Resource Links

Author Marketing Live 2015: Register for the Book Marketing Virtual Summit

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

Fizzle: Learn new skills to help you build your business

Backlinko: Brian Dean teaches marketers how to double their traffic

Authority Hacker: Mark Webster and Gael Breton teach people how to build their authority and credibility in a niche

Mini Habits: Stephen Guise shows readers how small changes lead to major achievements

  • This was a very valuable podcast. Every time I consume information like this I realize how far I have to go to get things up and running. It’s a lot of work but fun as heck! Thanks for the Podcast!

    • Steve Scott

      Yes, there is a LOT you can do to build an author platform. My one *bonus* piece of advice is to not get overwhelmed by the whole thing. I’d say focus on building an email list. Focus on that until it’s up and running. Then focus on writing books and putting them out on a regular basis. Then start on a blog, podcast or YouTube channel. The key here is to follow through on each idea before trying to start something else. As an example, there are a BUNCH of traffic strategies I haven’t even started simply because I’m busy with the stuff that’s working.

    • Yes, there is a LOT you can do to build an author platform. My one
      *bonus* piece of advice is to not get overwhelmed by the whole thing.
      I’d say focus on building an email list. Focus on that until it’s up and
      running. Then focus on writing books and putting them out on a regular
      basis. Then start on a blog, podcast or YouTube channel. The key here
      is to follow through on each idea before trying to start something else.
      As an example, there are a BUNCH of traffic strategies I haven’t even
      started simply because I’m busy with the stuff that’s working.

  • As usual, you gave a detailed, comprehensive answer to a question which is on the mind of every self published author. Thanks, Steve.

    • Steve Scott

      Thanks Thom! I tried to be as concise (but comprehensive as possible.) But to be honest, there is a LOT more to talk about when it comes to building an author platform. In future episodes, I plan on breaking it all down into munchable chunks.

    • Thanks Thom! I tried to be as concise (but comprehensive as possible.)
      But to be honest, there is a LOT more to talk about when it comes to
      building an author platform. In future episodes, I plan on breaking it
      all down into munchable chunks.

  • Marnie Ginsberg

    Very helpful synopsis of a big project! I look forward to learning more from you in these podcasts. Thanks very much!

    The text summary of the podcast was an easy-to-read and a helpful summary–especially since I was listening on my computer, for a change. Minor suggestion: Have you considered placing the resource links also within the text when they naturally arise and then later as Resources at the end?

    • Sure thing Marnie! I’ll ask my writer to add the links within the text. You’re right…it might make it easier to read.

      • Marnie Ginsberg

        🙂

  • Thanks you so much Steve for answering my question in such a detail way. It sure is big subject to write about so thanks. I have started a blog so blogging will be my starting point, plus it allows me to get into a daily writing habit. Just one other question I would like ask is: My main book is writing about a true story of an epic adventure I had with life lessons learnt – would you show parts of your book you are writing disclosed in a blog post to get feedback – I guess I could use the technique you mentioned – have a signup form to receive the content? or just blog about topics relating to what the book is about to see the outcome? or both? I am also thinking of writing short kindle non-fiction how-to books that are related to the main book each about a specific life lesson I learnt so to get exposure and a following also on Amazon – do you think this a good idea? Thanks Steve Jane

    • Hey Jane — It’s a little harder with fiction. I’d say the closer the free offer is to what you’re trying to sell, the better your chances are to build an audience. My thought is you might want to create a REALLY compelling short story in that universe or related and then offer that as an opt-in. You could also try a perma-free book on Amazon to get people interested in your larger books.

      • Thanks Steve. I thought it might work differently in fiction. Will get my thinking hat on in regards what to offer and hunt around to see what other fiction authors do.

        • Sounds good Jane! Will be interested to see what you put together…

  • Steve,

    Great content as usual. I know you are focusing on what works and obviously it is working for you, but have you tried Hootsuite to manage your social media? I found that having one place that I can go and see all my social media platforms made it easier to stay on top of updates, posts, etc.

    Finally, I’ve read Loper and Hawes stories on how they did their free book promotions, do you have a link to Britain’s? All three would be helpful for anyone who hasn’t read them.

    George

  • Pingback: My Second Kindle Publishing Update()

  • Great episode, Steve! Networking has always been my weakness, and I’ve learned a lot from you on how to approach it.

    I wouldn’t say we’re at the same level, haha, but I appreciate the thought. Your business model and processes are exceptional and you’re systematically dominating the self-help genre right now. It’s pretty awesome. And I love that you’re sharing what you’ve learned so transparently on this podcast.

    I’m just a one hit wonder author until I prove otherwise. Don’t get me wrong though—I don’t intend to have a “sophomore slump.”

    • Yeah, me too actually. I think really the only reason I reached out (or was you who reached out to me?), was because I was genuinely interested in what you’re doing. Sometimes it’s hard to manufacture that kind of excitement for other people.

      Eagerly expecting your next book… Will be more than happy to check it out and see if my crowd digs it. As I’m sure they will. 🙂

      • Well, that’s flattering. Thanks Steve!

        FYI, I’m about 85% finished with your Entrepreneur book.

        • Excellent! Hope you’re enjoying it… It’s a long one. I think I’m moving back to the shorter form books that tightly focus on one topic. Don’t really see a measurable difference in writing longer books.