Intro to Content marketing for authors

Content marketing is an easy win for authors, and in many ways a lot of us are doing it already without knowing why it’s called that or what it’s for!

I came to content marketing after being an author, but it’s only this year I really started to put together the value for authors.

Quite simply, content marketing is putting content out into the world that could help people find you, trust you, and eventually buy something from you. It’s about building your brand and becoming an authority. But it can just be about being recognisable.

Blog tours

If you’ve taken part in a blog tour, congrats, you’ve done content marketing! These are excellent because they get your name out there on multiple sites, promoting your book and increasing recognition. If every blogger on the tour links back to your website as well (called a backlink), that’s building your website authority, which makes Google more likely to recognise that when they search for your book title, or your name, they mean you.

Sharing your knowledge

Okay, so blog tours are great because your book title and image will be around all over the place and hopefully more people will see it because it’s being shared by multiple people.

An example of some promo images I’ve been putting out there…

But when it comes to people googling your name or book title, well, the work’s already been done. So how do you reach those people who don’t know who the hell you are, or how much they’d enjoy your book?

You blog!

By blogging about things your audience are interested in, you’re more likely to find them! So if you’ve written a novel about a haunted house, writing an article like ‘Top 10 best haunted houses to visit in the UK’ or ‘Top books about haunted houses’ is likely to find you the right audience! (Also, you’d be mad not to add your own book to the bottom of that list!)

There are usually two responses to this recommendation:

How do I know what to write?

How do I know anyone will care?

Simple!

It’s called keyword research and it’s part of SEO (Search Engine Optimisation). This is basically how Google figures out what to list at the top of a search page, and how they can tell it was what you were looking for.

A simple way to start is just by researching your topics on Google. Then look at the recommended/alternate questions, or what it autofills with:

Already you’ve now got ideas for multiple articles based on what people are searching for: Top 10 haunted house movies, a review of one of the films, lists or reviews of top attractions, sharing your own haunted story…

As for how to get people to find you? There are a few best practices:

  • Make your title match the search query (if people are searching for ‘haunted houses’ make sure that phrase is in the title)
  • Be clear about what you’re writing (if it’s a list, use bullet points or numbers)
  • Have a look at what other people have written on the subject, can you add anything else? Have you got a new approach, or more information?
  • Share it on social media!

Obviously, on a professional level there’s loads more you can do, and there’s lots of tech opportunities and you can deep dive into keyword research and competition to get to the top of the listings, but from an author level, all you want to do is raise your profile!

Write for others

This one’s a no brainer but try to get written features elsewhere, whether that print or online. It doesn’t have to be a newspaper or magazine (although that’s excellent) – just being featured on a fellow author’s blog, or a bloggers page, with a link back to your site is helpful.

You reach potential new audiences and hopefully get a link back to your site. Whilst link building isn’t as important as it once was, think of it the way you would about a library book that’s been taken out hundreds of times: you’d trust that book, wouldn’t you? If so many people have found it helpful, it’ll probably help you too.

That’s what backlinks do for your website – they build authority.

Build a brand

This is one of the parts authors find hard – to summarise who they are and what they’re about as an author. After all, just because you wrote about haunted houses, it doesn’t make you an expert, does it?

So find out what you are an expert in! Or more than that, share what you’re passionate about! And try to link it to your book if you can.

Maybe you did research for your last book and visited some interesting places? Maybe you write in a specific way, or in a special place? Maybe a dream or a strange interaction sent you on your writing journey? Find out what it is that makes your writing interesting, and write about that!

If you’re interested to learn more about how content marketing can benefit you as an author, and get more into the nitty gritty of metadata, html and Google’s search algorithm, come chat to me on Twitter (@almichael_) because I’m a nerd about all this stuff.

And if you have any questions, leave them in the comments below!

Want to write more? Get yourself a writer squad

I am not a fan of differentiating between writing professionally and writing as a hobby in most cases. Because, to me, if you love writing, you’re a writer. End of story.

However, if you are writing professionally, or working your way on a journey to publication, having a group of writer friends can make a huge difference. To your attitude, your positivity, your decision making and your tenacity in an industry that can sometimes be a little hard to deal with.

I think it comes down to 3 types of writer friends.

Ones who write too:

I really enjoyed studying creative writing as part of my degree at university, and in so doing I found a group of like-minded people. People who wanted to explore their craft, who saw the world a certain way and wanted to dedicate their lives to creativity. Even as our lives have changed, our jobs have moved in different directions, I still have friends who are happy to chat about their fictional worlds and pretend people.

Ones who encourage you to write:

With both friends and colleagues, I’ve always enjoyed having ‘writing dates’. These aren’t so much about the talking about the writing, but just being around others who do it too. Facilitating your own writing whilst encouraging others to do it too is the most fun. It’s like a mini-retreat, where you can focus on your writing without the guilt of ignoring others, or the loneliness of locking yourself away!

Ones who are also professionals:

The professional writing world can be really hard. Submitting to publishers or agents, waiting to hear, rewriting and dealing with difficult edits, disappointing reviews or publication days that didn’t go as planned. It can be a world of crazy highs and lows and not everyone gets it.

There are loads of people out there who would dismiss someone ‘writing another little book’, or who think it’s crap, or pointless or that you’re wasting your time.

My author friends are the ones I talk to when I’m not sure if contract terms are normal, or if I’m pulling my hair out over edits. They’re the ones I tell when I get a new deal, or I’ve finished a rewrite, or when there’s exciting news on the horizon.

Someone who gets how difficult and amazing it is to write a book is the person you want to share your news with. They give it gravitas, they won’t dismiss it and they’ll understand exactly what you’re going through and what it means.

Writing can be hard enough, without coming up against negativity, doubt or that distinct look that just says ‘I don’t get it’. If you don’t know writers, hop on Twitter or into Facebook groups! They’re so full of useful information, comradery and support.

Also, don’t miss out on your agent or publisher parties – as an introvert I sometimes find them a bit overwhelming (and then I drink too much to feel confident and that is not a good idea!) but it’s so worth it to have friendships that nourish and support your creativity.

Do you have writer friends? What types? And what do they mean to you?