Content marketing….what the heck is that?
Let’s back up a few steps. For a writer, it’s not good enough to simply write a book then send it out into the world to sell millions of copies. Books don’t sell themselves. Readers have to know they exist. If they don’t know your awesome, urban fantasy is out there on Kobo and Amazon and Apple Books, they can’t buy it. It doesn’t matter how good it is. So after writing a book, authors have to know how to sell that book. And selling books is an entirely different beast than writing books. Selling books means authors have to stop thinking like creatives and start thinking like business owners (indie authors are small business owners. The products indies sell are their books). There are lots of things authors can do to market their books. Facebook Ads, Amazon Ads, blog tours, interviews, book signings, book events, newsletters, etc. Today, I’m going to talk about Content Marketing.
Content marking is something authors do to sell books. I’m sure you’ve seen us do it before, even though you might not have realized you were being marketed to. Authors are tricksy like that.
So what is content marketing? According to the Content Marketing Institute, content marketing is: “a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”
Pamela Wilson, author of “Master Content Marketing: A Simple Strategy to Cure the Blank Page Blues and Attract a Profitable Audience, “defines it as: a way to reach out to the audience that you are trying to draw to your products, your services, your books, and offer them engaging and helpful information that will build a trust-based relationship that is long-lasting, and they will see you as a resource, basically.”
I highlighted a few words.
- Builds Trust
Content marketing has to add value to the reader’s life. If content marketing doesn’t offer value, it’s not really content marketing.
Me, I do three types of content marketing.
- Educational Content Marketing
- Personal Content Marketing
- Entertaining Content Marketing
Other authors may do different types, but these are the three I tend to stick with. I should note here that these are not formal content marketing categories. They’re just how I define what I do.
Educational Content Marketing –Lots of people have seen me do this. You know those blog posts about the craft of writing and publishing that I post? Well, that’s a form of Educational Content Marketing. Yep. I said we authors are tricksy. But it’s not as slimy as it sounds. I have a genuine interest in sharing knowledge with new authors and helping them avoid some of the mistakes I’ve made. I love it, in fact. That is why I speak on so many panels.
The reason this is a form of marketing is because it’s targeted toward other writers. Why? Well, before writers were writers, they were readers.
There are also a surprising number of readers out there who are curious about how books are written. They love craft blog posts!
Personal Content Marketing — Personal Content Marketing is a bit more difficult to identify because it has a lot of personal information about the author. It may read as though the author is just sharing information about herself, but you can tell the difference between a regular blog post and a marketing blog post by the objective of the post. Is the writer simply sharing information without the intent to help? Recently, I blogged about being an introvert. I dispelled some of the misconceptions about what it is to be introverted and shared some personal stories on how being an introvert negatively impacted my life and how helpful it was when I realized I wasn’t antisocial, just introverted. That was a marketing blog post because I was sharing something personal, but I was also trying to add value to people’s lives. Mainly other introverts who may not know they’re introverted. It was a “if you’ve ever felt like this, you may be an introvert” type of post.
Personal marketing is impactful because you’re sharing something of yourself with others. You’re daring to be vulnerable and trying to be helpful at the same time. If I wanted to take the introvert blog post a step further, I’d have added that my book (insert title here) features an introverted character, with a link on where readers could buy it.
Again, it’s not slimy because it’s genuine. Sharing personal stories never means making up something to get reader engagement. That would be slimy. It does mean you’re sharing something of yourself and how you’re coping with whatever topic you’re blogging about or how you overcame it.
Entertaining Content Marketing — Entertaining content marketing is probably the most fun to read. This could be sharing my experience at the local comic book convention, sharing my experience at a book signing, it could even be sharing what I think of a new restaurant (although that would limit my audience to a local audience). Entertaining content marketing shares fun anecdotes, interesting tidbits, and fun pics. A few months ago, I shared a post about my first ever hike. You may be wondering how a post about hiking adds value to anyone else’s life. Well, it adds a lot of value to people who are considering a first time hike and are unsure of what to expect. I shared everything from urinating in the shrubs to all the beautiful things there were to see.
I also blogged about going to a comic book convention recently. The value came from the information I learned at panels and re-shared on my blog. There was also a pic of a very sexy actor!
Where I need to improve — This could easily be the largest section because there are many things I want to improve on. For instance, my audience. I need to do a better job at identifying who my core audience is and providing content specific to them and what they’d want to read.
I’ve also done a crap job at having a call to action in my blog posts. For instance, using my posts as a means of getting people to sign up for my newsletter. Or aligning posts with an upcoming book release. In general, I need to align all of the marketing I do, instead of keeping it in separate buckets. All of my marketing should work together and enhance my business as a whole. That’s one of my goals for 2021.
There’s so much about being an indie author that I’ve learned. The biggest thing is mindset; thinking like an authorpreneaur, learning what that truly means, understanding what that truly means, and acting on that information.
I’ve linked to some excellent content marketing resources. If you’d like to know more, please check them out.