In a previous post, I answered the common question, ‘What is an Author Platform?‘, and to some extent why a writer needs one. This post will discuss the ‘HOW’. I will talk about first steps and some of the tools that can help you along this path, it’s an amazing journey, and often the difference between writing and being able to make a living writing.
Most of you are on Facebook, and perhaps Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn or any number of other potential social media sites. Are they working for you? Are they gaining you readers? Are they wasting your time? The answers could be ‘yes’, or all three could be ‘no’. Are you missing a piece of the puzzle?
The key to social media working for authors (and yes, you should be there) is to have a marketing plan that ties it all together and gives you quantitative feedback. Otherwise, how do you know it is all working?
The key to building an Author Platform is branding, and at the core of branding is your Author website/blog. With a well-designed platform, the purpose of all your social media efforts, really, is to attract and lead people to your website. I’ll say it again, The Purpose of All Your Social Media Efforts is to Attract and Lead People to Your Website.
If you don’t have a website or are unhappy with it, read on… If you do, read on anyway, so you don’t miss the rest of the info. For the record, I recommend starting to get your platform going 1-3 months prior to a book release. But if your book(s) are already out, connecting your platform can give them a jumpstart.
Here are 6 steps to building an Author Platform:
STEP 1: Buy a domain name
This is an important step. There are a number of sites where you can get your domain: NetworkSolutions, GoDaddy, etc. I have two, one that I purchased through NetworkSolutions and this one, WordsmithMojo, which I got at a discounted rate from my web host, Siteground when I set up this website. Choose a memorable name, and avoid the name of your book (unless you just have a landing page for it) You are building an author platform and a brand that should transcend a single book.
STEP 2: Have a Logo made
Design a logo of your domain name and/or author name. Make it unique and recognizable and fit the image that you wish to portray. I used Fiverr for my logo, it cost me $15 or $20 and I think it symbolizes what I am about quite well. The logo is important because you will use it across your platform: website, bookmarks, business cards, FB, Twitter, Instagram, Goodreads, etc. It is the first link that will tie all of your marketing together.
STEP 3: Find a Web Host
Unless you have your own servers, you need someone to host your website, preferably one that has a simple WordPress installation protocol. Read reviews, as costs and services vary wildly, up-time can be an issue on some hosts, security is another concern. Great customer service is a must. I chose Siteground because they came highly recommended and shine in all of the areas listed above. Great pricing, too.
STEP 4: Build Your Website
Follow the instructions from your host to load WordPress to your website. Once that is done, there are tons of FREE WordPress themes, and even more themes you can purchase for different goals: informational, author, retail, blogging, vlogging, etc. There is a short learning curve with WordPress, but once you figure out how widgets work it gets quite simple. There are loads of video tutorials, to help.
STEP 5: Add High Quality Content
‘About Me’ pages are great, the reason that readers come to your site is really to get to know the author. Let your personality shine. Blog about things that are important to you. Talk about books you wrote, and books you have read. Talk about life. Write until you have at least 10 or 15 posts before you start sharing.
STEP 6: Have a mechanism to build your email list.
Once you have driven your social media ‘friends’ to your website, you need a way to convert them into readers. Newsletters and giveaways are great incentives for people to sign up. Then you can use MailChimp or a Plug-in like ‘Newsletter’ to help you reach out, periodically, to your subscribers.
Connect all of your social media profiles to your new website. Modify branding and add your new logo to all of them too.
Stay Tuned… We’ve covered how-to build it. The next post will cover how to utilize your platform and launch and promote your writing.
Full Disclosure: I use Siteground as a host, I am also an affiliate. As such, they pay me a small commission if you sign up through one of my links