Welcome back to this series of posts designed to teach you how to use content marketing to grow your author business. In this series of posts I outline 12 steps that will help you use content marketing to build your audience and sell more books.
Note — If you haven’t yet read the previous blog post(s) in the series, I recommend you read those first then come back to this post to continue your learning. Here’s where you can find the overview post: A practical guide to using content marketing in your business, the others are below.
The 12 steps I outline are:
- Recognise that you’re running a business
- Choose a focus for your first content marketing series
- Choose a market to target
- Choose which problem to focus on solving
- Find a topic for your first piece of content
- Plot the rest of the content series
Part 3 (this post)
- Decide what types of content you’ll create
- Research SEO keywords
- Plan your content distribution and promotion
- Create your content
- Create your distribution and promotion assets
- Create your copY
So, read on for details of the next three steps in this process.
Step 7 — Decide what types of content you’ll create
As an author written content is going to be high on your priority list. You’ll probably write blog posts and depending on your target audience you might also produce lots of social media content and an email newsletter. An email newsletter is especially helpful if you’re writing a series as you can then market the other books in the series directly to those who buy the first book.
There are lots of other types of content to consider though. Images are a great way of capturing attention and engaging an audience. Do your readers also like movies? If so, video is another great content type. Do your ideal readers consume audio books rather than physical books or ebooks? If so, you might produce a podcast or other audio.
Using our previous examples, here are some ideas for the kinds of content you might consider.
A book about dealing with garden pests
- A blog post and infographic to show how to get rid of aphids
- A blog posts about other pests that typically invade gardens infested with aphids with an email list sign-up call to action
- A free mini ebook about how to prevent future pest infestations that readers get if they join your mailing list
- An email series about a variety of gardening practices that deter pests
A book designed to distract cranky babies
- A video and transcript that show and describe how to change a baby’s nappy
- A comic about various nappy changing challenges with an accompanying blog post with tips for combating each challenge
- A blog post with lots of photos and/or a video showing how to use books to distract a baby during a nappy change
A sci-fi novel
- A blog post book review or a video or audio recording of you reviewing the book
- A blog post and infographic with a list of the 10 books
- A book trailer video for your novel with a discount code for readers who purchase it by x date (the discount is a great option if you’re trying to get pre-launch reviews or if you’re trying to get lots of sales just after releasing your book); alternatively you could produce a book trailer video for your novel and post it with a sample of your book (perhaps the first chapter or so)
A note about social media content
In these examples I’ve focussed on big pieces of content you can create. But there’s also a lot you can do with small pieces of content such as that which is often posted to social media.
Below I talk about promoting and distributing your content on social media. But you can also create social media content that doesn’t link to bigger pieces of content. This kind of content keeps potential readers coming back to your social profiles so they see the content that does link to your website/blog etc. It also builds engagement and a sense of community plus demonstrates your expertise on your book topic, all of which helps improve the chances a follower will buy your book.
You can also share other people’s content (this is called content curation). Doing this provides even greater value to your community (for less effort on your part because you’re not creating something from scratch) and it can help you build relationships with other writers (tag the writer in your share so they know when you’re spreading the word about their content).
Step 8 — Research SEO keywords
Ideally, your target readers will find your first piece of content through a web search or via a post on social media and then you’ll guide them with links to the other pieces of content. Readers may also find the subsequent pieces of content through a web search though. This means you should have SEO keywords for each piece of content so you can help your content rank better in the SERPs (search engine results pages), which will drive more traffic to your content.
I could write a whole book on how to choose SEO keywords but there are some fundamentals that should help you get a handle on this step:
- Think about how you would search for help solving the problem dealt with by your content.
- Test out some search terms and see what shows up in the SERPs. Search for the terms in Google and see what other searches Google suggests.
- Use the Google Adwords keyword planning tools to see how often your prospective keywords are entered into Google, how much competition there is for them and to get suggestions for other keywords. The more competition there is for a particular keyword, the more search volume you want there to be. If a keyword has a low search volume and high competition, you’re not going to have much success with it. If it’s got a high search volume and low competition, then that’s an ideal keyword (this is rare though). If you find a keyword that’s got low competition and a low or medium search volume, that’s probably going to be your best bet. If you create awesome content and optimise it for search engines, then it’ll rank well in the SERPs and help you access a greater portion of the target market. After all, if only 100 people search for a given keyword in a month but you can convince 90 of those people to buy your book then the content that generated those sales is worth it (provided it costs you less to produce than the value of the sales it produces). This is especially true because it will continue to generate sales at a similar rate whereas ads will only generate sales when they’re running and they often become less effective over time.
Here are some examples of keywords you might choose.
A book about dealing with garden pests
- How to get rid of aphids, how to get rid of aphids on roses, how to get rid of aphids naturally (this is a good term if your book is about organic pest control methods)
- How to get rid of black spot, what causes black spot, how to get rid of black spot naturally (when aphids feed they leave behind a residue that promotes fungal infections like black spot)
Note you don’t need keywords for emails and lead magnets as these aren’t searchable on the web.
A book designed to distract cranky babies
- How to change a nappy, how to change a baby’s nappy, how to change a newborn nappy
- You could choose keywords for each of the challenges you deal with in your post
- It probably wouldn’t be worth the effort to optimise this post for search engines. You’d rely on linking and social media to send potential customers to that post.
A sci-fi novel
- It’s probably not necessary to optimise this first post for search engines — anyone would find this kind of post via a web search probably searched for a book review for the specific title and you shouldn’t have to do any work to add that keyword to the post
- Best sci-fi books, top sci-fi books, best science fiction books about x topic
- It’s not necessary to optimise this post as potential readers that find it via a web search would likely search the name of the book or your author name
Step 9 — Plan your content distribution and promotion
Once you know what content you’re going to create, you need a plan for distributing and promoting it.
First, think about where you’ll post the content. Most of the time this will probably be on your website but you might also produce guest blog posts for other websites and book reviews for book review websites. If your ideal readers prefer to listen to audiobooks, you could produce guest podcast episodes for other podcasts or if you’re writing a series of books or write lots of books on a similar topic (gardening books for example), then you might start your own podcast. Similarly, you might create videos and post them on your YouTube channel.
Then you can think about how you’ll help people find your content. An obvious choice is to post links to your content on your social media channels. Don’t just do this once. Unless your content is time sensitive (such as for a discount with an expiry date) you’ll always want people to visit it so you should post links to it on a regular basis. The frequency of your posts will depend on how much content you have, the platform you’re posting to and how much time you can devote to distributing your content. Once a month is a good place to start.
You can also post links to your content on a variety of fora provided doing so adds value to the discussion. (Don’t be spammy or it will turn people off your brand.) If we take our examples from above, gardening posts can be shared on garden fora, nappy changing posts can be shared on parenting fora and book review posts can be shared on reading-related fora or fora related to the genre of the book. As an example, a book classed as ‘women’s fiction’ might be appropriate for a parenting forum.
Relevant fora can be on websites dedicated to the topic (or broader topic as the case may be) or you can find Facebook groups and other social media groups that fulfil the same role. Reddit and other similar sites are other great places to find relevant conversations.
You can also get ideas for distribution channels from your reader persona. If your ideal readers love playing board games or computer games, for instance, you could share links to your posts on fora dedicated to gaming.
While content marketing is primarily an organic marketing technique, you could also consider running paid promotions for your content to give it a bit of a boost. This might be especially effective in the lead up to a book launch or if you don’t yet have a large social media following or email list. Paid promotion is totally optional though.
You may also want to look at offline distribution and promotion efforts. You could write a brochure about how to combat aphids and include a QR code for readers to access the full blog post for instance. Or you could see if your local library will display your book review and/or top 10 sci-fi books list. Maybe you could turn your blog post about how to change a nappy into a flyer for the maternity ward at your local hospital.
Don’t just share your content once and hope that all your potential readers will see it.
If you’re sharing content on social media, hardly any of your followers let alone non-followers will see each post. If you’re sharing content on a forum, there are usually multiple threads on similar topics and not all your potential readers will read each thread. If you’re sharing content offline, your potential readers don’t go to all the same events etc. Plus, no matter where you’re sharing your content, new visitors/users will be joining the platform all the time and they typically won’t see older content if you only share it once.
The trick to effectively sharing your content is to share it multiple times. Highlight different bits every time you share your content to attract a variety of potential readers. This also means you won’t annoy people who do see multiple posts/brochures etc. about the same piece of content.
When it comes to social media distribution, I recommend sharing each piece of content at least once a month. Ditto fora, provided there’s a relevant conversation to share it in. When you go to events or otherwise distribute your content in the physical world, you won’t share all your content if you have a lot of it. But you can distribute a selection of your marketing assets and mix up your selections regularly.
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