There’s one significant challenge the vast majority of authors face: obscurity.
People outside of your family and friends don't know your name. They haven't visited your website. They haven't heard your message. It can feel like you’re a stranger swimming among a sea of people online. And it’s easy to feel this way, too.
Every minute, there are over 571 new websites created, 347 new blog posts published on WordPress, and 27,778 new posts on Tumblr. And this doesn't even take into consideration the existence of over 150 million blogs.
This is a discouraging reality for many authors.
As an author, you have a burning desire to write and share your message with others. But you feel like no one wants to give you the time of day. You’re having a difficult time breaking through the noise, gaining attention, and compelling people to buy your book.
But rest assured you can build an audience online. An audience of people who are interested in you, what you have to say, and who will be willing to buy your book.
Below are eight ways you can build an audience online starting today. Though some of the options below work better than others individually, it’s best to utilize one or more of them together in your marketing strategy.
1. Produce Great Content
Your first goal is to produce great content. Creating awareness for you and your message will rise or fall upon the quality of content you create. Allow me to illustrate this point by comparing content creation to the production of music.
In general, the quality of music produced by a musician will determine how well they are or are not received. Produce bad music, expect no one to listen. Produce great music, expect people to listen. This is simple. But it’s true. And the same holds true for content creators.
Whether you’re a writer, podcaster, or video blogger, the quality of content you produce will have a direct affect upon the size of the audience you reach. Everything you do starts here.
Blogging isn't dead. It’s…changing.
But this doesn't mean that blogging is dead. If anything, this change— or maturation, if you will—is paving the way for the best years of blogging. You can still launch a book, writing career, or position yourself as a thought leader through blogging.
Today, blogging is still one of the best ways you can build an audience online. But blogging is not for the faint of heart. You have to go into it with a long-term plan. It can take months, if not years, to build an audience of reputable size.
3. Evergreen Content
Evergreen refers to a plant that retains green leaves throughout the year. In the same vein of thought, evergreen content refers to content that retains relevancy and provides value for readers for a longtime.
Evergreen content can take on many forms, such as:
- Long-form content
- Video series
- And more…
The key to creating evergreen content is quality. Take time to develop one or more evergreen pieces of content. They will most likely be one of the most viewed and shared items you create.
4. Content Curation
Creating new content might not be your thing. And that’s okay. You can amass a huge audience around your ideas by curating content.
Like a museum curator who sorts through pieces of art to select the best pieces for their collection, content curation is the art of sorting through content to present material that provides value for your audience and meets your objectives.
You can do this by sifting through online and offline resources (e.g., books, magazines, newspapers) for material that will provide value for your readers. With this unformed lump of research in hand, you now have the creative liberty to mold it into any shape you see fit. Here are a few examples:
- You can publish excerpts on your blog like Justin Taylor of Between Two Worlds.
- You can write a blog post based upon your research like Maria Popova of Brain Pickings.
- You can create an exclusive, weekly, hand-curated email for your readers like Amy Lynn Andrews.
- You can curate links and include a standalone piece of content like Brian Clark with Further.
- You can curate links around one specific topic like countless people.
Curating content is a great way to build an audience online without having to regularly create new content.
Infographics are simple in concept. They are a medium to present information in a visual way. In other words, infographics equals information + graphics.
Infographics and link posts “receive more average shares than other types of content.”
Though they don't have the value they once did, infographics are still a great way to generate traffic and links from other websites.
Many people prefer to watch videos. And this trend will continue to rise.
Here are four reasons why you need to consider creating videos:
- Video accessibility is increasing (e.g., Facebook’s video auto-play function)
- Videos are nearly 10 times more likely to be shared, commented on, or embedded as compared to blogs or social media posts
- Videos are watched by 65% of viewers nearly 3/4 of the way through
- Videos will account for 69% of all consumer Internet traffic by 2017
Even though you may not be a video producer, you can still create quality videos for your audience. And besides, the costs of video production are continually declining.
Podcasts may be one of the best mediums to build an audience online today.
Again, not everyone will want to read what you’ve written. In all honesty, they may not have the ability to do so. And this is where the power of podcasting comes into play.
Unlike blog posts, infographics, and video content, podcasts can be consumed at any time or place. Though someone may not read your pithy social media posts, your well-researched article, or watch your entertaining video, they will listen to your podcast while exercising, mowing their lawn, and most importantly of all—while driving in their car.
Today, you don't need to take out a business loan to produce a quality podcast. You can start connecting with your audience on an “entirely new and intimate level” with little to no cost.
8. Social Media
Social media can be a great means to build your audience if done well.
Social media is primarily about one thing: being social. It is a tool that is best used to engage with your audience, distribute your content, and compel people to connect with you further on your blog, podcast, or website.
I don't suggest spending time building audiences on social media channels unless you have a marketing strategy in place. The goal is to engage with people, connect with others 1-on-1, and lead them back to your content—in particular, your email list.
Making this Work for You
Before setting out to create new content, I encourage you to build a marketing strategy that points people to sign up for your email newsletter. This will enable you to build an engaged audience of people who are interested in you, your message, and what you have to offer.