“The greater danger for most of us isn’t that our aim is too high and miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.”
Most writers (myself included) find it difficult to stick to any kind of a writing plan, especially as the year goes by. Well, let’s make a plan right now, before the year starts. No need to wait until January with all that resolution crap. Let’s start right now, in December. If you did the #NaNoWriMo thing, then you’re done starting December 1 and you can breathe a sigh of relief — you can go back to writing All The Things. If you didn’t do NaNo and don’t even know what it is, cool: this post will focus on helping you meet all kinds of different writing goals (books, articles, blog posts, and social media).
Speaking of goals: let’s make them and meet them. Multiple studies have shown that if you make goals, you complete them. In fact, “over 100 separate studies in a wide range of experimental situations have come to the same conclusion: people who explicitly state when and where their new behaviors are going to happen are much more likely to stick to their goals.” (Source: James Clear)
You don’t have to share your goals with anyone (some say you’re less likely to succeed if you do). This is purely to get you going NOW.
This exercise is for you (and hey, for me, too — I’m putting my goals in writing right here and now so thank you). Let’s deconstruct.
Before we get started on the writing part of all this, let’s discuss marketing, because you don’t have a writing career if you don’t market your work, regardless of how you are published (even if your book isn’t even out yet); you can still be networking (ugh, i hate that word — let’s go more with building relationships), and building your author platform.
Your book marketing plan doesn’t have to be miles long and fancy — in fact, take a page of your planner or in Word, and write out how you plan to get the word out about your book: social media, blog posts, guest blog posts, promotions, giveaways, what have you.
For specifics about what to include if your marketing plan, if you do want to get really detailed, take a look at Joanna Penn’s award-winning, free sample marketing plan. The idea here is to know exactly how you are going to spend your marketing time and budget.
So, what does this entail?
I do a lot more little things as they come up. Keep your eye out for good opportunities.
Do you ever watch Jenna Morcei’s awesome YouTube channel? She’s great. Funny, talented, and her videos are chock-full of terrific information. I’m especially impressed with her quarterly goals videos. She makes these goals every quarter, and keeps most of them. Those she doesn’t, she carries over to the next quarter. Take a look now.
What I love about Moreci is that she makes it easy: throw these goals into your smartphone and off you go. This doesn’t have to be a complicated process where you spend days or weeks agonizing over what your goals should be. Just get them down.
Now remember, these are quarterly goals, so you’re not looking at something like “write 200 words daily” or “write a blog post weekly” (more on that below). These are three-month goals.
With this set of goals, I recommend choosing one or the other, or you may tend to get bogged down in all the numbers and most importantly, lose focus. The K.I.S.S. technique works best here (Keep Is Simple Stupid). Write one blog post per week. Write a new chapter daily. Write 2,000 words every day (that’s a daily goal of one of my mentors, Lori Culwell. She says it doesn’t matter what it is that she writes — a letter, blog post, article, chapter, the same word over and over again — as long as it’s 2,000 words.)
Whatever works best for you — the point here is make it easy and stick to it, so that you can achieve your quarterly goal.
Why do I say to keep it easy? I’ve worked with so many authors who will try to segment their day into hourly chunks:
Don’t do that. What happens is that choppy schedule tends to disrupt our creativity, our flow. My suggestion is to allow yourself to focus on whatever your task is for that day and let it flow through you — give yourself in to the subject, immerse yourself inside the warmth of the words, and go there. Don’t focus on the clock that says “Your two-hour block is done. Now put down that pen and refocus on something else, pal.” If ideas crop up for a different project while you’re working on the main project, keep a notebook handy, but stay focused.
Unless, hey — if that works for you. Some authors are able to switch it off and on, get bored easily, and enjoy working on multiple projects at once. I’ll be honest: we often say YES to multiple projects (*raises hand*) and find it difficult to tell people NO when we really should (our time is just as valuable), but ask yourself this question: is what I’m doing going to help me achieve my quarterly goal? My weekly or daily goal?
If not, don’t do it. You have to be that brutal with yourself and your time if you want to achieve your writing goals.
If you’re not blogging, you might think you can skip over this section, but you need this more than ever. Three reasons:
My blogging goals are simple, but take commitment: blog once weekly. That’s enough for the Google bots to find your fresh content. If you participate in #MondayBlogs, you’ll see a nice jump in traffic via Twitter, gain additional followers, and again, build relationships.
As I’ve become much busier this year with my business and as well as personal commitments, I haven’t been able to post new blog posts as consistently on both sites as I have in past years. To combat this, and still post fresh weekly content, I’ve brought on staff writers. These are wonderful writers I’ve personally vetted who have similar visions, are happy to gain the exposure I can give them, and are willing to commit to writing one blog post every one to two months.
The schedule is easy: post a new blog by Saturday each week. I then schedule in #MondayBlogs tweets starting Sunday night (it’s already Monday in many parts of the world) and throughout Monday. I typically see a four-fold increase in traffic and comments on Mondays.
If a staff writer is posting, they either upload themselves or send to me (depending on their level of expertise with WordPress), I optimize the post, and then publish on Saturday (weekend typically see more comments). That’s it.
Do what works for you. If you are absolutely opposed to blogging, cool. I find that sharing my posts on social media, and then re-sharing again on Medium, Mogul, and in the Notes section of my public Facebook author page helps to provide maximum impact and visibility. Again, your call. If you don’t want that awesome additional visibility and SEO juice, don’t commit.
I wouldn’t be the pro that I am if I didn’t mention this separately from writing. Listen, social media is great for connecting and building relationships with readers and influencers, but not so great for sales. This is why I implore you not to have that automated direct message (autoDM) that says “Hey, thanks for the follow! Please buy my book, leave me a review, and tell all your friends!” because guess what? That doesn’t work. You are asking someone whom you do not know to do you a huge favor.
You have not earned their time, effort, or money. What gives you the right to ask that? No. Do better. Be better.
Permission is like dating. You don’t start by asking for the sale at first impression.
You earn the right, over time, bit by bit. ~ Seth Godin
If you haven’t utilized all the benefits of your various social media bios, do so now. Have a great visual, bio, pinned tweet or post (an option on Twitter, Facebook and Google+ now), be interactive and generous.
Do you have goals for your social media? What’s your branding, keywords, topics of interest? Identify all these and you will know exactly the kinds of content you need to focus on for sharing.
I have two main branded social media accounts: RachelintheOC (author) and BadRedheadMedia (business). I schedule in content, quotes, etc., using a combo of primarily Hootsuite as well Buffer on Twitter, Facebook (personal and pages), Google+, and LinkedIn. I also post on Instagram and Pinterest directly. This combo works for me.
I’ve spent too much time on social media this year, even with scheduling. This has a lot to do with the time I spend retweeting folks for #MondayBlogs, the sexual abuse advocacy work I do, the fact that I run two chats (#SexAbuseChat and #BookMarketingChat), answer a lot of questions for people (though ‘Google that shit’ is my mantra), and while I stopped talking politics on social media with the exception of about two annoying weeks, I do advocate for women’s issues which creates a lot of conversation. This has all taken away from my own writing time.
So my goal this year is to:
Mine is to build a tribe of fans, not to necessarily sell a whole bunch of books (though of course, that’d be great, too). I believe one begets the other. This is a function of Permission Marketing (coined by Seth Godin…I’m a fan):
Permission marketing is the privilege (not the right) of delivering anticipated, personal and relevant messages to people who actually want to get them. It recognizes the new power of the best consumers to ignore marketing. It realizes that treating people with respect is the best way to earn their attention. (Permission Marketing, Seth Godin)
(If you are super into setting goals and learning how to achieve them, read this excellent post by the bald guy, James Clear, whom I mentioned above. Smart dude.)
Creating goals is the first step to achieving them. So, go.
Sign up for my newsletter and never miss a post again! I will never share your email and that’s a promise. Follow me on Twitter @RachelintheOC or @BadRedheadMedia for social media, branding, or marketing help. Increase your blog traffic by participating in #MondayBlogs (a Twitter meme I created to share posts on Mondays — no book promo)
All content © 2018 by BadRedhead Media aka Rachel Thompson, author, unless otherwise specified. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to use short quotes provided a link back to this page and proper attribution is given to me as the original author.
The BadRedhead Media 30-Day Book Marketing Challenge is now available! Do you want to learn how to energize your book sales in a month? Then you need to buy this book.
Rachel Thompson is the author of newly released BadRedhead Media 30-Day Book Marketing Challenge: How to energize your book sales in a month - created to help authors market their book. She is also the author of Broken Places (one of IndieReader's "Best of 2015" top books and 2015 Honorable Mention Winner in the San Francisco Book Festival), and the multi award-winning Broken Pieces, as well as two additional humor books, A Walk In The Snark and Mancode: Exposed. She owns BadRedhead Media, creating effective social media and book marketing campaigns for authors. Her articles appear regularly in The Huffington Post, IndieReader.com, The San Francisco Book Review (BadRedhead Says…), 12Most.com, BookPromotion.com, and Self-Publishers Monthly. Not just an advocate for sexual abuse survivors, Rachel is the creator and founder of the hashtag phenomenon #MondayBlogs and two live Twitter chats: #BookMarketingChat (co-hosted with TheRuralVA, Emilie Rabitoy) and #SexAbuseChat, co-hosted with C. Streetlights and Judith Staff. She hates walks in the rain, running out of coffee, and coconut. She lives in California with her family.
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