Remember when I mentioned newsletters and subscriber freebies while you were building your content plan? I wanted you to write down any ideas you had for this content and when to release it.
Now that you’ve gotten the other aspects of your author platform nailed down, it’s time to plan these out in more detail. Don’t skimp on this process. Your subscriber base will become the heart of your platform–email subscribers who feel they’ve developed a relationship, however insubstantial, with you and your work are the people most likely to purchase your products.
Your blog should already have an RSS feed set up, but to maximize efficiency with email marketing you need to sign up for a newsletter service like Mail Chimp or AWeber. These platforms allow you to create multiple lists and give you maximum control over what your newsletters look like.
Unless you’re the most interesting person ever(hint: you’re not) you’ll also need a subscriber freebie. Some people will naturally subscribe without one, but the best way to get people to sign up is by offering them something of great value right away in exchange for their email address.
Now, shall we get to planning?
A writer’s newsletter can take on many forms. C.Hope Clark started her Funds For Writers newsletter several years before she got her first novel published with the aim of helping other writers–but it certainly gave her a great platform for selling her novels. EJ Newman, author of 20 Years Later, offered a free short story every month to subscribers for years before getting her first publishing deal. Of course, many writers use their newsletter simply to provide updates and links to recent blog posts.
Whatever form your newsletter takes, make sure it’s something you’ll enjoy sending out for years to come. After all, the best way to build an author platform is to develop long term relationships with readers who love your work.
Remember that readers are busy people and fellow writers are usually even busier. Unless you have an endless flow of extremely useful information, people don’t want to hear from you every day. Keeping your newsletter to once or twice a month will make sure you don’t irritate readers and give you lots of time between newsletters. Of course, you might want to produce your newsletter more often, but make sure you know why. Quantity doesn’t beat out quality when it comes to your newsletter. People are always eager to make their inbox a little emptier.
Just like the newsletter, a writer’s freebie can take many forms. Most of the writing blogs I’ve come across offer ebooks about how to make money from your writing or market your work. Some offer ebooks dedicated to developing the craft of writing. A few offer free reads to subscribers, generally in the form of short stories. I’m currently editing a short story for exactly that purpose.
Whatever you choose to give away, make sure it’s your best work. Don’t just throw something together and hope people will like it. I’m sure I could have published my own ebook several months ago, but I’m taking the time to make it as close to perfect as I can before publication. That’s why I’m going to release the short story–so I can offer my readers something in the short term while they wait for what I plan to provide in the long term.
A good freebie can land you hundreds of thousands of subscribers. Give yourself a chance at going viral by making sure your freebie is of the highest quality.
Don’t forget to give yourself a release deadline for both your newsletter and your freebie. The longer you spend deliberating, the longer it will take to build your following. Give yourself the minimum amount of time required to get things right–and get to work right away. I’ll be right here with you, working on my own newsletter–and releasing the first issue next week. (You can sign up here to read the first issue when it comes out.)
Do you have an email newsletter or plan to start one? I’d love to hear about your newsletter and the challenges and successes you’ve had along the way.