This post is partly in response to an email I received from a reader who says:
Hi Josh, I have no idea how or why I started receiving your emails, but I love them.
As a creative entrepreneur, I have grown and gained considerable success and happiness over the last 3 years and fast. During this growth period I reflected on what I was doing right and collected a list of one liners on my phone. For example, “Don’t burn bridges, you never know who’s on the other end.” Things that are common knowledge to you and I, but maybe not so much to a young person looking to achieve the same successes. I later told myself when I had 100 of these one liners I would publish a book.
What I’m struggling with, and this goes to your email below, is lack of a social following and no medium reports or blog posts during this organic process of collecting virtues. I exist only to my friends, clients, family and employees.
What advice would you give a writer in this situation? How to gain clout and an audience when the book is already written?
Looking for insight.
One of my greatest regrets from writing my first book, Chief Marketing Officers at Work, is that I didn’t build an audience prior to publishing it. If I had, I would have sold a lot more copies, impacted more lives, been on more podcasts, gotten more write ups in publications, and so on. I’m not making that mistake the second time around.
Instead, I’ll follow Copyblogger founder Brian Clark’s example when he said “I’m going to build a loyal audience, and then I’m going to sell them stuff.” This is a strategy also advocated in Growth Hacker Marketing by Ryan Holiday. In 2016 I created a Facebook group called Influencer Inc for people who want to become thought leaders. The idea was that first, I would verify that people were interested in the book I planned to write on the topic of building personal influence and making a living off it. If they liked the topic and the content I posted in the group, then I could also market my book to that group once it came out. The group started off slow, but then grew to several hundred members, then thousands, and accelerated to where 200 people were joining each week. By the time you read this who knows how large it will be.
However, I wasn’t satisfied with a Facebook group, and I’ve set out to grow my community in other ways. Here are a few of them, with additional audience building tips from members of the Influencer Inc community.
1. Blogging + Email List
- Set up a blog if you don’t already have one. I recommend WordPress. Use the Yoast SEO plugin. Get some outside help to set it up if setting up a website isn’t your thing.
- Set up ConvertKit for your blog to start building an email list. Add signup forms to your site where they make sense. Not too many, not too few.
- Create a blog post for each of these 100 one liners [this advice was in direct response to Tony’s email above]. Write one a day, or one every other day, or whatever works for your schedule, but at least 3 per week if possible. End each blog post requesting comments and feedback. This will be invaluable for what comes next.
- Treat each blog post as a chapter of your book, except these are chapters you can still change, because they haven’t been printed yet. As you get feedback on them, modify the post. Yeah, it’s ok, you can write a blog post and then change it later. I update my blog posts all the time to make them better. Some, I’ve completely rewritten 3-4 times.
- Whenever you create a new post, send a short summary and the link to your growing email list. Ask them to share it with a friend.
For a lot of people their main concern here is “But if I give my book away on my blog, who will buy it?” The secret is that if you give your book away on your blog, more people will buy it. Ben Horowitz wrote an amazing book called The Hard Thing About Hard Things (must read if you’re an entrepreneur). It’s basically all his blog posts compiled into book form, with some editing and refinement. I know I could go and read all his blog posts and get pretty much the same content, but I bought his book instead. Why? Because I don’t read blogs all that much–but I listen to a lot of audiobooks. For me, it was a convenience factor in that the form of his content didn’t match my consumption style. But even if I were a blog reader, I’d probably still buy the book, because I know that he put things together in the book in a certain order, and refined things, and I would want to read it in that form. For other people they might like sitting down with a physical, paper book rather than a blog, or maybe they love the Kindle experience, or maybe they got hooked on an author’s blog and want to support him or her. There are 50 other reasons someone might buy a book even when they can get the same content from a blog. If you don’t put it out on your blog, you miss out on getting the feedback that will make your book better. You also miss out on the chance to build the audience who will buy your book, and that’s where you’d really be shooting yourself in the foot.
You’ve got answers, start finding the questions to your answers on Quora, and use your blog posts to answer those questions. Copy and paste the whole blog post where it fits. Use part of it where that’s a better fit. Then at the end of your answers include a link and say “I’ve got more stuff like this at…” and link directly to the blog post your answer came from.
3. Medium + LinkedIn Syndication
Copy and paste your blog posts to Medium and LinkedIn articles. At the end, explain that this content was originally posted on your blog at [link]
4. Social Media
Whenever you create a new blog post, share it everywhere. Ask for comments and feedback. Tell people you’re using these blog posts as the rough draft of your new book you’re working on.
5. OPA (other people’s audiences)
“Join FB groups that have a similar audience with your book’s and post valuable information / tips / ideas there. At the same time, reach out to the group’s admin to see how you can be of service to them.” – Adrian Shepherd
6. Podcast Giveaways
“Seek to be interviewed on multiple Influencers’ podcasts and offer their viewers an opportunity to win an autographed copy of your book.” – Alvin G. Bonds II
7. Facebook Ads
“Target people who like similar books/authors on Facebook with ads offering free sample chapters of your book via email.” – Sam McRoberts
“Facebook is the artificial intelligence of the internet. We now live in a day and age where anyone can become a millionaire when they know how to leverage Facebook ads as part of their marketing strategy. Facebook’s mission is to give the best experience for their users. In return, they have set it up so that you see more of what you’re interested in. A cat lady will see more cat stuff, a dog lady will see more dog related content, etc. Because of the many targeting options that Facebook provides, you can dial in extremely deep to put your products and services in front of people who are ready to buy.” – Tucker Ferwerda
8. Create and Share Relevant Content Ahead of Time
“Build an audience first by consistently creating and sharing valuable content, then when you do publish your book, you’ll already have an army of fans eager to buy it.” – Jeremy L. Knauff
9. Connect with Book Clubs
“You can offer them free books and time with you, the author, in exchange for their reviews and recommendations. You can also provide them with social media posts they can share. This gives you visibility to their networks and reviews you can use for websites, social media posts, interviews and for your book launch.” – Virginia Phillips
10. Create a Facebook Group
Hey, I think I’ve heard this one before 🙂 But let’s hear it the way Kiri says it: “Start a Facebook Group that’s relevant to your topic and start curating relevant content there. Soon your Group will show up as a related group to others in your category, and you can publicize your book launch in your Group. Its also a great place to experiment with topics and see what really sticks with your audience.” – Kiri Masters
Sounds like good advice to me. But Kiri isn’t the only one with this advice.
“Building an audience with a Facebook group has never been easier than it is today. With FB prioritizing groups and giving more features and opportunities for organic group growth, an author who doesn’t have a FB group around their topics and brand is missing out on a huge opportunity. After building a fb group to over 30,000 members without paying for ads and mentoring over 200 other entrepreneurs who are building large communities with fb groups for their brands, I’ve seen the immense impact it has had on their network, follower growth, brand positioning, and business growth. When you create a community of raving fans, they will happily take you up on your offers because they love your content so much!” – Arne Giske
11. Network With Like Minded Friends
“Find books and authors in your genre and add people who “like” those books and authors as friends. They’ve already established that they appreciate the content you’ll be providing and will be excited to see your work. You can also target people who like your type of content in your marketing efforts.” – Tobi Blake
12. Micro Blog on LinkedIn
“Start micro blogging on LinkedIn twice a week 6 months leading up to your book launch. Take snippets of each chapter and start getting people addicted to your message using this strategy. Engage with anyone and everyone who shares your blog, comments, or advocates with your microblog. Treat the 1-1 engagement like everyone you talk to is a potential buyer. No selling… Only engaging and connecting.” – Jack Kosakowski
13. Coming Soon Website + Blog
“Create a ‘Coming Soon’ website for the book with an active blog. Share snippets or key takeaways from each other as blog posts regularly and promote them on social media using visuals. Also include a early sign up list on the website.” – Vivek Nair
14. Speak to Groups
“Look for local (and not local) groups that accept outside speakers. Give the BIG idea of the book as a speech. you can build your audience by giving away something from the book (make sure it’s damn good…don’t hold back). SUPER TIP: To get speeches, don’t send a “tired” blast type email. Get to know the organizers and engage with them before pitching yourself. Only the lazy will send a template email that is not personalized for that event/audience. Once the book comes out you can keep giving speeches and many audience members will want to purchase on the spot from the author.” – Gene Hammett
“List all the reading clubs in your area and identify which clubs align with your vision and purpose. Then schedule a short speech to build-up some excitement before the book is released.” – Abdelhak Benkerroum
15. LinkedIn + Thunderclap
“A powerful combination can be to use LinkedIn to publish a good story with a link to a Thunderclap campaign. This combination can be a very powerful to build a fan base before release and to sell books when the campaign is launched. I was truly amazed how much traffic we generated for Jason Calacanis “Angel”. Have a look.” – Berg Moe
16. Launch an Infoproduct First
“Launch an infoproduct in the $1-2k range for your niche. More importantly, figure out the exact brand voice, messaging and audience to sell a minimum of 1,000 units of your offer (this will most likely require a ton of content creation and revisions to your brand and messaging until you create your niche and will likely delay your book). At that point, you’ve found a base of superfans for your niche who actually cares about what you do and a market that you can serve and more importantly, you’ve systemized your messaging to a point where you know it cold so now you can repurpose your best content (essentially your finished infoproduct) as a book to expand from your 1,000 superfans to the next level of 100,000 (and you’ve got a nice upsell in place for monetization).” – Charles Wu
17. Host an AMA
“Host a number of AMAs on topics that will be covered in the book, we now have a PM feature on as well so you can message all the people who got involved once the book is out. I got Victor’s book after his AMA and am looking forward to his next.” – Tatiana Shuvalova
18. Guest Blog Post
“Start guest posting on blogs related to your niche. Use a tool like Ninja Outreach to find influential blogs dedicated to your topic. Use a tool like GuestCrew or MyBlogGuest to find and establish connections with blogs which accept guest posts and then write epic posts for them talking about a specific sub-niche of the topic you are writing on. Following this strategy helps in establishing your SEO ranking very high as long form content giving a lot of value from sites with high domain authority rank on top of Google. At the end of each post, mention that you are working on a book based on this topic and how it will help the readers solve a specific problem. Then say that to get regular stories and updates on this topic, the readers can visit your website and subscribe to your newsletter.” – Abhik Shome
19. Make a Video
“Create a video discussing the topic / similar topic that the same audience would be interested in (exactly as you do on your YouTube channel) 2. Run a Facebook video view campaign to your target audience, showing them the video well ahead of launch 3. When launched, promote your book to people who viewed the video and have therefore been qualified as interested.” – Jon Quinton
20. Build an Influencer Audience
“Build an influencer audience first by including them in your book in these four ways: 1. Focus on ‘blurb marketing’ – reach out to as many influencers in your niche as you can and as for a blurb review, you will be surprised how many will give you a blurb because it reinforces their own authority while soft promoting your book to them. 2. Cite influencers as experts in your book 3. Cite other influencers’ work in your book 4. Use other influencers’ quotes in your book. After you’ve included an influencer’s work in your book, let them know that you did and how you’ve incorporated them into your book. Reach out to them launch week and many will give you social mentions and may help in other ways that will help you leverage influencers’ audiences on launch.” – Phil Singleton
21. Host a Challenge
“Hosting a 5-, 10-, or 30- day challenge is a great way to build an audience and establish expertise around your subject. Requiring opt-ins to receive necessary downloads or challenge content builds the list you’ll need when it’s time to start marketing your book by email.” – Jasmine Powers
22. Host a Virtual Summit
“Hosting a virtual summit is a smart way to build an audience on a topic related to your book, in advance of your book launch. It’s an online conference where you curate a curriculum, and experts to either interview or present on a particular topic. Generally, all the content is presented in video format, and is available for free for a limited time period over the course of about a week. And if attendees want lifetime access to all the content, they can purchase a bundle of all the material. The summit can take about 3-4 months to organize and prepare for, but you can build up an engaged audience of people who get to know, like, and trust you quickly, because they’ve seen your face consistently on all the videos. You also get the benefit of association from all the experts you feature. And ultimately, you position yourself as a go-to resource on your subject, by providing such a depth of relevant and valuable information. I hosted a virtual summit last year, and it helped me grow my audience significantly. I had 38 speakers who helped me promote the event, as well as a few affiliates who helped spread the word. It worked so well in helping to grow my platform, I’m planning to host another one.” – Sonia Thompson
I’m on board with Sonia on this one, for sure. I partnered with Bailey Richert to host Influence Summit 2017, a virtual summit, and it’s an amazing tool for collecting a ton of email addresses, and you can also make decent money.
23. It’s All In the DM, on Instagram
“DM (direct message) influencers /target audience on Instagram with possible material that will be in the book, highlight the fact that it will benefit their communities and build a relationship where upon release it would be promoted to their audiences via post, bio like, story, etc.” – Roman Prokopchuk
24. Actually Connect & Engage
“Finding an audience is the easy part – connecting, and then engaging is the hard part. For content to resonate with an audience, you have to understand that audience, their behaviors and pain points and preferred communication methods, alongside their ideal solutions. It’s important your content either challenges a long-held belief, or validates one with empirical evidence so together you can explore your new ideas/concepts, so work to understand what your targets look like, how they behave, and what keeps them up at night.” – Rob Stevenson
What’s your best tip for growing an audience before you’ve got the book, so that when the book comes out you’re ready to sell it immediately? Tell me in the comments below.Liked it? Share it!