Friday, January 24, 2014

14 Ideas for Building your Online Platform and Community

Until last year, I was "No Facebook, No blog, No Twitter, No website" person. I'd even delete all my contacts periodically so essentially I was a "No email list" person, too. Then I learned how important branding on social media is.

It's like a credit card... you don't have to be in debt to build your credit with a credit card.

Some ideas are more tested than others, and success stories with them vary. The important thing to remember is that no matter how you build your platform, you need to stay authentic. With that said, here are some ideas on building your online presence.

Idea 1: Follow and Friend people and entities on Facebook that have to do with your book. For example, I found Steve Spangler and The Scientific Mom, while researching for my MG novel that includes real scientific facts. The truth is that I'm interested in the things I write about, so I'd end up following them anyway. As I think about it, though, I realize that it builds my platform.

Idea 2: Blog regularly, or let people know that your blog is infrequent. I found a literary agent who lets everyone know that she spends very little time on blogging. Another blogger posts only once a week.

Idea 3: Hint at blogs that you are working on in Twitter or Facebook. Then even if they aren't posted right away, your followers don't feel forgotten.

Idea 4: Start a Group relating of one of your books. I created "The Super Scientific Group of Jay Adams" based on my MG book. Jay Adams, the main character in my yet-to-be published book likes science and basketball, so that's what I post in the group. I also post tidbits about my writing journey of the book. An invitation to the group can be an early-bird bonus offer for readers who previewed your book.

Idea 5: Comment, Like and Share. Networking is fun, and helps make you an expert.

Idea 6: Find a niche. This one is hard for me. My writing is all over the board! But I found one thing in common. I love to learn. So my hook is learning 100 somethings a day.

Idea 7: Go mobile. Sometimes I put things in my notes app on my phone (or write it on a receipt) and post it when I get the chance. That way I can "blog" anytime without publishing it until it's done.

Idea 8: Build an email list offline. I don't like making my email attractive to hackers and I can't afford to pay someone to protect it, so I keep a running list offline where it's less likely to be compromised.

Idea 9: Save blog posts to recycle later. One blogger I follow has been in the writing business so long, that he has several articles at his disposal. He just picks an article that still applies today and adds a "this happened to me awhile ago" at the beginning.

Idea 10: Turn comments, emails, and other writing into blog posts. This list started as a series of comments I made in a group I belong too.

Idea 11: Be shameless with your plugs. Visit my blog at Check out some of my favorite blogs and websites while you're there.

Idea 12: Pair up with other bloggers. If two or three bloggers are posting their own content once a month, and then copy the other's posts into their blog the rest of the month, "infrequent" becomes "frequent." I saw this done in Carrisa's GoodnCrazy blog and Amanda's MarocMama blog. They posted each other's blog and then linked back to the other blog. The downside to this idea is that doing this poorly affects SEO. I didn't even know what SEO was until recently!

SEO stands for "Search Engine Optimization." Basically, the more unique your content, the better chance you have of somebody finding you through a general search. If this is something you are worried about, this idea might not be for you. However, it can work the other way, too. Going back to the example of the two blogs, one of the posts had found its way to my network on Facebook, "Ten Myths about Mormons". Since I am a deeply seeded Mormon, I like to learn what other people think about my religion. That led me to the Amanda's blog about Muslims, and I learned a lot about her religion.

Idea 13: A variation on Idea 12, get with other bloggers on ONE blog. The WordNerds are good example of this type of blogging. The group of six girls take turns uploading a vlog on their Youtube channel, and on Sunday they do live sessions together.

Idea 14: Have a Giveaway. If you have a strong following, attract people to your blog by offering a giveaway. It can be a book or other product, or you can give away a gift card through an Amazon claim code emailed to the lucky winner.

Idea 15: Build a Killer website. My friend Vanessa Carnevale shared this great article to help you do that.