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The Importance of Content Marketing for Authors

Posted on 2014-May-27

by Paul Salvette

Why Content Marketing is Needed

The days of being able to run an ad somewhere and cash in on the new sales and contacts are over. Marketing requires much more than a cheesy tagline or jingle written by an ad agency from a bygone era. Consumers are more savvy than ever, and they have access to a number of online tools to determine whether your product is good or not (e.g. reviews, promotional websites, bloggers, etc.) Additionally, promotional videos that tout the greatness of a product or its founders are often met with ridicule from cynical observers. Don’t expect to convince them to buy whatever it is you are selling based on flash alone, and providing something useful for your potential customers is essential.

Luckily for authors, who are writers by profession, content is now king both in terms of search engine optimization and in getting people interested in what you have to sell. Sleazy SEO tactics from the last decade (keyword stuffing, invisible text, link exchange farms, etc.) no longer work with search engines, and these techniques will actually penalize you. A 1,000-1,500 word article that uses descriptive headings and provides valuable information to your readership is a very effective way to get ranked higher on search engines and to get people interested in you. Moz has some great resources on how to improve your own SEO.

Who is Your Market Segment?

Market segmentation is the process of taking a huge group of potential consumers and dividing them into smaller groups that you can effectively target. This thinking works well for SEO too and is critical for small businesses with limited resources. For example, in the case of BB eBooks, if we wanted to target all authors throughout the world with our content, we would have a very difficult time since the market is so huge. However, if we wanted to target romance authors in Canada, we could write an article that deals with getting free ISBNs for eBooks in series from the Library and Archives of Canada. It is essential to identify who your market is when you craft your blogs, newsletters, and other content. Additionally, if you do not think about who comprises your market segment, you may inadvertently attract the wrong kind of readership (i.e. people not interested in buying your products). These people can eat up a lot of your time with annoying comments and demanding answers to an endless series of questions, even though they provide very little to your business in return. Not all web traffic is good traffic!

Non-Fiction Authors

For non-fiction authors writing books about niche subjects, content marketing is a piece of cake. Since you have already researched the subject in question (e.g. reasons for the financial collapse of 2008, lead poisoning, etc.), it is easy to compose well-crafted articles on your website that will attract visitors. Additionally, people read non-fiction because they need to, usually for professional reasons, so they are probably doing research via Google already, which hopefully makes your website show up in the search results. The smaller the niche, the easier it is to get ranked higher by Google and other search engines (e.g. Bing and Yahoo!). For a workshop on developing great content marketing strategy, our client Alan Bechtold is running a 10-week online training program that starts this week. More details on the workshop here.

Fiction Authors

For authors of fiction, content marketing is a bit more of a challenge. In fact many fiction authors do not do content marketing at all—instead relying on promotions, contests, and word of mouth to build interest. However, content marketing for genre authors should not be entirely disregarded.

Most genres, especially romance, have numerous competitors and readers probably are not Googling to find out specific technical information about the romance genre and its subgenres. People read fiction primarily to escape reality and for fun, so readers are probably not extensively researching on Google like non-fiction readers. Many authors write blog posts for other authors (e.g. how to publish at Amazon, how to run a promotional campaign, etc.). While this type of information is very useful for other authors and help builds the indie community, it may not be worthwhile for your market segment. Since time is usually the most precious resource, you may want to spend your time writing a blog/newsletter intended for your readers and potential readers rather than fellow authors. You may want to consider posting items of note where your books are tangentially related to particular aspects of popular culture. Laramie Briscoe, author of the motorcycle romance Heaven Hill series, talks extensively on Facebook about Sons of Anarchy as an example. The only caveat about discussing popular culture is that you are competing against a huge number of other sites for search engine traffic, so you should endeavor to be as specific as possible when you craft your content. Another thing we’ve seen that is interesting is cooking recipes related to the book’s setting.

Writing a Book: The Ultimate Content Marketing

Most discussions of content marketing at great, informative sites like CopyBlogger talk about using a blog/website, building up an email list, and newsletter. These are all indeed important, but one overlooked piece of content is writing an eBook to market your brand. While the sales of books may be the end game itself for most authors, creating an eBook and giving it away for free can be a great way to build up a speaking career or to promote your business (BB eBooks does this with our Best Practices series). This is virtually an untapped resource for boosting SEO, and is great if you are running a small business. Using Google Play, while a bit daunting of a platform, can greatly help your SEO results. For tips on publishing on Google Play, please see our tutorial here. They do allow free eBooks to be published.

Label: Marketing

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