Building a strong author platform can start with free content. Every word you write is a tool for promoting your brand and driving book sales. While it may sound counterintuitive, giving away your writing benefits you in the end. The main principle of marketing with free content is that all publicity is good publicity. The more you get your name and writing out there, the easier it is to create brand recognition and gain a following.
Why Give It Away?
As with any professional effort, networking for writers is built on reciprocal relationships. When you offer free content to others, you’re creating healthy relationships that will benefit you in the future. People who have free access to your writing will be more likely to review your book, promote it to their friends and fans, or otherwise support you.
Additionally, readers are far more likely to take a chance on a new writer when they don’t have to pay for the content. If you gain a fan base through free articles, stories, or blogs, you will have proven yourself worthy. These fans will be more likely to pay for your book than those who’ve never read your writing before.
Start with What You Have
You probably already have pieces of writing you can use as free content to market your work. Look through your book manuscript for chapters or sections that work as stand-alone articles or stories. Reach out to websites, magazines, and specialty news sites that cover your topic, and offer them a polished piece with your author bio and link to your author website and books.
Using Free Writing to Gain a Strong Author Platform
There are many ways to use free content to gain a following:
- Guest posts. Cultivate relationships with bloggers and, after you get to know them, offer to contribute guest posts. Your post will include an author blurb that links to your site and information about your published work.
- Publish on general interest websites. Publish pieces on new sites like Examiner.com and Howto.com. These sites have wide readerships and they can help you gain a following with new readers who otherwise might not find your work.
- Use social publishing. Harness the power of social publishing to create community and develop your market with social publishing sites like Wattpad and Scribd. Sharing drafts and works in-progress will help you create a community that can be a huge source of feedback and support for your work. Don’t forget that you’ll need to read and participate in the development of other writers’ works. These are communities, after all.
- Cross-post. Whenever you publish free content on another site—a guest blog, an article, etc.—cross-post it on your own website and social media accounts.
- Offer a freebie with e-mail newsletter signup. A great way to get people to sign up for your e-mail newsletter – perhaps your best marketing tool of all – is to offer a story or e-book in exchange for their e-mail address. Provide a collection of stories, a small how-to book, a writing guide, or whatever you think will be irresistible to your target audience. Then you have permission to talk (market) to them directly.
Offering segments of your existing writing can be a great way to connect with your audience and market your books. Providing free content will allow readers to get to know you and, hopefully, to share your writing with others. In this way you’ll gain a larger following and strengthen your author platform.