We live in a world where content is king. Businesses know one of the most important pieces of information they need to have is their content strategy. Without one, how are people going to find out about your business? Successful authors are not just people who write well—they’re people who think of their writing career as a business. Like any successful business, authors need a content strategy.
A content strategy will look different for every author and every genre, but these are the key things every author should be thinking about as they develop their own:
The most important piece of your content strategy is the goal. Don’t be vague here. Have a number that’s quantifiable—such as “drive x people to my author website, and convert y% of those people to buy my book.” The more specific the better. Make them realistic, and give it a timeframe. Every other piece of information in your strategy will point back to this goal. If there’s something in your plan that isn’t helping you achieve this goal, take it out.
Who is the ideal person for your author website? It may not be the person who buys your book—it may be people such as librarians who will recommend your book. Knowing who your audience is will help you decide what content to write to drive traffic to your website. Like your goal, be specific. Don’t just say “librarians”—think about the type of librarian (academic, media librarian, public librarian, etc). Do they have the power to buy books? What are their interests? Write a mini-biography of your ideal person, then research where they hang out online. These are the forums you need to participate in, and the places you should consider marketing to.
Writers do not compete with each other the same way businesses do, but no matter what genre you are writing in, there are people with books that are similar to yours. Part of your strategy should be researching what their strategy is. What happened when their book came out? Did they get reviews in publications? Pitch your book to those reviewers. Did they do ads or any kind of promotion? Did they write guest posts? If so, where? There’s a lot in their strategy that you can implement in your own.
The biggest piece of the strategy, aside from the goal, is the actual content plan. What will you write to bring traffic to your website? Everything you write should answer the why, how, and what:
- Why: Why are you writing what you're writing?
- How: How will this help your audience?
- What: What are you offering your customer?
Google is getting smarter. It can spot when you are just writing something to sell a book, but not offering valuable content. You can, and should, include information that leads your user to your book, but the focus on your content needs to be something unique and engaging.
Braindumps are very helpful. Spend ten or twenty minutes writing as many blog posts and article ideas as you can think of onto a piece of paper. Some may be bad. Write them down anyway! The key here will not be quality, rather quantity. Don’t pause to think about if it’s good or bad. Just write it! After a day has passed, go back and see what works and what doesn’t.
Once you have ideas for your content, decide when you will publish it. Your editorial calendar should include what your day-to-day plan is. How many blog posts will you post a week? How many Tweets? How many Facebook posts?
Writing a content strategy is difficult. The real challenge, however, is acting on it. Building interest in your book doesn’t happen overnight. Your first post probably isn’t going to get thousands of viewers. That’s not the point. The point is to build your traffic and by extension build your audience over time.