Wednesday, April 24, 2013

So, You Think You Want to Promote, Huh?

Promoting yourself.

It seems like such an easy thing to do. With all these social networking sites, giveaways, support groups, and of course, your own genius, you should have hundreds of followers by next Wednesday if you just work hard enough, right?

Wrong. It has nothing to do with how hard you work. (Okay, a little bit to do with that, meaning, you actually have to post and spend time on your various sites.) And, little known fact, if you actually work too hard, in the wrong ways, you'll actually get yourself banned or suspended from the sites you're trying to grow.

Before we get into specifics, let's get your basic outline ready. (If you don't think you need do. Many, many people forget their original promotion goals as they start down this path.)

So, here's the way to promote yourself, and build your audience organically. Remember, you want them to like you, not be annoyed by your existence.

1: Determine what you are promoting.

This is important. It seems silly. Duh, Ninette, I'm promoting my books / blog / online store / ebay business / whatever. Yes, you are. Don't forget it. Each has a different purpose, and will need to be promoted in different ways toward the end of your journey. Write it down. What are you promoting?

2: Use a multitude of platforms.

Each site has its own unique audience, and there are posts, pictures, and memes that will be wildly popular on some, but fail miserably on others. (Don't worry, we're coming back to this after three).

3: Post a variety of content.

 - Ecards have worked very, very well for me, memes that you've created--please, do not lift memes from other people. You want people to like you. You do not want to fool them into thinking you're something you are not, and plus, don't you feel squidgy taking someone else's work? I bet you're funnier / more genuine / more informative than them anyway.

How to do this? Take a picture of something, or use a free meme generator. Slap the photo into paint, and caption it. Then upload it to your wall...with your branding. The goal is for people to share your content from your page, everyone to love it and come flocking to you. (This does, sometimes, work. Last week I went from 350 likes to 1180 likes on Facebook. From one card.)

Post recipes with amazing pictures (that you took). Or crafts that you can do easily. Or photo-essays, voice-over comics. Post anything you want. Make some longwinded and some short and snappy. Have some lead with links to your blog / content / product, have some lead to your other networking sites to cross your audiences, and have some be the end product all by themselves.

Variety in all forms.

DETOUR: Here is a list of sites you can use to promote and what types of posts work best on each:

Facebook: Ecards, small graphics, macros, status updates (use your status updates as a shareable item. Post funny, off-the-cuff updates. They circulate almost as fast as meme photos), blog links. Remember, people on Facebook are used to clicking on articles that lead them off-site. They will be more likely to click on your blog link than almost any other audience, excepting:

Twitter: Blog links work here, too, but if you want a successful Twitter account, you must play Twitter's game. Use the hashtags. Use them. And not as tags like you would on your blog, and not just for random stuff you are saying. Twitter is a conversation. Think of it as the Starbucks of the 1990s. The coffee shop where everyone is shouting to be heard, but everyone is too hip to shout. Yes. That. Find the trending hashtags, and see if you have anything to say. Say it. Don't link there unless it's relevant. The more intelligent 140-character statements you can make under a hashtag, the more you will be seen. Follow a lot of people whom you find interesting. Tweet at them only when you have something to say. You'll find that once you've built an organic following, people will be tweeting at you and forwarding your links because they are interested in you.

Tumblr: Best for gifs, macros, fandoms, quotes, youtube videos, etc. Tag all your posts so that people looking for women's issues, or romance, or books, or writing, can find it. They'll follow you, no doubt.

Your blog: Derp. Just put your posts here, and link to them where you can. After a certain number of posts, Google search engines pick you up and you'll see an uptick in traffic. Use pictures. That way those looking for images will stumble across your blog, too.

Here are some I don't get, but are a force: Reddit, Stumbleupon, Digg, Instagram.

4: Share content from others freely with attribution.

Other bloggers will take notice of you eventually, and you broaden out your base by sharing original content from others. For instance, on my mommy blog Facebook, I post gardening, cooking and crafting pictures from other people from their page. People on my page appreciate being shown another page they might be interested in, and they appreciate that I'm diversifying my content for them (because I cannot post original crafts, cooking, or gardening. Trust that. I suck at them.)

5: Hop on hot topics:

You will get a lot of organic hits simply by saying something about a topic that is on the top of people's minds at the moment. Don't shy away from these. That's what the Twitter hash tags are for, after all. What is going on right now that people are interested in? Are you interested in it? Write about it. Engage other bloggers and journalists who have written about the same topic. Link to them in your post, debate with them on Facebook, tweet at them.

Remember the point is not to get mass amounts of followers who don't care. The point is to get the followers who do care, who will share--not because you asked them to, but because they find your stuff relevant and interesting--and to find the followers who are group influencers.

This is a series! I'll explain group influencers in one of the next rounds, along with more promotion tips.

Good luck!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Authors in Bloom - Blog Hop

Happily, I'm taking part in a really cute blog hop for the next couple weeks! It's called Authors in Bloom and it's put on by Diana Venetta and A Cozy Reader's Corner.

There will be recipe or gardening tips, plus more than 60 giveaways over the next ten days, and if you visit every author in the hop in that time, you're eligible for the grand prize, which is a Nook or a Kindle! (Your choice)

For me, how about a recipe? How about chocolate cake and strawberry icing?

Okay, cake first: (and they weren't kidding when they called it rich. It is amazing, but if you only like angel food type cakes, it is not for you.)

1 cup cocoa powder 
2 cups boiling water
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
2-1/2 cups sugar
4 eggs, at room temperature
2-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour three 9-inch cake pans.
2. In a medium bowl, stir the boiling water into the cocoa until smooth, and set aside.
3. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt, and set aside.
4. At medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar  for 4 to 5 minutes.
5. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
6. Turn mixer down to low speed. Add the flour mixture to the creamed mixture alternately with the cocoa mixture, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.
7. Stir in the vanilla, and do not over-beat.
8. Pour an equal amount of batter into each of the three prepared pans.
9. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. (I used only two layers and had to bake for 45 minutes at least)
10 Cool in pans set on racks for 10 minutes. Invert pans on racks, remove pans, and allow layers to cool completely before frosting. (LIES! let them cool for way more than 10 minutes.)

Great. Ready for the frosting? Now my husband first called this 'interesting,' crushing my spirit and soul, but he's since changed his opinion to 'greatest thing ever to go in a mouth.' Seriously.

  • 1/2 cup (4 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, from the refrigerator
  • 2-1/2 to 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 large strawberries, pureed
  • 2-3 tsp. strawberry jam
  • pinch of salt, optional
  1. Cream butter and cream cheese for about 2 minutes.
  2. Add powdered sugar 1 cup at a time. Add in jam and slowly add pureed strawberry until you get the desired consistency.
  3. Chill before frosting

Okay, now that that's about a giveaway? My newest release, Direct Contact is a dystopian romance. Here's the blurb!

Julie Gladwell has a secret. Acting as chief attendant for the New Government’s procreation program, she rears girls to carry the emperor’s heir. Only a few are chosen for the program, called “The Special Ones,” and they are given no names, only numbers. They see no one but authorized personnel until their twenty-first birthday. Which is usually when they die. Direct contact is forbidden. As she cares for these girls, no one ever suspects who she actually is.

Scientist Malcolm Odin hated his job and hated himself. Put in charge of the entire human engineering program, the experiments and suffering he witnessed made him sick. Still, it paid the bills and kept him living comfortably in Terrecina. He knew of far too many who’d fallen through the cracks, living on the earth below. The Level People, they were called.
When he confides his unease to Julie, she lets him in on her secret and into her heart. What starts as fancy ends in revolution, but how will they choose between their fellow man and each other?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

And last but not least, the rest of the stops on the tour can be found right here!

Happy hopping and happy spring!