On the day AFTER Christmas, smart and savvy freelancers, entrepreneurs, and marketing agencies start gearing up for NEXT years Black Friday and Christmas promotions.
Some of them are actually looking five to ten years in the future.
That’s ONE end of the marketing spectrum. These are the authors and self-publishers I see steadily growing their businesses. These are the folks who have a 90 to 365 day marketing plan in place … and who STICK to their plan as best they can. Sadly, far too few of MY customers and followers reside here.
The majority of the freelancers and authors I work with simply don’t have a plan. How do I know they don’t have a plan? Because they contact me the day after they just published their new book. Because they buy one of my book marketing services the day before, or ON the day they start a promotion. They pay for extra fast services. If they had planned even two days ahead of time, they could have purchased extra services instead!
Many of my customers tell me:
- they HATE marketing.
- they had NO idea what they were getting into when they published their book.
- they have NO idea WHAT to do, HOW to do it or WHEN.
- they have NO idea WHO should do it or WHY it needs doing.
- they have no TIME to market.
I FEEL for them. When I first decided to become a freelance writer (decades ago) I was SERIOUS about it. So serious in fact, I incorporated my company. At that time it cost me $1000 I didn’t have!
I had NO customers. I had a company name, and a week later 1000 business cards.
I knew that if I wanted a business I NEEDED customers.
I had to figure out HOW. I was in my early 20’s and naïve as hell. In retrospect I probably built a fabulous freelance writing business because I was naïve. I didn’t know that what I set out to do was almost impossible.
I LOVE the word impossible. It sings for me. I was determined to prove all the naysayers wrong.
I set out to get some customers. In the first three months I spent 100% of my time on what I eventually understood to be “marketing.” When I got my first job I stopped marketing and started writing. Then NO work … so back to 100% marketing.
After over a year of feast and famine I figured out that I needed to keep marketing even when I had work. I spent 80% of my time marketing and 20% writing.
Five years later, I had it down to a science, and had my marketing routine and schedule running smoothly. I spent less than 30%, then 20%, and finally 10% of my time marketing–and work just kept flowing in.
For those of you that HATE marketing … don’t know HOW or WHAT or WHEN, I hope this article helps chop years off YOUR learning curve.
The BOTTOM LINE is.
If you are a freelancer, a self-publishing author, a blogger … if you are in a business of any kind …
You MUST MARKET
You MUST MARKET ALL THE TIME
You MUST Have a MARKETING PLAN
Get over hating the fact that you have to do it. Simply ENGAGE and learn how to PLAY THE GAME.
SEAT OF YOUR PANTS plotting works for many authors … they end up with a book. SEAT OF YOUR PANTS marketing doesn’t work for anyone … it will NOT build your business.
Marketing plans can range anywhere from a simple outline of 3 easy marketing actions every day, to a 90 day marketing ramp up for the publishing launch of a three book series.
Here’s an example of dead simple. It works. There are hundreds of writers using this plan on the Medium platform every day.
They write and publish articles every day.
Their marketing plan?
- Follow 125+ people daily to grow an audience.
- Engage with a Medium Facebook Group to help and encourage other writers.
- Read, clap for, highlight and comment on other writer’s articles.
Yes, something as simple as that works. BUT … and this is a BIG BUT, you have to do it every single day! There are writers on Medium that make hundreds, or thousands of dollars a month.
There are writers on Medium who don’t market … you can see the difference in their results. The key is marketing.
PS. The writing part is WORK. So don’t even imagine making thousands of dollars without putting in the writing work.
Book publishers, bloggers and other types of freelancers will likely have more complex Marketing Plans.
For example, in addition to the writing work involved with completing a novel, an author should also be looking ahead and building their marketing platform (often called an author platform).
- building and maintaining a website
- building, growing and maintaining an email list
- choosing one to three social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Linkedin, Instagram, etc.)
- building and feeding the social media beasts
- creating a team of launch helpers
- obtaining advanced reviews
- creating marketing materials
- Setting up a KDP – 90 day promotion schedule
An author or Freelance Writer can choose to do all of this on their own (BIG MISTAKE) or they can outsource parts of it to a vendor or a Virtual Assistant. The decision on who will do what, is PART of your marketing plan.
Setting Up Your Marketing Plan
I advise authors to set up the KEY events on their Marketing Calendar a year in advance. Keep an eye on, and start filling in some of the details 3 months in advance … and fill in ALL the details at least one month in advance.
Your Marketing Calendar should include templates for: DAILY tasks. WEEKLY and MONTHLY tasks … and a to-do list for regularly occurring events
Here are some examples for a book publisher:
- build twitter follower list (10 minutes):
- contact one book review blogger (10 minutes)
- participate in an author forum (10 minutes)
NOTE: I make daily tasks a GAME. How many days in a row can I keep it going? How FAST can I get each task done?
- add 3 new tweets to automatic twitter queue (20 minutes).
- set up Pinterest posting schedule for next week (15 min)
- Schedule promotions such as Fiverr
- Schedule and set up posts (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterst) fill at least one month of your calendar
- Write and schedule one to four newsletters
- Write and schedule one to four new blog posts
- If you are on KDP plan your FREE or 99cent days and schedule all of them at one time.
- Put your FREE and 99cent days ON your calendar so you don’t forget to promo them
- Look ahead over the next six months and decide on two to three MUST DO goals (eg. “add 250 new subscribers to my email list” or “set up a promotion team for new book in July”)
Regularly Occurring Events Requiring Multiple Steps
For example, writing and posting a blog post actually involves MUCH more that plunking up a few or many words, some images and hitting the post button. It “should” include SEO setup as well as promoting the new post.
- Add Pinnable images to Blog Post
- Choose key words and set up SEO
- Publish Post
- Write and queue tweet linking to blog post
- Post and queue Pinterest Images or Instagram posts linking to blog post
- Post a blurb and image to Facebook
- Send out a newsletter with a blurb and a link to your new post.
There are TWO main goals for your Marketing Plan Calendar:
Always make sure you are in FRONT of the event’s target date.
Here’s what that means … if you want to launch your new website on July 15th. You need to hire a website developer, write 3 – 7 pages of content (the developer normally does NOT do this), and some back and forth time deciding on theme, colors, headings.
This means, you need to be planning, and hiring at least a month in advance. You need the time to write content. Your first tasks have to start somewhere between June 1st to June 15th. If you want some breathing and thinking time May 1st would be even better!
This is where many book publishers fail. They start thinking about marketing AFTER they hit the publish button. They think, “oh, I should probably get some help with my promo” … AFTER the promo has started.
Marketing MUST be PERSISTENT and CONSISTENT.
Though your one time events are important (eg. Launch book 2 on April 20th) it is your daily and weekly marketing tasks that lead to a solid marketing platform and to long term success.
I have over 500,000 “targeted” twitter followers in over six twitter accounts. That happened because we (my VA and I) worked on building the accounts every single day … for YEARS. I’m not Simon Cowell or Howey Mandel, Lady Gaga or an Oscar winning actress who might get 1000+ new followers in an hour. I have to WORK at it. I’m guessing that YOU aren’t a mega-star either … so create your marketing PLAN and work it!
Success with marketing comes from … every day * every week * every month.
And finally … you have to be FLEXIBLE.
STUFF HAPPENS. Your plan will change, count on it!
The whole point of a Marketing Plan is to make time your FRIEND by keeping at eye out on what has to happen next and by persistently checking off the marketing tasks that will build for a successful future.
“Once you have mastered time, you will understand how true it is that most people overestimate what they can accomplish in a year – and underestimate what they can achieve in a decade.” – Tony Robbins
If you want to methodically learn more about marketing, take a look at this great course on setting up your social media platforms for success! Social Media Marketing: Top Tips for Growing Your Followers & Going Viral and this one on how to capture your audience’s attention.
Have any tips that have worked for you? We’d all love to hear them! Have any questions? Please ask!