By Laura Fredericks, founder and CEO of Describli
Sadly, for most writers, the answer is no. Promoting your business can feel like intruding, and often brings up fears of rejection. It’s challenging to share your message without feeling like a cheesy car salesman. But it doesn’t have to be that way. You can share your knowledge, personal story, and your work with the world without coming off as pushy or fake. You just need to connect in an authentic way.
Connecting authentically essentially means sharing your story with people who want to hear it. Simply put, being authentic means staying true to who you are, what you do, and who you serve. This creates value and benefits for your audience as well as improving your business as a writer.
How do you accomplish this seemingly miraculous feat? Read on for six ways to promote yourself while remaining a living, breathing human.
1. Be Authentic
It should come as no surprise that the first tip for authentic connection is to BE AUTHENTIC. This can’t be faked. Take a minute to think about yourself as an author. Who are you? What gets you up in the morning? What are your core values? Why do you share your stories with the world through your writing? Use your answers to these questions to form your message and your personal brand. Your core values, goals, and beliefs will form the backbone of your approach to every aspect of your business as an author, so you should know what they are.
Besides selling your book and making money, why are you in the business of writing? You are a unique person, with a perspective and a background unlike any other. Your online presence is a chance to share your unique experience with the world. No one cares what you had for breakfast – but they do care about your story as an author! You can show your personality and tell your story through the content you share.
2. Be Real
If you’re truly connecting with people, they will be delighted to hear from you. Make sure that the audience you are speaking with fits the content and message that you’re trying to share. Think about the ideas, characters, and messages that you and your work represent, and then find the audience that cares about those things.
When you are online as a chore, or simply to push a product, people can tell. In our oh-so-connected age, everyone is an expert on advertising, and how to avoid it. The more real, honest, and helpful you are with your audience, the more people will trust you and want to connect with you.
3. Be Relevant
If you’re going to be a valuable resource for your audience, you need to make sure that the content you are sharing with them is relevant. This starts with picking the right audience, but it also means picking the right content and the right places to share that content.
Trying to update all social media profiles all the time is a recipe for disaster. No one has the time or energy to be everywhere at once. Instead, think of it like exercising. Pick a few activities that you enjoy, and that make sense for you and your personality. If you can find places that you actually enjoy spending time online, you’ll be much more likely to keep up with your updates and provide value to your audience.
Each social media outlet has its strengths and weaknesses, and your overall strategy should take those into account. You also have my personal permission to ignore social media sites that you don’t like. Yup, you heard me. Get rid of them from your news feed, take the bookmarks off your toolbar, and let it go. You can’t be everywhere, and your connections will suffer if you’re hanging out somewhere that you loathe. Sometimes you just need someone to tell you it’s okay!
4. Be a Goldmine
All right, stick with me through the metaphor here. Have you ever read a book whose characters were nothing like you, taking place in a setting you had never visited, and dealing with subject matter that was completely unrelated to you and your life? Now, even though it had nothing to do with your experience, were you still able to form a deep connection with the material? The answer to this is not always yes, but when it is you’ve found something deeper than characters, or plots, or settings.
You’ve found a “nugget of truth,” something that connects with a truth that you believe, or a way that you try to live your life, or a struggle that you’ve faced. These nuggets of truth are the little glinting bits of gold that we pan for on our reading adventures. We read to feel connected to other humans, and to have someone say through their work, “I understand you,” and these little bits of shared truth are the foundation for that type of connection.
If you can find those experiences that you share with your audience, or the ideas that drive them, you have the power to be a goldmine of information, support, and advice for those that you reach. These nuggets will be the main thing connecting you with your audience, and once you find them…yup, you’ll be golden. Sorry, corny puns are a part of my truth.
5. Be Flexible, but not Gumby
Almost any advice about building your platform and establishing an online presence will tell you to tailor your message. But keep in mind that tailoring clothing means adjusting it slightly to fit you. It does not mean turning a ball gown into a track suit.
You should absolutely tailor your approach to a specific platform. Make sure the content you are sharing is going to the right place, but please don’t change you. Whether your audience visits you on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, your blog, or any other site, you should still fundamentally look like the same person. Your core message, values – and yes, your nuggets of truth – should remain consistent.
6. Be Available
Lastly, please remember that communicating implies a back and forth. You should be listening as much as you’re talking. Make yourself available for feedback, be approachable, and really listen when someone has something they want to share with you. This is part of being authentic, but it’s also part of being an effective marketer. Over time, you’ll learn what content your audience is responding to and how to plug in to those universal bits of truth. Encourage engagement and nurture your audience, and they’ll turn into advocates for you and your work without you even needing to ask.
Readers, do you already use some of these tips to make sure you’re acting like a human online? Let us know in the comments!
Laura Fredericks is the founder and CEO of Describli, a writing prompts community for authors. You can connect with her on twitter @describli and on Facebook. If you’d like to read more from Laura about the business side of connecting authentically, head to the Describli blog.
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