Welcome freelance writer Michelle Peterman with a post about blogging and marketing!
As a writer, you probably think of your various roles within some kind of metaphor or narrative framework. (It’s okay. We all do it.) I’ll use the hat metaphor, even though it’s a bit cliché and your personal metaphor is probably much more original.
So hats. You put on your “writer” hat when you’re writing the good stuff and your “blogger” hat when you’re drafting blog posts – except, of course, when you’re trying to write a blog post that markets a new book or product, in which case you grab your “marketing” hat. Then sometimes you tweet under your “writer” hat, your “blogger” hat, your “marketing” hat, or maybe under your “snarky” or “political” hat.
(That’s a lot of quotation marks. Better get out my editor hat.)
What I’m here to tell you today is that the reason your marketing isn’t working is because you’re making “marketing” a separate hat.
You can’t keep marketing separate from your day-to-day writing. If you do, you’ll have much less outreach than you would if you accepted that what we think of as “marketing” is just part of your day-to-day writing life, and that it comes out in the emails you write, the blog posts you upload, and the social media updates you send out.
Don’t Think About Marketing. Think About Your Audience.
Here’s a quote I read from the good people at 29 Prime, a company that should know all about marketing hats and when to wear them. They were cross-linking an article from Jenny Halasz about marketing, and they quoted Halasz as follows:
Instead of thinking of “marketing,” which is defined as the act of promoting and selling products or services, SEOs need to be thinking about how they can deliver the best possible experience for their subject — the visitor.
That’s how you need to think, as a writer. Your job isn’t to sell your book; it’s to create an experience that invites your fans and site visitors to buy your book. The posts you might be tempted to write, the ones that are all about BUY BUY BUY and are chock-full of SEO metadata, aren’t the ones you want to write, not if you really want to get people excited about your writing.
You sell people on your books by telling them the story of you.
One of my very favorite writing blogs is John Scalzi’s Whatever. Scalzi’s taught me more about writing – and about being a human – than any other writer I know, even though I’ve never met him. Am I going to buy Scalzi’s next book, even though I don’t even know yet what it is? Yes.
(If you’re not yet a John Scalzi fan, start by reading Scalzi’s story of his 17-year “dateiversary.”)
Take off the hats. Write from what’s underneath.
See how I used that metaphor there? If you want to connect with people, you have to write from who you are, not from any predetermined idea of a “marketing hat.” You have to be honest, and probably a little humorous, and certainly empathetic. You have to tell your story in a way that makes people want to read it, which requires every tool in your toolbox. You have to put as much of you into the blog post that says, “Hey, I finished a book, here’s how to buy it” as you do in the book itself.
People can recognize a marketing hat from ten miles away. They run, the same way we push the YouTube button to skip past the ads. (I was going to write “change the channel during commercials,” but no one does that anymore.) The only way to really get your message across, even – or especially – if that message is “I wrote a book that I’m really proud of, and I’d like you to read it,” is to make it come from you.
Not from your hat.
Michelle Peterman is a former communications associate who transitioned into her own freelance writing business. She enjoys sharing the knowledge accumulated from her journey with the business community.
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