“Fifty percent of marketing works, but no one knows which fifty percent.” wrote Joanna Penn, quoting an old saying.* Marketing is a lab full of test tubes and social media solutions. Sometimes we can combine SEO with a lovable personality to build a working platform. Other times, you combine those elements to build a non-working platform. And then sometimes…
With so many marketing channels, books, and tools, finding the right right components for your platform can be difficult, if not impossible. But unfortunately, experimentation is the only way to find out what works.
Don’t Be Afraid to Try New Things
Every scientist expects to have an explosion at one point or another. Don’t fear the fire—wear the protective gear of an eager attitude and you won’t have to worry about getting burnt. Always be ready to explore new ways of putting your work out to the public. You could try posting on a different day, using certain keywords, or joining a new social network. If you let fear of the unknown or stubbornness of sticking to the old routine (one of Mariposa’s biggest problems), you will miss opportunities to grow your platform as well as your abilities. Even if you don’t use it now, you may find the information helpful in the future.
Don’t Try Everything at Once
Always be willing to experiment with anything, but don’t be willing to experiment with everything. Social media is a great place to promote yourself and let your presence be known, but joining every social media channel is unnecessary, tiring, and can distract you from what you should be doing. Sure, that’s great for bestselling authors who have assistants to manage their accounts, but the average author does not have the time or the resources to be pouring that much energy into posting everyday. The same goes for any other platform building tools—you can’t use all of them. Instead, pick two or three (or however many you can handle), and focus on those. That way, you can devote your energy exclusively into those avenues and manage them proficiently, rather than diverting your attention into ten different things and doing them mediocrely. Then, once you’ve become comfortable with the few things, you can gradually add more gadgets to your marketing toolbox.
But with so many vast options, how do you know which is the right one? Here are a few questions to ask yourself to narrow the results and find the right course for you:
What do you like? If you can find a marketing strategy that employs something you already enjoy, chances are it’ll work for you. Make a list of all your hobbies and see if you can incorporate them into your marketing. Maybe your hobby is photography—you could join Instagram and post photos of books. Maybe you love meeting new people—you could join a writer’s group. Or maybe you adore dinosaurs—you could hire an assistant who’ll do all your marketing for you.
What are you good at? Besides making a list of your hobbies, jot down all your talents. What did you major in for school/college? What jobs have you worked? What do you have experience with already? If you can choose something that you already have some familiarity, you’ll cut the learning process in half.
Are you an introvert or extrovert? As inconsequential as this may seem, your personality does have very much to do with the effectiveness of your marketing. What works for an exuberant ENFP won’t work for a reclusive, sarcastic INTJ. Ask other writers with the same or similar personality type as you what marketing tactics work well for them.
What marketing has worked for you already? What has failed? By analyzing your successes and failures, you’ll be able to come to the conclusion of what to do. For example, you tried Facebook and couldn’t seem to gain much of a following. Chances are Twitter won’t work either. Maybe you started a blog and couldn’t keep up with it, so a bimonthly newsletter might be a better route. Or, in retrospect, maybe you joined Facebook and loved it—so maybe you should try investing in some paid adds. Maybe you’ve gained several followers on your blog, why not try using it to promote your stories?
Besides asking yourself these questions, also try researching and studying various strategies. Many times you’ll be able to tell whether a certain route is doable simply by becoming acquainted with it.
Be Willing to Let Go
If your experiment is successful, try to make it better. Not everything will work for you, and that’s okay. Each person is unique, therefore each platform is different, and hence the way you build that platform will be different. You needn’t hang on to something that simply isn’t working just because you’re hoping it might suddenly come to life and give you dozens of followers. Instead, throw it out the window and let it explode on some poor bystander who spends too much time stalking people on the internet.
*Joanna Penn, How to Market a Book (Curl Up Press), 17.