Back in June, I wrote a post about what it takes to “do it all” as an independent author. While one of the many tasks of the independent author is marketing, nobody will buy your books if you’re always promoting them on social media. There needs to be a balance of promotion and what’s known as “web content.” Web content doesn’t need to be much, especially for social media, but the fact that you’re continually posting about something shows that you’re actively engaged with people who could potentially become your audience. There are plenty of debates about which social networks to post to, how often to post, and when to post during the day (or during the week), but this post won’t go into the details of that. I still haven’t figured out the “sweet spot” for social media, but I have accumulated a regular schedule of web content that helps me to be active on these platforms.
When it comes right down to it, since I am the only person doing my marketing, I also have to create all of the web content that I post. While this might take away from my “writing” and “editing” time, I consider it essential to maintain a consistent presence on social media. My current system/schedule is set up to post four times a week to Facebook, which automatically posts to my Twitter account (via “If This, Then That” (IFTTT)). Of course, that’s four times a week for my Author page as well as four times a week for my Photo page (along with an additional two posts on Instagram for the Photo page on the weekends). Not all of this web content is entirely original. I will often post articles, humorous memes, and web-comics that relate to the underlying theme of the page. While I don’t want to necessarily barrage those who have “liked” my page with promotional material about my books, I also don’t want to simply become a content aggregator (like Reddit or 9gag).
To attract an audience, you need to post regularly.
So, if I don’t just want to re-post the content other content creators are making, I need to include some of my original content in my social media posts. This content usually has some connection to my writing, but I’ve also included other topics that I think my audience might like so that they’ll consider buying my books when I do post a promotion for them. While I might post more when I have a particular event going on (like this month and National Novel Writing Month (aka NaNoWriMo)), there’s usually a “set” of web content that I write/produce for each month. Because this web content posts on a regular and scheduled basis, I can usually write a lot of it beforehand, allowing myself to create a “backlog” of content that will post regardless of whether I’m actively producing it or not. This helps relieve some of the pressure of creating web content, especially when I go on vacation or if I’m trying to get some serious writing done (like during NaNoWriMo). Still, when I look at how much web content I create in a month, it seems like a daunting amount. Fortunately, I keep things simple, so I’m not overwhelmed by it.
Consistent web content is important, but don’t get burnt out!
Let’s look at a typical week in a typical month of my web content. On Mondays, I will post a link to my latest movie blog post (which publishes on the previous Friday). This blog takes two films and connects them via a common theme, actor, or director. Each week, I use last week’s “second” film and connect it to a new film via a new connection. It’s kind of like a never-ending “6 degrees of Kevin Bacon” blog. These posts usually run about 800 words long, with an intro to the post, two intros to each of the movies, and two movie synopses. On Wednesdays, I will post a link to my latest vlog post. These “Writer Rants” are five minutes or less “because I have to get back to writing and so do you.” Each video covers some topic that’s bothering me at the moment, usually dealing with certain trends I notice in the work of independent authors. As an independent author myself, I want to make sure we’re seen as professionals and not looked down upon for simple mistakes.
Now, during the week, I will post three “reviews” from my main website to my personal Facebook page (also remembering to post to Twitter as well). Every Tuesday I will post a movie review, with Wednesdays being reviews of audiobooks and Thursdays being reviews of books by independent authors (or books I’ve received via Goodreads giveaways). Each of these posts is over 300 words and contains a picture of the reviewed item, be it a movie poster or book cover. Again, I try and make these posts simple on myself, while also providing enough content for it to be engaging to a reader.
Once each month, I will try to post a longer blog post to (at least) my Author website. Sometimes these posts will connect in with what I’ve said in my Writer Rants, but sometimes they’ll cover something interesting that I’m researching for a short story or novel. As long as the focus is on writing in some form or other, I write a post about it. Heck, the post you’re reading right now is one of these posts. Since I usually have more to say in these posts, when compared to my reviews, these blog posts are usually over 1,000 words each.
Similarly, each month I will aggregate most of the web content I’ve created and release a newsletter. This newsletter has links to the Writer Rants for the month, the Author blog post for the month, three reviews of movies and books I liked during that month, and the “Weekly Photos” that I post to my Photography page. In this way, I can ensure the people who have signed up for my newsletter will see my web content (via a “push”) since I don’t know if they’ll see it on Facebook or Twitter (often considered a “pull”).
Over time, web content adds up.
When you add all of this web content up for a typical month, the amount of writing I have to do starts to feel quite significant. Four movie blogs at 800 words add up to 2,400 words for the month. Four Writer Rants at five minutes or less (not to mention the editing and uploading to YouTube) adds up to 20 minutes a month. Three reviews a week at 300 words apiece add to 900 words for the week and 3,600 words for the month. Add to this an Author blog post of over 1,000 words, and the grand total I write in a month ends up being over 7,000 words. If I wrote that much on a draft of a novel each month, I’d have a new novel about every six months (if a novel is defined as 50,000+ words).
Obviously, a lot of writing goes into creating consistent and regular web content. While it might distract a bit from the “core” of my writing (i.e., short stories, novels, and editing of same), at the very least it keeps me writing regularly during the month. If anything, they’re good warm-ups for when I do finally get around to writing my novels . . .
What about you? How much web content do you create in a month? Does it interfere with what you’re trying to accomplish?