How Self-Publishers Can Sell More Books with Article Marketing, Part 1

by Joel Friedlander on June 21, 2010 · 28 comments

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I’ve been fascinated by article marketing since last year when I first started to learn ways to let other people know about my blog. Like most people I use my blog as a central focus for other online activities, yet when you’re starting out it’s hard to figure out how to let people know you’re there.

You might wonder why a technique that’s mostly used by internet marketing types is showing up here on my self-publishing blog. This is an extension of the articles I’ve written to try to show nonfiction authors how they can bring more people to their website or blog to become part of their community, to support their ongoing work, and to buy books or other products related to the books they publish.

First I wrote about the long-tail nature of most nonfiction self-publishing in Why Self-Publishing is a Long-Tail Business.

I then went on to talk about how authors can learn to use keywords to draw traffic to their site in How Nonfiction Self-Publishers Can Become Keyword Naturals.


In other articles I’ve referred to the use of keywords and a knowledge of how search engines work, for instance last week in the article How to Write Book Titles for People and Robots

And here’s why:

  1. Hundreds of thousands of books are being published every year, in addition to the books already in print
  2. Bookstores are struggling and many have already gone out of business
  3. Online sales of books continue to trend up, and with fewer bookstores, this will only increase

If you’re a self-publishing author, you have to ask yourself this critical question:

How will anyone who doesn’t know you find your book?

Marketing for the Age of Discoverability

It’s becoming more evident that in order to make the most of your marketing, of your own resources as a self-publishing author, you have to know how people search for topics that your book covers, how they find the answers they’re looking for. It’s at that moment that people turn from searchers into buyers. It’s critical now, and will only get more important to understand how this works and how you can take advantage of it.

All the work on keywords and writing for your blog or website covered in the earlier articles were things you could do with your own content. Article Marketing is a simple but potentially very powerful way to reach out to the wider web beyond your own domain to find people asking questions that you—or your book—can answer.

The idea is pretty simple. You write short articles about some specific area that people want to know about and submit them to a site that distributes articles. I picked the largest of these sites, ezinearticles.com, and concentrated on just that one, although there are many other article directory sites on the web.

People entering search terms in Google or another search engine will find your articles turning up in their search. Webmasters and bloggers who need content also use these directories, since the articles are free to re-use as content on their website, ezine or blog as long as they credit you as author and include links back to your site.

In the past I’ve used the example of an author who has a book about building brick pizza ovens; a pretty well-defined long-tail self-publishing topic. Now I’m going to switch to a real-world example—my own marketing—to show you exactly what I’ve done, the results I’m getting, and how I plan to maximize my use of this technique.

The History of My Article Marketing Program So Far

ezinearticles.com author home, self-publishingLast October, November and December I uploaded a total of 12 articles to ezinearticles.com. Over the last five months I occasionally sent out a Tweet on Twitter with a link to one of the articles, but mostly I did nothing. I checked in once in a while and as of today, this is the status of my articles stored there.

You’ll notice I now have 17 articles, since I’ve already started Phase II of my project, but some of these are still awaiting approval before being released on the site. These statistics, however, are almost all from the original 12 articles I published. Each of these articles deals with some aspect of self-publishing, so they are all focused on my niche.

You can also see these 12 articles were picket up and republished 17 times. The rest of the statistics are for the articles on the ezinarticles.com website, where they have attracted almost 1,500 views with over 80 people clicking through the links in the articles that lead to my blog.

The Big Plan

I thought this was a pretty good result for a modest investment of time and no money at all. Not only that, but these articles will be there forever, and will continue to generate links and traffic based on the topics discussed in the articles for some time, without any intervention on my part.

I decided to pursue this source of traffic and people who might well become part of the community here. My plan is dead simple: Go from 12 articles to 100, then re-evaluate.

If 12 articles generated 1,500 views, I reasoned that 100 articles might yield as many as 12,000 views in a few months, completely unattended, as well as a few hundred re-posted to other websites.

Over the next few days I’m going to show you:

  • how the submission process at ezinearticles.com works,
  • how to format the articles you submit there,
  • how to maximize the keywords, anchor text and links you are allowed to put into your articles, and
  • how to read the in-depth statistics ezinearticles tracks on your posts.

This will take two more posts, but I think you’ll find it well worthwhile.

Obviously, it’s going to take me a while to get to 100 articles, before I can evaluate Phase II of my strategy, so I’ll check in once in a while and give you an update.

Often, after a book is published, the author calls me up and says, “What do I do now?” And while it’s far better to have a marketing plan before you publish—perhaps even before you write the book—there are things you can do if you’re serious about growing your tribe and selling more books. Article marketing, while not a way to get a huge amount of traffic, looks like a really good way to establish yourself in your niche and drive decent traffic to your website.

So stay tuned, and think of how you could do this with your book, your field of expertise, or your genre. Next up will be a step-by-step rundown of the submission process and the strategy behind the articles themselves, the links embedded in them, and how these elements work together.

Takeaway: Article marketing is marketing that any author can do with a small investment of time, and at no cost. It can help self-publishers grow their community and sell more books.

Image: http://www.flickr.com/photos/garryknight/

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    { 17 comments }

    Mayowa June 21, 2010 at 9:03 am

    I am on ezines too Joel but I think I need to take it a lot more seriously (I have two articles so far). Im going to shoot for fifty in the next few months , we’ll see how it goes.

    Thanks for reminding me about this.

    Joel Friedlander June 21, 2010 at 12:18 pm

    Mayowa, two articles probably aren’t going to do much for you, but stay tuned for the rest of this series because I’m going to go over this procedure step by step to make sure you’re maximizing this traffic and link source. Thanks for reading!

    Tom McLaughlin June 21, 2010 at 7:56 pm

    Hi:

    I am eagerly awaiting your next few installments. I can write humor articles that can also be non-fiction. Or Non fiction in a humorous manner. How does one market this unusual concept?

    Thanks,

    Tom

    Joel Friedlander June 21, 2010 at 11:25 pm

    Hey Tom, thanks. I think you market it by finding something to teach with that style. Humor is very effective when used as a teaching tool.

    David Beach June 21, 2010 at 9:56 pm

    Excellent article.. and great ideas.. I self published last year and it would cover a pretty niche market.. Ive been wondering how to get people to look at this book http://www.blurb.com/bookstore/detail/1207486

    lol.. okay.. I had to.

    Thanks.. David

    Joel Friedlander June 22, 2010 at 8:42 am

    Cute book David, I don’t know much about the market for adorable cat books, but you’ve done a really nice job with it. Obviously, at the Blurb prices, this should be considered a sort of prototype for an eventual offset printing. Good luck, and hello to Fetzer.

    David Bergsland June 22, 2010 at 6:23 am

    Is there an article submission service you could recommend that doesn’t cost $50 a month? — like free?

    Joel Friedlander June 22, 2010 at 8:43 am

    David, I don’t know of any because I do the article submission myself. It doesn’t take that long and as I said in the article, I only use ezinearticles.com for this experiment. If you find something, let me know.

    David Bergsland June 22, 2010 at 11:50 am

    Will do…

    I have to find somewhere interested in typography and font design.

    David June 22, 2010 at 8:58 am

    Thanks!! And yeah.. I have to agree about blurb.. geesh the prices are insane. And yes, excellent point.. thats kind of what I am doing with it…it’s a prototype… and it also serves as proof that there is a great feeling in actually just finishing a project. Far too many ” somedays”

    David

    Joel Friedlander June 22, 2010 at 12:20 pm

    I have to agree with that, David. To be able to actually get to the end of the project, to finish everything and have a printed book in your hand is still an accomplishment. Whatever happens, you completed it and that’s not a small thing.

    Ofili July 15, 2010 at 1:04 pm

    Great information! Been searching for this. I have like 50 articles on my site but could not figure out how to get it out. Thanks for this. Looking forward to learning more.

    Gibson Goff April 5, 2012 at 9:54 am

    I am really looking forward to the other installments in this series!

    I submit to EzineArticles, and also use PublishersVault, and had used Examiner.com. I found regardless of the venue, niche specific keywords are the most important factor for me, (at least according to Analytics). Just putting up articles doesn’t do much.

    I’m wondering if you noticed any difference when Google pulled the big change recently?

    Again, great stuff. Looking forward to more! Thanks!

    Joel Friedlander April 5, 2012 at 1:38 pm
    Elizabeth Barone May 18, 2012 at 3:31 am

    In light of the Panda update, where would you now send or publish these articles?

    Joel Friedlander May 21, 2012 at 1:42 pm

    I would still use ezinearticles.com. They have made major changes to conform to Google’s wishes and they are, as far as I know, the best article directory for this type of marketing.

    Elizabeth Barone May 22, 2012 at 8:19 pm

    Good to know. I’ll definitely be checking them out. Thanks for getting back to me!

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