By Frances Caballo
Writers have to juggle a lot. Craft. Marketing. Blogging. Email list building.
I know that I tend to think that I’m not doing enough. I could be on social media more. I don’t write enough books. (My last one was published in December and I haven’t started a new one.) I’m not meditating. I could exercise more.
The list goes on.
And the rub is that you can always do more. I think that I could always do more. At least that’s the myth that I tell myself.
If only there were more than 24 hours in a day, right? Man, what I could accomplish with 28 hours!
But there are just 24 hours in a day, and we do have to factor into those hours a good eight hours of sleep, meal preparation, and for some, a nine-to-five job.
Yet there are some skills that every indie author absolutely needs to develop. So let’s delve into them.
1. Develop Your Craft
The first skill you need to develop is your craft. Your brand and your sales will depend on how well crafted your book is, so take the time to sharpen your skills.
Attend workshops sponsored by local writing organizations. In California, for example, check out a local chapter of the California Writer’s Club. Elsewhere, check out local clubs for the Independent Publisher’s Association or regional writing conferences.
Submit your work to contests that return your copies with comments that will help you to improve your writing. Sign up for creative writing classes at your local community college or college extensions for courses in writing. In Northern California, both Stanford and UC Berkeley have a variety of courses for writers.
2. Learn How to Use Social Media
Look at the demographic data for social media use by the Pew Research Center to determine where your readers hang out online. Then look at your Facebook Insights to study the demographics of your fans. Finally, review your data on your Google Analytics to determine the demographics of your website visitors.
Once you collect that data, use it to determine which social media networks you should learn so that you can engage your readers online.
The best approach is to learn one social media first. Once you know how to use it well, say after six months or so, learn a second and maybe a third. Maybe.
Keep sharpening your skills by reading social media blogs. There’s the Buffer blog, one of the top ten in the industry according to the Social Media Examiner. Also, read and subscribe to the Social Media Examiner. Of course, I write about social media as well ☺ at Social Media Just for Writers as well as Rebekah Radice.
3. Learn How to Blog
Blogging is important. It will keep your website current, offer opportunities to boost your website’s search engine optimization, and more importantly, help you connect with your readers.
Here are some blogs you can read to learn about blogging:
- Start with TheBookDesigner.com. Joel Friedlander, this blog’s host, started from scratch and built a blog that is considered a gold standard in the self-publishing industry. Learn from him and his example.
- Read Copyblogger, probably the best blog on blogging in the entire industry.
- Blogging Tips covers a lot of the basics.
- Daily Blog Tips is another highly rated blog you can read to learn more about blogging.
- The SITSgirls frequently write about blogging for authors on their blog.
- If you want to take a blogging course, the best one is by Yaro Starak at Entrepreneurs Journey.
- Adam Connell of the Blogging Wizard built his blog in record time. Today he enjoys high traffic and often uses freelancers. His posts are replete with plenty of tips, and information about plugins.
4. Learn How to Build Ads
If you want to build your email list and sell more books on Facebook, you’ll need to develop some landing pages and create ads leading to those sales pages.
Amazon ads have become popular as well. Just go to this page to get started. Be sure to select a sponsored ad instead of a display ad. You’ll have the opportunity to add your own keywords. Make sure that you use at least 100; you can use up to 1,000! To learn about Amazon ads, be sure to read the post I wrote for this blog.
5. Drop the Shyness
Do you hate yourself on camera? I always have. Eighteen months ago I took a YouTube video course and still refused to get on camera. Then I took a Facebook Live course and still avoided the camera. Sheesh, right?
But earlier in the year, I started a webinar series called Conversations with Frances. Sometimes monthly and sometimes twice a month I interview someone for an hour. The result: I’m no longer afraid of live video.
As Nike says, Just Do It.
A Facebook representative says that within five years, the newsfeed will be comprised entirely of video clips. That’s right. There will be little text to read and either pictures or videos to view. So why not start now? There are plenty of tutorials on Facebook live, YouTube live, and similar platforms.
We’ve covered the five skills you need to develop, and I have just one addition. You need to learn perseverance. You won’t stick around this industry for long if you don’t apply yourself, be in it for the long run, and simply have patience. You will learn all that you need to learn as long as you persevere, learn one thing at a time, and never give up. There’s too much at stake: your career as a writer.