Are you looking to self-publish your work? If so, it’s crucial to learn the ins and outs of some of the most common self-publishing mistakes. In learning of these mistakes, you can set yourself up for the most success possible.
What are the most common self-publishing mistakes, you ask? To help, we’re shining a light on the eight most common mistakes that authors make when self-publishing their work. From your blog layout and editing to market research and timelines, we’re covering it all.
Before you publish your work, you’ll want to avoid these mistakes at all costs. It’s time to learn from those who have self-published their works before you!
Of course, it’s always tempting to edit your own work.
While this is a cost-effective means of editing, it’s also setting yourself up for disaster. Not only will a professional editor spot typos and grammatical errors, but they’ll also highlight structural sentences that need improvement. If you’re looking to make money with self-publishing, you need to be serious about hiring an editor. At a minimum, use a tool like the Hemingway Editor for an automated way of checking your work.
Without proper editing, your work is very likely to have some standout mistakes. From the perspective of your readers, this makes your work more difficult to enjoy and take seriously.
This market research will tell you what readers are interested in right now. It’s also going to help to provide clarity in terms of the length, format, and general structure that readers currently most desire.
Remember, your goal is to create material that your readers are actively interested in. In order to know what the public wants, it’s imperative to spend the time necessary and conduct this research.
3. A Lack of Timelines
In the self-publishing world, you’re essentially only working for one person. For better or worse, this one person just so happens to be yourself.
While there are benefits to creating all of your own rules, this can also be a dangerous game. This is especially the case when it comes to establishing a strict timeline for your works.
When using a professional publisher, that individual will set concrete timelines that you must adhere to. When you’re working for yourself, this simply isn’t the case. With this, it’s only natural for your level of motivation to decrease.
To counteract this, be sure to set strict timelines for yourself. You can also share these timelines with other people to increase your accountability.
4. Incorrect Formatting
Every type of work will require a different sort of formatting.
For example, the formating for regular blog posts could be entirely different than the formatting for a standard novel. If you’re new to publishing, understanding the right formatting won’t always come naturally.
In most cases, the correct formatting will be entirely dependent on the forum in which you’re publishing. For example, one blog may require writers to submit their work in a Microsoft Word document while others require an Adobe PDF file. To ensure that you’re adhering to the right formatting, be sure to conduct the right research and ask questions.
5. A Poorly-Timed Release Date
What’s the best time to release your work?
When it comes to self-publishing, there are good times and there are bad times to release work. Of course, this timeline will also depend on the subject matter of your work. This is where conducting market research comes into play yet again.
Do yourself a favor and dig online for more information. Your goal is to find a relevant time to release your work. This is a time in which your audience will naturally feel more inclined to read works on your subject.
While the average person reads 12 books a year, it’s more important to figure out what time of year people read the most. With this, you may want to release your work during a time that people are more likely to spend their time reading. This is why many authors choose to release their work in the summer when people typically have more time to relax.
6. A Lack of Notable Reviews
At the end of the day, reviews are an incredibly important part of any kind of brand-building.
Just as 90% of consumers will read reviews before visiting a business, so too will your readers. This is why having notable reviews on your work has become a key to success.
Unfortunately, those that self-publish are far less likely to have a variety of reviews. This is as compared to work that has been professionally published and often uses notable people to create an interest in your work.
Even in the event that you’re self-publishing, do your best to get as many people to read and review your work as possible. Once you have these reviews, ensure that you’re advertising them both physically on your work and on other platforms such as social media.
7. Asking for Minimal Feedback
When you choose to self-publish, you’re minimizing the feedback that you’ll receive on your work.
Of course, receiving harsh feedback can be challenging for some. But, it’s also the best way to ensure that what you’re putting out there is your best work possible. When it comes to writing, your reputation is everything.
With this, it’s crucial to ask for as much feedback as possible. Try to get as many people in your network to review your work as possible. From here, don’t be shy in asking for their honest feedback and suggestions. After all, this is the only way to better yourself as a writer.
8. Incorrect Pricing
Sure, you might be a professional writer. But, this doesn’t mean that you know the best strategy for pricing your works.
With this, self-publishing authors will often undervalue their work and price their work far too low. On the other hand, if you price your work too high, fewer people are likely to purchase it.
To help arrive at a fair pricing strategy, be sure to research what other works under the same subject are selling for. And evaluate how well those books are selling at various price points. With this, your best bet is to match this price or come slightly above or below it.
Common Self-Publishing Mistakes to Avoid
To self-publish or to seek professional help? That is the question!
The truth is, self-publishing your work can lead you to success. It’s also a great way to save money and adhere to your own rules. But, in doing so, it’s imperative to ensure that you’re avoiding all the most common self-publishing mistakes.
In understanding these mistakes in advance, you can take extra caution when moving forward with your works. With this, you’re all the more likely to maximize your chances of success!
If you’re building your social media platform on Instagram, and haven’t considered using a linktree page for your bio link, then you’re missing some really great opportunities.
Instagram has established itself as one of the top and most influential social networks out there right now. But from the perspective of a content producer (blogger or small business), the big downside is that you cannot put functional links in the content of your posts. You get one active link, and that’s in your bio.
With only one link being available to you, it’s difficult to ensure people are getting to your most important content or whatever you want them to see when you post something in your feed.
That’s where a linktree page comes in.
What Is Linktree Page? (and Why You Should Use One)
A linktree (or bio links) page is a webpage that contains a group of important links that point people to your most important content and resources. They are designed to use in social media bios, especially in places like Instagram, where only one link is allowed (and posts cannot contain links).
In response to this need, services like LINKTR.EE have emerged to make it simple to develop stylish landing pages to use in your social media bios.
This helps bloggers (and content producers of all kinds) share posts on Instagram about new content. Just mention “link in bio” (or hashtag #linkinbio), and people can click-thru that link to get to the content you want them to see. So where you get one link to point people to, using a landing page like this gets people to where you want them much more efficiently.
Even better, you can integrate other features like newsletter signup, products or services, event details, or other promotions you’re running.
While LINKTR.EE has a very basic free level of service, the best features (and some very important ones) come in the premium version. And LINKTR.EE is the most popular bio links landing page service currently available.
However, when you’re using tools like this, it’s important to have consistency in how you present your brand. And you may want to add some features not available, especially in the free version. Plus, you may not want their branding all over your stuff. That doesn’t help you build your brand as much.
So if you like the idea of LINKTR.EE, but want to explore other options, then there are several to consider, including:
Campsite.Bio – Another freemium service (free and paid versions) that gives you the basic bio link pages for free, with some nice upgrades in the paid version. It provides a simple interface, and the ability to add images in the free version.
ContactInBio – Also a freemium service which features full landing page capabilities, which is pretty nice. It also has a lifetime plan so that you can get all of the premium features and not have to pay a recurring fee.
Build Your Own – This is a completely free option, leveraging the website you already have in place. Especially with themes like Divi (which is included in our BASIC and above hosting plans), you can build a page that lives on your website with all of the same features. Plus your customization capabilities are unlimited!
The build-your-own approach is by far the best option. It gives you full control over design and how you present your brand. Not to mention that it gets visitors on your website with a page that’s designed to get them to other key content you have (improving on-site engagement metrics, which is good for your SEO).
The Anatomy of a Good Bio Links Page
Especially if you’re going to build your own page, you should understand a few key concepts for how to build it well.
The first rule for your bio links page is to keep it simple. You don’t want to overwhelm people with so much stuff that you end up scaring them away. Remember, the main goal is to just get them to the next step. So focus on the core elements that encourage them to tap through to that important content.
A few key elements you’ll want to consider are:
A profile pic (or logo) – This is a key branding element.
Your name – Another important core branding piece.
Short description (optional) – If you do this, keep it brief. It’s not the place for your full story (like your about page), but definitely good for a brand-building tagline or short description statement.
Quick link(s) to recent content – Have a button going to your latest blog post, or even add a blurb from the post itself.
High priority links – Use buttons to connect people to key pages on your website, including books, products, etc.
Email opt-in – Add a simple opt-in on the page, or use a button to link to it.
Social media links – Make it easy to connect in other places you engage with your audience.
To make this process simple for you, we’ve created several templates that you can upload to your website (using WordPress with the Divi theme), and customize from there. Check out the demos of these Linktree-alternative pages, and download your free templates now!
How To Build Your Own Bio Links Page (With Divi)
We’re big fans of the Divi theme (by Elegant Themes) around here. One reason we love it is the portability of page layouts (and other elements). We use it almost exclusively with our clients on all web development projects. So you can download those templates (mentioned above) and load them to your website as a starting point.
After that, you can edit each module however you’d like.
Basic Layout and Design
The templates use Text modules for each of the buttons on the page. You can change the text that appears on the button, and update the link that it points to.
If you’re feeling adventurous, you can even change styles, animations, or any other properties you’d like.
The page background can be updated in the Background settings in Section Settings (click the gear icon on the blue bar). There you can change the background image or colors.
And, as with any other page built in Divi, you can add all kinds of modules to add to your page. It’s still best to keep the page simple, but modules like Email Optin, Countdown Timer, Search, Testimonial, Video, and many others can really help you take your bio links page to the next level.
To ensure the best look, toggle over to the Phone View to see how everything appears. Assuming that you’re using the page for your bio link on Instagram, nearly all of the visitors to the page will likely be coming from mobile devices. So it’s most important for it to look good there. And if you want to adjust for potential desktop viewing, you can do that too. But desktop should definitely take a backseat to mobile in the design and appearance on this page.
Page Attributes Settings
Once you have the page elements in place and are ready to publish the page, there are a few key attributes that will be important to consider. The first of which is the permalink structure. Ultimately, the page name can be whatever you’d like. But simple is best. And visitors on Instagram will see the link name in your bio. While simplicity is the key, feel free to have fun or give it a call-to-action kind of feel. It’s okay to let your personality show. A few examples for permalink page names are:
Also, you’ll need to update a couple of settings in order to ensure everything displays properly. Look for the Page Attributes widget and update the following settings:
Parent: (no parent) – Do not make this page a sub-page to another page (like About, etc). That will extend the permalink unnecessarily. Keep this page on the first level (no parent) in order to keep the permalink short.
Template: Blank Page – This setting removes all of the normal website headers and footers. Everything you need in the design for these pages is included in the layout itself, so you don’t want to complicate everything with more navigation and other elements.
Whether you’re using the free templates or starting from scratch on your own, you’ll love the flexibility and virtually unlimited design options and control you can get. And hosting all of this on your own website means that you’ll get it all at no additional cost!
How To Use a Bio Links Page In Your Instagram Bio
Once you’ve published the page on your website, it’s time to add it to your Instagram bio. To edit your bio:
Go to your profile
Tap the Edit Profile button next to your current bio
Type (or copy/paste) your page URL (permalink) in the Website field
Tap the Done (or check icon) button
Whenever you make changes like this, it’s always best to visit your profile and tap the link to ensure everything works as it should. But easy-peasy… you’re new Instagram linktree-like bio links page is live! Now you can mention in your posts, “link in bio,” to get visitors to all of the great stuff you want to direct them to.
Other Places You Can Use Your Bio Links Page
While these kinds of bio link pages started with Instagram, you can use them just about anywhere. And if you want to get super cool, you can create separate linktree pages for various platforms. For example, the bio links page you want people to visit coming from your LinkedIn page may look a little different than the one for visitors from Instagram.
Get creative and explore different ways to use pages like these. Here’s a quick list to inspire you:
LinkedIn profile – Share links to your portfolio, previous work, email, and social profiles
Twitter bio – Connect people to your other social media profiles and important links
Business cards – Increase the dynamic with special links and content for people you share your business cards with
QR Codes – Point a QR code on posters and other print advertising to share specials, etc with people
Your email signature – Important content to direct people to from your emails
Links in your book(s) – Share key resources with readers of your books
The possibilities are really endless. And if you’re doing this on your own website, you can create as many of these specialized pages as you want. So change designs, content, and everything for really just about any audience you can imagine.
If you run a content platform (blog, etc) of any kind, then getting your core content in front of people is critical. Linktree certainly brought a level of convenience to highlighting that content in the one link you get for your Instagram bio.
But building your own on your website has a bunch of great benefits. The big goal of digital marketing is always to get people onto your website and have them take some action. Having a well-structured bio links page (or several of them) accomplishes just that. And driving traffic to an engagement-focused page can improve your overall SEO by showing Google that your website is worth engaging with.
Better yet, maintaining full control over the branding and design is an important element for growing your platform online. It’s important to build a presence that people will recognize when they think about you.
With a greater reliance on using technology to manage our personal information, there is a greater emphasis on cybersecurity for protecting that information. It seems like reports of large-scale breaches come out every few news cycles. Some of the big ones, just this year, include the likes of Verizon, Equifax, Yahoo!, and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Even Chipotle fell victim to a hack.
It’s enough to make even the most confident people feel vulnerable.
And if you have an online presence you’re trying to develop through your website, email, and/or social media, then you need to be extra careful. No matter how big or how small, your digital presence could easily become a target.
Search engines and web browsers are even getting more into the security game. Site security and encryption is now a ranking factor for search engines. And browsers are starting to kick out “Not Secure” warnings on websites without an SSL certificate.
Why Being Proactive About Cybersecurity is Important
One of the bigger security concerns has to do with protecting your website from malware and phishing. Poor website security leads to cracks for malicious users who get in and leave things like viruses and other malicious tools. Sometimes these activities can even lead to using your site (even unbeknownst to you) for phishing activity to capture sensitive information. A hack on your website can damage your reputation with your visitors, search engines, and other web services.
Another major area of concern has to do with protecting your email from hacks. A hacked email account can expose more of your personal information contained in various emails. It can also result in someone using your account to send out malicious spam emails. Those emails are often used for phishing purposes or delivering viruses to unsuspecting recipients. A compromised email account could be dangerous for you and for many others.
A third, and potentially greater, area of concern has to do with protecting your other personal information and accounts. Chances are, the password you use for your website and email accounts are the same or very similar to the passwords you use for other online accounts. If a hacker can figure out your email password, and see that you do your online banking at a certain bank, then they may have everything they need to log into your bank account. Basically, getting into one of your accounts may provide easy access to everything else you do. And that could be bad news for you.
What We Do For You To Maintain Website Security
Maintenance is everything. One of the reasons our BASIC (and higher) Hosting plans are so popular is because the maintenance we do keeps websites running smooth and secure. We run WordPress, theme, and plugin updates on each site several times throughout the week. And we perform database cleanup and optimization. Many of the updates include regular bug fixes and security patches.
Server-level security monitoring. Our data center team monitors potential issues 24/7/365. Aside from maintaining server uptime, we constantly monitor any malicious activity. If/when something is spotted, we take corrective action almost immediately. This level of monitoring minimizes the impact in the event a user account gets compromised.
Site-level security monitoring. Also as part of our BASIC (and higher) Hosting, we monitor potential in-site security issues. Using tools like Wordfence Security, we regularly scan for any malicious and unusual files on the website. We take immediate corrective action and remove any potential threat we find.
Security-Related Services You Should Consider
Domain name privacy. Most people don’t realize that your ownership information on your domain name registration is public. That means anyone can look up a website owner’s name, address, and phone number. That is unless you have Domain Privacy on your domain name. It’s well worth the $7.99/yr cost to hide your personal registration information. This not only limits the volume of spam coming your way, but it also limits the amount of information people can find on you.
SSL certificates. Security certificates encrypt information when passed between visitors and your website. Without this kind of encryption, even simple contact form information can be intercepted and read by people with malicious intent. Visitors can have confidence that their personal information is safe on a website when they see the HTTPS (the “s” for secure) and the green padlock in their browser address bar. A basic SSL Certificate can be purchased for as little as $27/yr, and is even included in some hosting plans.
Your Responsibility for Protecting Your Website
Change your password regularly. The more often you can change your passwords, the better. Ideally, you should change them (at least) every 60-90 days. If a password does get compromised, then it won’t be effective for very long. But if you use the same passwords for everything for years, then it opens you up to other attacks. Getting comfortable with a password is one of the worst things you can do.
Use strong password formats. The best format for a strong password is a random string of unrelated letters, numbers, and characters. But that doesn’t usually help your ability to remember your password. Alternatively, you can try using a combination of two unrelated words, a number, and throw in a special character or two. Your goal is to provide as much of an unknown scramble as possible.
Use different passwords for your various accounts. Do you use the same password for everything? If so, then one compromised password means that you’ve opened the door to all of your accounts. At minimum use different passwords for the accounts you most need to protect (like your banking, etc).
Website security is bigger than just keeping hackers out of your website. You need a cybersecurity plan to protect your website, email, and all of your other online accounts. Taking a few simple steps and having the right tools in place can protect you and your website visitors from all kinds of malicious activity. And you will be able to sleep well at night not worrying about all of the latest cybersecurity craziness in the news.
Anyone can start a blog, but most don’t make money from blogging. In fact, many people don’t realize it’s possible to make money with a blog.
Before you can think about making money, you need to focus on writing useful content. Until you do this, you cannot move forward and bring in even a little extra income. It’s your content that keeps people coming back.
Your blog must also have followers, as they are the ones who will help bring money in. You can start with only a handful of followers. But monetizing a blog is a numbers game. The more followers you can gather, the more likely you are to increase your earnings.
Once you’ve done these things it’s time to begin monetizing your blog. Here are five ways you can start creating income with your blog right now.
Advertising On Your Blog
In the past, companies would advertise where their target audience spends their time. Often, that would be in magazines, newspapers, or on TV. Today, it’s much easier to reach a target audience by advertising on websites where they spend time. Through better targeting, companies generate more leads and boost conversion rates. Thus advertisers are willing to pay the site owner to help share their message.
You can host an event (online or in-person) and charge attendees for participation. This trend isn’t very common among bloggers yet. But it is gaining popularity as writers see how much income they can generate by putting together events for their readers. For example, a blog dedicated to scrapbooking can organize a scrap-a-thon or a class.
Bloggers often have a marketable skill set they can share with others. After all, that’s why you write and share with the world, right? You already offer basic information about these skills through your blog. Once you’ve established yourself as an expert, you can develop and sell products on more advanced topics. Also, you can create new (exclusive) material to sell. A blog written by someone who loves to crochet could teach the basic crochet skills at no charge. As followers become more proficient, they can buy advanced classes or unique patterns.
Digital materials fall under this category and remain in high demand. You can sell an e-course, an ebook, or another kind of digital download. Podcasts are another option to consider. Many are free, but you can also create premium content to sell. Think outside the box and offer something others in the industry aren’t. Bloggers who do so will find their following expands and they generate more income as a result.
A large majority of bloggers turn to affiliate programs to generate income. This involves linking to a product that is being sold on another site. When a visitor clicks on this link and purchases the product, you earn a commission. The site providing the commission supplies you with a unique affiliate code to track sales. Some sites offer a commission if the person clicking the link purchases anything on their site, as opposed to only the advertised item.
With an established blog following, you might find that your opportunities will expand. If you position yourself appropriately, you may be offered public speaking gigs. Or you might receive a request to consult on a project. Teaching opportunities also have arisen for some bloggers. These are only a few examples of how you can generate income through outside engagements.
Blogging is fun for many individuals as they share their thoughts and feelings with friends. Others blog to share the special knowledge they have with others and have a great opportunity to make some money. For those who fall into the second category, there are many ways to achieve this goal. With the right combination of methods, anyone can make money and turn their hobby into a full-time job.
Start with one method, become confident and add a second. If something doesn’t work, drop it and move on to the next. There is no one combination that works for all. Making money with a blog won’t happen overnight. Stick with it and you’ll find your hard work will pay off in the end. The solid foundation you created before you attempt to make money with a blog helps to ensure your success.
Thirty-nine. Treinta y nueve. Trente-neuf. Thelathini na tisa.
No matter how you say it, that was the number. After months of hard work and promotion, my first month of sales on my first self-published book netted me the whopping sales total of 39 copies. I wanted to give up. But I believed in the story too much. And I’m glad I didn’t quit. That little book has now reached over 13,000 people and has been #1 on Amazon’s best-seller list for books in Christian Evangelism (multiple times). Better yet, it’s helped me grow my platform and reach many new readers who I wouldn’t have had otherwise.
I’ve had the opportunity to work with several authors and dozens of self-publishing projects in recent years. One particular client has about a dozen books released, and some do really well, while others flop. The crazy thing is when we think we hit on an idea that will really resonate with readers, often they flop. Meanwhile, other less scintillating e-books quietly bring in the sales, anchoring an impressive library of content.
I think where some aspiring writers fall short is by giving up too easily or not thinking enough about long-term strategy when it comes to publishing. Here’s the thing…
With that in mind, here are a few pointers which may help you maximize the reach of your message, and build your platform to share whatever it is God puts on your heart next.
(1) growing your e-mail list
Especially with a first-time author project, I usually recommend launching the book in Kindle and PDF format. We get it out there on Amazon to start selling, but the big strategic move is leveraging the project to build a mailing list. Offering the free download get’s people on your list so you can continue to share through your blog what God is putting on your heart.
More importantly, it gives you the chance to continue to market your stuff down the road. You may reach out later to tell them about special Kindle promos, the project becoming available in other formats, additional study and small group resources, and new projects you’re launching.
The ROI of email is typically higher than any other platform, so using the project to get emails should be at the foundation of your long-term publishing strategy.
(2) using the free download to promote paid sales
One of the differences between PDF and other formats of the book is that the PDF should clearly inform the reader that it’s also available on Amazon. PDF is a great way give them the content, but it’s not as convenient to read, especially on mobile devices. So letting the reader know the book is available in a more friendly format (along with the link to go purchase it) is a simple way to drive sales. Many readers will register to download the free version, start reading it, and then when they decide they like it, they’ll go buy it in the more convenient format.
(3) switching to kdp select
Whenever I do the free download, I usually do it for a limited time. The length of time depends on how well it’s driving email subscribers for you. Then at some point, you’ll want to pull it down and switch to a Kindle-only strategy for the e-book. Amazon KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) has a program called KDP Select. The idea is that when you enroll your book into KDP Select, you are committing to at least 90 days of it being exclusive (in electronic format) to Amazon.
In return, you’ll get some sweet benefits. One is that it can be made available to Amazon Prime members in the lending library. They get it for “free” as part of their membership, but the author still gets paid a cut of the fund Amazon dedicates to participating books. Sometimes, you even get paid more than the sales price of the book!
Then there’s also the opportunity to stimulate sales with a discounted or free promotion.
(4) using free kindle downloads to increase paid sales
One of the most important factors of success on Amazon is understanding the Amazon ecosystem. You can certainly promote your stuff to the people who already follow you, but your goal is to gain some new audience by getting your work in front of people who don’t know you. There are some key triggers in Amazon that will lead to your book being found. One is the reviews, especially by those with a “verified purchase”. The other is getting into the “customers who bought this also bought” rotation for other books.
The KDP Select program allows you to offer 5 days of free download every 90 day enrollment period. You should use every single one in every single enrollment period!
The math is simple. The more people who get the book in their hands (with a verified purchase), the more likely you are to get reviews on the book. Additionally, when an Amazon customer gets your book for free, they’re still “buying” it. Their purchase price was $0.00, but they still bought the book, which makes it part of their purchase history, which means it’ll build up sales to become part of that “customers who bought this” rotation for other books those readers have purchased.
I regularly see that when we’re not doing free promos, paid sales dip. And when we do the promos, paid sales rise.
(5) never stop selling it
This one is tricky, but it gets down to this question… How much do you believe in the message God has put on your heart? If the answer is “a lot,” then you won’t give up on it. And selling doesn’t have to be an annoying thing. Often it can be done simply by talking about milestones. I’ll share on social media when one of my books hits the top of a sales chart, or when I get a review that fires me up…
Just saw this statement in a new review on The Unlikely Missionary: From Pew-Warmer to Poverty-Fighter over on…
I’ve just seen too many examples of books going completely against the traditional sales spike in the first 60-90 days from launch to think that we should stop telling a certain story after sales settle. In fact, I’ve seen sales rise substantially after 6 months or a year on the market. But it won’t rise if you give up on it.
(6) never stop creating new content
If you’re a writer, then chances are you’re not going to be done writing after you got that one project out. In fact, you probably can’t imagine NOT writing. So keep it up! Keep working on new projects. This is another simple math deal. The more publishing projects you have out there, then more potential “entry points” you have for someone to discover your writing, and to connect with everything else you do. Some will hit big, and some won’t. So just keep moving forward with this as part of your regular writing strategy.
Set a goal for yourself. Maybe it’s one new e-book every 3-6 months. Just set a schedule and commit to it, just like you do with your other (daily?) blogging.
Here’s the key to all of this. Too often writers look at getting something published as an end goal. We work to get published so that one day we can make money from our craft. Wrong. We write because we have something to communicate, we have a story to tell. And self-publishing is one of the tools that can be used to help you do that. It also happens to be one that could generate income. More importantly, it’s a tool you can use to share ideas and whatever God puts on your heart. If you approach self-publishing with a solid strategy to guide you, then you can substantially expand the reach of your voice.
Note: This post was originally published on the Allume Blog.
That’s how I feel about Facebook, every day of my life. I don’t know if I can take another algorithm change. And it seems like the wounds from the last one haven’t even healed yet when another comes along and rips in even more. Sometimes I don’t think I’ll ever recover, and walking away seems to be the best option.
But then I look at the data.
Facebook is one of the top drivers of traffic to my websites, second only to Google. And the quality of the traffic coming from Facebook has been much more engaged than other sources, making it probably the single most valuable referrer of people checking out my work.
So are all the headaches worth it? Well, it depends.
I read somewhere recently that all the algorithm changes aren’t a reason to jump ship right away, that is unless your strategy is a shallow one. The article pointed out that the opportunity is still great for smart marketers.
It’s not about tricking the system or developing elaborate systems to make it do what you want.
The first thing you need to understand
Facebook is about people. It sounds simple, but we quickly forget as we try to focus on numbers for reach, likes, shares, and comments. When we post something, we want it to be seen by as many people as possible. But the second we start thinking about numbers, we start to lose sight of people.
Many feel like Facebook’s attempts to limit the visibility of brand page content is merely an attempt to force people to pay for views. While there may be an element of truth to that, think about what your news feed would look like if brands weren’t limited in any way. It would be overflowing with “commercials” from brands trying to get you to buy something. And I don’t know anyone who gets on Facebook to sort through a steady stream of advertising hell. And Facebook is more likely to keep people on the platform when it can keep the focus on people.
That’s what we want to see when we sign onto Facebook. So next time you sign in and can see your in-laws’ awesome vacation photos, thank Facebook for changing their algorithms. Okay, so maybe that wasn’t the best example, but I’m sure you get what I mean. #fistbump
Personal Profiles vs. Brand Page (Which is right for me?)
No lie. This is one of the most frequently asked questions I get when I talk to people about social media. With all of the talk about Facebook pushing down the reach of pages (unless you pay-to-play), it’s difficult to see a brand page adding value. At the same time, many book publishers look for fan page numbers as evidence of an author’s platform. Ultimately, a brand page can add value… as long as you understand it’s strengths and limitations. But the greatest traction you get on Facebook will come when you post to your personal profile.
I recently did an informal study of engagement on some brand pages. One of the pages I looked at is an author page belonging to a popular New York Times Best Seller. Averaging 1,383 likes per post, there’s enough engagement to make the best of us covet our neighbor’s social media platform. But then consider that this person’s page has over 146,000 followers. The average engagement rate turns out to be only 0.9% of the total fan base. And that’s actually a good rate of engagement!
Remember, the platform is about people. So any successful strategy should be centered on how you use your personal profile to get the better reach.
In another informal study, I’ve posted new content to my brand pages and watched the rate of engagement for the first few hours. Often my efforts make me feel like I’m watching the proverbial pot of water waiting to boil. But after a period of low organic engagement on the page post, I’ll share the post from the page onto my personal profile. Usually within minutes I see 5-10 times the engagement. The point is that IF you decide to use a brand page, it’s re-sharing your content to your personal profile that will drive the greatest organic reach. And if you can get a few other people to share it as well, then your organic reach expands exponentially.
I think it speaks volumes that Facebook’s founder, Mark Zuckerberg, doesn’t post to a brand page. Instead, he allows people to subscribe to his personal profile (where he has over 27 million followers), and posts everything there (some posts only to friends, and others to the public for all followers). #justsayin
Tools to help you maximize your impact
I always, always, always advise people to follow the data. Don’t base decisions for how to manage your Facebook presence on emotion, feelings, what someone said works for them, and what some “guru” said you should do. Even if it worked for someone else, it doesn’t mean that it’ll work for you.
One of the strengths of brand pages is the Insights tool. It’ll give you a wealth of information about your audience, and how they’re engaging (or not engaging) with your content. You can even find out when your fans are online (which should give you a good idea of when to post). So it’s a good idea to review your page Insights on a regular basis (maybe once every week or two), and ask yourself how you think you need to revise your strategy based on what you’re seeing there.
Unfortunately, personal profiles don’t have the same Insights tools. That’s why I like to use a tool like Buffer to post content that I want to measure. Buffer uses special tracking measures that give us better insight into what’s working and what’s not. In addition to that, it makes it easy to schedule content for specific and/or set times which help you take advantage of waves and cycles of visibility.
Facebook presents us with a tremendous opportunity to engage and connect with people, and to share ideas. And when it comes to building your brand on Facebook, you should stop thinking like a brand, and focus on thinking like a person.
Note: This post was originally published on the Allume Blog.