Growing an online platform is about that long tail growth. Just like writing a novel, it’s a marathon, not a sprint. The way you keep it growing is by consistent, small steps that add up to meaningful growth over time.
What are the next steps for your online author platform? No matter where you are in the process, I strongly recommend taking advantage of the energy that comes with the New Year and determine just one next step to take in 2017.
Before you decide where you’ll go next, take stock of where you are now. What have you done for your platform in 2016? Take a few minutes to write down everything you have tried, and how it has worked out for you. What was effective? What was sustainable? What did you start with high hopes, but find impossible to keep up with over time? Why?
Also, take a look at your social media and website statistics to see how your platform has grown. Where were you at the start of the year, compared to where you are now? What types of posts have gotten the best responses? What goals did you accomplish this year? Were there any you didn’t reach? Write down your reflections.
Now that we know where you have come from and what worked for you in 2016, let’s look ahead. What are your goals as an author for 2017? How can social media help you reach them? What needs to change?
Here are a few great goals to set, to get you thinking:
1) Increase your post frequency
Perhaps you have been posting to Twitter ones or twice a day. That’s not bad! Way to be consistent. But Twitter is among the most transitive of social networks, so each post has a very short life before it is bumped too low in the feed to be seen.
For 2017, how about trying to post three times a day? It’s a small day-to-day investment that can have tangible payoff to grow your following. If you need a little help setting the habit, try adding a reminder to your calendar.
2) Use a post scheduling tool
Have you struggled to keep up with your accounts consistently this year? Or, maybe you’ve done just fine, but this year you want more time to write, and constantly checking into social media is going to hold you back. That’s where post scheduling tools come in.
Even better, a lot of them (like Hootsuite and Tweetdeck) are free. My personal favorite is Buffer, but they are all pretty similar. These tools will let you queue several posts at once and schedule them for later, so you can check in less frequently and put your brain power toward other things.
3) Follow a new hashtag
Whether you want to reach more readers or get noticed by an agent, the right hashtag can help. The key is to know your goal, and then do a bit of research.
Take the time to listen first, to get a sense of how the community uses the hashtag. Then, start engaging by liking, retweeting, responding and posting to the hashtag feed! Try to check in regularly for the best results—once a week is a good goal for a beginner.
4) Participate in a digital event
If you haven’t tried a digital event before, there is no time like the present. Online events are becoming ever more common, and can be a great resource to improve your craft, engage the publishing community, and a lot more. For bonus points, use the event hashtag to post about the event while it’s happening. You’ll connect with other participants!
5) Learn a new platform
One really awesome way to expand your platform is to set up an account on a totally new platform. Don’t be scared! Everyone has to start at the beginning, but the more you pay attention, the steeper your learning curve will be.
Start slow, taking the time to follow others and watch what they’re doing. But then, dive in and just have some fun! Set a low posting goal to get yourself started—you can increase it over time, but sustainable action wins out over bursts and flurries.
New Year, New Challenge for Growth
Are you ready for a New Year yet? What will your platforming resolution be? The perfect resolution will challenge you to stretch yourself, but be manageable enough to keep up long term.
For me, the goal is to conquer Instagram. I am a terrible visual thinker so this one has been a challenge for me, but I finally signed up a couple months ago, and feel ready to really dive in.
Now let’s go conquer the Internet together. Happy New Year!
By day, Emily Wenstrom, is the editor of short story website wordhaus, author social media coach, and freelance content marketing specialist. By early-early morning, she is E. J. Wenstrom, an award-winning sci-fi and fantasy author whose debut novel Mud was named 2016 Book of the Year by the Florida Writers Association.