Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Six ways to organically grow your twitter following

Social media is fast becoming one of the best ways to market your brand and Twitter is outperforming the rest of the platforms for lead generations hands down. According to recent studies; Twitter generates nine to every lead generated through the combined efforts of Facebook and LinkedIn and is responsible for 84% of all leads generated through social media. Although with hashtags and other tools, it is easy on Twitter to send your message out to a large audience, the key is still to have a large following.

There are many companies offer packages where they will add followers to your account, but usually these are detached followers who have no interest in your business. Instead companies should focus on building a following organically using a social media management team or in-house. Here are six tips on how a business can grow their following in-house and inexpensively:

1.    Interact with current followers and those you follow

Users of social media are interested in engagement and it creates an emotional attachment between you and the audience. That attachment can be a powerful draw when they next want something you offer.

2.    Don’t tweet only about your products / services

Give a little to get a little. If you offer free advice, comment on industry related news and other items that have nothing to do with your products / services people will be more interested in reading your tweets, allowing your promotional tweets to be received better. This is also a good way to encourage new followers – no-one can resist free advice.

3.    Tweet less than 8 times a day

Companies that tweet less than 8 times a day are shown to develop better connection with their readers and generate more leads. In a law of averages more leads is better for business and therefore less tweets should be used. It also shows that you are not going to spam followers with constant tweets at all hours of the day.

4.    Use less hashtags

Using one or two hashtags has been proven to be shared more than tweets with hashtags or three or more. Use hashtags sparingly and receive rewards further down the line with new followers. While we are on the subject of hashtags, don’t use inappropriate or irrelevant tweets. Sometimes companies use tweets because they are trending at the time. However when these hashtags have been trending because of important world news at the time, like a shooting incident, it has often been received badly by readers and those companies have lost followers as well as consumer confidence.

5.    Shorten Tweets

Tweets which are between 80 and 100 characters long are normally shared more often. More shared tweets mean greater exposure and more people who could follow you or more lead generation. Keep those tweets short.

6.    Don’t just post links

Social media is versatile and it isn’t always about posting links to your blog / website / news article. Sometimes a picture or video can be a long way to interest new people to your account and encourage a following.

I hope this article has been some use to you. Please feel free to comment if you have any further suggestions or please take the time to follow me at Facebook or on Twitter..

Monday, 29 July 2013

Six of the most important possessions an author needs

To produce anything in this world, you need something to produce it with. While being an author I have often been told that all I need is my laptop and fingers. Yet during my time writing and about to release my second book, Entrapment, I’ve come to find there are so many ‘items’ in the world that are important to my writing. Without some of these of 'possessions' I wouldn’t be able to write full stop; with others they make more productive. So here is a list of six possessions (and I use that term loosely) that authors need to be successful.

1.    A computer

Yes it is top of the list and it probably isn’t any surprise as to why. Without the computer we simply couldn’t publish our work. No computer, no uploading it KDP or marketing it through Twitter and Facebook. I know that it sounds pretty silly, but nowadays if you want to be a writer you need a computer.

2.    A notebook (and pen)

Considering point 1, this seems a little redundant. But a lot of my ideas start out as scribbles on a page before moving on to a handwritten outline and I am writing the first draft of one book on paper first. Why? Because sometimes the physical sensation of writing feels like it is right. However authors should be aware that a notebook and pen are useful when out and about. It’s good for writing ideas that come to you while out and about and it is great for writing short paragraphs while commuting from home to work. I think the pen and paper will always be around and rightly so.

3.    A good bed

Sometimes as authors we put out bodies through a lot. I wake at 5 am and sometimes I do not go to sleep until midnight (or later). To cope I need a good solid few hours sleep and for that I need a good bed. It is the same for every author. If you want to perform the next day, getting a good night’s sleep is critical and therefore a bed is important.

4.    A website

A website is important to an author. From there you can advertise you books, other services and really push your brand across the internet. A website acts like a 24 hour shop front which you can communicate with your readers without having to be there. However without a website you may only use social media – which can get a little spammy and harm your reputation.

5.    Rewards

Rewards are important. You need something to aim for and a reason to get there if you are going to have drive to achieve it. When I started freelance writing this month my wife told me I could have a Chinese meal out if I earned £100. I actually reduced this to a Chinese takeaway but I agreed. Within 1 week I smashed this goal (meaning I need to set better goals – see this post by me). I've now waivered that reward and am instead taking my wife out for a day filled with surprise activities and a good meal out – to say thank you but also because I need the reward to remind me of why I am working so hard.

6.    A support network

The biggest asset any author can have is the support network they have around them. Friends and family are so important at lifting our spirits when we are down; bringing us down to earth when we get carried away and bringing us cups of tea when we need it most. I could not be a writer without my family and friends. And it isn’t just the ones I have who live near me. All my friends who I have met online are an excellent support and without them I would not be where I am today. So a big thank you for those who are there for me when I need it.

If you have any more examples please let us know in the comments below.

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Friday, 26 July 2013

The Six Things We Shouldn’t Do When Writing a Book

Most of the time I talk about our social media activities when I talk on this site but I thought for a change I would give some advice on some of the common generic mistakes that new authors make. Here are six things that authors shouldn’t do when publishing their book.

1.       Publish the First Draft

The first draft is very rarely ready for the reader’s eyes. At the very least an author should have the manuscript edited. Most (if not all) need to have the manuscript re-written in a second draft.

2.       Not editing the manuscript

Everyone makes mistakes and editors are there to catch them and make them right. Readers can be rather unforgiving if they spot a mistake in your book so I would always suggest a book needs to go through a good editor.

3.       Cover design

Unless you have a particularly good eye for art and are pretty talented in such a field as well as writing, it is normally best to get a professional cover artist to do your book cover.

4.       Not doing the research

If you are going to be writing for something that has an established feel, look, procedure, etc you need to make sure you know what you are talking about. If it is a location pack a bag and go visit for a few days, if it is a regular event that is held go and participate, if it is a historical event – read, read, read about it.

5.       Thinking other authors are competitors

Authors aren’t competing with each other. Unlike with some industries readers don’t have to stick to one supplier – they have as many different books as they want from as many different authors. Instead other authors are support, guidance and can be inspirational. I have many author friends and I don’t think I could do without any of them for my career.

6.       Get stuck on social media

If you can get addicted to social media, learn to turn off the modem, set limits, anything that will stop you looking at Facebook and instead concentrating on your manuscript. Social media only accounts for 1% of all online sales so you can’t even use that excuse.

I hope you have found this article useful. If you have any more examples please let us know in the comments below.
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Wednesday, 24 July 2013

The Six problems with being a Self published Author and / Or Freelance Writer

Being a self published author or freelance writer can be hard at times. There is no doubt about it that sometimes the world just doesn’t understand about what it is like being a writer. There have been times when I feel that I am just pushing back against them to legitimize what career I have chosen. There are many problems as to why people think that self-publishing and freelance writers are badly portrayed but most of them aren't true.

Here are six problems with being a self published author / freelance writer:

1.    Friends and family call it a hobby

My writing is by no means a hobby. A hobby is something that costs you some to partake in which you enjoy. Although I will admit that I enjoy writing, the end result is to earn money from it. I also have to cater for client needs and often have to negotiate price, deadlines and content. This all makes it a business and career rather than a hobby.

2.    You must be raking it in

At the other end of the scale are those who remind me that J K Rowling and other famous authors who make millions from their books. Therefore according to logic; I must be making a comfortable wage each month. This is not strictly too. I am now freelance writing, which divides time from writing creatively, but that is paying me regularly. But I am not making an excessive amount – but within a few months enough that I hope to call it a full time wage.

3.    I am lazy

Writers are lazy??  I’ve heard this one a lot. It is very funny to hear this one because people are very quick to judge your career based on misconceptions from a society stereotype but are not so happy to have hear their own career’s negative stereotypical description. Just to set the record straight I am up at 5am working and go to bed about 10pm after finishing work. Most of the people who say this to me aren't up at 7 am and are watching soaps by 7 pm.

4.    Self publishing is expensive

Without considering marketing costs, self publishing is expensive. Cover art, editing and formatting can all cost you up to about $500-1000 if you want to have the job done right and then you have the costs of the print proofs. When you add in marketing your costs can spiral out of control. Self publishing is not for those who want to be cheap.

5.    Self publishing is lonely

It certainly isn’t. I have met some wonderful people throughout my writing career and struck up some wonderful friendships. With those friendships I have learned a lot of new things and been steered in the right direction in many cases.

6.    Writing take no skill

I’ve had this said to me often. But I always respond with the same question: “how many books have you sold?” Writing a book from start to finish is not easy. Freelance writing is not easy. That is why companies will pay writers good rates for writing their content whether an e-book or blog content. Just because it takes no skill to tap on a few keys on a keyboard, does not mean that it takes no skill to write something coherent.

I hope you have enjoyed my article and I hope you come back for more.

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Friday, 19 July 2013

6 Things we now know from J K Rowling and The Cuckoo's Calling

There aren't many times in your life that you can sit there with raised eyebrows and think: what the hell? But that is exactly what I thought when I found out that J K Rowling had released a book under a different pen name and had taken every step possible to hide it. Well she almost too every step possible - she did tell the snitch after all it was her book.

But there are important publishing lessons that we can learn from this and here are six of them.

1. Publishers choose marketable rather than well written

As soon as it was announced that J K Rowling was the author, some of the big publishers admitted that they had turned down the book from who they thought was an unknown author. Interestingly their reason was not based on writing style, storyline or any technical aspect of writing. It was because they didn't think they could market it. This angers me slightly. How are we supposed to teach our children what is good writing or what is a good storyline if quality books aren't being produced because mummy porn is more attractive to market? If we removed the poor quality books from the shelve that are produced because people buy them (and sometimes they only do so because they want to see how horrible they are really) then perhaps people would buy quality writing.

2. The biggest marketing asset is your brand

The book in question had only sold about 1500 copies and was by no means a best seller despite good reviews. However as soon as the real author had been revealed but the book sold out and was number one on Amazon. Why? Because J K Rowling had written it. The name is associated with quality story lines and therefore people will buy her books. Therefore you should utilize your name and not your books.

3. Publishers aren't very good at marketing

Honestly, if the book sold only 1500 books with the publishers doing all they were willing to do to market it, it shows that while they will get books to the reader's shops, they won't get the books to the reader's home.

4. Readers care about you not your genre

The Cuckoo's Calling is hardly Harry Potter related in terms of story or genre and yet J K Rowling's fans wanted to buy it. There has long been an argument that you might consider pen names for different genres, yet this is evidence that isn't the case. Readers will buy your books because of you, not because of your genre.

5. You should keep trade secrets to your trusted circles

I'm sorry to say but J K Rowling made one mistake at keeping this a secret. She trusted someone that she couldn't possibly really trust 100%. Book publishing is a business and like with any business you need trade secrets to a need to know basis. It is unlikely that J K Rowling stuck to this principal.

6. Twitter is great for reporters

You're laughing I bet. But considering that the partner at Russells shared the news with his wife who then shared the news with a journalist on Twitter. So what can we learn from this? Be careful what you say on Twitter - you never know what paper is listening.

I hope you have enjoyed this article. I hope that you take the time to follow me on Twitter or Facebook.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Six Social Media Blunders and what we can learn from them

Social media is incredibly powerful – it can keep us all in contact with friends and family, market our books and lose us great opportunities. Yes that is right you read the last part correctly. Social media can be as much a pain as a gain. Here are six social media blunders that have cost people dearly and what we can learn from them.

1.                   Connor Riley tweeting about her job offer

Connor Riley had a job offer from Cisco when she tweeted – “Cisco just offered me a job! Now I have to weigh the utility of a fatty paycheck against the daily commute to San Jose and hating the work.

Shortly afterwards Cisco employee gave a tweet back - “Who is the hiring manager? I’m sure they would love to know that you will hate the work. We here at Cisco are versed in the Web.

But if that wasn’t enough, she was soon the target of several internet trolls that called her names that would upset even the thickest skinned of us. It is likely it will be a long time before the “fatty Cisco” incident is forgotten forever.

Lesson learned: If want to say anything that could be construed as negative, use privacy functions that limit who see it – or better keep it to yourself and don’t say it at all.

2.                   #McDStories hashtag got hijacked

You can’t control hastags and if we have learnt anything with social media is that people who really want to promote negative aspects of your brand - will. With McDonalds they wanted people to share their positive experiences in their restaurants – however consumers quickly did the exact opposite.

Lesson learned: Use hashtags that can’t be turned into negative aspects about you.

3.                   Ashley Johnson blasting customers over tip onFacebook

Waitress Ashley Johnson decided to take her frustration out on Facebook after she didn’t receive the tip she expected from two customers. She took the extraordinary step of mentioning the restaurant by name. Unfortunately her bosses discovered the update and she was sacked for “speaking disparagingly about customers and casting the restaurant in a bad light on a social network.

Lesson learned: Be careful what you say about customers online. You never know who is reading.

4.                   Ashley Payne and her photos

Teacher Ashley Payne was forced to resign after she posted a photo online of her out drinking. Someone obviously took offense to the message as the head of her school was e-mailed with a copy of the photo.

Lesson learned: If you are in a public facing position (even if you don’t realize / advertise it) keep your social media profiles professional. If something is deemed unsuitable for your main audience someone will let you know one way or another.

5.                   Employee’s rant on Facebook

Read the exchange and you’ll see why it was a blunder.

Lesson learned: Where to start? I think the important points to take away are remember who you add onto Facebook, don’t write negative comments and be honest.

6.                   2009 Habitat using trending hashtags

Back in 2009 Habitat sent out a number of tweets that contained popular and trending hashtags that had limited if anything to do with the message. The crisis exploded later on when they took advantage of events happening in Iran at the time. Habitat later apologized and stated the hashtags were not authorised.

Lesson learned: Use meaningful related hashtags not just any that are trending.

I hope you have found this article useful. If you have any more examples please let us know in the comments below.

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