Category Archives: Build Friends, Fans, And Followers

Welcome To Patreon: What Every Writer Should Know | Web Design Relief

Many of us dream of getting paid to write. And while it’s not impossible, making enough money to support yourself by writing short stories or poetry isn’t easy. Even authors who manage to finish a book, get an agent, and sign a publishing contract may only receive an advance of $10,000—not enough to live on. Some writers have turned to the crowdfunding website Patreon to make money by writing, even if it’s just a few extra bucks. But before you create your Patreon account and start posting, Web Design Relief gives you the facts that every writer should know.

Welcome to Patreon!

Launched in 2013, Patreon is a crowdfunding website that gives creatives—writers, podcasters, visual artists, musicians, video creators, and others—the ability to publish and share their original content. In return, fans (or “patrons”) support the artists by paying for access to the content. Creators can charge by the post, or they can set up monthly subscriptions.

The subscriptions can be tiered too. So the more a patron pledges to pay each month, the more content they will receive.

Creators can also set funding goals, which are checkpoints that explain what they will be able to create or achieve once they have a certain amount of monetary backing.

It’s free to get started: Once you start earning, Patreon takes a small chunk of your income—currently 5-12 percent, depending on the plan you choose.

Patreon Is Different From Kickstarter

Sites like Kickstarter are mainly used to fund entire projects and get them off the ground, but Patreon allows fans to support artists on a continuing basis—and usually with much smaller monetary contributions.

Kickstarter users set an initial goal for the amount of money they will need to complete a project, and then ask people to fund that project. And although you can set funding goals on Patreon, the overall idea of the site is very different.

This is why, while Kickstarter may be good for those looking to make a movie or an album or something that can cost a lot of money up front for production, Patreon is perfect for writers who want to post regularly and earn some money while doing so.

How A Writer Can Use Patreon

True, there are writers on the platform who bring in thousands of dollars a month (N.K. Jemisin snags over $5k a month!), but most Patreon users won’t be able to give up their day jobs.

However, writers who use the site can definitely bring in some side money. The more patrons you have, the more you will earn, so income will build as your base does.

To start, you can offer smaller rewards for a fairly low monthly subscription, and include a few higher tiers. Rewards can be new poems or short stories, newsletters or blog posts, or even services such as offering feedback or proofreading/editing someone else’s work! In general, the more content you create, the better chance you have at making money.

And that leads us into another benefit of Patreon—motivation! If you have people paying you (even if it’s just a few dollars a month) and they are expecting new content on a consistent basis, it can serve as a great source of creative inspiration and motivation.

To have the best shot at making some money, you’ll want to play to your strengths. If you already have several short stories, poems, or even a completed novel that you’ve yet to submit for publication, consider publishing the work on Patreon (a novel can be serialized for the platform).

Keep in mind that your income hinges on building a following, so self-promotion will be necessary. If you have social media or an author website, those are great places to spread the news about your Patreon account.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Remember, if you publish work on Patreon, it will be considered previously published by literary editors. Don’t publish anything on Patreon that you might want to submit to literary journals for publication.

Tips For Success On Patreon

  • Check out other writers on Patreon (especially the successful ones) for inspiration.
  • Don’t be afraid to self-promote!
  • Make (and stick to!) a content creation/posting calendar. If you don’t keep to your promised posting schedule, your patrons won’t keep funding you.
  • Connect with your patrons—see what they like, what they want to see more of, etc.
  • Make sure to set up rewards that you know you can consistently provide. Start small but include a variety of tiered options.
  • If you write in a certain genre, check out places on the Internet or in real life where fans of this genre congregate, and promote yourself!
  • You can always adjust your fees/rewards. Maybe you need to lower your subscription fees at first. Or maybe you can add new tiers at higher rates. Writing a lot? Put out content more often! Not writing consistently? Charge by the post instead of by a subscription.

The Takeaway: What Writers Should Know About Patreon

Posting on Patreon probably won’t replace your day job, but it can be a great, long-term option for bringing in some extra cash, maximizing your productivity as a writer, and building a fan base.

 

Question: Have you posted on Patreon? How has it worked out for you?

Why Aren’t People Signing Up For Your Author Mailing List? | Web Design Relief

You’re ready to move your writing career to the next level, so you’ve worked hard to build an author mailing list of your fans and followers. You have an account with MailChimp, MailerLite, or some other e-mail marketing automation platform. In the back matter of all your books, you encourage readers to join your mailing list. The same invitation is pinned to the top of your Twitter feed and your Facebook newsfeed. And on Instagram, you periodically post an invite for readers to sign up. In other words, you’ve worked hard to build a newsletter subscriber list—so why aren’t people signing up?

Perhaps you aren’t offering the right hook or incentive. Fortunately, the marketing experts at Web Design Relief have a list of great ways to make your readers an offer they can’t refuse.

How To Effectively Entice Readers To Sign Up For Your Author Mailing List

Build Your Mailing List With A Free Book

To coax readers to follow you, consider offering them what they want the most: a free book! Specifically, a free e-book.

Before the digital disruption of publishing, the idea of offering a free book meant paying full price for a copy and mailing it, a cost-prohibitive venture when you’re hoping to attract thousands to your author mailing list. But with the advent of e-books, self-publishing, and an easy-to-use service like BookFunnel, offering up a free e-book to new subscribers can be effortless and free!

Using this kind of grand incentive is one of the best ways to move your social media fans and followers to your mailing list.

Lure Fans And Followers With Exclusive Content

Books aren’t the only powerful incentive you can offer. Followers and fans want to be part of the “in” crowd, so consider giving people who join your newsletter some uber-exclusive content, which may also prod them into buying your books.

Exclusive content options could include:

  • A bonus prologue or epilogue to your most popular novel.
  • A deleted scene from your latest novel.
  • A sneak-preview of the first chapter of an upcoming book.
  • A novella or short story in your series world written exclusively for newsletter subscribers.

Nonfiction writers may want to offer:

  • A resources page where readers can get more information about the topic at hand.
  • A favorite recipe that is representative of, but not found in, your cookbook.
  • A cheat sheet of bonus information, such as “best knitting tips” or “how to make a log cabin out of Popsicle sticks.”

If you’re looking to increase traffic to your author website, you can make this exclusive content available on a “locked” or “hidden” page accessible only to newsletter subscribers.

Boost Sign-Ups With Fresh, Original Content Ideas

Mark Dawson, a hugely successful British writer of spy thrillers, uses a partly redacted fictional MI5 “case file” on his main James-Bond-like character as a highly successful sign-up incentive. Dedicated readers of his novels may already know most of this information, but the compilation is original and intriguing.

Consider these other ideas:

  • An annotated family tree for your fantasy novel or multigenerational saga
  • A timeline that maps the evolution of your long-running series
  • A short nonfiction book about the creatures that live in the world you’ve imagined in your sci-fi or fantasy novel
  • Unrevealed backstory about the villain or monster in your horror novel

Maintaining an author mailing list is actually more important than social media when it comes to building a true-blue following for your work. Social media platforms change their algorithms all the time. On a whim, they could switch up the way they do business and significantly reduce your reach, since your list of followers is in their hands. So build your mailing list with gusto and confidence: Your cultivated list of email subscribers will always belong to YOU.

 

Question: What incentive does your favorite author use to entice readers to sign up to his or her list?

How To Create A “Book Me” Page On Your Author Website To Get More Speaking Gigs| Web Design Relief

Networking, shaking hands, and meeting new people is a great way to drum up interest in the speaking or book signing events you can offer as an author. But your author website can be equally effective at nabbing you some new invitations to speak—if you’re using it right. Imagine: You could be lounging around in sweatpants, binge-watching Netflix, while your author website is hard at work scoring new book promo invitations and more speaking gigs on your behalf.

The marketing experts at Web Design Relief know that when you create an effective “book me” page on your author website, it will help you…

  • Get more invitations to speak at (or call in to) book clubs
  • Get more nibbles to give readings at libraries and local coffee shops
  • Get more invites from teachers who might want you to speak in classrooms
  • Get more requests from writing groups for seminars and lectures
  • Get more invitations to book fairs and festivals, book signings, and other events
  • Get more inquiries about teaching online classes or participating in author forums

By expanding your reach through author speaking gigs and appearances, you grow your audience and potentially sell more books. An exciting, effective “book me” page on your author website can help make that happen!

9 Tips For Getting More Speaking Gigs Using Your Author Website

Pinpoint your target audience. Are you hoping to score more invitations from book groups made up of casual readers? Or are publishing pros your target market (like booksellers, writing groups, librarians, etc.)? If your answer was something like “uh, both?” then you might want to consider creating two separate web pages: one customized for each audience. Or consider dividing your “book me” page into different sections. Why? Writing group organizers and librarians may be looking for different takeaway value from your speaking gigs than casual book readers.

Define your call to action. What action step do you want website visitors to take when they stop by to consider booking a speaking gig or call-in with you? Do you want them to reach out to you directly using your contact form? Or would you rather add them to your author mailing list (and then reach out to your subscribers regularly to let them know about new offerings)? Once you know exactly the step you want your visitor to take, be sure to make it easy for them to take that step.

Make the most of your headshot. People who are interested in meeting you might be more inclined to reach out if your author headshot (photo) shows a friendly, approachable face—you know, the face of a person who is going to be interesting, clever, and thoughtful. If your writing style is more serious or eerie and sinister, feel free to turn down the wattage on your grin for a look that’s more mysterious and intriguing. Whatever the mood of your author brand, use your author headshot to boost your personal interest factor. Learn more: Your Author Headshot: How To Create A Flattering (And Affordable!) Portrait For Print And Online.

List your offerings. Create an easy-to-skim list of seminars, lectures, classes, readings, call-ins, and other presentations that you can present to audiences. Bonus points if you’re mixing up both digital and real-time offers like FaceTime book club appearances for faraway readers as well as readings for local library crowds. Some tips:

  • Come up with catchy titles for your talks
  • Keep descriptions short and punchy
  • Put a new spin on perennial favorite topics whenever possible
  • Give audiences what they want (offer a big takeaway value)
  • Let people who want more details about your presentations know that additional info is available upon request

Sweeten the pot. Many writers try to tempt audiences to book a seminar/reading with them by offering extra enticements to participants. Here are some examples:

  • Offer a gift basket with book-related items and goodies for book club groups.
  • Host a fabulous prize giveaway that attendees can opt to enter (plus, you can collect email addresses for your subscriber list).
  • Give a free critique to one lucky listener/attendee (great for writers groups).
  • Volunteer to donate a portion of any proceeds to a related charity (aka cause marketing for authors).

Promise promo. Sometimes, overworked organizers aren’t able to drum up a lot of pre-event promo—but they LOVE the idea that you might enthusiastically drive new visitors through their doors. You might want to note on your author website that all of your events come with a free prewritten press release, flyers, social media promotion, etc.

Brag by number. If you’ve hosted events with huge numbers of attendees or you have a healthy social media following in your region, organizers would be interested in your fledgling fame and promotional reach. They may be more inclined to host your event if they sense you already have a strong following.

Let’s go to the video. Posting a small snippet of a presentation you’ve given—or even a video of yourself inviting others to reach out to you—can go a long way toward demonstrating your likeability factor. But don’t stress about it! Your video doesn’t have to be fancy to be effective. In fact, some companies have deliberately dropped high-production, slick videos in favor of clips that have a homemade, authentic vibe. But if video makes you look nervous and uptight (because, hey, we can’t all be nightly news anchors), then just skip it and embrace a medium that works for you.

Picture this. You know what they say: A picture is worth a thousand words. A photo or two of you at your events either with fans, standing in front of a crowd, signing books, etc., could hint at the promise that a great time will be had by all.

Be Smart, Be Safe, But Be Easy To Contact

Make it easy for event organizers to contact you—the more hoops people have to jump through in order to connect with you directly, the more likely they’ll say “forget it” before they manage to knock on your door.

That said, we do not recommend publishing your personal email address on your author website. First of all, you’ll want to protect your privacy. But secondly, spammers will be flooding your published email address, and you won’t be able to tell which emails are from humans and which are from spambots. So you might miss out on an important contact.

Instead of broadcasting your personal email address, invite visitors to fill out a contact form, preferably with a CAPTCHA-type security measure in place to vanquish web-trolling robots. Then, be sure to take careful precautions when moving forward with any author speaking gig: Only agree to visit reputable, safe organizations or restrict in-person lectures to public places.

Once your book promotion event is booked, brush up on your book signing etiquette, pack your books and your enthusiasm, and go have some fun!

Question: What strategy do you find is most effective for nabbing author speaking gigs?

Online Book Marketing Isn’t Working? Here’s What To Adjust | Web Design Relief

As a marketing-savvy author, you know building a social media platform is vital to your writing career. That’s why you post frequently, respond to all comments, and monitor your social media platforms throughout the day. But at Web Design Relief, our experts know that sometimes your online book marketing strategies don’t show any real results.… Continue Reading

3 Marketing Strategies Literary Agents And Editors Love To See | Web Design Relief

There’s only one thing literary agents and editors enjoy more than discovering great unpublished writing: discovering great unpublished writing that’s backed by an author who is an enthusiastic self-starter. But what exactly do literary agents love to see in a new client? How can a writer do more than merely promise enthusiasm for book marketing?… Continue Reading


Sign up to receive our FREE four-part series, The Writer’s Essential Guide To Reputation-Building In A Digital World—the ultimate resource for building your online author platform.
YES! Send Me My FREE Guide!
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
close-link
Live Chat Software