5 things authors can learn from online entrepreneurs
Even before I started my freelance journey, back in 2018, I followed a lot of successful female entrepreneurs online. Women who have set up service-based or product-based businesses and are growing each and every year.
It’s been incredibly inspiring for me to watch them, and I think there are lessons for authors that can be pulled from how they share what they are doing online.
With that in mind, here are 5 lessons I think authors can learn from online entrepreneurs:
There is an idea many people have in their head of what it means to be ‘professional’. It means having a very separate work life – almost a work personality.
That doesn’t translate very well in the age of Instagram, which is all about connection and ‘being authentic’.
The word authentic is bandied about a lot, but to me it means being yourself. You don’t need to share every aspect of your life (in fact, I would strongly encourage you to keep clear boundaries on what you do and don’t share online), but don’t try to be someone that you aren’t, because that is just exhausting.
Show your personality, chat to the other real people (not just numbers) that are sharing their content and commenting on yours, share those little thoughts that come to you.
Essentially – be a real person, and treat your ‘followers’ like real people, too.
Be clear on what you’re selling
A book, of course! What do you mean, be clear on what you’re selling?
What I mean is rather than selling a book, which is a very dry object on its own, what is the reader going to get from the book?
What emotions will they feel? What journey will they go through when they read the book? Why should they pick your book up out of the stack they have waiting for them?
It might be escapism, or the chance to get their heart pumping, or if it’s non-fiction, they might have some kind of personal transformation after reading it. What are you really selling?
Thinking this through can be so useful when you are thinking about how to promote your book. If it’s a romance, what words can you use to get the emotions across? If it’s a thriller, is there a way you can convey the tension of the book?
Share the process
The easiest way to market your book without feeling like you are selling all the time is to share the book as it is in progress.
This is something I have seen time and again from the entrepreneurs that I love. They don’t just go from having nothing to launch to announcing something is for sale. They talk about it in advance, sharing their thought process and getting early buy-in from potential customers. By the time the product is launched, people are ready for it.
You can do the same thing with your book. You don’t need to share the actual content of the book. I know many authors are very private when it comes to their writing — particularly the early drafts.
But you can share the process of writing. Where do you write? What motivates you? Where do you get inspiration? What do you do when you aren’t feeling it? What stage are you up to? All of this behind-the-scenes content is helping to engage people with the book, and get them ready when it actually goes up for sale.
Focus on your mindset
Mindset is so, so important when you have something to promote.
The reason working on your mindset is so important is because a) it can help you to dream a bit bigger and reach for big goals and b) because when things go wrong (and they inevitably will at some point) having a resilient frame of mind can help you recover more quickly.
For me, my focus has been on finding ways to make promoting myself fun, because marketing someone else is WAY easier than marketing myself. Whenever I launch something, one of the questions I ask myself is how to make is easier and more enjoyable, and then I really hone in on those feelings.
And when things go wrong, I try (once I’ve wallowed) to figure out what I can take away from the situation.
If a book hasn’t sold as well as you’d hoped, rather than saying ‘well, that’s it, then’, evaluate what you did, and think up new ways you could promote it? Approach it from a growth, rather than fixed mindset.
Every entrepreneur I follow talks about the importance of having good support, and I definitely agree.
This could be someone you hire, like a coach or mentor (hi!), or a trusted author friend that *gets* what you are doing, and acts like a co-mentor or accountability buddy. Either way, having someone to talk about about your ups and downs is hugely beneficial.
If you’re looking to follow some inspirational accounts, these are just a few of the people I love following, who talk about the ups and downs, and share loads of useful, practical advice, too:
- Jen @SillyHeartCo. Jen is my co-mentor, and she helps women work with their cycles. This another strategy I seen becoming more widespread since connecting with Jen, and I find it incredibly helpful to anticipate my mood based on where I am in my hormonal cycle.
- Ray Dodd – A business and money coach. I’ve worked with Ray a number of times and have got so much out of my sessions with her. I have no doubt I will work with her again.
- Ruth Poundwhite – Another business mentor who specialises in working with introverts. Her podcast gives you a really interesting look behind-the-scenes of her business, and she also has great guests featured.
- Sarah @CubAndPudding – Sarah makes children’s clothing, and she has a brilliant balance of promoting her clothes and sharing her journey as someone who left a corporate job very recently to start something completely different.
- Liz Mosley is a graphic designer who is currently making the shift between primarily working one-to-one with people to selling digital products and workshops, and it’s super inspiring to see the way she promotes herself in a very quiet, but effective way.
- South London Makers’ Market – this is an offline market that has gone online due to the pandemic, and seeing the way they are helping makers to recreate the market stall feel online is really inspiring to watch.
How about you? Who do you love to watch and learn from? Do any of the points above resonate with you? As always I would love to hear your thoughts, either in the comments, on on Twitter or Instagram. Come and say hello!
PS: If you’d like to learn the basics behind a great social media marketing plan, as well as some practical ways to promote your book online without spending your life on social media, join my workshop on the 18th of November 2020.
It will be an hour long event (with a replay if you aren’t able to make it live). You’ll come away feeling organised and excited about how you can connect with your potential readers online. Tickets are £39 and are on sale now!