Congratulations! You just wrote a thoughtful, logical, actionable blog post you know everyone is going to love. Amazing! You just finished the final draft of the novel you have been working on for six years. Surely people are going to adore your characters and appreciate your themes.
That is, if they ever read what you have written.
BUT THEY WILL! Won’t they? Because people are going to stumble upon your masterpieces while searching for the exact things you are going to provide within your words of wisdom … RIGHT?
Honestly, no one is searching for what you have to offer. It may be good – it may be the BEST thing that has ever been written on that subject in particular. But unless you are an SEO-obsessed robot (which I hope you aren’t), people aren’t going to find your work while searching for something else. And they aren’t going to sit down and think, “I need a new blog to read every day” and find yours. They aren’t going to, in their search for new books on Amazon, find yours.
So what’s the point of writing, you ask? That’s not the right question. You should be asking, what’s the point of writing if you aren’t going to spend twice the amount of time it took you to write the thing to get the word out about it?
Guest posting. Book marketing. Sharing your posts in writing groups on Facebook (sparingly – self-promotion is pretty much required yet frowned upon by all, so pick and choose wisely). If you think people are going to come to you and find the work you have done, you have it backwards. You have to reach out to others, not the other way around.
This does not mean, however, doing any or all of the following:
- Commenting on others’ blogs asking them to check out yours, without first adding any value to theirs
- Posting links to your blog in online writing groups asking people to check it out – instead, link to a specific article, again, adding value in hopes someone else will return the favor
- Direct messaging people on Twitter asking them to buy your book
- Mentioning people on Twitter asking them to buy your book
- Asking people to buy your book in general – promote, do not sell; there is a difference.
To stand out, you need to have something unique to offer. This takes a lot of time and effort to get right. Everyone writes, in part, because they want to be heard. But don’t expect people to hear you if no one is around to listen. And don’t go out into the virtual world seeking attention, because that only drives potential audience members away.
Promote shamelessly, but with a purpose. It is not about you. It is not about your blog or your article or your book. It is always, and always will be, about the reader. If they do visit your site, it’s because of what you have to offer them, not because they are interested in who you are. That comes later. That comes once they can trust that what you are doing is valuable and worthwhile. If it isn’t, find a way to change that.
You very well may have written some amazing things. But sitting around and waiting for someone to notice is letting all that go to waste.
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a freelance writer and an eight-time NaNoWriMo winner with work published in Teen Ink, Success Story, Lifehack and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.
Image courtesy of Flickr.