Archive for the 'The Writer-preneur' Category

Writerpreneur: Social Networking

gregorywotr_002.gifBy Gregory A. Kompes

Social networking is a great way to build your readership, expand your fan base, and sell your products and services. You’ve probably already heard of some of the more popular networks like myspace and facebook.

So, what are social networks? They’re online spaces where virtual communities are created. You join (usually for free), create a “space” or profile page, invite your friends to join and then link to each other. Most sites allow you to create text profiles, and upload photos, images and sound files. All the social networking sites are searchable, so people looking for you, your books or services you offer are likely to find them. Some of the larger networks boast millions of users; that’s a lot of potential buyers. With the “trusted friends” function, everyone you invite or who requests to be one of your network friends must be approved. This built-in trust is essential in online marketing.

In the most basic form, social networks are like billboards that allow us to constantly promote our books and services. Yet, many networks have advanced features like calendars, invitation services, blogging and forums. For example, on John Kremer’s BookMarket.ning.com, a writer’s networking community, you can blog and create profile-linked forums. Some of the networks also have built in messaging, so you can contact your group of network friends with news and announcements. As we get to know our readers, buyers and fans, we’re better able to answer their questions. And, as a recent Live Journal poll pointed out, 99% of book buyers buy books because they know or feel they have a connection to the author.

There’s another advantage to social networking: it can be fun. The writing life can be solitary and social networks are a way to step out of your office without leaving it. I join all the social networking sites that I come across. While I admit I don’t spend a lot of time socializing on these sites, they have helped build my fan base and allowed me to connect with some old friends.

Are you ready to take advantage of social networking? Once you get started with the social networking sites below send me an invitation, I’ll be happy to be your social network friend.

Myspace.com
Facebook.com
LinkedIn
BookMarket.ning.com
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Gregory A. Kompes, author of the bestseller 50 Fabulous Gay-Friendly Places to Live and the Writer’s Series, speaks at conferences and teaches Internet self-promotion courses online. Gregory is editor of Queer Collection: Prose & Poetry, Patchwork Path, The Fabulist Flash, and Eighteen Questions, a Q&A series that collects published authors experiences (chosen a “101 Best Websiteby Writer’s Digest ). In Las Vegas, he hosts the Writerpreneur Workshops and co-host’s the Writer’s Pen & Grill. Gregory holds a BA in English Literature from Columbia University, New York, and a certificate in Online Teaching and Learning and an MS Ed. from California State University, East Bay.

Brand Your Writing Career with Products

gregorywotr_002.gifWriter-preneur: Building Your Writing Career Using Technology
By Gregory A. Kompes

Freelance writers rarely earn enough cash from a single source to finance their lives. We require multiple income streams. Creating multiple writing gigs is one way to accomplish that. Another way to add a stream, while building your writer’s brand, is developing a product line. Journals, greeting cards, mugs, playing cards, and T-shirts are all popular options.

Having a product line serves two main purposes. The first is to generate income. When I speak at conferences, high schools, and speaker associations, in addition to having my books for sale, I also offer my products. The second is to help build brand awareness.

You can start simply by putting your logo or Web site URL on giveaway items like pens, mugs, or mouse pads. That’s one way to keep your brand and contact information at client’s fingertips. Or, consider something like this. I love taking pictures. I take them when I travel and when I interview people for articles and books. I snap away around town, too. I took advantage of this side interest by creating a line of art cards and gifts featuring my own photos. I use my photo journals, cards, and other products as giveaways, prizes, and for back of room (BOR) sales when I speak.

A company that can help you easily get started with your own product line is CafePress (CP: http://www.cafepress.com/). CP is a print on demand (POD) product company so there’s no initial investment, no overhead, and no warehousing of products. And using the service is simple. Just create a free account, upload an image or photo, choose the products you’d like to sell, add the uploaded picture, and set the price.

CP also allows you to purchase your own products below sales price so you can sell them BOR when you speak and present. For sample CaféPress shops, visit Writer’s on the Rise Online Store (http://www.cafepress.com/writersontheris) and my own shop of art cards and gifts (http://www.cafepress.com/gregorykompes). If you choose to create a CP shop, you’ll help out Writer’s on the Rise if you use “writersontheris” as your referrer!

For a larger personal investment, you can create logo and promotional products even cheaper by using one of the many imprint companies around the world. My two favorites are 4Imprint (http://www.4imprint.com) and Monarch Promotions (http://www.monarchpromotions.com).

As you build your writer brand, adding promotion and logo products will keep you and your company in the minds of existing and potential clients.

Gregory A. Kompes (www.Kompes.com) is a writer, speaker, mentor and coach. He is the author of the #1 bestseller 50 Fabulous Gay-Friendly Places to Live, The Endorsement Quest, Turning Your Writing Hobby into a Writing Career, and The Everyday Gay Activist. Gregory is the editor of The Fabulist Flash, an informative newsletter for writers, founder of LAMOO Books, and Coordinator of the Las Vegas Writer’s Conference. The author holds a BA in English Literature from Columbia University, NY, and is currently a MS in Education candidate at California State University, Eastbay.

Advertise with Articles to Brand Your Writing Career

gregorywotr_002.gifWriter-preneur: Building Your Writing Career Using Technology
By Gregory A. Kompes

When you think of advertising, print ads in magazines and newspapers, commercials on TV and radio, and billboards probably come to mind. When you think Internet, advertising options like banner ads, pop-ups and Goggle AdWords or other pay-per-click options might come to mind. There’s a better, free way to advertise. Let’s start with a few facts.

Live Journal polled Internet users asking why they purchase books. Here are the top results: a familiarity with the author’s work (99%); read about the book on a Web site and blog by someone other than the author (80%); read about the book on the author’s Web site and blog (65%); read the first chapter online (63%), and, read an electronic (or print) book review (56%). Down at the bottom of the list were postcards and mailings, gifts, gimmicks and contests.

The poll results indicate that Internet technology sells books. People buy books because they believe the authors are credible sources of information and because they’ve read about the author online. This month we’re going to look at a simple way you can further establish your expert status, garner more exposure on other people’s Web sites and blogs, drive visitors to your Web site, and sell more books. Articles published in Article Directories are a great way to promote your platform without spending a dime.

There are thousands of newsletters and blogs that need new, fresh content to publish. Article Directories are clearing houses where you can post articles about your niche topic. Newsletter editors and bloggers search these by topic and publish what interests them.

To take advantage of this advertising channel, first write a short article (400-1000 words) that includes a “resource box.” Resource boxes are those brief biography paragraphs at the end of online articles about the author. Make sure your resource box includes a URL (web address) that links to your Web site. The combination of a well-written article and resource box builds your credibility and drives traffic to your Web site.

Here are a few content suggestions. Choose content from your book that stands well on its own and turn that into an article. Outline one of your book chapters and create a Top 10 list with brief explanations of your ten points. Don’t forget that resource box.

Second, make your articles available to editors and bloggers for publication. If you have an established relationship, you can submit your work directly to newsletter editors and bloggers. For more extensive reach, submit your work to any of the hundreds of Article Directories. Danielle Hollister maintains a comprehensive list of directories at Bella Online.

While you’ll maintain your copyright, you won’t be paid for articles published through directories in cash. But when newsletter editors and bloggers publish your content the benefit you receive is click-link advertising that can help reinforce your credibility and expert status with your book-buying audience.

Gregory A. Kompes (www.Kompes.com) is a writer, speaker, mentor and coach. He is the author of the #1 bestseller 50 Fabulous Gay-Friendly Places to Live, The Endorsement Quest, Turning Your Writing Hobby into a Writing Career, and The Everyday Gay Activist. Gregory is the editor of The Fabulist Flash, an informative newsletter for writers, founder of LAMOO Books, and Coordinator of the Las Vegas Writer’s Conference. The author holds a BA in English Literature from Columbia University, NY, and is currently a MS in Education candidate at California State University, Eastbay.

Brand Your Writing Career with Audio

gregorywotr_002.gifWriter-preneur: Building Your Writing Career Using Technology

By Gregory A. Kompes

Sound is powerful. We often stop what we’re doing to listen. It’s virtually impossible to read or write anything when another is speaking. It’s how our brains are wired. Harnessing the power of sound to build and brand your writing career just makes sense. If done correctly, you may even open up a new readership and expand your following with sound.

There are many ways to take advantage of sound and we’ll look at just a few of them here, including: trailers, audio books, podcasting and Internet radio.

Trailers are one of the smartest and easiest ways to start using sound to reach your readers. By digitally recording your book’s introduction or first chapter and making those available to readers on your Web site, you increase the possibility of sales of your book. Having your full work available in audio format (think books on tape) is another positive way to spread the word with sound. Companies like Books in Motion are always looking for new products to add to their catalog of Audio Books available for sales and rental.

To create sound files for your Web site or podcast, you’ll need a digital recorder that allows you to create digital format audio files (.wav, MP3, .aiff, etc.). You don’t need to spend a lot for quality these days. I’m rarely without my plug and play Olympia WS100 (retail: $79). While there are many generations of recorders that have followed, this powerful (and affordable) little recorder remains my favorite.

For high-end recording capabilities, check out Tech Smith’s Camtasia Studio. This software allows you to record, edit, and post online audio, video, and screenshot recordings. How many ideas popped into your head with those possibilities?

As you discover how easy it is to create digital sound files, it might be time to explore Podcasting & Internet radio. If you’re investigating teleconferences, remember to record the events. These make excellent downloadable sound files for your Web site or for use through RSS (Real Simple Syndication). Creating audio newsletters (podcasts) that include interviews and discussions of your expert topic will draw in a larger audience for your work. When done as a regular feature, you begin to create a body of sound files that can be listened to by your readers at any time. If you podcast on a regular schedule (i.e., weekly, monthly) your listeners will return over and over. Additionally, you can make these regular podcasts available through distribution sites like iTunes.

Giving your audience a meaningful way to tune in to your platform over time can help keep them coming back for more.

Gregory A. Kompes (www.Kompes.com) is a writer, speaker, mentor and coach. He is the author of the #1 bestseller 50 Fabulous Gay-Friendly Places to Live, The Endorsement Quest, Turning Your Writing Hobby into a Writing Career, and The Everyday Gay Activist. Gregory is the editor of The Fabulist Flash, an informative newsletter for writers, founder of LAMOO Books, and Coordinator of the Las Vegas Writer’s Conference. The author holds a BA in English Literature from Columbia University, NY, and is currently a MS in Education candidate at California State University, Eastbay.

Boost Your Earnings and Expert Status with Teleconferencing

gregorywotr_002.gifWriter-preneur: Building Your Writing Career Using Technology
By Gregory A. Kompes

Teleconferencing, also known as phone conferencing, is when two or more people share a phone line so that everyone can speak to each other. This method of communication is a valuable tool for allowing people to share their knowledge, experience, and expertise with others. For example, Q&A sessions–– where a call moderator or listeners ask an expert questions––are frequently used in teleconferences..

Teleconferences help build expert status. You can also use them to increase your earnings. Following are a few examples and ideas about how to get started using teleconferencing to your advantage.

The SpeakerNet News (www.speakernetnews.com) teleconference series is one example of teleconferencing success. Every few months this organization holds a teleconference with an expert. They charge a fee for people to listen in on the call and they also record the conference and make the call available for sale after the event. SpeakerNet News has been conducting teleconferences for years and has built up a library of expert interviews that can be purchased at any time.

Ready to lead your first teleconference? There are dozens of companies that offer free teleconference lines. Two of my favorites are FreeConferenceCall.com and BizConf.com. These companies don’t charge any fees beyond normal long distance charges for their services. To create a free account, visit their Web site and sign up. With your account, you’ll be given a dedicated phone number and two sets of call-in instructions, one for the moderator line and one for the participant line. Both of these companies allow you to record your teleconference and download the saved call electronically. This lets you begin building a library of calls and making them available via podcast and MP3 downloads from your Web site (The topic of an upcoming WOTR Writer-preneur column.).

Next, find an expert to interview on a topic related to your niche and develop a set of questions to ask them. As with many interviews, it’s a good idea to give the questions to your expert in advance. This is especially important for a teleconference because you want the expert you’re interviewing to be as prepared as possible so they sound like the expert they are. If your call-in audience is only a few callers, you may be able to open up the call to a Q&A session. With more participants, a better plan is to have registered call listeners e-mail their questions for the expert in advance so you can include them in your list.

To set up your call, select a date and time and market the teleconference event. If you’ve chosen one of the companies mentioned earlier, you’ll have a dedicated phone line, so there’s no scheduling with the teleconference company. When people sign up to participate, just give them the participant phone number and password. Finally, hold the event and record the call.

One of the keys to freelance success is building a series of multiple income streams. Teleconferencing is an excellent way to supplement your bottom line by providing a series of quality products for people in your niche market.

Gregory A. Kompes (www.Kompes.com) is a writer, speaker, mentor and coach. He is the author of the #1 bestseller 50 Fabulous Gay-Friendly Places to Live, The Endorsement Quest, Turning Your Writing Hobby into a Writing Career, and The Everyday Gay Activist. Gregory is the editor of The Fabulist Flash, an informative newsletter for writers, founder of LAMOO Books, and Coordinator of the Las Vegas Writer’s Conference. The author holds a BA in English Literature from Columbia University, NY, and is currently a MS in Education candidate at California State University, Eastbay.

Brand Your Writing Career with eBooks

gregorywotr_002.gifWriter-preneur: Building Your Writing Career Using Technology
By Gregory A. Kompes

eBooks are electronically published material with content your readers will find helpful, useful, or of interest. They’re easy to produce and distribute, and they can add another dimension to your writing career and branding platform. eBooks range from a few pages, such as a 5-10 page “White Paper” or “Special Report,” to a tome of hundreds of pages. You’re the expert writing about your niche topic and you get to decide on the content.

A few reasons to write eBooks include:

  • sharing your niche topic expertise for profit;
  • building a larger readership;
  • offering incentives for eZine subscribers; and,
  • delivering a free gift for readers.

Most successful eBooks are fewer than 100 pages. While longer works such as full-length novels are offered electronically, the buying public gravitates toward shorter eBooks that answer a question or solve a problem.

The writing style you choose for your eBook is determined by two factors: you and your audience. If you’re writing for an academic audience, then by all means use an academic voice. If you’re writing an eBook to help home gardeners grow better roses, your style should be more casual. For most eBook topics, you’ll want to use a conversational tone––a writing voice that makes the reader feel you’re talking directly to them across the dinner table.

The primary advantage of ePublishing is that you, the author, are in control. You decide on the content, writing style, and the format of your eBook. You don’t need professional design software (such as CS InDesign or Pagemaker), although these programs create a professional layout. Many special reports and eBooks are created using Microsoft Word and designed to print on 8 1/2″ x 11″ (or your country’s standard) paper. As you create content, keep in mind how your readers will utilize your finished product. For example, make it easy for readers to print the book.

Writers are rarely good editors or proofreaders of their own work. I recommend that you have your eBooks (and everything you write for publication) professionally edited. It IS worth the expense to hire a professional editor.

The publishing of your eBook is easy. Save the eBook you’ve written as a file and offer that file for sale on a disc, CD, or via online download. Voila! You’re ePublished. There are many acceptable eBook file types. The most common is Portable Document Format (PDF). While DOC and HTML are also acceptable, I recommend PDF because they’re easy to create and universally accepted.

If you’re interested in distributing your eBook through online sales portals like Amazon.com, you’ll need to obtain an International Standard Book Number (ISBN) and register your eBook with the U.S. Copyright office. The Library of Congress will register eBooks, but does not currently maintain an eBook library.

Additional distribution options include e-mailing requested or sold eBooks, utilizing your autoresponder (WOTR, April 2007) or shopping cart software with electronic download options. For beginning ePublishers, consider the economical combination of PayPal and PayLoadz. Together, these online sales tools create affordable, safe and secure distribution.

Gregory A. Kompes (www.Kompes.com) is a writer, speaker, mentor and coach. He is the author of the #1 bestseller 50 Fabulous Gay-Friendly Places to Live, The Endorsement Quest, Turning Your Writing Hobby into a Writing Career, and The Everyday Gay Activist. Gregory is the editor of The Fabulist Flash, an informative newsletter for writers, founder of LAMOO Books, and Coordinator of the Las Vegas Writer’s Conference. The author holds a BA in English Literature from Columbia University, NY, and is currently a MS in Education candidate at California State University, Eastbay.

Brand Your Writing Career with an Autoresponder

gregorywotr_002.gifWriter-preneur: Building Your Writing Career Using Technology
By Gregory A. Kompes

If you’ve ever set up your e-mail account to send an “Out of the Office” or “I’m on Vacation” e-mail reply, you’ve used an autoresponder. In its simplest form, an autoresponder automatically responds to e-mail messages it receives.

Autoresponders are also used as e-mail marketing tools, immediately providing information to prospective customers and then following up with them at preset time intervals. They can also handle e-mail list subscriptions, confirmations, unsubscribes, and e-mailing to lists in bulk, like your e-zine or information announcements.

Here are examples of how authors use autoresponders:

You can sign up for my zine, The Fabulist Flash, by filling in your name and e-mail address on my Web site—just like most zines. When you hit the “join list” button, your information is sent to my autoresponder, which adds you to my list and sends a follow up confirmation and then an e-mail link with download instructions for the e-book you get as a joining incentive. Each week I send my zine out to my list via autoresponder, without having to worry about individual e-mail addresses, nor who has subscribed or unsubscribed to my list.

Lars Clausen, author of “Straight into Gay America”

Straight into Gay America has an excellent marketing concept. It may seem counterintuitive to give your book away, but that’s just what Lars does. He sends his book to his autoresponder list, one page a day. He’s enjoyed great sales with this model because people decide they want the whole book at one time.

Australian author and freelance journalist, Cheryl Wright, offers free mini-courses via autoresponder. After signing up, you receive course lessons spread out over a period of time, one section of the course in each e-mail. Cheryl offers readers information they’re interested in, while at the same time putting her additional paid courses and products repeatedly in front of her niche audience. (For details on how to write your own mini-course to deliver via autoresponder check out “How The Heck Do I Write An Online Course” (http://www.howtheheckdoi.com/write_a_course.htm).)

Autoresponders are the perfect way to extend your niche-topic expert position and increase your readership and following. When set up properly, they’ll also increase your earning potential. And, most autoresponders are easy to use.

Find a service you like. I use and recommend GetResponse, but doing a Google search for “autoresponder” will result in dozens of potential options. Like my earlier advice about Web sites (WOTR February 2007), it may be worth trying a free service just to kick the tires a bit, but you’ll appear more professional using a paid service that doesn’t include outside advertising in your autoresponder e-mails.

After signing up, follow the simple instructions for setting up your autoresponder. Your service provider will also explain how to include clickable text links or more detailed HTML sign-up boxes on your Web site or in your e-mail signature.

Gregory A. Kompes (www.Kompes.com) is a writer, speaker, mentor and coach. He is the author of the #1 bestseller 50 Fabulous Gay-Friendly Places to Live, The Endorsement Quest, Turning Your Writing Hobby into a Writing Career, and The Everyday Gay Activist. Gregory is the editor of The Fabulist Flash, an informative newsletter for writers, founder of LAMOO Books, and Coordinator of the Las Vegas Writer’s Conference. The author holds a BA in English Literature from Columbia University, NY, and is currently a MS in Education candidate at California State University, Eastbay.


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