Hello readers and writers! You are reading chapter six of my upcoming e-book, Finding Your Future Fans. Please enjoy these tips for the writer
If you set out to create a huge following and sell books all on your own, then I’m not sure many of my tips will actually help you take off. Why? Community is everything. You may miss out on meeting legitimate mentors, friends, and peers if you avoid the hard work that is involved in creating a community.
Let’s look at a quick example. I don’t know much about K-pop music, but I hear raving reviews about BTS. They’ve been known to advocate for positivity, mental health, and inclusion in their songs and beyond. They walk the walk of having passion for certain issues in the world—and this extra work they do makes them more than just talented musicians and dancers. They’ve created one of the most loyal followings on the planet—and that’s how folks like me even learn about this whole genre of music.
Wouldn’t you like to have an amazing following that proudly and willingly talks about your books? Wouldn’t you want someone behind you on those days when writing or marketing are dark and rough?
This chapter will help you learn the basics of creating a strong community or network—whether you want to create a loyal following or you want to work with bookstagrammers, bloggers, or other writers.
I’m confident that you can tell the difference between someone who wants likes and someone who wants connections. These people often make you feel better—they inspire you, relate to you, and otherwise share something with you.
Genuine interaction is one of the social media trends that I hope is here to stay. Companies large and small are trying to increase transparency and relevancy, and now is the time to join the wave. What does it mean to be genuine? It means to share something about yourself to support or help someone else. That could be writing relevant blog posts, talking about hard things that gives a voice to others, or simply mean what you say.
Based on your last nine photos, how much have you shared recently? As in, how much have you shared about your journey, your real lifestyle, or your brilliant ideas? Don’t wait for people to figure out your story or MO—tell the people what you want to do with Instagram! Whether you want to see more real photos or you want to prove that you have something to say through your writing, you can start attracting folks to your feed by leaving your intentions out in the open. If people are interested, they’ll stay. If not, they don’t fit your target audience and you don’t have to cater to them.
When I think of the genuine authors I follow online, they find their own way to share their author journey while still using the boundaries we talked about in chapter four.
Basically, consistency means that people can rely on you to share certain content at a certain pace. This doesn’t mean that community starts by posting every day, but you post at a rate that they still hear from you.
Consistency is similar to being genuine in the way that you stick with your voice and you don’t flip flop. A brand is consistent in the types of colors or fonts that they use; they drive their brand casually and consistently to the point that you can recognize them without the company name.
Once you pick your target audience and what you want to share on your feed, all you have to do is keep referring back to these decisions. Community will flock to you if they like what they see and can regularly expect it from you.
Believe in Good Karma
I’m somewhat of a Hufflepuff when it comes to building community. Rather than going for the quickest way to get followers, I prefer building friendships at a slow and steady rate. I’ve started many online connections by commenting on other people’s posts without really expecting anything in return. I just believe that if I comment, share, like, or click the way I want others to do on my platform, I’ll eventually get that in return. Whenever I feel like I’m not getting enough feedback on my posts, I won’t just add it to my stories and passive-aggressively hope people read my mind. Instead, I open the app and go right back to my go-to strategy: comment on as many posts as I can while scrolling. Essentially, you’re demonstrating the behavior you want to see in your space.
Care More About Your Influence—Not the Numbers
Sure, it’s easy to let numbers get to your head. Unfortunately, higher follower counts will not guarantee more book sales or better self-esteem. Instagram’s algorithm has something to do with that, for better or for worse.
I learned this principle after doing a few author follow loops in a row. I’ve met quite a few people through these follow loops, but I often have a sudden increase in followers—not fans. I sure felt pretty good about myself after gaining hundreds of new followers, but I didn’t see any other important numbers go up. Instead, you’ll feel discouraged because you feel like your effort still isn’t catching on with others.
I’m assuming that if you’re reading this book and this chapter specifically, you’re looking for more people to buy and not just a higher follower count. So take this to heart: your follower count is the one number I want you to either ignore or disregard. There are other numbers that better track your growth and we’ll talk about that in chapter twelve.
If you care more about your influence and not so much that one number, you’ll not only enjoy Instagram more, but you’ll be fueled to keep writing and reaching your overall marketing goals. I have a folder on my computer just full of screenshots of nice things people say about me or my book. You’ll know what kind of influence you have on people because they will tell you. It’s like getting a thoughtful card on your birthday or wedding anniversary: people will tell you how your blog posts, your images, or your personality has helped them on their writing journey.
As you’ve probably noticed, this is the long game we’re talking about here. If you wanted to get millions of followers or get the blue check next to your name, I’m not really your girl. But if you want to take part in or create a community that ultimately helps you reach your higher goals, then understand that this will take lots of time. I’ve been on Instagram for five years and it’s taken all this time to figure out what I’m doing. I hope by reading these chapters, you won’t need 5 years to get to where I am, but this kind of growth and self-awareness doesn’t happen overnight.
If you are feeling burned out by lack of engagement, use the other tips in this chapter until you’re in a better place. Sometimes it’s okay to be real and tell folks that you’re struggling. It’s okay to hire professional help to figure out what your feed is missing. It’s also okay to be upset as long as you keep believing that eventually things will get better and it’ll feel like all your hard work is worth it.
- Community is all about influence—not numbers.
- Believe in good karma—put out the content or positive energy you want people to bring to your platform.
- People will gather to you when you talk and act like yourself. You don’t need to be someone else online to be “popular.”
- Building a community or network will help you enjoy Instagram, help you stick with your writing goals, and create meaningful relationships.
Read the Other Chapters
- Chapter One: Understand Your Target Audience
- Chapter Two: Be Authentic & Unique
- Chapter Three: Shed Some Light on the Subject
- Chapter Four: Be Present in Your Content
- Chapter Five: Wield Hashtags Like a Champ
There you go! I hope you enjoyed this chapter. Please give me your suggestions of what you’d like to see in future chapters. Or, tell me what I missed in this chapter; did you have more questions? Contact me or comment below. Thanks, friends!
4 comments on “Chapter Six: Build a Network & Community”
Another excellent chapter, Whitney 😊. Thank you so much for sharing your tips (and no I’m not saying this so my comment becomes a screenshot in your positive folder 😆. This is something I genuinely feel).
I mean, you’re the most consistent person giving me feedback, so I gotta take it, right? 😉 I appreciate your kind and honest thoughts!
Well said! Community is everything though it’s hard not to focus on the follower count.
Tell me about it! It’s a gratifying number. But even when I had a few hundred more followers, it didn’t mean I was making more book sales.