Hello, fellow writers!
It’s been several months since my last update about my self-publishing adventure. However, I am excited to report that I’ve spent those months working hard to get a new site built and start implementing the first steps of my self-publishing marketing plan.
Now I’m ready to pull back the curtain and reveal it to all of you!
First, be sure to check out my previous post (chapter 1 of this adventure) for all the background details about my book and my marketing strategy.
My goal with this series of posts is to share my experiments. I’m looking forward to seeing what works and what doesn’t with self-publishing and marketing a book. I’m hoping that this can help other writers who want to build an audience and more effectively market their work too.
Let’s dive in.
1. Creating a New Website and Email List
My book is a middle grade novel so my target audience is parents of kids in elementary school and middle school (ages 8 – 12).
In order to reach this audience, I created a website where I will offer resources for teaching kids writing and storytelling as well as share book recommendations.
I wrote in my previous post,
Naturally, as I continue working on that website, I need to keep in mind how to integrate my novel with the other resources I offer there. I want the resources to attract an audience who will also enjoy my book. I’ll share more about this in upcoming blog posts.
Essentially, this step is all about considering what to write and offer on your website that will attract a community for your book. I love that self-published authors can think creatively and create something that is much bigger than just their books. That’s what I want to do with this new site.
So, drumroll, please! The new site is https://inkwellscholars.org.
I dedicated a lot of time to writing and designing the homepage and about page. I believe these are the two most important parts of a writer’s website.
In order to create these pages, I followed the exact same worksheets I include in my website copywriting course.
I’ll continue tweaking them as I develop and market my site and get closer to publishing my novel and have an official cover. Then I’ll probably write a blurb about the book on the website.
2. Creating an Opt-In Gift
Once people land on the website, I want them to sign up to the email list. As I wrote in my previous post,
All of the published authors I’ve spoken to have said that the most effective free way to market books is through an email list. In fact, one told me that his biggest regret was not starting an email list sooner.
I’ve definitely found this to be true with nicolebianchi.com. The email list is the most effective way for me to reach out to readers and tell them I’ve published a blog post or uploaded a YouTube video or created a new writing resource.
I have experience building an email list for nicolebianchi.com. In my email course, I detail all of the strategies I’ve followed. I plan to follow the same steps for growing this new email list. I’ll be updating that course with any new strategies I discover along the way.
One of the strategies I’ve found most effective is creating an opt-in gift. This is something that email subscribers will receive for free when they sign up for your list. For example, it could be a short story or a worksheet or a PDF guide. Essentially, the opt-in gift is something that incentivizes a person to sign up for your email list.
In my email course, I explain more about opt-in gifts and how to choose the right one for your email list.
For Inkwell Scholars, I created an opt-in gift called 31 Best Writing Prompts. These are prompts that I’ve used with young students to get them excited about writing.
You can take a peek at the Inkwell Scholars site to see my email subscribe forms and how I promote the opt-in gift.
(Please note that there are some concerns with promoting opt-in gifts if you are based in the EU or have subscribers from the EU. Learn more about the EU privacy laws in my article here. My website is targeting English speakers, primarily American English speakers. But I wanted to make sure it was clear on the subscribe forms that people are signing up for the email list and the eBook is just a little bonus gift.)
While I haven’t promoted this email newsletter yet, I do get a trickle of Google traffic from several posts published on the website years ago when I had a writing tutoring business. Since redesigning the site and setting up those email subscribe forms, I’ve gotten 10 subscribers already. I can’t wait to see what happens when I start marketing the site.
3. Creating a Reserve of Blog Posts
Since blog posts have worked to grow the email list for nicolebianchi.com, I want to try out this strategy for Inkwell Scholars as well. It’s a wonderful way to create a community.
I’ll publish these posts on the Inkwell Scholars website for Google traffic. And I’ll also publish them on Substack so subscribers will be receiving frequent resources and updates from me.
Specifically, I am interested in seeing how effective Substack is for building an audience. I would like to test out publishing to Substack about every other week.
However, if you’ve been an email subscriber of nicolebianchi.com for a while, you probably know that I am very bad at publishing on a consistent basis, haha. I don’t want Inkwell Scholars to consume so much of my time that I end up not publishing here at all. I’m also working with clients at the marketing agency I started with my two brothers. So my time is very limited.
Thus, I decided to take a few weeks before launching Inkwell Scholars to create a reserve of blog posts.
So far, I’ve written 11 posts (that will last me five months or so). I’d like to write 13 more so I have an entire year’s worth. The ones I’ve written so far are mostly about teaching writing to young students and book recommendations. I’d like to write more posts that are about my novel and storytelling.
Here are some strategies that are helping me to create a reserve of blog posts:
- Identifying important dates throughout the year and writing blog posts related to those. (For example, back to school posts in August, Christmas related posts in December.)
- Choosing a theme for each month (or two consecutive months) and writing posts related to that.
- Setting a target goal of just 500 words per blog post. I usually go a few hundred words over, but 500 is generally a reasonable amount of words I can write in about an hour’s time for a first rough draft. If I feel I have more to say on a topic, I’ll turn it into a follow up post. When I’m ready to edit the posts and publish them, I can flesh them out with more words if I want to. But I think shorter posts are better for the target audience.
- Setting a target number of posts I want to write. This gave me a clear goal to work towards and also ensured that I wouldn’t spend all my time writing posts and postpone the actual launching of the site.
4. Creating New Writing Resources
Since redesigning and updating the Inkwell Scholars website, I’ve become excited about making resources for young writers. I think this new website is going to turn into something much bigger than just a platform for marketing my book.
Over the past month, I put together a guide on memoir writing for young students. This is based on a lesson plan I used with my tutoring students. You can check out the guide here: How to Write a Memoir Essay.
For the payment processor, I am trying out a service called Lemon Squeezy. In the past, I have used Gumroad. But Lemon Squeezy has lower fees, a cleaner checkout design, and supports more countries and payment methods. We’ll see which one I end up liking more.
Selling products is another fantastic way to grow an email list. It’s also a great way to start generating revenue that you can later reinvest in the costs of self publishing.
Ok, I think that’s all I have to share for today. I am hoping to write more frequent updates here at nicolebianchi.com about my self-publishing adventure now that this new website is officially launched. I’m looking forward to discovering what will be the most effective strategies for growing an email list in 2023.
If you’re a parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, sister, brother, or teacher (you get the picture!) of young writers, I’d love for you to check out my new website and maybe consider signing up to the email list: https://inkwellscholars.org
(Or please share with someone who you think might be interested!)
And if you’re in the process of building an author platform and marketing your work, I hope you found this post helpful. I look forward to hearing your thoughts in the comments. If you’ve indie published, I’d love to hear your experience and any resources you can point me to that you found helpful.
If you enjoyed this post, be sure to share it on social media or with a fellow writer who you think would enjoy it too. And if you’d like to support the blog, you can buy me a virtual coffee.
Thank you! God bless.