I Need to Learn What? by Janice L Dick

Marketing. The bane of many if not most writers’ existence. Yet, without it, potential readers remain unaware of our work, and it loses its opportunity for influence.

I presented a workshop for my local writing group last year on the subject of marketing, kind of the blind leading the blind! I thought I could get away with it because I at least had some ideas, had done some research, had subscribed to a few blogs on the subject.

Here are the basic three steps I suggested:

You. Must. Have. A. Website.
If you don’t have a website, how will you let people know about your work? How will they find you? It’s like advertising stuff on a local buy-sell site without including your name or phone number. If they can’t find you, you won’t sell anything.

I realized my need for a website quite a few years ago and went for the simplest free WordPress site available. Then I contacted a faithful and patient friend (thanks, Janet S.) who talked me through some of the main setup challenges.

If I can do it, so can you. Especially if you have friends like Janet. Another resource is the little book, Ya, But How, by our own Melanie Fischer. She’s good at explaining terms and how-tos.

So, start there. It’s free for now unless you decide to upgrade, and for that, you need to figure out…

A Simple Budget
Sheila Webster was the first to confront me with that. It can be a frightening task, especially if you dislike numbers as much as I do. But the little bit of cash I had stashed away for my writing was dwindling quickly.

How to begin?

Grab a scrap of paper, or an entire 8.5 X 11 sheet if you’re committed, and write down all your writing expenses: website, host, conference registrations, workshops, craft books, writing group fees, etc. Then all your writing income. This second list probably won’t take as long to create.

How much money do you need to continue your writing career? If you decide to go with a paid website, you’ll need a host, which costs $ per month. If you would rather ask someone to put a site together for you instead of struggling through it on your own, it will cost $$.

Figure it out. If you need more money, think of ways to get it: workshop presentations, increased book sales, speaking engagements, editing, cover design, etc. Best not to sell your kids’ toys. Make your own way.

How about a blog?
That’s one way of keeping your website alive, reminding people that you exist. I don’t have a huge following, but I usually get a couple of additional followers after a new blog comes out. Once a week is not too difficult, and if you know about scheduling, it’s a whole lot easier.

I publish a variety of blogs each month, one per week. I can work ahead as far as I want, and then schedule the articles for a particular date and time. Once you do that a few times, it becomes second nature. Really! And it’s very helpful to have a weekly/monthly calendar to keep things in order so you don’t forget. Like I almost forgot about writing this blog!

One of the most important things about blogging is consistency. If you say you’re going to publish one post every week, then do so. There are actually people who read mine every Tuesday! He told me so! The frequency of your posts is up to you. Personally, I find more than once a week annoying, not only as a writer but also as a follower of someone else. And once a month is too little to keep the writer in mind.

There you go:
— a website
— a budget
— a blog

Three simple ways to begin. From there, you follow the prompts, as it were, and learn as you go. Or, if you’re blessed, hire a virtual assistant for the hard parts. Maybe you can exchange skills and cut the cost.

Whatever way you choose, it’s a beginning. As long as you’re moving, you can be steered. And I’ve found that when God asks us to do something, He provides the resources. Not necessarily a smooth road, but a direction.

Janice L. Dick writes historical and contemporary fiction, inspirational articles and book reviews. She also edits and presents writing workshops.


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  1. Sharon Espeseth says:

    Thanks for this practical and down-to-earth online workshop, Janice. “You is smart. You is kind. You is important.” (from The Help by Kathryn Stockett) And you has got me thinking . . .

    1. Janice Dick says:

      Long after the fact, Sharon, I love your comment! Thanks.

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