How to Promote Your Writing on the Web

by Suzannah Freeman

Woman with laptop

Once upon a time, writers were writers and marketers were marketers.

Today, things are very different: like it or not, writers of both fiction and non-fiction are called upon to market themselves and their work.

Whether you’re pounding out the next bestseller or building a freelance portfolio, you need a multifaceted approach to self-promotion. Fortunately, some of the best and easiest ways to get your work out there and build a readership are at your fingertips:

Blog

Blogging used to be nothing more than an online diary, but now it’s one of the best ways to make yourself known on the web.

Set up a simple, uncluttered blog template, and then decide what you’ll blog about. If you’re writing a historical novel, you might blog about researching. If you freelance for health magazines, you might blog about diet and exercise.

Make it relevant to your work, and include a killer About page with a good photo of yourself.

Guest Post

Whether or not you have a blog of your own, writing articles for other high-traffic blogs is a great way to introduce yourself to potential readers.

Guest posting is generally done free of charge. You pitch another blogger with an article idea, then allow them to use your article in exchange for a byline. This is the part where you let readers know who you are, what you do, and where else they can find you.

It’s like free advertising.

Tweet

Twitter isn’t just about sharing what you’re up to every moment of the day. Setting up a Twitter profile is a fantastic way to network with other writers in your field.

Share links to great resources you find on the web, connect with well-known authors, editors, and freelancers, and build a following for your writing.

(You can get started by following Suzannah and Jennifer on Twitter!)

Facebook

A Facebook fan page allows you to share the same things you do on your blog or on Twitter, but you’re sharing them with a different audience. Some people prefer to receive updates via their Facebook home page rather than subscribe to your blog or Twitter feed.

It takes very little to set up a fan page, and you can reach a lot of potential readers this way.

(Want examples? Check out these fan pages: Better Writing Habits, Procrastinating Writers, Write It Sideways)

Promotions

Once you have a product to sell (book, ebook) or a service to share (writing, editing, critiquing), online promotions can help spread the word quickly.

Contests, giveaways, blog tours, and special events bring in readers quickly, but make sure you give them an incentive to stick around once they get there—namely, great content.

Warning: If you’re still an aspiring writer—that is, if you don’t have anything to promote just yet—you can still get involved in blogging, guest posting, and tweeting. Just don’t spend so much time on building a platform that you miss out on actually writing.

How do you promote your writing on the web? What social media outlets do you prefer?

Today’s Challenge: Take stock of how you’re already promoting your writing, then choose one additional strategy to boost your readership.

  • Anonymous

    Great post, guys. This is perhaps my weakest point. Then again, I have no published work (yet), so no readership (yet!). Still, I’m creating a blog now, as I know how important it is to establish a platform early. I’m still at the first step you describe, though, and kind of stuck. I’m gradually deciding how I want the blog to look, but where I’m really stuck: what do I blog about!!!

    I’ve thought about this long and hard. I write mysteries and suspense stories that usually have some sort of supernatural bent. My profession (recently) has been editor of textbooks, but the recession has reduced me to proofreader. While I have other interests, not many of them connect closely to writing – at least not that I can see. I exercise regularly, daily almost, and I’m considering basing the blog on the struggle to make time for both those priorities in my life. But that may make it look like I write about fitness – which I don’t.

    So, stumped. Any thoughts?

    • Anonymous

      Why not write about the processes you go through to do research for your stories? You could blog about your writing process, your characters, your planning, etc. It might be interesting for readers of that genre to see how a story comes together.

      • Anonymous

        Hmm, that’s a thought. There are thousands of blogs on writing, though. I would have to find an angle that would help to distinguish it from the crowd. But writing on the research process, I kind of like that, Jennifer! And I do do a lot of research! Thanks!

  • I’m not that familiar with blog carnivals, so thanks for the added tip!

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