A Method to Book Marketing

Ever wonder where to devote your time (and resources) in marketing a book?

I’ve been asking that question this entire year as I plug away at my 1000 True Fans blog series. I stumbled upon a graph on how readers find books and ended up writing an article about it. You can find my article on Black Wolf Editorial’s Blog as a guest post. Check it out, it definitely opened my eyes to where I’ll be moving in the future.

Here was the pie graph from a 2011 Smashwords survey that made me question my marketing strategy.

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Again, head over to Black Wolf Publishing to check out the entire article.

Until next time,

–Joy

1000 True Fans – Readable Content

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March’s focus in the 1000 “True” Fan blog series is KEEPING FANS.

This Weeks Mission: Creating Readable Content

What started this thought?

My husband says, I checked out your blog post AND IT WAS REALLY LONG! So long, it made me wonder if I need to shorten them up.

THE AVERAGE USER SPENDS LESS THAN A MINUTE ON A WEBSITE. Most spending only 10-20 seconds. Make your important points stand out. What point is there in writing something if nobody actually reads it?

The Key: The content needs to skimable with important points called out for the readers.

Here are some tips on how to make the content readable:

  • Keep things short!
    1. Short sentences
    2. Short paragraphs
    3. Use lists
  • Call out important points (but not too much of this. I know, I over do it.)
    1. Start each sentence with most important point, or bold it if it’s buried in the paragraph.
    2. headers / font size (vary it, and larger is better)
    3. bold / italics
    4. color
  • Keep it visually pretty.
    1. Use white space. Big blocks of text turns people away when reading on a screen.
    2. Add images
    3. Get rid of any clutter (tags, links, etc.)
  • Actual readability
    1. Light background with dark text.
    2. Proofread
    3. 400-600 words

That’s all for this week!

(Did you notice that I rearranged this post from my standard template and put the important content on the top?)

Want to read more about readability?

So…a summary of how last week went, for those of you who are following this journey on a week-to-week basis.

Review of Past Week (Mission 11: Daily Routine): It went great!

I shortened up the list of things I checked on every day to the things that had the most impact or that made me the happiest. It may not have grew my mailing list, but it made my life more manageable. Do you know what? I actually was productive towards writing my current book, The Secret Lives of Superhero Wives. Yay! A big win!

I’m still participating in some newsletter building cross-promos, so how is it going?

Drum Roll…Ready?

Current Mailing List Subscriptions: 1400 fans / 1000 true fans (Up 151 people since last week.)

Again, I’m over my goal of 1000 subscribers, but they’re not all fans. I’m continuing my journey this year, trying to find 1000 readers that truly support me. Here’s the data so far:

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Next Week: Next month, I’m focusing on small changes. The posts will be short and sweet. See you then.

If you want to get caught up on 2017’s journey to find 1000 fans, check out the 1000 “True” Fan Landing Page.

As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Lessons Learned; 90 Days of Self-Publishing

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I’m now out past the dreaded 90 days since self-publishing my novel, Love, Lies & Clones. I posted about my lessons learned in the first 30 days HERE and the first 60 days HERE.

Remember my writing goal? All I want is for people to READ what I’ve wrote. I have no goals to make any sort of real money doing it. (It’d be nice if it wasn’t a money-sucking hobby though.)

Here’s how the first 30 and 60 days went (I published December 16th).

First 30 Days Dec 16th to Jan 15th (Book priced at 99 cents)

  • Expenses: $389
  • Income: $95
  • Profit/Loss: $-294
  • Sold 63 eBooks, 18 paperbacks, and 3824 Kindle Unlimited page reads.

Next 30 Days Jan 16th to Feb 15th (Book priced at $2.99)

  • Expenses: $5
  • Income: $135
  • Profit/Loss: $130 this month profit (but still at a loss of $-259 overall)
  • Sold 13 eBooks & 5 paperbacks and 480 Kindle Unlimited page reads.
  • (Despite making more money, I wasn’t happy that only 18 people grabbed a copy of my novel. Remember, I’m trying to get people to read my stuff.)

So, how did the next 30 days go?

When you sign up for Kindle Select, you are enrolled in a 3 month contract. In that three months, in exchange for exclusivity to Amazon, you receive two benefits.

  1. You are enrolled in the Kindle Unlimited (KU) program. That means that your book is made “FREE” to Amazon’s KU subscribers. As an author, you get paid per page these readers read. (It averages about 1/2 a cent per page.) I had thought this would open my book up to a pile of readers, but I’ve been disappointed.
  2. You are given a choice of two promotions in the 3 month period. Kindle Countdown Deals or “FREE” book day. I wanted to try the countdown deal, since I heard so much good about it making your book discoverable. Again, I was disappointed.

Why is it dreaded to be out more than 90 days? Amazon has lists of new releases. They have a 30 day new release list and a 90 day new release. After 90 days, you’re on your own in the sea of 5 million books. (That’s why, ideally, publishing something every 90 days is helpful for maximum exposure.)

Okay, to the good part of this post. The numbers.

I’ve already posted about my Kindle Countdown Deal I ran HERE. Overall, I was happy to sell 138 books. I had to spend another $219 which I didn’t earn it all back. The rest of the month, I only participated in free promotions. How’d I do?

How’d I do this Past 30 Days Feb 16th to Mar 15th (Book priced at $2.99 with a Kindle Countdown Deal at 99 cents for 7 days)

  • Expenses: $219
  • Income: $121
  • Profit/Loss: $-98 this month profit (total loss of $-357 overall)
  • Sold 140 eBooks & 1 paperbacks and 4572 Kindle Unlimited page reads.
  • (Overall, I got over 140 copies of my book into people’s hands. That made me happy, but there has to be a way to do this without being an expense.)

Lesson’s Learned This Month:

Kindle Countdown Deals: Dropping the price to 99 cents and paying for advertising doesn’t amount to a profit (Unless, you get a Book Bub deal or have more books in a series to sell.) Next, I would like to try pricing my book at “FREE” to see what effect that has–especially since I’ll have another book published and “FREE” sales of one may lead to actual sales of the other.

Kindle Select (Amazon Exclusivity): I’m teetering on whether this is worth it or not. I believe for romance genres, it may be worth it, as there are a lot of Kindle Unlimited subscribers. (Romance readers tend to go through books quickly.) Here’s how I’m torn:

  • Staying in the program: Will my page reads go up when I have a second book out there? Can I increase the number of readers by using Amazon’s “FREE” pricing promotion?
  • Leaving the program: I’d like to be able to give my books away free as a subscriber magnet to build my newsletter, but I’m tied in with Amazon at the moment. Also, I’d have the ability to go “wide” listing my books on other platforms such as Kobo, Google, iBooks, etc. (Though, I understand these platforms are small potatoes compared to Amazon.)

Overall, I decided to stay with Amazon exclusivity for one more contract cycle (3 months) to answer the questions I have about a second book helping the first and how the “FREE” days work.

Amazon Product Page (Sales Page): Three (four?) things REALLY Matter: Cover Art, Title, Blurb, (Reviews?). I think my blurb is good, reviews are good too. Title, I can’t change, but I can add a subtitle. I may have an issue with my cover. I’m completely beginning to buy into it’s worth spending money on a fantastic cover. It really does mean a lot.

What I’ve Done, Moving Forward:

I played again with my cover for Love, Lies & Clones and am currently experimenting with this one. I’m already seeing some increased sales. It’s still not my answer. I also added a subtitle to the novel: “A Captivating Futuristic Mystery Novel.” Again, I probably could do better, but it’s a start.

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I’ve decided to continue in the Kindle Select exclusivity program for another 3 months, more as a trial than for anything else. Here’s the three things I wish to accomplish:

  • See if by having a second book published, if it effects sales of the other books.
  • I’ll experiment with some FREE advertising days, instead of the Kindle Countdown. I had been hesitant because do people really read free books? At this point, it’s worth a try. Bonus – this achieves my goal of my book being in more people’s hands. I just hope they read it.
  • I’ll also experiment with some variations in pricing. I may become the “All Books Only 99 Cents — ALL THE TIME” author. (I’m happy to give up the 70% royalties at the $2.99 price point in exchange for more readers.)

Take Home Message:

First, despite all these “Lessons Learned” I am very happy on how Love, Lies & Clones has performed. (Especially for someone who had NO IDEA what they were doing regarding marketing. Remember when I thought all I had to do was hit publish and thousands of people would find my book?)

  • I have 23 reviews on it with an average star rating of 4.8 stars. Not so bad for a first book.
  • I’ve had a ton of feedback from people that this book got them into reading again as it was so easy to follow and a page-turner, that they don’t typically read sci-fi, but this book was realistic and enjoyable, and even that they connected with the main character and reexamined their own practices in their life. Win. Win. Win.
  • A typical self-published novel sells about 250 copies in it’s lifetime (stats from HERE). Love, Lies & Clones has sold 243 books so far…and only 3 months has passed.

As I plan the release of my next novel, Blood & Holy Water (launch day is set for April 4th) I’ll be modifying some of the things I tried with Love, Lies & Clones and taking some different approaches. Stay tuned for updates on that launch.

Again, thanks for sharing this journey with me. I’ll post another update on Love, Lies & Clones after this next 90 days.

–Joy

Feel free to share your thoughts and wisdom in the comments.

 

1000 True Fans – Daily Routine

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March’s focus in the 1000 “True” Fan blog series is KEEPING FANS. I missed last week as I was on vacation, but BOY AM I READY TO RETURN TO MY NORMAL LIFE. (How was my trip to Europe, you ask? I’m happy to be home. Terrorist attack at our airport, my husband got sick, my kids couldn’t participate in the kids programs because they were in Italian…oh, and my dog died at the kennel. Besides that, we had a great time. Did you catch my dry sense of humor?)

Review of Past Week (Mission 10: Value Added Tasks): Okay.

Being on vacation, I was internet-less for nearly two weeks. It really helped me to focus on what is important and what isn’t. Basically, I decided that I was making a lot of work for myself that really had no impact on anything.

I’m still participating in some newsletter building cross-promos, so how is it going?

Drum Roll…Ready?

Current Mailing List Subscriptions: 1259 fans / 1000 true fans (Up 573 people in 2 weeks!)

I HIT MY GOAL OF 1000 SUBSCRIBERS! Unfortunately, I sent out my first email campaign  and 50% or more of these subscribers didn’t open my email. That’s something I’ll work on in future blog posts. So, for my goal of 1000 “True” fans, I’m not there yet. Perhaps, when I release a new book and get 1000 sales in the first few weeks, I’ll feel I’ve met this goal. A girl can dream, right?

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This Weeks Mission: A Simple Daily Routine / Checklist

Since I’m easing back into life after vacation, I’m keeping this post simple. Here’s my simple daily routine relating to social media.

I keep a folder of bookmarks on my internet browser, labeled “Check Daily“. I used to have “Check Weekly” as well, but I simplified. In this folder, I have the social media channels I look at and check on a daily basis. I’m not good at posting on Facebook/Twitter. (I’m still working on that, but it’ll come as I build up more “fans.”) I check/reply/address things twice daily…though, once daily would be enough. I enjoy it. Interaction with people is fantastic. 🙂

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The big secret I learned while away on vacation? A little on each site is enough. Show your presence. Interact with some people and rotate based on what interests you. You don’t have to interact with everyone (unless they directly address you.)

Want to read more? Something more complete? Here’s a neat checklist to checkout.

Next Week: Writing content people will actually read (in newsletters, blog posts, social media posts, etc.)

If you want to get caught up on 2017’s journey to find 1000 fans, check out the 1000 “True” Fan Landing Page.

What sites do you interact on every day? (What’s on your daily checklist?)

1000 True Fans – Providing Value

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March’s focus in the 1000 “True” Fan blog series is KEEPING FANS. Last week, we talked about newsletter content. This week, we’re moving on to what’s value added and non-value added content.

Review of Past Week (Mission 9: Newsletter Content): Success

I still can’t come up with a catchy title, so I developed a contest in my April Newsletter, asking for help. If anything, I hope to engage a few people with the request. Also, I reformatted my newsletter for April and developed a welcome email for new subscribers, telling them who I am. I think both of these will work out nice.

I’m still participating in some newsletter building cross-promos, so how is it going?

Drum Roll…Ready?

Current Mailing List Subscriptions: 686 fans / 1000 true fans (Up 197 from last week.)

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This Weeks Mission: Keeping Fans – Value Added vs. Non-Value Added Content

Okay, my years in management are coming out. Value added? Non-value added? What the heck is that?

As a manager, anytime we wanted to improve a process (typically, simplify it to save time), we first identified our customer (or audience, in this case). Then, we determined if what task we were doing added value…or didn’t.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this in regards to writing/blogging/social media-ing. Does my content add value for my audience? Am I doing too much? What can I stop to simplify things? What’s just annoying to everyone involved?

So, who is my audience? It’s you. Who are you? A writer. A reader. Just somebody who is trying to waste time and stumbled up my excessively wordy blog post? I have a mix of all the above. Do I have “fans” of my fiction writing following me? Very few–but this is expected for a newly published author. Each platform I use has a different audience, though some of you cross between a few of them.

  • Blog: Mostly writers–mostly NEWish writers. Writers trying to develop their skills, platform, or finish their first book. Some readers / book bloggers sprinkled in. (Tell me if I’m wrong, please.)
  • Facebook Page: A mix of readers, supportive writers I’ve stumbled upon, and some obligatory following of friends and family.
  • Twitter: Pretty much all other writers, trying to promote their own writing. Some writing friends I’ve met through Kindle Scout and other writing adventures I’ve done.
  • Newsletter: Mostly READERS. By giving away a free book in exchange for a sign-up, this has populated with readers.

What does my audience want? What does anyone want. They want to be entertained. They want to learn something. They want ??? I’m still learning this.

Knowing who my customers are and what they want, my next step is to determine if each task I do adds value to the customer. Does it give them what they want? Its a way to keep a loyal audience and to make sure I’m not wasting my time. The nice thing is each platform can tell you what topics bring audience engagement…by number of clicks, likes, opens, etc.

Example for each platform:

  • Blog: I looked at my most popular posts and pages. I learned something interesting. My “About” page was at the top. Does that mean people want to know more about who I am? I don’t really talk much about what I do outside of writing. (i.e. carting my kids to whatever sport/birthday party/school function they are going to or whatever vacation we’re going on–next week it’s 12 days in Europe on a Mediterranean cruise.) Perhaps, I should sneak this in more, but I’m just not good about talking about myself…not that I don’t like to share. 🙂 Other popular posts were my Lessons Learned With Self-Publishing and this 1000 True Fan Series. Writing tips were way up there too. My book reviews/spotlights–not so popular.
  • Twitter: I tweet…and I tweet…and get minimal engagement. My tweets have to be NON-VALUE ADDED for my audience. I need to either change my tweets, change my audience, or just send Twitter to the bird house. (Though, my blog posts that flow to twitter get some interest, I think I may focus on these some before I give it up.)

My goals this week: Focus on my audience and simplify my routine. Review each task I do and ask if it is giving my audience value. Save time to be able to focus more on writing my current novel (Secret Lives of Superhero Wives.) Go through each social media and ask if what I’m doing actually adds value. (Noting that some add value to ME, and that’s okay.) Also, I’m going to schedule some of my historical blog posts as tweets this week–let’s see if I can get my engagement up.

Want to read more? Here’s a webpage to check out.

Next Week: I’m on VACATION! I won’t be blogging again until the 21st or 22nd. I’m coming up with a checklist for daily value added tasks to do to save time when using social media.

If you want to get caught up on 2017’s journey to find 1000 fans, check out the 1000 “True” Fan Landing Page.

I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

1000 True Fans – Using Your Mailing List

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I have a new focus for March’s 1000 “True” Fan blog series. It’s KEEPING FANS. Now, that my mailing list has grown to nearly 500 subscribers, I want to keep them  happy. Convert them to “true” fans–at least some of them. 🙂

In February, I found that the secret to growing a mailing list quickly is giving away something free. (That ethical bribe.) It doesn’t have to be much a short story or two or even the first few chapters of your novel. Then, once you have this, you need to work with other authors to cross-promote your freebie.

Review of Past Week (Mission 8: Using your blog): Historically, this went GREAT! Last week, so-so.

I know blogging and reading/commenting on/following other people’s blogs is HUGE for growing your true fans. In fact, I’m nearing 500 followers to this blog. Last week though, I got busy and didn’t do as much reading and commenting as I would have liked.

I’m still participating in some newsletter building cross-promos, so how is it going?

Drum Roll…Ready?

Current Mailing List Subscriptions: 489 fans / 1000 true fans (Up 151 from last week.)

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**Note, due to lack of space, I switched my graph to be month by month.

This Weeks Mission: Keeping Fans – Newsletter Content

Since I had grown my newsletter list, I decided to finally send something out to my mailing list subscribers. I had two main things I needed to accomplish: I needed to send out a link to the cross-promotions I was participating in. (It was a requirement of participation) and I wanted to have people nominate my novel, Blood & Holy Water, on Kindle Scout.

I debated for a while on how to send these things out. Nervously, I composed an email/newsletter and hit sent. Waiting for the unsubscribes to happen.

My concerns with sending out my first email to my mailing list:

How often do you contact your mailing list? I’ve seen weekly emails to monthly emails. I don’t want to get annoying. To a true fan, you probably wont. To those fans still on the fence. Maybe. But  you need to balance this with exposure. You want your name out there and you want people to think of you, when they think of an author. After combing through the internet for the best frequency, it became painfully obvious that there wasn’t a gold standard. Some people do well with frequent emails, others will get bombarded and either unsubscribe, or just hit delete when they see it. My goal at first was I’d start with every 2 months. Then I’d be sure to have new content to share. It may not be frequent enough, but it’s a starting point. (The best option may be to eventually tailor your list to the subscriber. Ask them how often they want to hear from you and make multiple lists.)

What content do my subscribers want to hear about? I had two things to say…was that enough? What about all the work I put into blogging, could I use this for additional content? I needed something of value, because I don’t want to be seen as all marketing. I have my quirky sense of humor, so I decided on sprinkling a little humor in…along with my blog feeds. It’s the best value added things I could think about. Maybe it’s too much and a more to-the-point personal email would be better? But then, I’m only sending one off every 2 months. Of note: most my subscribers came through the free giveaways, so I wanted to make sure to offer some free stuff in the email…assuming the subscribers like free stuff. Key point: You’re not selling your books with your mailing list…you’re selling yourself.

What format do I send? My parents send out a monthly newsletter for their zoo. It’s in a professional format that I like. I know exactly where to find whatever information I’m seeking. I’m also subscribed to a dozen author’s newsletters and have been watching what they do. Their emails are more like letters with no blog feed. Hmmm… I decided to be different (usually, not the right thing to do, but I always try to stand out a little) and went with the newsletter format and blog feed. We’ll see how it goes over.

This is what I came up with:

Page 1———————————————–> Page 2

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I sent out 300 newsletters and had 15 unsubscribes. That’s okay. I’m looking for true fans anyway. My open rate was a little over 50%. I think the key newsletter will be the one I send out in April, advertising my new novel.

Some people send out multiple welcome emails after a new subscriber, to weed out those that are not true fans, but I decided against this despite being a good idea. I really don’t want to be annoying, but I use Mail Chimp. Once I hit 2000 people, there is a charge for the service. (Quite hefty.) I’ll probably start kicking people off the list when (if ) I hit 2000 subscribers. (I’m already feeling guilty!)

My goals this week: After sending out this email, I stumbled upon this reference on How to Create an Author Newsletter that isn’t Terrible. I’m going to work on polishing my newsletter content for my April edition using the information from this post. I won’t see an immediate result in this work, but I’m hoping for a long term benefit. Changes I’m making:

  1. Catchy Title / Subject
  2. Create Standard Sections including: Main Story, Update on my novels, Recommendations/Deals, & a Short Bio.

Want to read more? Here are some web pages to read.

Next Week: Value added versus Non-Value Added content.

If you want to get caught up on 2017’s journey to find 1000 fans, check out the 1000 “True” Fan Landing Page.

How do you structure your newsletters/mailing list contact? I’d love some more ideas!

1000 True Fans – Make Your Blog Work for You!

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In my quest to find 1000 “true” fans, February’s focus is on growing your fan base through social media. The suggestion is to have two platforms and focus on them. For me it’s Facebook and Twitter. (Many people have luck with Pinterest, Instagram, Linked-In, etc. I don’t have much experience with these…but will explore them as the year goes on.)

My favorite form of social media though? Yup, my blog.

Review of Past Week (Mission 7: Using your free giveaway): Success!!! Wow!

Last week was unbelievable in terms of mailing list growth. I participated in two events. The first was a giveaway of speculative fiction stories using http://www.mybookcave.com. I’m using the 60 day free trial. Here’s the free giveaway I’m in that still runs until the end of the month. I also coordinated my own giveaway, seeking 20 participants through http://www.kBoards.com and a Facebook group I belong to. How did it go?

Drum Roll…Ready?

Current Mailing List Subscriptions: 338 fans / 1000 true fans (Up 263 from last week!!! INCREASE OF 400%!) (Okay, I know these aren’t all “true” fans, and I know that my measure of mailing list subscribers is now a faulty way to measure this, but it’s what I have right now.)

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This Weeks Mission: Putting your blog to work!

It’s been over a year now that I’ve been blogging about my journey and I’m still learning. As I said above, blogging is my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE form of social media. It’s the best of both worlds: you get to interact with plenty of awesome, like-minded individuals PLUS you get to learn something. (I love learning!) Here’s a hodgepodge of information I’ve picked up on blogging.

What are you blogging about? In Week 4 we discussed platform. Are you sticking with it? Is it what readers want to hear about? When I first started blogging, I thought this was a great spot to post my writing. Quickly, I found out I had more engagement blogging about my writing journey than I did with posting my stories. How did I know? I looked at my top performing posts. Which ones had more likes? More comments? Those were the type of posts I wanted to continue creating. Does this mean you should give up your dream of having a zillion people read your six-word-stories or your serial novel? ABSOLUTELY NOT! That just means you need to go out and find your audience. I had more interaction with my writing journey posts because I had been interacting with those type of people.

How do you find your audience? I’m exploring this more and more as time passes. I had never thought of promoting my blog on my other social networks. Twitter, Facebook, and KBoards have been great for this. Did you know there are twitter hashtags for nearly every day of the week to connect bloggers together?

  • #SundayBlogShare
  • #MondayBlogs
  • #TeaserTuesday or #TuesdayShare
  • #WriterWednesday or #WWWBlogs
  • #ThrowbackThursday
  • #FridayReads or #FridayShares or #StoryFriday
  • #ArchiveSaturday

I find, the best way is not to wait for people to find you. It’s to go out and find those followers yourself. Who would like to read your blog? Who’s your audience? If your platform is sharing your serial novel, connecting with other authors who write serial novels may be one idea…but you want READERS. Find people tagging their posts as “AM Reading” or “Book Reviews” or a similar. Here’s a nice link of hashtags. I tend to tag my blogs with similar tags. Then, once you find someone, see what they have to say. Do you agree? Like it? Make a comment. Interaction is the key. Hopefully, people get back to you and conversation happens. Maybe you’ll turn into mutual fans.

What’s your user’s experience? How “pretty” is your blog? I’m big on visuals. What does your blog look like? Will people actually read it? These days, you need pictures. Plus people have short attention spans and you need to keep your paragraphs short. Highlight keywords–as many people only skim what you wrote. Time is short, with all the information on the internet, why would they spend time on your blog? (Again, I’m not an expert, but I’m learning.) I’ve read that a blog post should be about 500-1000 words. (This one’s about 1000 words…which I’m thinking is too long.)

Other random ideas for putting your blog to work:

Cross-Promotions: Group together with similar people and use each other’s reach to grow your own. I hosted a book giveaway last weekend on a page in my blog. I had 20 authors participate and everyone received 100-300 new sign-ups for their newsletter. The best thing? Besides time, it was free. (And I met a whole new group of great people to network with.) Other things I’ve seen: Author interviews, blog tours, book reviews, and others. Whatever fits into your platform.

Reblog and Share: I admit, I’m not good at this. I love it when someone reblogs my stuff, but I don’t tend to reblog much. I’ll grow into this…someday. Consistent posting is helpful for building your audience. Reblogging and sharing is a great way to post something routinely AND build relationships with other bloggers.

And then, my biggest tip: Always engage your audience. Interact. HAVE FUN!

My goals this week: Get back to basics. My favorite thing about using WordPress is reading through other people’s blog posts. You can do this with other platforms as well. This week, I’m committing to cleaning up my reader and setting up the right keywords–hopefully, I meet some new friends.

Want to read more?

Next Week: Keeping Fans – Newsletter Content

If you want to get caught up on 2017’s journey to find 1000 fans, check out the 1000 “True” Fan Landing Page.

Any secrets you have to building your blog audience? Please share in the comments.