Want to meet your Marketing Voice? Check out my guest post!

Know Your Messenger!
Click here to read my post on Sacha Black’s awesome blog!

Have you been reading my book, The Aspiring Author’s Guide: Write Your Marketing Strategy?

Whether you have or haven’t, here’s a little supplement to get you ready to develop your marketing messages: Figure out who your messenger is! Visit www.SachaBlack.co.uk to find out more. That content is exclusively available there. (That’s right! It’s not even available in the book!) If you want to see everything else, check out my book on Amazon! (Amazon UK, here)

Guest Posting. An Opportunity for New Authors

Exactly a week ago, Chris the Story Reading Ape featured my author bio on his blog. A fellow blogger, writer and aspiring author pointed me in his direction and suggested I consider guest posting to Chris Graham’s Authors Hall of Fame.

“But I haven’t published fiction yet,” I meekly responded, focused on the word “story” in his website’s tagline and feeling hella shy about my new nonfiction book, The Aspiring Author’s Guide: Write Your Marketing Strategy (UK | DE | FR) (It’s an oxymoronic, introverted thing…).The Aspiring Author's Guide: Write Your Marketing Strategy by C.T. Luna

“You’re an indie author, you’re exactly the type of contributor he’d feature on his site,” she said with such bold confidence, that my body sat itself at the computer and began to write an author introduction just for his site.

The process had me thinking about the importance of guest posting though, and I thought I would share a few points of my perspective on the topic.

Guest posting is an excellent way to generate new traffic to your website.

I don’t know many bloggers who don’t enjoy knowing that there are readers out there (besides their friends and family) who connect with their posts. But the opportunity to share your story, your message, to new eyeballs is a great way to entice people to visit your own website. So, if another blog invites you to share a story (your story) to their readers, accept!

Also, this is one tactic for having your own website URL and keywords linked into the content of other topic related websites–a must for optimizing your search engine bot-findability (you can see, I’m very hip to the SEO-lingo), since Google rankings weigh relevance a bit more than prevalence.

Cynthia T. Luna featured on Chris The Story Reading Ape!
Visit Chris The Story Reading Ape’s Blog and check out my feature, here!

Guest posting is a great way to generate variety on your own website.

Inviting people to share their stories on your own blog is a great way to keep things fresh for your own readers. One way I do this is by interviewing aspiring, new, and sometimes experienced, authors on my website. Check out some of the guest posts I’ve hosted here.

I know that many of us can get stuck with creating content. “What do I say that I haven’t said a million times before?” Well, maybe have someone else say it on your site, in their voice, from their perspective. It might just be enough for you to start thinking out of the box for your own fresh material.

Guest Posting is not Re-Posting Your Old & Worn Blog Posts | Living in Cyn | Cynthia T. Luna

Guest posting is not copying and pasting your own old already-published blog post.

Please, please, please don’t do this! (Christopher Graham touches on this on his own submission guidelines.) The whole point of guest posting is being a guest–and posting something new and original. If there is overlap in both of your readerships, imagine the disappointment when the subscribers to your own blog are seeing an already-worn post on someone else’s blog. Offer something new and fresh. It’s not about reinventing the wheel. It’s about using a whole new combination of words to share something you presumably love talking about anyway.

Guest posting is about being a lovely guest.

I could probably write a whole new blog post on this topic alone, but the short and sweet version is: if the host blog has house rules, respect them — or kindly decline the offer to have your words featured on their site.

  • If there is a deadline, deliver your material on time.
  • If there is a minimum or maximum word limit, stay within that range.
  • If there are photo requirements, submit photos or don’t–whichever your host asks for.
  • If you’re supposed to embed your own links, please do so!
  • Make sure the post you submit to your host is the final version and not a draft that needs revising. If you don’t want to see a million typos in your guest post, then get your guest post revised by a fresh set of eyes. (Your blog host is not your editor/ proofreader.)

A lot of the time the host blog has its rules featured on its site. Read them. Carefully. If there’s any rule that you in good conscience can’t abide by, then the guest posting opportunity was probably not a good fit, and wouldn’t bolster your readership significantly anyway. There are other host blogs out there.

Guest posting is about sharing the love…

cropped-Cynthia-T.-Luna.jpg
https://thestoryreadingapeblog.com/2016/05/15/read-about-guest-author-cynthia-t-luna/

LivinginCyn.com has its own version of guest posts in the form of e-interviews. Those guest posts that feed the guests’ own blogs are the ones that are shared through social media–not just by the host, but by the guest too!

Other guests tend to be more silent about those times they are featured, and I imagine they don’t cultivate as many new viewers. (I think this is a shame, since everybody’s guest post brings some value!)

So, while you’re at it, visit, follow, Retweet your guest post (while acknowledging your host, of course) via:

On this last point, I am now, finally getting around to doing my part and sharing the post that featured yours truly. Go ahead, visit Chris the Story Reading Ape‘s blog and say Living in Cyn sent you! (Trust me — the exclusive never-before written biography about Cynthia T. Luna (good readin’!) is worth it. I don’t even have this bio on my own websites!)

Tactical Tuesday Tip: 5 Essential Plugins for an Author Website (or any Website)

Deciding which WordPress plugins to choose can be pretty daunting. There are thousands. Having launched and set up several self-hosted WordPress sites for myself and friends, I have discovered which plugins I always go back to and load up to my WordPress site from the very first day. Most of them are simple — one is a little tricky. But none of them are difficult or impossible. (If you can keep track of multiple plotlines for 100-plus pages, you can handle this!)

5 Plugins to Activate. Before you even write your first post!

WP Plugin Akismet

1. Akismet

The basic Akismet plugin is free and will filter out so much spam, you’d be crazy not to add this. If you used to have a WordPress.com account, you probably already activated an Akismet API code. You can use that old code, or you can activate a new one. The next plugin, Jetpack (below), will want the same Akismet code. So, at least go with the free version.

2. Jetpack

Jetpack by WordPress pluginJetpack by WordPress.com. This free plugin will add a bunch (not all) of the functionalities you enjoyed as a WordPress.com user. So, if you had and enjoyed your WordPress.com experience, but decided it was time to start self-hosting, this plugin adds similar functions that will make your transition to WordPress.org mostly seamless and also enjoyable. (You might also find this in a search as “Jetpack by Automattic”. They’re the same thing.) Once your Jetpack is installed, there are some great functionalities you can launch right away — and configuring is very easy through Jetpack! I usually activate the following:

  • Access to all my WordPress sites through Jetpack.
  • Site stats
  • Enhanced Distribution
  • Publicize
  • Mobile Theme (Definitely add this if you’re using an older non-responsive theme, like Twenty Ten (you know who you are!!))

3. BackupBuddy by iThemes

BackUp Buddy by iThemes pluginBackupBuddy by iThemes. This one I paid for, and it’s worth every penny. Here’s why: I admit it — I winced every time I found out there’s a new WordPress update, because the first thing WordPress warns before uploading any changes, is that you back up your site. Which I didn’t — until BackupBuddy– because doing so usually meant logging into my host and then having to consider all these other dire warnings about the best place to save my backup to. Decisions like that have a paralyzing effect on me, and makes me lame. Now, I can back up my WordPress blog with the click of a button straight from my Dashboard.

4. Google Analytics Dashboard for WP

Google Analytics Dashboard for WP plugin

Google Analytics Dashboard for WP. The main prerequisite for this plugin is a Google Analytics account, for which you can sign up by clicking on this link. What I like about this, is that it gives me a snapshot view of my analytics whenever I go into my WordPress dashboard, so I don’t have to make the extra trip to visit my Google Analytics account. Usually, when I launch a website, I ignore these stats for the first few months, because the stats are generally not very inspiring — but, if I see a spike — this plugin is more detailed in reporting who (what link) referred a user to my site. Also, when there’s some action, I will check it against my JetPack stats (which have a much more user-friendly appearance that relates directly to the posts you launched and the traffic it generated).

5. The WordPress Editorial Calendar

The WordPress Editorial Calendar pluginThe WordPress Editorial Calendar in ActionThe WordPress Editorial Calendar. The marcoms in me just about freaked out (in a good way) when I finally discovered this tool. I loved being able to write several blog posts and program them into the future. (“Set it and forget it!”) But I always had to get a hold of a traditional calendar, to make sure that I wasn’t overlapping blog posts — setting two on the same day and skipping a week in the posting department. I have a sneaking suspicion that has happened in the past, and it will totally throw off my writing pattern.

 

Why does this matter to you as a writer, a blogger, and aspiring author?

cropped-KNOW.YOUR_.MESSAGE..jpg
At the moment that I typed “The End” into the last page of my work of fiction, a mild panic set in. Why? Because I knew that if I was going to be serious as an author, I’d also have to be serious about marketing my work — regardless of whether or not I would get signed on by an agent/publisher — because every author who wishes to sell and share her work also needs to have a platform on which to offer something of value (her knowledge, her words, her creations), generate followers, readers and just generally supportive people, who enjoy carrying on the conversation. (I have begun a monthly series of posts about desigining a marketing strategy as an aspiring author–that is, before you have any product on the shelves. Check out the first blog post in the series here.)

Whether you’re an author with books under her belt, or an aspiring author still working on your first novel or non-fiction work, it’s never too early to build an author platform. One of many ways to do that is by engaging with other authors, and other bloggers.

Tactical Tuesday Marketing Tips Living in CynMy Tactical Tuesday column is designed for authors and writers to implement easy, strategic marketing tactics to help them grow their author platform. If you’re an author and you have a question, a thought, or a suggestion, leave your comment below, or follow me on Twitter @cynthiatluna with the hashtag #TacticalTues! See you soon!

Tactical Tuesday Tip: Follow an Author’s WordPress blog!

Not too long ago, a blogger (and also aspiring author) whose work I admire told me that she was having difficulty figuring out how to follow my self-hosted WordPress.org blog from her WordPress.com blog. My feeling is that she wanted to receive my blog posts directly in her email box — just as she can from any other WordPress.com site — or maybe she even wanted to follow my site on her WordPress Reader.

cropped-KNOW.YOUR_.MESSAGE..jpg

I just employed these steps to see if I could help my fellow WordPress.com blogger follow LivinginCyn.com more conveniently. I’m not a techie person, so I can tell you that this is EASY.

Never Fear, An Easy to Use Link is Here! And the process is as easy as 1-2-3!

Screen Shot 2015-12-17 at 08.28.28
Click on the link, and it will take you to a page similar to this one.
  1. Visit this link (which will take you to the WordPress.com Reader manager), and enter the URL (www.livingincyn.com) of the website you wish to follow.
  2. Click on the little follow cross on the right, so that it can turn into a green checkmark and appear with the word “following”. At this point, if the website has a site icon (or gravatar) associated with it, that image will appear.
  3. Click on the little arrow immediately to the left of the site icon, so that it points downward. A mini-menu will appear with options to toggle On or Off, the ability to have new posts/ comments emailed to you. You will even be able to decide whether you want new posts delivered to you Daily, Weekly or Monthly.

Screen Shot 2015-12-17 at 08.54.30

Why does this matter to you as an author?

Whether you’re an author with books under her belt, or an aspiring author, still working on your first novel or non-fiction work, it’s never too early to build an author platform. One of many ways to do that is by engaging with other authors, as well as with other bloggers, in general. This includes writing blog posts, looking out for other authors and readers on social media, following them and engaging in conversation.

Marketing Tips #TacticalTues Living in CynMy Tactical Tuesday column is designed for authors and writers to implement easy, strategic marketing tactics to help them grow their author platform. If you’re an author and you have a question, a thought, or a suggestion, leave your comment below, or follow me on Twitter @cynthiatluna with the hashtag #TacticalTues! See you soon!

3 Ways to grow (double!) your Twitter followers in less than 90 days, spending 30 minutes per day

You’ve heard of Twitter. The micro-blogging social media platform where you can accrue followers with a few taps or mouse clicks per day. It’s an incredible way to get your 140-character message out to hundreds of people at any given time — if only it weren’t so overwhelming! It doesn’t have to be.

In this blog post, I wish to tell you how I managed to grow my Twitter followers from a measly 430 followers, to 1,000-plus in less than 90 days, and spending less than 30 minutes per day in the application.

But, first, a little back story! 🙂

Just as I completed the first draft of my novel in October, I started designing my marketing strategy. After a quick assessment of my contacts, I realized I had no author platform — no audience, beyond my friends and family — to whom I could market my work!

Having developed a rough outline of my marketing strategy (stay tuned and sign up for emails from me, because I am working on creating a free ebook on my design process to share with you!), one thing became really clear to me: I needed a system whereby I can grow my Twitter followers, quickly, using little effort and even less time! (I’m busy; what can I say?)

Twitter Followers from October - December 2015
Follow me on Twitter! @cynthiatluna.

So, somewhere around the beginning of October, when I had about 430 Twitter followers, I set the conservative goal of hitting 1,000 Twitter followers by December 31, 2015. On December 13, 2015, I hit that goal with 18 days to spare! (Thank you, Twitter Followers!)

Here are the 3 Things I did to grow my Twitter followers numbers.

1. Set a goal

Access Your Twitter AnalyticsMake sure your goal is SMART, too. In case you don’t know what SMART stands for: it’s Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timebound. As far as specific, attainable and realistic were concerned, I just took the number of followers I had on that day, 436; doubled it, rounded it off to a nice clean number (1,000), and set a time-limit (end of this year) on the goal. Voilà, goal set!

I also want to take this opportunity to share with you that you can easily measure a bunch of Twitter activities through Twitter Analytics — this is a free service (for now, anyway) offered by Twitter, so you can see how you’re engaging socially online. You can access Twitter analytics, by selecting the drop-down menu in the top-right corner of your desktop Twitter screen–or you can tap the URL in your smartphone.

2. Commit to two or three times in the day during which to visit your Twitter account.

Now that you’ve set a goal, you need to attain it, right? When I set this goal for myself, I thought it would be impossible to reach by the end of the year, but I also reasoned, I wouldn’t know unless I tried. The first couple days I visited my Twitter account, I read through tweet after tweet, and was overwhelmed with the sheer load of information. Much of it was pretty repetitive, dull or downright self-promotional. I decided to keep my visits short and frequent — two or three each day… and timed!

Here’s what I did daily, 5 – 6 days per week:

  • Visit 1: Conduct a few searches, based on hashtags: #amwriting, #amediting and #amreading (find the hashtags that work for you) to find Twitter accounts whose bios align with my interests. Read their top couple tweets, and if I enjoyed them, I would retweet them with a quote, a mention, a positive comment. Once 10 or 15 minutes were done, I’d sign out.
  • Visit 2: During the day, a tweet might come to mind. I would pop into my Twitter — not check any of the tweets there — make a comment and pop out.
  • Visit 3: At the end of the day, I would engage once again for a maximum of 10 to 15 minutes. This visit tends to be more engaging, but I also will repeat a hashtag search to find others to follow.

I strongly believe the staggered approach to engaging in Twitter is the difference between efficient growth (doubling your followers) and slow growth. I also think it’s a great way to find new/interesting people during their time zones. Maybe you have a different theory on this… feel free to comment!

3. Reply, Retweet, and Follow (#FollowFriday or #FF)!

On some level, I mentioned following other Twitter accounts above, but the acts of engagement in Twitter are critical!

Gaining Twitter Followers means Replies, Retweets and Likes, not just post, post, post
Gaining Twitter Followers means Replies, Retweets and Likes, not just post, post, post

Yes, it’s one thing to post, post, post on Twitter, but Replying, Retweeting and Following (generally acknowledging other Twitter accounts) shows that you are on Twitter to engage in two-way conversation. You’re giving props, encouragement, and sharing the wisdom that someone else took the time to compose and share.

Because I don’t spend my daily Twitter time acknowledging every follow I do get, I make sure to issue a range of #FF or #FollowFriday tweets weekly on Fridays. I go back one week and make sure to give mention to everyone who followed me.

What tricks have you employed that changed your Twitter experience?

Twitter Followers Thank You Card, Follow @cynthiatlunaThanks to these few tweaks, I now look forward to engaging with my Twitter followers, because the folks I follow are interesting to me. They offer comments that share value, and are valuable for sharing. I can also fit engaging on Twitter it into my busy schedule! My next Twitter goal was to hit 2,000 Twitter followers by the end of December 2016. (Maybe this was a bit too conservative…)

Follow me @cynthiatluna. Or if you get jiggy on any other social media app, go ahead and share this blog post there.