31 Day Author Platform Challenge Day 11: Magnet Ideas

[Psst, before we start, have you followed 10 new people yet?]

a tesla coil plasma glass in close up shot
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Today will be a little bit of a break. While our email capture conversation continues, today on Day 11 we focus on the mailing list incentive. All we’re doing is brainstorming and confirming choices. Tomorrow we’ll work on it.

Today we are coming up with a list of 10 things you can offer as a freebie—your lead magnet— as an incentive to get people to sign up for your newsletter’s mailing list. What will it take them to enter their email in that pop-up you just created? It has to be not only good, but enough…enough for them to hand over their precious addy and agree to stomach yet another barrage of emails.

But in order to do that, we have to think back on WHY we are creating the mailing list and WHO the newsletter is for.

Flip back to those pages in your notebook and peruse.

You might want to create a few different ones and rotate them throughout the year. Maybe different giveaways for different seasons. Or, you can offer different freebies to different audiences. For example, if you’re a picture book writer, moms and teachers would probably love coloring pages–but different kinds. You can work with your illustrator to create them, and you both can promote ’em.

Grab that notebook and start writing down no fewer than 10 possible giveaways you can create, ones that are “enough.”

Here’s some thoughts for different audiences…

Moms (ones that might buy your book)

  • custom coloring pages only available by signing up
  • activity pages like word search or mazes not found elsewhere
  • X# new ideas for family outdoor activities related to your book or book theme
  • X# indoor/rainy day activities related to your book theme
  • list of unique craft projects with everyday household objects
  • list of freebies given by other authors or publishers
  • recipes for quick after-school snacks as long as it relates to your book or, say, a main character’s favorite food

Teachers (ones that might buy your book or use it in class)

  • custom coloring pages only available by signing up
  • unique classroom activity pages like word search or mazes
  • new outdoor classroom activities related to your book or book theme
  • unique indoor/rainy day classroom activities related to your book theme
  • fun field trip ideas they may not have thought of
  • take-home art or craft projects related to holidays, seasons, curriculum
  • read-aloud tips for keeping the attention of large groups

Fellow writers (FWIW right now most of my social media followers are writers)

  • picture book trends [need to have facts, not opinions]
  • school visit tips [based on your and other authors’ experience, not conjecture]
  • “how to avoid” xxx or yyy [share your journey]
  • steps on crafting www
  • advanced editing techniques [these kinds of things only if you’re published]
  • how to get started on qqqq

Now it’s your turn! I’d love to see what you’ve come up with! Send me an email or comment below.

Recap: come up with a list of possible giveaways you can create or make that you’ll use as your lead magnet

Since we’re nearing the halfway point, I wanted to check in. If all this work has been too overwhelming and you want it slow down, let me know. I’m trying to find the right balance of background work, with creating posts. If you’re like me you might feel like, say, brainstorming newsletter ideas isn’t “action” per se and you’re itching to post. I hope you are still posting away as you normally would and aren’t waiting for permission from me! The only time I personally think you can overpost is when you are saying the same thing or giving the same link over and over. We are getting smarter and know we’d never do that, right? (Except for that time I set up my scheduler wrong and it sent 3 almost identical tweets in a row instead of over 10 days, stop reminding me! Ugh. Physician heal thyself lol).

31 Day Author Platform Challenge Day 14: How to Boost Sign-ups

cheerful young woman screaming into megaphone
Photo by Andrea
Piacquadio on Pexels.com

[Oh, wait, before we start, have you followed 10 new people yet?]

On Day 14 of our platform challenge we are going to go back to getting people to sign up for our email list by dangling our freebie; we’ll create and kick off a giveaway campaign. Yes, today. No sense wasting time.

As we talked about in Day 11, the most effective way to entice people into giving up their email address is to offer them something exclusive (and free) such as a downloadable set of coloring pages/activity guide/curriculum tie-ins, discount code, or exclusive content. Those freebies are called a “lead magnet” (as you know from earlier posts on Day 10 & 11) and we have already worked on them (Day 12) so yours should be shiny and ready to roll.

Online promos are another option, are easy, and can work magic. “RT and win” is a social media example that we’ll create today. You can pick a milestone (“to celebrate 3K followers, I’m giving away…”). Or a seasonal/holiday theme (“you’ll Fall for this freebie…” and “here’s a boo-tiful giveaway….”). Or personal reason (“it may be my birthday but i’m the one giving gifts…”). You’re creative! Find a fun reason!

This post is kinda long but the campaign task is in the second half, and honestly isn’t too much work. But before we get there…

Ways to get email sign ups–with or without the pop-up

Here are some ideas besides giveaways on ways to get people to sign up for your newsletter (or, quite frankly, to follow you on social media). I wasn’t sure where to put this info, and it’s not an exact fit here, but here ya go…

  • Social media ads: I have never tried them TBH but at some point I will. It’s always an option and I like it because you can start at like $1/day and see where gets you before deciding to go further. You can do ads for your newsletter with or without offering a freebie (but I bet if you try both, the freebie will have higher return). There’s a great breakdown on true cost of social media ads; bear in mind that article is for small businesses that are looking for much larger output than we are as authors. But it’s a great frame of reference. If you’ve used social media ads before, please share your experience! I’d love to hear your feedback and experience. I do know one couple that have earned over $900K on their self-pubbed fantasy series almost completely off targeted FB ads. But they work very hard at it.
  • Be prepared: When you attend industry events or signings, either have your laptop open to the SUBSCRIBE (or Follow/Like) page so all they have to do is enter their name, or have an old-school clipboard handy for them to write their email. Incentive optional (but more effective).
  • If in person such as at a conference or signing where you have a table, offering a “onetime day-of-the-event giveaway raffle” for those that sign up is a huge incentive! Giveaway could be as little as a $15 card to a local bookstore or credit to your personal bookstore, one of your signed books, a small trinket, or a free ZOOM author visit which costs you nothing but time. Have a professional-looking posterboard with the specifics announcing your giveaway and how/what they’ll win. The more generic the poster, the more often you can use it–no need to personalize it and create a new one for every event.
  • Post on social media: Share your newsletter signup (or social media handles) link across all social media channels and encourage your followers to sign up. Facebook author pages allow direct link; Shopify says you’ll need something like LinkTree for Instagram and others. You can also try social media ads to target people you think you might not otherwise reach. Again, the freebie is optional but bound to help.

Given all that info, today we are still going to focus on freebies and create a promo around it–one that you’ll post across social media.

What freebie did you decide on a few days ago, and is it ready like it’s supposed to be? Get on it because the promo plan should go live TODAY. It’s going to be a “RT& Win” campaign.

Let’s test out that freebie!

RT & Win Campaign

Going back to Day 10–is your pop-up installed and active yet? I hope yes. It needs to be, as we have a game to play! As soon as you are done creating your free lead magnet, hold a “RT, Follow & Win” contest across your social media platforms. The rules are that if people sign up for your newsletter (give them the direct link) and also RT the post, and they’ll be sent the FREE [insert freebie here]. Give a deadline so people have to “act now.” A few days or a week is probably good, as you never know when the RT will be seen by the people who RT the RT.

RT & Win

It will take some work for you to verify each new newsletter subscriber has RTed (they only get freebie if they do!), so FOR NOW un-check the pop-up option that has new subscribers automatically getting the welcome email and download.

But how exciting. You are building your list!

Isn’t this fun?

You should get a sense of whether or not your freebie has legs based on the excitement it generates. If people aren’t RTing it, that means not only do they not see value, but they don’t think their peers will either. This is good information to have! Now you know and you haven’t wasted your pop-up offer on something lame. Move on to the next item on your list and try that on for size.

A lack of RTs could also simply mean you haven’t promoted it well enough. Ask your critique partners and a few close friends to help you promote it. I don’t think it’s worth a $5 social media ad yet but you might, your call.

Recap: Time to start collecting emails from that pop-up you created! Create a quick “RT & Win” promo and set it live TODAY! [Your freebie has to be complete, and your email list collection has to be set up first.]

You can change it up and redo this “RT & Win” several times a year, basically any time you have new content or news to share, or need a boost. You can have them RT your book cover and win swag, for example; it doesn’t have to always be signing up for your newsletter. People LOVE free stuff!

Come back here in a few days and tell me how this promo shakes out for you! I’m excited to try it myself.