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How I Doubled My Business in One Year

I started blogging a year ago, because I wanted to connect with other writers who also might be reading those mixed reviews we all get–some bad, some brutal. When the best endorsement is your mom who says, “Well, it doesn’t suck this time (Thanks, Nanette for this).”

My desire to chat with kindred souls led to the myriad of social networks–Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Scribd (please chat with me there–I haven’t been able to kick start that community), etc, which led to new colleagues, new ideas. Now, when I need human contact, I have a place to go without leaving my office.

I write non-fiction tech books (which have been published) and fiction thrillers (which haven’t). My business is steady, predictable, but boring. So I started blogging. Sometime after my blogging life began, visitors to my outlets increased and more people bought my books. Today, after just a year of what has become my “marketing” effort (I use this term loosely because that wasn’t my intent), I see a solid 100% improvement.This despite my refusal to spend any money on spreading the good word. That’s right. Everything I’ve done is free.

Here’s what I did.

  • I post 3-5 times a week on topics I find of interest to myself and relevant to the writers I’m in contact with
  • I stay in touch with people I’ve met on the social networks. Let’s call that 3-5 contacts a day
  • I developed a presence on LinkedIn
  • I developed a presence on Facebook–though only for my books. I’m not about to post family pictures and events. I’m one of those really private people so that doesn’t fit my lifestyle
  • I created a Twitter account and followed a bunch of like-minded professionals.
  • I created an account on Scribd to sell digital books. I also interact with the community there, though it isn’t as robust as Twitter or LinkedIn
  • I created an Amazon account to sell my books. These are only hard copies. I’ve tried Kindle, but my books don’t do well in that format. I think traditional fiction books do, though, according to friends who sell there.
  • I harassed my publisher, Structured Learning, to make my presence on his website prettier. I think it worked. What do you think?
  • I created a BarnesandNoble.com account. That is pretty much a waste of time. It takes too much work to manage and they can’t seem to keep my book up on their website. Right now, the only way you can find it is by ISBN. Who would ever know the ISBN? I’ve sold a dozen books there so far. Not worth the effort. (Update: My book now shows up, but with the wrong cover. Argh.)
  • I created a store on Teachers Pay Teachers where I sell both hard copy and digital books. This is a nice site focused on the teaching profession, which fits my books. You might want to consider it if that’s your area

How much time does it take? A lot. In fact, I spent most of last summer getting things started, and most weekends keeping it going.  Which is OK because I don’t have a life outside of this. Although my husband and children might disagree.

Let me know if you do anything that works that I can try. I’d like to double my sales again!

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12 thoughts on “How I Doubled My Business in One Year

  1. You tell a familiar tale, and the bottom line is that social networking does work… and is hard work.

    I love your avatar, my daughter is quite the anime expert.

  2. Thanks so much for the consolidation of resources! What I’m finding is that getting signed up is easy. Keeping up is the challenge.

    But I’m happy to hear that your diligence is paying off in terms of book sales (at least your technical list). You seem to have a niche there.

    Selling fiction is harder because there are so many millions of us trying to accomplish the same thing, and finding a niche in that genre where a single author can stand out is difficult.

    We keep trying, though, which is why we’re all so lovable … But at some point, no matter how addicted we are to just the pure execution of our craft, money needs to enter the picture eventually. Even a teeny bit of money would be good news.

    That’s the goal, and blogs like ours will hopefully be helpful to others who are struggling along the same path.

  3. I’ve often thought that fiction writing would be more difficult. I won’t enter that frey until after summer. By then, I’ll have had a few months to push my techno-thriller to agents. If nothing works, I’ll consider the options. I’ll be watching you, though–see how it works!

  4. Sounds like a lot of fun. I’m excited about following you too as that work comes together. Hopefully we’ll learn some things from my book rollout experiment this summer that will be helpful to you too.

  5. As with any small business, you’ve got a few different ways to go:

    Ramit Sethi (http://www.iwillteachyoutoberich.com), Pam Slim (http://www.escapefromcubiclenation.com) or Charlie Glikey (http://www.productiveflourishing.com) should be the first place you visit. Their focus is on revenue

    Tim Ferris (http://www.fourhourworkweek.com/blog) would have you focus on reducing the number of hours worked (instead of revenue)

    Or someone like Seth Godin (http://sethgodin.typepad.com) would have your attention be on being more awesome!

    Have you done any NLP work? (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neuro-linguistic_programming) I am sure you will double your revenue and I am sure you will do it before 12 months… What will you do then???

    Good luck!

  6. Pingback: Digital Books Are My Untapped Market « Word Dreams…

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