Hello readers and writers! You are reading chapter one of my upcoming e-book [title pending]. Please enjoy these tips for the writer hoping to master Instagram to find readers and sell some books.
So we’ve already considered the importance of understanding your audience and what you want them to do. Now you can decide what to post. This is tricky for the shy and over-sharer alike. Most people who use Instagram studied their field of choice and then learned later that they needed these entrepreneur skills. It feels like a catch-up game for just about everyone.
So if you’re new to self-promo and you don’t want to come across as annoying or “salesey,” then this section will help you figure out what feels right and comfortable for you. We’re going to accomplish two major things: help you stand out as a writer and use that to create a wealth of post ideas.
How Will You Stand Out?
Dying my hair rose gold to show off my Star Wars cross stitch samplers is “so on-brand” for me. Another thing people know me for and remember me as is someone who talks about community and mental health. I want them to set me apart from the rest of the crowd—so I share parts of me that are typically, reliably me.
I know that even calling things “on-brand” is silly and arguably tacky but that’s another aspect of who I am, and I don’t shy away from it—when I present myself to my audience, they know it’s me.
If you’re struggling to understand your brand, I would recommend taking Jenna Kutcher’s priceless advice: narrow your feed to 5 major things you want your audience to know about you. The catch? Only one of those elements gets to be about business. So for me, my current five are book publishing, cosplay, nerd fashion, mental health awareness, and my work culture. You can mix things up every once and a while, but I want you to think about five things that are TOTALLY you or five things that you can bring to the table. Some examples that could be eye-catching are
- Weight lifter
- Unapologetic The Bachelor fan
- Cat mom
- Proud Gryffindor
- Freelance editor
- Parent of future readers
- Funko Pop addict
- Passionate about politics and activism
Ideally, if you have five topics, that’s basically a topic for each day of a work week. Boom—you already know what to post and how often. Also, it’s an easy list to put in your bio. You’re welcome!
You don’t have to share equally from each category, but feel free to take this as permission to share gym selfies, your favorite lipstick shade of the week, or your adorable dog distracting you from your work!
I think it’s also important to mention that standing out or being unique doesn’t mean that you have to be The Most Interesting Person. You don’t have to be fluent in five languages or have extravagant hobbies to be unique. For me, my point of uniqueness was just my ability to be honest and open about my writing process; people were drawn to that long before I did cosplay or dyed my hair pink.
So if you’re struggling to stand out, try instead to focus on being authentic first. Who are you really? I believe the rest will just naturally follow.
How Much Is Too Much?
You can spot a spammy writer from a mile away. Their feed is “Pay me! Pay me! Pay me!” and not enough of “Here’s what I can do for you.”
I’ve learned that people naturally gravitate towards services and people that GET them. They offer what they need or want and at the right price. So while you consider what to share, you don’t have to put on your best doorstep salesperson persona to get attention. In fact, most people unfollow, mute, or block people who only want to sell and not build a relationship.
I learned from a good friend of mine that you can keep a healthy 1:4 ratio of “business” posts; for every ad you share about your product, the next three posts should be about something else. Now you can still talk about important business stuff (you’re hosting a book discount, giveaway, newsletter, or book signing) with confidence and less imposter syndrome.
Are They a Fan of You or Your Product?
Whether you like it or not, your audience will likely be more loyal to you than your products. Meaning, readers will likely pick up a book if they know something about the author. Even if you’re publishing traditionally, you’re likely fairly new to the public eye and should stand out from other established authors.
I’ve actually seen authors create a whole Instagram for one book series. So, what happens when you write four book series—I need to follow four separate accounts? I also don’t really suggest creating a separate “professional” or “business” account. Instead, I’d recommend keeping everything about YOU on one platform. It’s easier to manage and it makes it easier for people to see all your important posts.
Part of building a brand or online platform does mean sharing more about yourself than you’d like. I understand that putting the spotlight on yourself might uncomfortable at first. I would encourage you to look at various types of platforms and see the kinds of boundaries that writers uphold.
Remember, you only have to share what will help you achieve your big-picture goals. Also, you only have to share what caters to your future fans. Overall, overcome your mild stage fright by using your five topics to open up about you and your story.
- Narrow your content down to 5 topics
- Create a brand around you and not your product
- Maintain a 1:4 business post ratio to feel less “salesy.”
- Consider how your feed can show your followers how you stand out from everyone else.
- What Type of Instagrammer Are You? Quiz by Jenna Kutcher
- 5 Ways to Add More Personality to Your Brand via Jenna Kutcher
Read the Other Chapters
There you go! I hope you enjoyed this chapter. Please give me your suggestions of what you’d like to see in future chapters. Or, tell me what I missed in this chapter; did you have more questions? Contact me or comment below. Thanks, friends!