How a blog can sell books

How can a blog help to sell your book?

A week ago, I had a meeting with a publisher – I was pitching a book and telling them what great hits the author had with their blog. They said, ‘yes, well blog stats don’t lead to sales’ – I only wish I had the presence of mind, to explain the sales funnel to them.

So what’s a sales funnel?  Business people have been using it as a sales model for years (thank you John Williams who first explained it to me) but I want to explain how it could be applied to publishing and selling books.

Right a funnel – bigger at one end than the other. Bigger at the top end, than the bottom.

 

 Sales Funnel

 

A sales funnel is a series of steps through which you put each of your potential buyers. For authors, the buyers are the potential readers of their book. The idea of the funnel is for people to enter your world ie the funnel at the top and for you to keep them in the funnel.

Let’s start at the top – this is where people enter – this is the free part – could be your blog or perhaps, Twitter or Linkedin – whatever happens it must be free. Its stuff thats relatively easy to do – on a daily or weekly basis – and reaches masses. The important thing is you are giving away content for free – it has value and the potential reader of your book starts to trust you.  Don’t blog on your lunch (unless you are going to write a cookery book). Think of your blog as a marketing tool (as well as great practice for the writing process) – it is at the start of the publishing process. You might not have written a single word of your book but if you have a blog and already getting visitors to your site on a regular basis, you are starting your marketing process. Can’t be bad.

So that’s the free part. Imagine you are getting 10k viewers per month, now you need at least 10% of those viewers to sign up to your list – so you can capture their email addresses. Offer an exclusive ‘give-away’ item – could be some exclusive content, a download, or the promise of a monthly ezine. Or think about giving away a short ebook or first chapter to your book.

Its inevitable that some people will leave your funnel at this point – they might not  have even been looking for you (!) – but the important thing is you have still 1k visitors who have signed up and you have their contact details. They are still in your funnel.

You need to carry on getting people to sign up to your list and keeping in contact with your list on a regular basis. It may take 12 months to get a really healthy number of people in the funnel, ready and willing to be moved on to the next stage.  They will be getting used to you, your writing, your voice so by the time your book comes out, they will happy to buy it.

Not everyone on your database with buy your book but if you have 5000 on your database after 12 months, 25% of those might just buy your book. So that’s 1250 people to kick-start the sales.

And of course, the funnel is a continual process – people will keep coming in the top via your blog and free content, and will follow through to your book. Each month, some people will move from one point in the funnel to the next. So you will have constant flow of individuals at different points in your funnel.

The funnel works up and down so if your readers enter your world at any other point you will be able to keep them in your orbit. If you meet at a festival, they’re in your realm, they buy a book. or just stay in your realm until they’re ready or they might even tell a friend about you who does buy a book (or talk about you on Twitter or their blog and so reach their database).

 

If you are canny, you can take people along to a more expensive product – what about a limited edition? Or a book with enhanced media (downloads, apps etc). Again, you will lose a percentage of people but there will still be a band of followers right through to the end point.

So to recap, the funnel works by taking your readers by the hand and leading through a series of steps – beginning with a completely free, non-commital blog right through to your book (and beyond!). 

1/Free content via blog

2/Give away to capture email addresses

3/Your book

4/More expensive products e.g. enhanced book, limited edition

And what happens when people leave the funnel? Well, you take them by the hand, pop them in the top again and lead them to buy your second book!

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