“Off the beaten path” is an interesting turn of phrase. It implies traveling in ways that are uncommon or discovery of little-known places of interest. Being off the main path can offer a variety of benefits. I love going to a local state park where I can take the less used trail with the dogs, especially on cooler days when there’s definitely fewer people at the park. It’s like being off the beaten path.
Out there, you may find both wonders and the least expected. Where will your journey take you? Can you make it both enjoyable and informative – for yourself and others?
When it comes to marketing there are some broadly traveled paths. Facebook and Twitter are constantly used and should be. Likewise, many authors use email marketing and blogging as their main reader outreach. Others use giveaways and free books. All of these are frequently used and effective. But are there less beaten paths where you might find enthusiastic readers who discover their next book in a much smaller sphere?
In my last post, I wrote about using you can blog in such a way that you’re messaging through it to followers on social media – like a wheel and spokes. Here on Story Empire, we’ve shared about lesser used forms of social media, including Flipboard (hat tip to Craig for that one).
However, if you take a look at your blog stats you might be surprised at the sources of your traffic. Much like in one of our other posts about search engine traffic, you can optimize your site for better search results. Looking at your traffic sources, search engines are bound to be near the top of the list, if not number one. But look down that list and you might be surprised at some of the lesser-used sources. Can you put a footprint solidly in those channels and gain more readers?
At the end of Story Empire’s posts you’ll find a number of share buttons including some of our favorites: Flipboard and StumbleUpon. These are custom buttons we use and they bring in added sources of traffic at surprising rates, sometimes very surprising. Several of us share to these buttons often as we’ve found these less traveled paths work in our favor. These channels might not work for you but there are others that might – we’ll discuss that in a moment.
One of the other surprising sources of traffic is Pinterest. While I don’t want to spend inordinate amounts of time on social media in favor of writing, I do think that regular use of these “off the beaten path” channels of social media can be useful. Pinterest is one, especially if you use it well. Remember, what I mentioned about my last post? Pinterest is a great place to extend what you do with a little extra effort.
An excellent way to use Pinterest is to create your own graphics to pin on your boards and others, especially those that relate to your blog and your books. When it comes to Pinterest some of the best pins make cogent statements and are linked to a book or blog post. I’ve been using mine with a quote from a short story, book or blog post with such graphics.
The best size graphic for Pinterest is long and narrow, similar to a bookmark. One of the best sizes to use are 300 x 800 pixels. I use GIMP to simply re-scale some of mine. Others I don’t worry about – it’s worth playing around with them to see what works best.
A great tool for creating these and other graphics is Canva where there are a number of different, free templates available, pre-sized and ready for your work. I can create one in just a few minutes by choosing the Pinterest template. I choose the background color and then upload a picture (Unsplash and Pexels can be good sources but there are many free ones). I place the picture in the template and drag the borders to the size I want, then I place a text box, paste in a quote, size the font appropriately, then add another with more information about my source.
Finally, when it’s ready, I download then pin it to Pinterest, making sure to add my link to make it clickable to my site or an Amazon link. I make sure to add a message to the pin and I’m done. If I want to get extra special with it, then I copy the Pinterest url for the graphic and then post it in my blog post with a clickable link back to Pinterest so readers can pin it. I added my own effort in this post as an example (see what I did there?). Go ahead, click it! 😉
I find that this method is a great way to share fiction I’ve posted on my blog. Then I can share these up to StumbleUpon and Flipboard. Along the way, I try to find pictures that are meaningful for my fiction and include them in my posts. With StumbleUpon and Flipboard buttons as well as a clickable link to my Pinterest graphic, I can easily share and pin my messaging to less-traveled social media paths.
Will these work for you? Possibly. It’s worth a try. Perhaps there are other social media channels that make sense for you. If so, give them a try with extra thoughtful messaging and a bit of work with some graphics. Whatever you find that works make sure you understand why and then use it consistently as part of your regular marketing regimen. You might just find a more avid following that improves your reader engagement.
Ask yourself how you can get off the beaten path with your marketing and start reaching interested readers. Here are some tips that may help you along the marketing journey:
- As previously mentioned, use your blog as your hub and it’s social media announcements as spokes with specific messaging.
- Choose some alternate social media that are pretty good traffic sources to your site.
- Use custom graphics when you can.
- Make it easy with share buttons on your blog, especially custom ones for the social media channels you would like to target more frequently.
- Share from your blog and post more special messages back to your blog, book or brand. I recently started using StumbleUpon more consistently with my Tuesday Tales and have gotten quite a bit of traffic that adds quite a lot to my existing number of readers.
I’m still learning some of the other ways to reach out other than the more standard channels and I find that there are avid responses from these places off the beaten path because many people like niches for their discovery. How can you get off the beaten path with your marketing outreach? Is there one social media channel you can try to extend your reach in small, but regular ways? Have you checked your traffic sources for those where you can plant your flag and see what happens? Please leave your thoughts in the comments section and I’ll answer as soon as I can. And have fun getting off the beaten path!