I started blogging a decade ago. I didn't feel like the world owed me anything (and it didn't). So, when I released a book, I wasn't shocked when it wasn't a huge success numerically. Over time, it became an audience (I'm still not comfortable with that word).
Eventually, people bought Pencil Me In, paying five dollars for pretty much the same content that was in the Adventures in Pencil Integration blog. Over time, I was asked to write a column. Next thing I knew, people wanted me to give keynotes. I kept thinking that it was going to crash, that it was a five minutes of fame kind of deal.
It was a slow journey, with the vast majority fitting into the following criteria:
- Writing the kind of stuff I would want to read
- Engaging with people when they left comments (or through social media)
- Putting a lot of stuff out there for free
- Experimenting with video, sketches, etc.
In other words, the best marketing strategy I've seen (in terms of sustainability) is to make stuff. Lots of stuff. The best stuff you can make. The kind of stuff that you would enjoy. Then give it away. Eventually, unexpectedly, people will want to pay for the stuff you've been giving away.
I could be wrong. There might be better marketing strategies out there. There are certainly faster ways. However, I've seen that the best way to build an audience is not by charging admission or begging for stuff, but by inviting them in and sharing your work.