Alexis Grant is an entrepreneurial writer and digital strategist.
She has built a highly devoted following to her blog via Twitter, and has even gotten the attention of super star agent Rachelle Gardner. Rachelle offered her representation for her traveling memoir after the two met on Twitter.
Welcome to Six Questions Alexis!
1 How should authors plan a strategy for using social media when trying to build a platform?
This is exactly what I detail in my guide, How to Create a Freakin' Fabulous Social Media Strategy. Essentially, I recommend NOT doing what everyone else is doing -- and instead doing what makes sense for YOU. That could mean Facebook and Twitter, or maybe it means GoodReads and LinkedIn. But just because everyone else is using a tool doesn't mean you have to. Ask yourself where your community hangs out and which of the tools available to you will best help you reach that community.
Oh, and if you're trying to reach and meet NEW people (as opposed to people you know already), Twitter is one of the best ways to do that (which is why it's my favorite social media network). So *strongly* consider learning how to use Twitter effectively.
2 What tips can you share for authors who have a day job but dream of making writing their full-time gig?
Find time to write! Don't wait for anyone's approval, don't wait for someone to pay you, don't wait for someone to read your blog. Instead, get to writing and creating and producing. If you're awesome off the bat, people will notice. And if you're not, well, practicing is the best way to get where you want to be, and just getting started is the best way to practice.
Also, know that you'll have to do more than write to make a living with that skill. You can't just write and expect money to start growing on the tree in your backyard. Instead, you have to use those writing skills to create something people will buy -- whether your "people" is a publisher or readers or clients.
For example, I combine my writing skills with an understanding of digital strategy, and then I can sell my writing and knowledge to clients, often in the form of blog posts and tweets. If you want to turn that hobby into a money-maker, you have to be creative -- in a business sense, as well as on paper.
3 Writers are expected to not only write, but basically run a small business. How can we get it all done?
We need to set priorities. Rather than trying to do everything and whining when it's impossible (because it IS), we must pinpoint exactly what we think will help us succeed, and get that done.
For me, that means asking myself frequently, what can I do today that will actually make money? Because there are so many "platform-building" opportunities -- to write for free, to speak for free, to connect with others online. That stuff's all worth it, and you've got to do that to succeed in today's world. But sometimes you also have to put your foot down and say, OK, today I will find a client, or today I will finish writing that ebook, or today I will focus on this webinar that's bound to convince people to buy my products. Sometimes you have to put all the other stuff aside and simply focus on what pays the bills.
4 Is it still worthwhile to blog in addition to Twitter and/or Facebook?
For sure. Unless your ideas are all less than 140 characters :)
Twitter and Facebook are great places to SHARE your ideas, but you need a home base where you can create them all. You need a place where people can read more about you, can figure out just how brilliant you are. It's difficult to accomplish that through social media alone.
5 Which is more important for an author to focus on- growing a reader base or networking with other authors?
I'd say READER BASE! It's also more difficult to cultivate. And that's why most writers focus on connecting with other authors instead -- because it's easier.
This goes back to Point #3 -- What's going to make you money? Not networking with other authors -- your readers are the ones who will buy your work. And if you want to turn this hobby into a job that pays the bills, you need readers who buy.