As of late, I have done a considerable amount of posts on marketing yourself as a freelance storyteller – such as developing a brand that sells and attracting the right kinds of clients (and readers). Today, I’d like to take it a step further and help writers develop holiday stories that ACTUALLY get readers.
This will be a longer post, so I have provided a TOC for your convenience. I will address social media promotion, utilizing your blog, and a few storytelling techniques that I have found success with.
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Table of Contents
- Understand the art of storytelling on the big 3 platforms.
- Holiday Stories in the Blogosphere
- How to Write a Story People Want to Read During the Holidays
With the Holidays coming up WAY too fast (I can already hear my wallet screaming), it’s time for storytellers everywhere to take the holidays into account while developing their November/December strategies. As a writer, I know I’ll be working on some original fiction for my Medium account that is holiday-themed. But I will also have a holiday-themed promotion strategy put in place for that fiction – which is what I want to address today.
Understand the art of storytelling on the big 3 platforms.
Every social network is different, meaning they all have different tools you can utilize to get your stories out into the world. I’m going to go into the big three (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter) and cover some ideas to implement into your strategy. Whether your a writer, like me, or not, these ideas can be implemented in ways that suit your craft best.
The biggest, most obvious way to promote your story (or piece of work, whatever that may be) is through Instagram Stories. If you’re unfamiliar with how to use Instagram Stories to promote fiction, I did a separate post on that. Outside of Instagram Stories, there are two other things I have found success with:
- Tell a story with comments. This is kind of a fun one, in my opinion. Basically, you utilize your microfiction skills to craft one-of-a-kind mini stories that standalone but also connect back to your original story. Maybe it’s from the perspective of a different character or it’s a standalone scene with an awesome cliffhanger. Whatever you decide, the key is to keep it short yet engaging. I would first write it out in the notes on my phone, and at the very end of the story, I would put a Call to Action, such as “SEE THE LINK IN MY BIO TO FIND OUT WHAT HAPPENS NEXT”. You want to direct the reader to wherever the main content is. Then, I would copy and paste this story and CTA on any post I felt had the same vibe as my story. You can find these posts simply by searching hashtags.
**Please be careful with how quickly you comment your story. Mix commenting and liking with other photos to be sure Instagram doesn’t flag you as spam!
- Take an inspiring photo and record yourself reading a 60-second snippet as the voiceover. I have tried this technique with my newest Instagram projects – Pod In A Pic – where I give Instagrammers 60-second marketing education. I have found that people really like this, and I will also tend to post the snippet or synopsis in the caption, too, in case someone can’t access the volume. For this, I would use Pinterest to find some images that relate to your story, and then I would try to execute a similar photo for my profile. As for the voiceover, for Pod In A Pic I use the iPhone app Inshot. It’s super easy to use, and it has free music you can utilize for the background, too!
Both of these are techniques I plan on using on Instagram during November and December. You can follow my Instagram to see them in action!
Facebook & Twitter
Yes, I’m putting these two together, because really what differentiates them are their post lengths. So, going forward with the following techniques, just keep in mind your content will need to be a little shorter on Twitter than on Facebook.
- Post out flash fiction pieces that direct traffic back to your main content. This is essentially the same thing as the commenting technique I listed under Instagram (above). With this, however, you have a little more freedom, because you can post direct links to your full stories rather than having someone go through more than one click to get to your story. In the marketing world, it’s a known fact that the less click there are the better. I did this once before a couple years ago for one of my short stories I had published by an online literary publication, and I saw great success from it.
- Create short films and direct traffic back to your main content. This is absolutely a fun one, but it will definitely require the most work, in my opinion. Having gone to film school, I know how much hard work has to go into making a short film. However, with the cellphone capabilities of today, don’t feel like you need top-notch equipment to craft unbelievable films. Get some friends together, put together a simple script the best you can, and do some practice rounds with everyone. When you’re ready, film it, use a simple editor to put the frames together, and post it! If editing scares you, then the key is to get your scenes as accurate as possible while filming them. Plus, don’t feel like you need a whole short film. You can also just do a simple commercial to lure people in to your story’s plot, much like book trailers. The key is to have fun, and don’t procrastinate! Video is a powerful promotional tool, so you want to get it done and out there as soon as you can.
Keep in mind these are not the only ways to promote your story. Simple text-based or photo-based promotions can be just as powerful, especially when you know when most of your audience will be online. Be sure with all three platforms you are utilizing as many features as possible, including hashtags, to give your content broader marketability.
Holiday Stories in the Blogosphere
Whether you have a self-hosted blog, a blog on a platform like WordPress.com or Blogger, or you simply just have a Medium account – your blog should be your online, central command center for your stories. What does that mean? No matter where you are promoting your story, it should always come back to a singular threshold. This is because (a) Google doesn’t like it when a piece of content is replicated across one website, and (b) you want your readers to be able to get back to your story if they want to.
Your story should only be on your blog ONCE. If it’s an older story, that’s okay! Maybe you make a new post talking about your past stories, and you link out to it – kind of like a Table of Contents post. Otherwise, the date on your post doesn’t really matter. What matters is its wonderful content! Also, make it holiday-themed. People will be far more interested in a story on family and giving during Thanksgiving than anything else.
Quick interjection – when I say holiday-themed, I do not mean that your story MUST include the holiday. It’s more about writing about the consistent themes associated with that holiday (and maybe having the setting during Fall or Winter). Under no circumstances am I saying you must have a jolly Santa Clause in every scene!
So, your blog is your campground, your archive, the king of the freaking world. Your story should reside there; it’s that simple. Besides, having your story in ONE spot will allow you to properly use analytics and see how your story is performing.
How to Write a Story People Want to Read During the Holidays
I briefly touched on one of the main ways to write a compelling holiday story up above, but I would like to go into a couple more.
As a writer, I know how hard it can be to come up with original content. There are a few things I, personally, love to do to get my creative juices flowing!
Collaborate with a fellow writer(s)
Sometimes, writing a joint-story can be messy, but it can also be a TON of fun. The process is simple. Find either a friend (or maybe reach out to a writer you admire) and put together a Google Doc you can both access.
Before you write anything, you’ll probably want to have a quick Skype call to discuss what you both want to go for. Your creativity may clash, but this process is about compromising and making something wonderful.
Once you have a general premise for your story, decide who will go first and how many words are the MAX that each writer will write. Then, hit the ground running! Take turns, allow the story to progress and branch off. Try to keep the tone and theme consistent.
Duel writing success has been seen to happen when each writer picks a different point of view, therefore justifying the change in writing styles. Whatever device you choose, this is important because a too abrupt change in writing style will take your readers out of the story. Make the switch intentional.
Choose themes consistent with the upcoming holiday
I addressed this briefly earlier, but I want to go further in-depth. Theme often deciphers the success of the story; it is what the reader can fully immerse himself or herself in. A strong theme will certainly set your writing apart from others’.
To make your story seasonal, choose a theme that connects with an upcoming holiday. During Christmas, perhaps you go for a theme that connects with the general idea of “giving gifts”. This is important from a marketing standpoint. Readers like it when stories align with their personal lives – no matter how fictional the story may be. Writing a winter-themed story during winter will make it easier for your reader to embody the plot and setting.
Immerse yourself in other holiday-related stories
Doing this will allow you to get a sense of what readers like in a holiday-themed story. I find these stories by getting on Medium and searching for “Autumn”, “Thanksgiving”, “Winter”, etc. Search whatever keyword you aspire to be the first search result for.
Who is ranked at the top of that keyword? Which is the first story to catch your eyes? How many shares (or claps on Medium) did the story receive? What kinds of comments did readers leave?
These are all questions you should ask yourself as your researching stories. If you don’t use Medium, try a simple Google search. Just be sure to use more then one keyword, so you don’t end up with a bunch of random search results on Autumn.
I really hope this post was helpful for all my writer out there, and I hope you make the best of the holiday season! Please be sure to give this post a SHARE if you liked it. It would mean a lot to me (: