1. Be Aware of Your Audience
When you are building an online following, it is important to have a clear idea of whom you want to attract. If you are a fantasy author it will be a better use of your time to frequent a forum that focus’s on tabletop Role Playing Games, rather than the personal feed on Facebook.
2. Be Understanding
When you start your blog, website, or social media page it is useful to understand that most of your readers do not need, or even want, to know all about the inner workings of a novel that they have never read. You should populate the page with information that they will find useful.
This ties in with knowing your audience. If your target audience is avid readers, then realizing that most writers are also readers will help you tremendously. Make a post that highlights a few literary magazines accepting submissions, and the writers who see it might check out the rest of your stuff too. A catchy blurb about your latest project at the end of your post can be a more powerful sales tool than an entire blog dedicated to your protagonist’s favorite pastimes.
3. Be Active
People need to be able to see your page in order to make all of your work worthwhile. Coming back to rule number one, become active in online communities that hold a high percentage of your target audience. Don’t spam, but be helpful and engage in discussion. Ensure that there is someway for those people to find you.
Set up your online persona with a plan. I make it an effort to publish A Bit of Business post every Sunday, an article for Writing Wednesday either late Tuesday night or first thing Wednesday, and make at least three interactions somewhere on the web each day. This prevents me from spamming my friends and family, while still letting me create a constant flow of content to keep readers coming back.
Any other content I write, I will not “advertise” on social media. I might write about my latest project, but the only people who will find it are the people who like my other content enough that they want to know more about me.
4. Be Personable
This is a bit different than being professional, which you should be too. Being personable is appearing to your readers as someone they can relate to. Make a tweet about your favorite restaurant, rave about an awesome movie, or post some pictures of your family. This type of content should be a spice and not the meat and potatoes of your site.
5. Be a Team Player
Work with other authors, bloggers, or anyone who wants to lend a hand to create a better experience for your readers. Have a friend guest write an article or interview a local store that focuses on the audience you desire. The relationship should be symbiotic as you gain some of their fans, and they gain some of yours. Remember to always return a favor. If you see that someone has commented on your page, it is courtesy to do the same.