The idea came from Brandan Vogt's Shameless Monday http://brandonvogt.com/shameless-monday/ which appeared to work very well. After all if you are looking for a free place to plug your creative work together with the opportunity to try out a different sales pitch-who wouldn't jump at the opportunity, right? Any online breadcrumb that leads people to your work is something to get excited about, right?
Given that no one took advantage of CBHunCC's Free Plug Friday, possible reasons are:
• It was school holiday time and plenty of people are with children and grandchildren.
• Maybe those people who say you have to carefully choose what time of day to tweet actually know what they are talking about.
• It is never easy sitting down to write a self-promotional piece. In fact it is surprisingly difficult to even get 100 words together let alone 200.
• The comments when posted don't automatically show on the blog-page (you have to click through). That makes them virtually invisible. The comment section's unsophisticated 'plain text only' input didn't help either. One way around that for next time is to still get the raw information in via comment, and then to put that information into a blog-post eg FPF Sandra Moncrief illustrator. Plain text URLs for images in the comments could then become visible images in the blog-posts.
• The bitly link didn't get clicked through at all, although profile views were up significantly. This means people exercise caution first and say 'Who is this?' before looking at what they have to say. Such unforseen behaviour meant that anyone who did look at the profile (and didn't click through to the blog) may have incorrectly concluded that only locals need apply. One way around that is to have a line on the home page about Free Plug Fridays being for any children's book writer and illustrator where ever they happen to live.
• Just because you use a hashtag, it doesn't mean it will show up in the hashtag feed. Yep. Posted two with #kidlit and looked during the day to see that it didn't show. Maybe it got 'drowned' because the hashtag was so busy. That was disappointing, but sometimes technology doesn't deliver as expected. #freeplugfriday showed up but the culture of that hashtag was more self-promotion than opportunities for self-promotion. Next time having one tweet for #kidlitart and one tweet for #kidlitauthor would be more targeted.
• Having an image takes up a big chunk of 140 characters to play with on Twitter.
• It takes time for a Twitter reputation to be built up, and for people to decide to follow your Twitter handle. How successful a promotion is greatly depends on the number of followers you have and the proportion of them who are interested in your topic. There are no short cuts to this step. Wait for the reputation to build before trying again.
• Social proof is crucially important. One of the recommendations from those using crowdfunding is that you lock in 25% of your donors before you even launch your crowdfunding project. People are more likely to give if they can see a good number of other people thought it was worthwhile to give to. Likewise, no one wants to be the first to add a comment, but if they can see 4-5 comments already posted they will a) have a good idea about how to write their own and b) will be happy to have a go themselves. So make sure you have some people lined up to comment as soon as the blog-post goes live. Giving people advanced warning isn't enough, you actually need commitments to comment.
• Even giving LinkedIn and Facebook a go to get the word out didn't work. That was truly surprising because the LinkedIn groups for people associated with children's books seems top heavy with people seeking to promote their work. But then a big ocean of potential contacts will always appeal more than a small pond.
Free Plug Fridays are still a good idea.
Because every #kidlit author and illustrator needs more breadcrumbs online.
And because this small pond is going to grow.
So if you came in late, or missed out, if anyone wants a FPF blog-post with their name on it, between now and the end of April 2015 send the raw material in a comment, and CBHunCC will make it look good (especially if you send some relevant image URLs).