5 Free Services That Help You Build Author Platform


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Today’s guest post is by Matthew Turner (@turndog_million). You may remember him from a previous post, 100 Tips to Alleviate Self-Doubt.


If there’s one word that fits perfectly with an author, it’s FREE. Here are five free services that can help build your author platform.

1. Twitter

Let’s get this one out of the way. It was always going to appear on the list, wasn’t it? I didn’t like Twitter at first. I didn’t think I would sign up, but eventually gave in to the Twitter Angels.

Can a writer live without Twitter? Yes, but you’ll miss out on the impact it can have. It’s a quick and easy way to interact with, find, and get on the radar of existing fans, future readers, and industry influencers.

Here are some articles to help you get started with Twitter:

2. Buffer

I have a serious love affair with Buffer. It allows you to automate and schedule your Tweets and Facebook messages. The main benefit of Buffer is how it spreads out your messages.

Now, be warned, automated marketing can be dangerous. However, if you approach it properly—as a way to keep your sanity during busy periods and to better time your messages—it’s a wonderful tool. If you rely on it solely, and never interact, you may start to look and sound like a bot on social media, which your friends/followers will be able to detect from a mile away.

Here are some articles for the Buffer Beginner:

3. Evernote

If my love for Buffer is big, my love for Evernote is unhealthy. Writers need to stay on top of their information and be organized, which is a big part of creating a successful platform.

There are many tools, apps, and virtual notebooks to choose from, but for me it’s Evernote all the way. It allows you to link your laptop, tablet, and phone, and you have access at all times.

It’s free to start (you would have to use it a lot to need the paid version), easy to use, and has a host of accompanying apps. Here are some articles to get you started:

4. Mailchimp

This is an e-mail newsletter provider that Jane has often recommended, and I recommend it too. You can use MailChimp for free as long as you’re under 2,000 names; then you have to choose a pay plan. Find out more below:

5. Hootsuite

Rather than check each social media platform individually, keep Hootsuite open all day and have everything update before your eyes.

It’s not just efficiency, though—it’s the extra features too, such as tweet scheduling, campaign strategy, and analytics showing how effective your posts are. Find out more below.

I’d love to learn about free services that you use. Please share in the comments.

  • Marilyn Luinstra

    Thank you Matthew. You have given me a
    terrific amount of ordered, useful information. Free! First item on my action list: get a new phone pkg so I can use twitter on my phone and NOT be clobbered by a jumbo data bill. That has happened, oh yes.

  • http://www.turndogmillionaire.com/ Turndog Millionaire

    Glad it helps Marilyn :)

    And yes, a phone is a vital tool these days. I would say around 60% of my social media, emails, etc is done on my phone. Considering I didn’t even have a smartphone two years ago, this is a HUGE leap

    Matthew (Turndog Millionaire)

  • http://www.selena-blake.com SelenaBlake

    I haven’t used Buffer in a while. Can you think of any reason to use it over Hootsuite? Hootsuite now has the option to post for you at random intervals. You can use the free plans, but if you need ‘more’ Buffer was $10 a month, Hootsuite is $6. Hootsuite does more I think, like bulk scheduling.

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  • http://www.selena-blake.com SelenaBlake

    Isn’t it amazing what you can get done in a small amount of time on a little device? I try to make use of lines and I appreciate that I’m forced to be as concise as possible. There’s even a Pages app for the iPhone now (re: Facebook.)

  • http://twitter.com/Dabneyland Dabney Hedegard

    Thank you for succinctly compiling this information. I’ve
    been on Twitter for a while…but still feel like I’m missing something. Can’t wait to comb through these articles. Thanks!

  • http://twitter.com/ficwriter Darrelyn Saloom

    Great post! The one thing I have never used and would not use is Buffer. I do my tweeting because I can see through those automated messages and don’t like them. I prefer to be there to interact and see what’s going on.

  • http://www.selena-blake.com SelenaBlake

    So you can tell that I spent quality time writing up tweets and rather than post them all at the same time, thus, flooding your feed, I have a service post them for me throughout the day? How is this different than having my assistant do the posting throughout the day? I still get notified when someone replies to a tweet and can then go reply to them. What am I missing?

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  • http://homesteadnotes.blogspot.com TeresaR

    I, too, was wondering how Buffer differs from (or offers any advantage to) Hootsuite…aside from the pun-y advantage of being able to say “I use ‘Buffer the Social Media vampire slayer’.” *groan*

    I’ve hoarded Evernote but haven’t figured out how to use it yet, so will be sure to check out your links about it. Thanks!

  • http://twitter.com/adrianaryansc Adriana Ryan

    It really does take time and patience to get used to Twitter. I didn’t truly get the impact until I started participating in # chats, like #indiechat. Tweetchat.com is a great way to participate in those.

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  • http://www.turndogmillionaire.com/ Turndog Millionaire

    Totally! I’m only now beginning to see some results from Twitter and I’ve been at it for 9 months. And those results aren’t huge by any means

    It takes some time and effort, but it can be quite fun, too :)

    Matthew (Turndog Millionaire)

  • http://www.turndogmillionaire.com/ Turndog Millionaire

    I must say, I don’t use Hootsuite for that, so I can’t say how much better or worse it is to Buffer. I found Buffer and it gave me everything I needed, so haven’t looked much further :)

    The key is to find tools that work for YOU. Whatever makes your life easier, go with it

    Matthew (Turndog Millionaire)

  • http://www.turndogmillionaire.com/ Turndog Millionaire

    Similar to what Selena said. You can use Buffer in a negative way, but the way I use it (and how most user Buffer from what I gather) is to simply spread their messages out over time.

    They are still written by me, but rather than sending 20 tweets in the space of 20 minutes, I can spread them out over 20 hours :)

    And the great thing about having a smartphone is that I’m kept fully up to date with what comes and goes my way. Isn’t tech great?

    Matthew (Turndog Millionaire)

  • http://www.turndogmillionaire.com/ Turndog Millionaire

    No problem, Dabney.

    I hope it helps :)

    Matthew (Turndog Millionaire)

  • http://www.turndogmillionaire.com/ Turndog Millionaire

    I’ve always used Buffer so only use Hootsuite for particular things. However, you should certainly use what works for you. If you like Hootsuite, stick with it

    Buffer is a great tool for me, though. I couldn’t imagine having to live without now (cue dramatic music :)

    Matthew (Turndog Millionaire)

  • Michelle Woollacott

    Yes social media is a tricky thing to get your head round! We must all start slowly…

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  • http://twitter.com/Ani_LifeProb Ani

    Sounds really cool. I am in the proccess of creating a platform and can not boast with big success yest. Thanx for the post

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  • http://www.turndogmillionaire.com/ Turndog Millionaire

    It takes time, Ani. However, if you look carefully, you’ll begin to see success form.

    It might not be huge at first, but it’s certainly there

    Best of luck to you

    Matthew (Turndog Millionaire)

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  • http://www.triplebraidedlife.com/ Brenda @TripleBraided

    When I looked into signing up with Mail Chimp they required an address. I don’t feel comfortable putting my address on all of the emails. What are your thoughts? Is there a way to get around this?

  • http://janefriedman.com Jane Friedman

    For better or worse, the U.S. spam law requires an address. Any reputable email service provider will ensure you provide one so their company is not in breach of law.

  • Karen Alaniz

    I just started using EverNote. So very cool! I was preparing to do a new workshop at a conference and instead of sitting down and working on the material, I used Evernote to jot ideas down quickly, and easily as they came to me. Then when I was ready to put it together, I just sat down in front of Power Point, and did it. Perfect!

    I also use it to keep information about upcoming writer contests, freelance deadlines, and conference information, all in one place. I really do love it!

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  • selfpubsuperstar

    Hi Brenda, it’s to comply with the can-spam laws – see here http://kb.mailchimp.com/article/what-is-required-to-meet-your-terms-of-use-and-the-can-spam-act

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