What does herding cattle have to do with writing? Surprisingly, more than you might expect. Both jobs require skill, stamina, and a willingness to get dusty and weary pursuing your goal. It also shows the value of rounding related things up into one place. That’s the aspect we’re going to explore today.
Roundups abound in the blogosphere. A roundup is simply a list of links to resources on a related topic. I have seen roundups on do-it-yourself resources, holiday themes, age-based resources, items on sale, blogging tips, etc… If you can imagine it, you can probably find or create a roundup related to it.
But how do roundups build your credibility as an author and strengthen your platform? Simple. They make you the go-to person for a specific topic. Put yourself in the place of your audience. They see you around Facebook. They read a post or two that you write. They share some of your interests. One day they see you post a link to 35 resources for learning to crochet. A few weeks later they see you post about 20 ways to organize your skeins of yarn. A few weeks after that they see you post about the 40 most common crochet stitches and how to use them to dress up ordinary projects. Move forward a few more weeks and they see a post about 15 crocheted holiday gift ideas.
The next time they need a specific tip on crochet, do you think you will come to their mind as a place to start searching? By using the roundups, you’ve gradually helped your audience begin mentally associating you with the topic of crochet. And if you are building a platform that centers on crochet, this is key.
But what about fiction writers? How can we use roundups to build credibility and brand awareness in our circles? Let’s say you write about horses. You could write roundups about:
- Horse care tips
- Websites about horses
- Fiction books about horses
- Books about horses in history
- Printable games and activities for kids that involve horses
- And other horse-related topics
Once your potential readers start associating you with the topic of horses, they will be more likely to pay attention when you post about your next horse-related book or project.
There are a few things to remember when preparing a roundup:
1) Be sure the list is weighted heavily with free items. No one wants to click into an article just to find out it reads like a commercial! Keep the for-sale items in your list to a minimum. You may even want to segment your list with “free” and “for sale” divisions.
2) Use affiliate links where applicable (and be sure to disclose at the beginning of your post). That may sound contrary to the idea of including free items in your list, but remember that whenever anyone clicks on an affiliate link, even to redeem a freebie, the cookie goes to your computer (depending on the program), increasing your chances of making an affiliate sale when the customer returns to the website to make a purchase in the future.
3) Don’t forget to include your own related resources. I know it sounds simple, but I have nearly forgotten to do this step before! If you have an item that fits your roundup perfectly, include it. If you don’t, don’t force it into your list. Just be sure to have a button or other advertisement for your product on your site so the visitors to your roundup will see it, even if they don’t act on it right away.
4) Images can be very important in a roundup. Many times roundups are promoted with a collage of pictures representative of the roundup, but you cannot use an image from another person’s post without first acquiring permission. Many website owners are thrilled when someone wants to include them in a roundup (as it exposes them to another group of potential customers) but you must ask first. This also means that you cannot write the roundup the evening before it is due to post (not that I have ever waited until the last minute!). If you are looking for a simple (and free) way to build an image collage, I suggest PicMonkey. It’s fairly easy to use and has many options available in the free section.
Have you ever posted a roundup? What was it on? Please let us know in the comments and feel free to ask questions!
Bonnie Rose Hudson lives in central Pennsylvania. Along with spending time with her family and writing, making kids smile is her favorite thing to do. Her heart’s desire is for every child to feel the love of God and know how special they are to Him. She loves creating curriculum and working for SchoolhouseTeachers.com, the curriculum arm of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, as the site’s executive editor. At TOS, she found a place where her love of God and history combine with her love of writing to bring encouraging, educational, and entertaining material to students and their families. She would love for you to visit WriteBonnieRose.com to discover how you can write for the homeschool market.