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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Building an online community

Most of us netizens know how to build an online community. In fact, with the advent of the smartphone, it is possible for us to be logged in 24 hrs a day, and most of the time, the updates that we get are from our network – both personal and professional.

What this means is that most of us already know how to build a network, and most of us already have an existing network of friends and family.

So why then do we need to learn how to build a network, especially our professional network?

Well, to be perfectly honest, most of us who have a personal network, build it up in a very arbitrary manner. There isn't any plan, or even a pattern to it, and this is just not acceptable when you're building a professional network.

And this is where your learning comes in useful. I just spent a solid hour going through the “Building an online community” course by Justin Seeley and  I learned a lot of information that makes online marketing so much easier. Such as for instance identifying your target audience and then spending some time in finding out where exactly they hang out.

So for example, if you are selling a business service, spending a lot of time in professional networks such as Linkedin is a good idea because your target market is there, whereas if you're more B2C, personal networks like Twitter and FB are a better choice.

I'm not saying that you should concentrate on only one network and leave the rest. No. In fact this too is explained here, where you identify three networks for you to concentrate on and basically divide every hour that you spend on them as 30/20/10 in order of priority.

Then comes how you prioritize your website and designing, how you create a good profile and how you engage with your network. Considering that you will probably go through the module twice which means that you spend at the most an hour at it, the number of ideas that you come away with is just great. I spent the first half hour in just going through it. The next one, I took notes and created a chart in my calendar on what I need to do for the next few days to plug the gaps that are there right now.

It's a great course that I recommend to every body who's looking to build an online network.

And of course, don't stop with just one. Get as much as you can out of it, make your notes, and then go on to the next one.

And I'll tell you what I learned from the next course when I get done with it.

Why you need to learn

One of the things that I learned with regards to writing a book is that if you are interested in selling it, then you need to do a lot of legwork before you start selling it. While doing my research, the one common idea that came out of most published authors is that they market their books in any way possible.

Although each person can have a different take on this marketing thing, most of the time, the underlying theme is fairly straightforward.

1. You create a site for yourself which hosts your book(s).

2. This site will form the center of all your marketing campaigns and all traffic will be directly routed here.

3. You build a wheel of sites with your home site as the hub, with spokes (links) linking back and forth between them.

4. You slowly create a fan base of loyal followers and start engaging with them, slowly building your traffic organically.

5. You may not see much sales in the initial few months, but if you persist, this is the best way for you to ensure that you not only sell the book that you have already written, but also the books that you will write in the future.

The basic theme as I said before, is pretty straightforward. But when you get down to the nitty gritty, you find that there's still a lot you don't know.

For example, how are you going to create your own site? If you have the money you can get a professional to do it, but what if you don't?
Since I am already a writer, writing articles and other pieces of content is not that difficult, but what of video content for youtube? You cannot afford to ignore youtube which is the second largest search engine in the world. And video editing software isn't cheap either.

Finally, if you do get all of this done, how much time do you spend in directly marketing yourself? Most sites say that you should not be spending more than an hour every day, but having done it myself, I know that this just isn't enough. Maybe if I already have a fan base of a few thousand people, then an hour a day to engage with them is good. But I'm not there yet. I am in the process of creating the network, and I can't get much done in an hour a day.

So I thought; why not learn from professionals? I purchased a membership into Lynda.com and it's one of the best investments that I have made.

There's pretty much anything and everything that you will need there. And you don't just get one person's perspective, like in other training sites. You get multiple perspectives from different people, and this is what I was looking for.

Not only is the site very intuitive to use and user friendly, they have the option of either going with a video tutorial or reading the transcripts. I've been going through as many tutorials that I could find and already I have a lot more thing that I have to do on my list.

I'll be posting on how my learning went and what I got out of it.