• Advice

6 Steps for building a loyal following

Self–promotion is a requirement for freelancers. Whether it's your start-up, clothing line or self-published book, you need to get the word out there! Admittedly, sometimes brazenly promoting yourself can feel a tad uncomfortable. But with so many things fighting for the attention of your audience, tooting your own horn becomes necessary. Freelancer turned full-time author Kelley Williams transformed her book idea, Paige & Paxton, into an interactive educational series with digital know-how and creative self-promotion.

Williams shares 6 valuable steps on how you can build a loyal following, find your niche and, most importantly, master self-promotion like a pro:

1. Develop a vibrant online presence

One of the most effective and least expensive way to reach your audience is by building a strong online presence, this includes having an active blog and social media profiles on Facebook, Twitter, and Amazon. Your website should be engaging, simple to navigate, and easy for visitors to learn about and ultimately purchase your product. “We believe in using traditional play untraditionally and our digital presence adds to that mix,” says Williams.

The Paige & Paxton Twitter account adds a unique perspective to the delightful puzzle characters. By sharing thoughtful insights, photos and blog articles on their feed, readers discover new ways to join the conversation.

The @paigeandpaxton Twitter page.

2. Create a distinctive niche

Whether it’s your one-of-a-kind character or distinctive imagery - it’s crucial to develop your niche and distinguish your work from others in your industry.

“Paige & Paxton stands out because it introduces kids six and under to careers and concepts in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). Our number one goal is connecting educators and parents to interactive tools that stimulate and encourage young learners. We immediately focused our outreach efforts on public school systems and new parents.”

3. Connect with your audience on social media

Social media marketing is the easiest way to start spread the word and connect with your fans and potential clients.

“Both Facebook and Twitter play a huge role in expanding the Paige & Paxton community. From educators to digital-savvy mothers on Twitter, we communicate daily with our readers and get real feedback on our products,” says Williams.

Make your followers and friends feel appreciated by responding to comments, sharing insightful updates and actively engaging in online conversations.

You can also test out new products and business ideas with social media. It’s an effective way to gauge public response and discover what concepts best capture the attention of your audience. According to Williams, it’s helpful to “experiment with marketing tactics on a really small scale first and see what gains traction. This method helps you test your ideas without completely breaking your budget. With your newfound insights, you can tweak your strategies and then invest a lot more on the right marketing channels that work well for you.”

4. Never underestimate the power of your personal network

Positive word-of-mouth publicity is an essential part of promoting your business. Start by telling your friends and family and then broaden your outreach to include professional acquaintances. You never know who you may reach during the process.

“Initially, we encouraged our family members to spread the word about the project. We quickly gained momentum, especially with educators searching for new ways to engage students. Now, one of our major partnerships is with the Chicago Public School system, which is rolling out our products as part of their early childhood STEM career exploration program.”

5. Get local

Local co-ops and community-based organizations are your best allies. Local libraries, universities and community centers are great places to host events and gain new followers. Volunteering with like-minded organizations can also generate local interest in your product. For instance, Williams actively volunteers at local school districts, along with supporting organizations like, Black Girls Code, a non-profit focused on improving STEM education. She also serves as an Advisory Board Member for FOCUS100, a nationwide startup boot camp and symposium.

6. Remember your vision

Developing and promoting your business is a tedious yet worthwhile pursuit. It takes a lot time and persistence to get noticed in the beginning. Remain persistence, celebrate milestones and don’t forget why you decided to start the endeavor in the first place!

“Paige & Paxton are a long time in the making. When I was in elementary school, my mom had an idea for customized puzzles and developed puzzle characters to promote the puzzles. A few years ago, I was going through some boxes in our basement when I discovered them and I thought it would be great for us to bring them back to life through a storybook. We just wanted to make a series that was imaginative and engaging for little ones.”

What ways have you successfully promoted your business? Tell us in the comments below: