Online Self-Promotion (That Won’t Make You Feel Slimy)


‘I’m a writer; I want to spend my time writing, not marketing!’

This is the mantra of nearly all my clients, but, a lot of writers find themselves in a position where marketing is a necessity. Small publishers often have marketing budgets that match their size. For some writers, self-publishing is a more natural, more rewarding fit. For others, crowdfunding is an exciting opportunity. For still others, there just comes a point when it’s time to give your writing the best possible chance of receiving the attention it deserves even if it means devoting a few hours of your own time to online marketing each week.

If you find yourself in one of the above situations, then I’ve written this course for you. There’s no need to spend hours and hours researching the best social media platforms to use or figuring out what type of website you need. Any professional online marketer can tell you that different platforms, strategies and techniques work for different target markets. There’s a lot to know, but I’ve narrowed it all right down to the essentials for writers in this course. Everything you need to know to build a high quality online author platform is right here.

This course focuses on helping you decide which forms of online marketing will be most enjoyable for you and how to maximize the time you spend on them. We’ll be thinking about online marketing not as selling, but as networking and community-building. I would argue that for every writer, getting to know people online and building a virtual network is the surest way to start seeing some rewards for your work—in the form of publications, guest blog posts, opportunities to speak and more.

So, imagine your online marketing tasks neatly falling into place in your daily or weekly routine rather than feeling like a chore or something you resent because it’s taking time away from your writing. Imagine that you look forward to posting on social media or writing blog posts because you’re socializing with colleagues as well as supporting other writers who in turn support you. This is what online self-promotion for authors can be like and this is the result we’ll be aiming for in this course.

What You’ll Learn

Online Self-Promotion teaches concepts, strategies and techniques used by professional digital marketers that are also appropriate for author marketing. Some of the tutorials cover more creative aspects of online marketing. We’ll be looking at examples of best practice of author website design and we’ll be thinking through the voice, tone and attitude you’ll use when communicating with your audience. We’ll also think creatively about your use of social media and how you can incentivize email list sign ups.

Other tutorials cover more technical aspects of online marketing, such as search engine optimization (SEO), one of the most frequently misunderstood aspects of online marketing. You’ll learn how to research your audience using free online tools usually only known in the marketing industry. We’ll use other free tools to research websites that would make good candidates for guest blogging. Finally, we’ll take a look at stats and analytics, focusing on the metrics that will be most useful for author marketing.

By the end of this course, you’ll have a well-designed website, a developing social media presence and a schedule to keep the momentum going once you’ve worked through all the exercises.

The Lady of Shalott: What Not to Do

Suffragettes: Organize and Succeed

[This is a bit of a Victorianist in-joke, so just to make sure we’re all on the same page: The Lady of Shalott pines away for some man all alone with nothing to occupy herself but her creative work, which suffers as a result of her loneliness and depression. The Suffragettes, though we find some of their beliefs questionable today, were very organized and very committed to supporting each other.]

Why You Should Take This Course

This course is intended to work for you as a person, not just as a writer. This means that we work on the assumption that no one-size-fits-all marketing plan will work for every writer. If you love blogging and hate Twitter, for example, we will hone your schedule to do more blogging than anything else and only spend a small amount of time on social media—other than Twitter. The end goal is to equip you with schedules and strategies that fit your goals and your schedule.

Flexibility is also a priority in this course. This is why you have lifetime access to the materials and a choice of whether you attend scheduled calls or set appointments with me at times that suit you. Students always tell me how helpful it is to hear other students’ questions in the calls so recorded calls covering the most frequently asked questions are also included in the course. That way we can make sure you get all the course benefits even if your schedule or time zone are particularly challenging.

Finally, one of the best things about this course is that there is a fantastic sense of community amongst those taking the course. Students support each other in the course calls and in the Facebook group by offering expertise and suggestions. New students coming onto the course will find that they already have a network of women writers—starting with the other students in the course. Here’s the reaction Sandy got when she (and her book) were in a local newspaper.

About Laurie Garrison, Academic and Marketer

Between my academic career and launching Women Writers School, I worked as a digital marketer. I had some big name clients and partners: British Gas, Nominet Trust, O2, The Mozilla Foundation. Having had this experience, I’ve got a lot of insider knowledge of online marketing techniques that work. People often remark how different my two careers seem, thinking that the marketing, coding and design knowledge you need to be digital marketer is the polar opposite of being a lecturer in Victorian Literature. You can read more about me and my careers on my bio page.

To me, the online world is the next big shift in writing, communicating and publishing, just like the explosion of the periodical press was for the Victorians in the mid-nineteenth century. This was the other major historical moment in publishing and media that made the careers of many women writers. At the moment, one of my most important projects is using the digital marketing knowledge I’ve gained to help women writers make the most of the online world.

I see this as a feminist project with the potential to change perceptions of women’s writing in the eyes of the public and the publishing industry. So far, my Women Writers School students have greatly benefitted from learning about marketing from someone who ‘gets’ them, their goals and their motivations for writing. Following my free webinars and Online Self-Promotion course, my students have crowdfunded a novel, published guest blog posts and built lively social media accounts.

What the Students Say

‘When I started Laurie’s Online Marketing Course, I had no website, almost no social media presence and felt utterly overwhelmed and demoralised by the prospect of digital marketing. The course was exactly what I needed. It was full of practical tips on how to expand your social media networks, how to schedule and manage an effective campaign, how to use guest blogging to create a buzz, as well as more technical aspects like how to analyse the potential impact of blog subjects, how to choose relevant keywords for effective search engine optimisation, and how to avoid the pitfalls that could see your website penalised by Google’s abstruse algorithms.

‘Laurie is a really supportive, enthusiastic and involved teacher, and her straightforward approach helped demystify the whole process. At end of the course, I have a website that I’m happy with, a social media presence that is growing steadily and networks that are gradually expanding. And, dare I say it, have almost started to enjoy myself.’

Helen Taylor, author of The Backstreets of Purgatory, Unbound

How It Works

Online Self-Promotion is made up of written tutorials in the Women Writers School online learning environment. Each tutorial is followed by practical exercises to help you put the material to work. In group course calls, everyone can ask questions specific to their work. Some of these discussions on popular topics have been recorded so you can listen to them at a time that suits you. There is also a course Facebook group where you can ask Laurie or the other students (including very experienced, former students!) any question you like.

That’s to say that most of your study on this course is virtual and self-paced. However, there is also a live element, namely the course calls and virtual meetings with Laurie. In order to keep the course as flexible as possible, you can book yourself onto one of the monthly course calls whenever you want. If your schedule prevents you from being able to make these, you can schedule a 30-minute one to one session with Laurie.

Here’s a list of the currently scheduled calls:

  • 24 April, 6-7pm BST
  • 22 May, 6-7pm BST
  • 26 June, 6-7pm BST
  • 24 July, 6-7pm BST
  • August – no call

Here’s a list of everything you get with this course:

  • 12 written tutorials that will teach you how to research your audience, build your online presence and drive traffic to your website
  • Examples of successful websites and social media accounts as well as analysis of why they are successful
  • Practical exercises that will help you apply the tutorials to your own work
  • Your choice of 4 live course calls or 2 30-minute one to one virtual meetings with Laurie
  • Recordings of previous course calls on popular questions
  • Self-paced study that will fit around your schedule
  • Lifetime membership in the course Facebook group
  • Lifetime access to the course materials

Who Should Take This Course

This course is for writers who need to promote themselves online. Traditionally published, crowd-funded and self-published writers as well as those seeking their first publication are all welcome. There’s no restriction on genre either, but I do need you to be confident that you’re working at a level where publication isn’t miles away. This is because I don’t teach writing skills in this course, just marketing techniques and strategies for writers.

There’s no need to have any knowledge of online marketing and If you’ve never had a website before, that’s absolutely fine. You’ll build one in the course! However, you should be able to post on social media—even if you only do it once a year—and you do need to be able to use standard software. There are lots of free written and video tutorials that can teach you how to do just about anything with your website or social media account and I point you to some of these in the course. What’s different about the content of the course is that it focuses on concepts, techniques and strategies—things that professional digital marketers use everyday but that generally aren’t on the map with the typical social media user.

Even though I market my courses mainly to women writers, all genders are very welcome.

Gender-Inclusive Suffragettes

I Already Have a Website and Social Media Accounts. Is This Course for Me?

If you have a website and social media accounts but you know they aren’t doing anything for your writing career, then this course is for you. You should be able to use your blog and social media accounts to help you network online and find unexpected opportunities or you can work your way into deriving an income from your blog. If you’re still unsure, do a little test by tweeting your latest blog post. How many people interact with your tweet? If the answer is none or almost none, then this course is definitely for you.

However, if you’re unsure about committing to building an entire author platform right now, you can also go check out my Kickstart Your Blog course, which is designed to help people start making things happen with their blog in four straightforward steps.

My Schedule Is Really Busy and/or Unpredictable. What if I Don’t Have Time to Work on This Every Week?

No problem. The course is meant to accommodate this. In practice, everyone gets too busy to do all of their marketing work sometimes and it’s the sort of work that can easily be picked up and put down. If this happens, it will take you longer to work through the exercises, but you can attend a call in any month (until you’ve taken all four of your calls) or you can book a one to one meeting in any month (up to two).

Still Have Questions?

Check out our FAQ or get in touch via the contact form.

How to Sign Up

We only take students onto the course every couple of months. The next enrollment period will be in April or May. Sign up to the Women Writers School email list for advance notice of the sign up period.