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Poetry Marketing 101 – Introduction To Marketing For Poets


By Nicole S. Ross

I used to wonder why it was that some of the most talented poets have the least amount of name recognition. At that time, I thought that all they would have to do is find a way to perform at a few of the open mic’s in New York and they would surely start to build a large following of fans. I am sure that as you are reading this, you realize that this is almost never the case. I now know this too, but the question of “why” still needs to be answered. In this article, I am going to explain why poets usually have trouble marketing both themselves and their poetry.

Now before we go any further, I need to make it crystal clear that in no way, shape or form am I referring to the talent level of any of these poets. I am only talking about how the poets market themselves. With that being said, the first step here is to define the three basic types of poets when it comes to marketing, which are:

* The Hobbyist
* The Amateur
* The Professional

The Hobbyist

The hobbyist is the poet who loves poetry as a form of expression. They don’t have any aspirations of making money from their work and therefore see no reason to promote themselves or the work that they produce. Every now and then, the hobbyist will get the urge to share some of their work via their FaceBook or MySpace accounts but this is about as far as they go when it comes to marketing. Very few of the poets that are performing in the NYC metro area are hobbyists when it comes to marketing.

The Amateur Poet

The amateur poet has aspirations of somehow profiting from their work. They usually have an account at Reverb Nation, FaceBook, MySpace and even Twitter. They are also likely to have a blog hosted on either WordPress.com or Blogger.com, also referred to as Blogspot. The amateur poet lacks a general understanding of how to position themselves in the marketplace as a professional poetry writer. They also fail to understand how to properly use sites like FaceBook, which are free to use, to find prospects that are willing to purchase their work. It should not come as a surprise when I tell you that the vast majority of amateur poets spend the bulk of their time promoting themselves and their work to other poets. Most of the poets that you will see on a nightly basis at spoken word events in New York City are amateur poets when it comes to marketing.

The Professional Poet

The professional poet knows that marketing is showing people what they are ALREADY looking for. They know that people rarely go to open mics and spoken word events to buy poetry, they go to HEAR poetry. The professional poet also knows that people that like to hear poetry will often purchase the work of their favorite poets, but they don’t do this immediately, it takes time. To streamline the time that it takes, the professional poet uses a marketing plan.

The professional poet has a defined marketing plan that starts with having their own website. They also understand that their name is their brand, and THAT is what needs to be marketed. The goal of having a website is to give potential buyers a place to find and interact with you and what it is that you have to offer. This is the primary goal of a professional poet. The professional poet understand that everything that they do should be done in an effort to increase the popularity of their brand. This means that when they perform at local open mics, they are giving a sampling of their work. When someone says, “I like your work”, they respond by thanking them and letting them know that more of their work is available on their website and then give them the address. On their website, they use an autoresponder, which allows them to send more of their work to the people who have expressed an interest in seeing more of it.

This process is very simple, but at the present time, very few people are getting it right. Think about the music industry. When your favorite artist releases a new album, you are very likely to buy it because not only do you like their music, but over the course of time, you have become very familiar with the type and quality of music that they produce. This is called TRUST.

The key to being a professional poet is understanding that your success depends on giving people an initial sample of your work, and when they express an interest in seeing more of it, you simply direct them to a pre-existing resource that allows them to develop a high level of trust with you and your work over the course of time.

It is my sincere hope that this article will give all poets a greater understanding of what it will take to successfully build your brand and profit from your work. Make sure you check back soon for my next article, which will outline a few simple ways to dramatically increase your exposure to people who are actually looking for poetry and spoken word poetry events in the tri-state area.







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