How Any Writer Can Build a Network From Scratch

This is a guest post by Frank McKinley. He is a published author who helps writers to engage readers, sell their ideas, and build tribes. In this post Frank explains in seven ways how you can begin build your own network and grow your tribe.

Would you like to make a living as a writer? Do you yearn to be paid for your words? It seems like an impossible dream, doesn’t it?

Well, it is impossible – if you try to do it yourself. “I know. I need people to buy my books to get paid,” you say. True. But how do you get people to shell out their hard-earned cash to buy your book? We’ll get to that in a minute. First, let’s look at what a lot of new writers do wrong.

3 Mistakes Writers Make That Keep Them Poor

The first mistake writers make when they want to get paid is thinking talent alone is enough.

Calvin Coolidge said this:

“Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan ‘Press On’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”

If you’ve got a dozen college degrees on the wall, but you don’t take the knowledge to market, you’ve got a row of expensive but worthless pictures. Your friends will be impressed, but you won’t get paid until you serve someone with that knowledge.

The second mistake writers make when they want to get paid is they think publishing a book is enough to make it sell.

Sure. Anyone can publish now. It’s easy. You could write a two word book, upload it to Amazon, and it will be available for anyone who wants it.

But will anyone?

The last time I looked I think there are over 62 million books available on Amazon. 5.4 million of these are eBooks.

That’s so much competition it’s ridiculous.

If you want to stand out, you’ll have to be like the guy who runs down the street with his hair on fire.

I wouldn’t recommend that, however!

Here are a few things you can do to get attention for your book:

  • Write a compelling sales page (book description)
  • Find and use the best Amazon keywords
  • Design an eye-catching cover that pops off the page
  • Write a title that stops shoppers in their tracks

All these things are good. I’ve done them all as an unknown author – and have sold over 25,000 books.

Add networking and you’ll amplify every one of these.

The third and biggest mistake writers make when they want to get paid is they don’t network.

So you don’t have social skills?

Being around people bothers you?

Does the term networking make you a bit queasy?

Well, I’m sorry to say this – you’re going to have to get over it.

Listen, I used to feel left out. I felt like an outsider. When I was 12, my Bible teacher – on the first day at a new school – publicly humiliated me. That wound festered in my soul all the way through high school.

Maybe you haven’t suffered that much. I hope not. But if you have real social anxiety, there is help. And if it’s any comfort to you, you can start networking from behind your computer screen.

The social skills you need can be learned. I’ll teach you all you need to get started. I’ll be glad to answer any questions you have in the comments. But trust me, you can do this. I know you can.

Let’s get down to business, shall we?

7 Steps to Build Your Tribe: How You Can Build Your Network from Scratch

Maybe you’ve heard that if you want to succeed in business, “It’s not who you know, but who knows you.”

How can you become someone people want to know, like, and follow?

Here are a few strategies to start with:

  • Be warm
  • Be approachable
  • Be helpful

Here are 7 ways to put that into practice.

1) Have the same kind of interactions online as you would offline.

What happens when you meet someone new?

  1. You introduce yourself.
  2. You offer details about yourself like where you live, what type of work you do, and what you do in your spare time.
  3. You ask the other person to do the same.

It’s easy to think social media is just a time-sucking fake world. But there are real people behind those profiles. They have real interests, deeply felt desires, and needs they want filled. Treat them like people and you’ll make lots of friends.

Don’t be afraid to go deeper. It can pay huge dividends when you’re building your tribe.

2) Reach out to people you know and interview them.

There are people in your network now that know something valuable.

I’ve done a lot of interviews this year. Here are a few of the people I’ve spoken with:

  • a multimillionaire with 8 businesses
  • a marketing genius who has generated millions for his clients
  • a lady who gained 10,000 Twitter followers in just 4 months
  • a brand expert (whose book I reviewed also)
  • a newspaper publisher who has written stories for over 20 years

When you share valuable information with your readers, you’ll build a legion of fans.

3) Don’t be afraid to reach out to someone famous.

Most – if not all – of the famous people in your niche are on Twitter.

It’s not hard to reach out to them. Here’s a few things I did.

I tweeted Roger Dooley, author of Brainfluence. I said, “I just got your book. Can’t wait to see what it can do!”

He tweeted back, “Great. Let me know how it works for you!”

He also followed me on Twitter.

I tweeted Amy Cuddy that I loved her book, Presence. She liked the tweet!

I’m a student in Jeff Goins’ Tribe Writers course. One day, as he said, I “let it slip” that I’d sold 25,000 books.

That “slip” led to Jeff following me on Twitter, Medium, and friending me on Facebook. He interviewed me for his podcast. He also asked me to do a Q&A at the Tribe Conference this fall.

You can connect to famous people. Just make the first move. And don’t start by asking for something. Do this instead:

  1. Send them a Tweet to tell them how much you love their work. And be specific.
  2. Comment on their blog posts.
  3. Send them an email compliment. Make it short, sweet, and to the point.

Plant these seeds and you’ll open doors of opportunity.

4) Practice in public and get feedback.

You’ve got to put your work out there to get noticed. As Steve Jobs said,

“Real artists ship.”

I was talking with a friend this morning. She said her son loved to write stories, but he wouldn’t let her read any of them.

Maybe he wouldn’t because she’s an English teacher.

If you want to grow as a writer, you’ve got to publish. In other words, you must ship.

The scary thing is when you let people see your work, you feel naked. They can:

  • shower you with praise
  • say nothing
  • tell you it’s nice work but you can’t make a living at it.

All this is called feedback.

Feedback is good, whatever form it takes. If your work stinks, you can improve it. If it’s great, you’ll know what works. If it’s ignored, you’ll need to jazz it up.

Get feedback if you want to expand your reach.

5) Ask other bloggers if you can write for them.

When you’re starting out, you need more people to read your writing.

There’s no better way than to post on a popular blog. Here are some things to remember when you make a guest posting request:

  • Make sure the blog fits your message.
  • Solve a problem the blogger’s audience is struggling with.
  • Remember it’s not your blog. If they ask you to change something, do it.

If you do all 3, you’ll get more followers, more website visitors, and more email subscribers.

6) Build a team before you publish your book.

Think of this as market research. Any company that wants a product to sell does this.

Here’s what that looks like for writers:

  • Find 50 – 100 beta readers – people who will read and evaluate your manuscript before the final edit.
  • Ask everyone you know if they will promote your book to their networks.
  • Offer incentives to people who preorder your book.

With all this going for you, you’ll have a bestseller from day one!

7) Join a group of like-minded writers and help them.

I belong to at least five writing groups.

In those groups, we talk about:

  • The writing process
  • How to set up a blog
  • How to get noticed

These groups work well when people help each other. Want to know something? Just ask. Do you have the answer to someone else’s question? Help him.

Do this enough and you’ll:

  • Expand your network
  • Grow your expertise
  • Become someone people look to for answers

When you’re seen as an expert, you’ll be in demand.

Do This Now

You’ve just learned 7 ways you can build your network from scratch.

Jump start your growth this week by doing this:

  • Reach out to an expert you know and ask for an interview.
  • Start treating all your social media contacts as VIPs.
  • Have conversations with people and learn more about them.

If you do all this, your network will grow faster and bigger than you ever dreamed!


Frank McKinley

I’ve loved writing since I could pick up a pen. As a kid, I wrote a magazine for my parents. It had articles, pictures, even ads! As a teenager, writing was my sanctuary during those turbulent years. When I won a school-wide poetry contest in high school after 15 minutes of work, I knew I had something. My passion is to help writers engage readers, sell their ideas, and build their tribes. I do that through blog posts, social media, and coaching. My family and I live in the sunny Southern United States with a Labrador named Jake.


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22 Responses to "How Any Writer Can Build a Network From Scratch"

  1. “The last time I looked I think there are over 62 million books available on Amazon. 5.4 million of these are eBooks.”


    And you gave a solution to overcome this saturation.

    Nice work Frank.

  2. Great post and thank you. I am at the stage of ‘Show and Tell’ for the first time on the Intentional Facebook Group and quite nervous. However as you say feedback, whether good bad or indifferent is all good and something to learn from.
    Again thank you, I am bookmarking to return to later and follow the instructions.

  3. Frank, this is great advice shared in a funny, entertaining way. I was surprised when your #3 tip about contacting famous people worked for me. I filled out a comment box on popular marketer and author Neil Patel’s website, telling him I what I learned from one of his recent blog posts. He responded, saying he read and liked one of my blog’s posts and gave me some great tips on how to improve my blog.

  4. Excellent! And how could we NOT find value in it. You proved it works. Especially loved the part where you let it slip that you sold 25, 000 books. You are funny sometimes, Frank.

    I emailed a line to Seth Godin in response to one of his posts. And he said my line was brilliant. You didn’t know I was brilliant, did you Frank, but I am! Seth said so.

  5. Hello Frank, this post is great well said and inviting. love a lot this stands out for me someone who has a lot of degrees..”you won’t get paid until you serve someone with that knowledge” you have to put it into action and service as you say. Your pointers are great. love the action steps. makes a lot of practical sense. which is money sense.

    1. This is so true, Cori! As an extrovert, I love connecting with people. But the truth is, introverts can do this just as well. The main thing is you just have to do it. I hope these tips will help those who may not know just what to do.

  6. Such great advice! I couldn’t agree with it more, and it is good to keep revisiting advice like this and reminding myself what to keep focusing on as I write and build an audience. Thanks for the great article!


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