Lola’s Advice is a monthly feature on my blog Lola’s Reviews, which will be posted on the first monday of the month. Lola’s Advice posts are usually how-to or tips type of posts. They are mainly aimed at authors, but I also try and show the blogger/ reader side of the topic I address. I share my knowledge or personal opinion on mostly book, authors, marketing and promotion related topics. I hope it’s helpful for authors and bloggers alike. Also even though it’s advice please understand that even if you follow all my advice it still won’t guarantee your book will be a success, but it hopefully will be helpful. I also believe that not everything works for each author, every author and book is different and different strategies work for different people. So please use whatever you want to or fits with your style. The banner for this feature is designed by Michelle from Limabean Designs.
Today I want to talk about street teams, why they can be helpful to an author and how to set one up. I’ve helped set-up 2 street teams so far, gave advice to a few more authors about setting-up a street team and am part of multiple street teams, so I like to think I know a bit about what’s involved. First I talk about why a street team can be helpful, then list the process of setting-up a street team, then I go a bit more into detail about those steps where necessary and at the end I talk about about the blogger side of things.
Why a street team can be helpful
- Help promote your books. The most obvious way a street team can help authors is by helping promote your books. If you have a sale, tour, review copies available or a post you want to get shared you can ask your street team for help. It’s basically a team to help you promote your books and often they enjoy doing so. Having a whole team help promote your books is always better than one.
- Social Benefits. I think this is another important part of a street team, for the author a street team can provide them with a loving and friendly group of people who love their books. It’s a place to be surrounded by people who enjoy your books, are friends and happy to help you promote your books. It’s hopefully a place where you can be yourself, talk about topics you can’t share with everyone else yet and a fun and nice place to be.
- Brainstorming/ advice. A street team can help you brainstorm or give you advice. Don’t know where to take the story, have a plot hole you can’t solve, want to know which font works best on your cover, need feedback on the blurb? Your street team can help, it’s handy to have a group of people give feedback and advice and this way you can get the opinions of multiple people.
- Readers and Reviews. A street team mostly consist of readers. They can help you and your books by reading them and hopefully posting a review. And as most of the people in a group like you and your books it’s likely they will like your new book as well.
Even while in general I think a street team can help you as an author and be beneficial, it’s up to the author to decide if they want to have a street team and how to handle it.
How to set-up your street team
Setting up your street team involves the following steps:
- Decide on how you want to run your street team
- Set-up the street team
- Invite people to your street team
- Keep the street team alive
- Invite new members/ approve new members
This is very global the steps involved with setting up a street team. The first step takes a lot of time and effort while you consider how to run your street team, after that it’s mostly implementing that and the excitement of starting a street team. And after that the hard work starts to keep your street team active and a fun place to be, you can always adjust any decisions you made about the team later on or change rules, just make sure to notify everyone. I’ll go a bit more into depth about step 1 and 4 next as step 2 and 3 naturally flow forth from step 1 and will partly be explained there. It’s a good idea to keep focused on growing your street team and invite new members to your team now and then.
Decide on how you want to run your street team
- Who and how can people join? It’s important to decide who can join the street team and if they have to fulfill certain rules before they can enter. For example only reviewers can join or only bloggers or they need to have read and reviewed at least one of your books or maybe gave at least one of your books a 4 star rating? Or is it okay if they haven’t read any of your books? Do you want to know the person who wants to join or is it more a let everyone who wants to join group? If you set rules for the group, make these clear so people know them beforehand. Will you invite other authors or friends to the group as well or do you keep it more focused on reviewers/ bloggers. And how can they join the group? Is the group invite only, do they have to submit a form or just send a request to join? And this will also influence how you will promote your street team. Is there a limit on how many people can join? Do you want to keep your team small or as big as it can get?
- Which people will you invite to your street team? It can be handy at this stage to start making a list of people you want to invite to your street team. That way once you start the team you can already invite some people and have a solid basis for your team when you start. It depends on what you have decided on the first step which people you want to invite, but some ideas are: friends, fans, reviewers who gave your book a good rating on goodreads or amazon, other authors or bloggers you already know, bloggers who reviewed your book on their blog, bloggers who featured your book during a tour or such etct. If your books have been out for awhile you should probably have a nice list of people and even if not everyone joins, you will still have a basis for your street team. A street team doesn’t need to be large to be effective, so don’t invite people just for the sake of having as large street team. A small but enthousiastic street team can work just as well, it just depends on what you want your street team to be.
- Where will the street team be? This is is important as it determines who and how people can join the group. Will your street team be a newsletter? Or a group on social media? And if yes to the latter on which social media? Every medium or platform has it’s pro’s and cons. A newsletter makes interacting with other members more difficult, social media means not everyone might have an account or be willing to make one. Most groups I’ve seen so far are either groups on a site (like yahoo or google) or social media (facebook is most common, but I’ve also seen goodreads street teams).
- What are the rules? It might seem nitpicky to talk about rules, but I do think it’s important to establish rules, so people know what is and isn’t allowed. There are probably some standard rules like be polite that most teams will have, but also think about for what reason you would want to remove someone from the team. Can other authors promote their own content? Are you comfortable with people advertising their own books or blog in the street team or sharing sales they find? Do you want people to stay active or else get removed from the group? And how much should members participate? There are groups that have a certain amount of participation they require of group members. Either members can get rewarded for participating and sharing/ promoting things or in other groups you can even get removed if you don’t participate enough. Or is sharing and helping voluntary and should members only do so when they want to?
- Who and what can be posted in the street team? This often can be determined by the settings of the group, but I also think it’s important to communicate this to your members. Can everyone post in the group? What kind of posts are okay and what not? What kind of links can they share? Is there a limit to how often they should post? Is it frowned upon if someone else than the author posts or is that okay or even encouraged? This can also pretty much influence the feel of your group. In facebook for example you have settings that everyone can post in a group or that moderators should accept it first. Those are ways to have the settings fit the direction you want to take your group.
- What’s the name of the street team? This might seem like a small detail, but it’s still important to think of this one. Do you go with something related to your author name, one of your books or series? And what if you decide to write another series or genre, will that name still work? I’ve also seen groups have the members vote for the street team name or have the street team recommend ideas, which can be a fun way to get input from the team. But do make sure you’re happy with the name as well.
- Will street team members receive review copies? In some street teams it’s customary for street team members to receive review copies, but there are also street teams that have rules surrounding this. For example you have to be up to date with the books/ series or you have to sign-up for a tour or form to receive a review copy or you have to promise to post a review on the release day. Before starting your team it’s important to think about this.
- What kind of content/ focus will the street team have? Will it be only focused on you and your books or will it be more lose and personal? What kind of feel or focus do you want your team to have? It’s a good idea to keep that in mind when starting your street team.
- What will you give your street team members? What do street team members get in exchange for being part of the group? Most groups have the standard benefits like interacting with the author and getting news first, but also consider things like review copies and giveaways. Or other ways to reward and thank the street team members. You can reward street team members for helping promote or reviewing your books by having only those who fulfill those tasks enter the givewaways. Or maybe give everyone review copies, but limit physical copies or ARC’s to giveaway or certain members who fulfill tasks only. Or you can go with giving everyone the same chance to win or get rewards no matter how much they do or participate.
How to keep your street team alive
- Post regularly, but not too often. Don’t overwhelm your street team members by asking for help, advice or sharing every hour, but do make sure to post regularly enough so that they don’t forget about you. I would recommend to post at least once a week in a street team. More is okay, as long as you don’t post asking for help every day, but sharing posts or starting conversations every day is okay, just don’t expect everyone to participate.
- Let them know what’s going on. You can keep your street team active by letting them know what’s going on, what you’re working on or sharing posts you come across. Often street team members are not only your fans, but also friends and they want to know what’s going on in your life. If you’re lining up a promotion, planning an ad or are quiet because you go into the writing cave, feel free to let them know. It might feel silly, but this way they know what’s going on and feel up to date with what’s happening.
- Ask for advice/ get the conversation going. Another way to keep a street team active is to ask for advice or start a conversation, ask questions where almost everyone can reply on. That way you can keep people interested and participating in a group. Although no matter what you do there will always be members who are more active than others and that’s okay and normal.
- Give and take. I think one of the most important things to keep a street team a fun and happy place to be and keep it active is to give and take. Don’t only ask for their help and give nothing in return, but also give your street team members something in return. Don’t expect them to always help you and get nothing back. They are a valuable part of your promotions and it’s nice to let them know you value them and give them something in return sometimes. Lost of people join a street team because they love an author their books, but that doesn’t mean a thank you or something in return isn’t valued.
As a blogger, being part of a street team
As a blogger, reader and reviewer I have been part of quite some street teams over the years. In general I love being part of street teams, although I am not always as active as I would like. If an author who’s books I enjoy starts a street team I will most likely join. I like helping the author promote their books and don’t mind if I get nothing in return, although I do appreciate review copies in return of being part of their street team.
I’ve found some great street teams and enjoy being part of them, although I also had a few negative experiences. Once a street team forbid giving out 1 star reviews which wasn’t okay with me so I left, once I started enjoying an author her books less and left a street team and I once had a author who asked for sharing too much. But overall those are in the minority and most street teams are a fun place to be. I have street teams where I am more of a lurker, I like to keep up to date and hear what’s going on, but I hardly participate. There are also street teams where I participate more or jump into the conversation when possible. I’ve seen everything from small and cozy street teams to larger ones and most of them work great no matter the size, although they do have a different feel. often the feel of the team is very much influenced by the author their personality and how they run their team. I also like the inside knowledge and the way you can connect more with an author who’s books you like. It’s fun being the first to see a new cover or blurb and having your advice be appreciated. So yes overall as a blogger I enjoy being part of street teams.