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.
Hi Lola, great article on Street Teams.
Thanks Kathy! I am glad to hear that 🙂
Lola recently posted…Lola’s Advice: How to set-up a Street Team
I really like street teams, especially for authors that are just starting out. They can be a great way to to gain more publicity. Although I’ve been in several street teams and some have worked out really great and others kind of fell apart because no one kept them active. And like you, I’ve left some street teams because of their review rules.
Angela @Simply Angela recently posted…Death of a Liar by M.C. Beaton
I agree it can be a great way for authors to get some more publicity and to have the help of a team behind them.
And yes some teas work out great and others fell apart and I left some by my own choice.
I don’t usually join street teams; mostly I just don’t know they exist! I did join one for author Danika Stone but that was mostly to help promote her adult novel that came out in May. I would definitely help her in the future though if she needed it. She’s really sweet and was kind to all the bloggers – giving them a copy of the book and some other goodies they could keep or giveaway – as well as tweeting about them, etc.
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I guess you sorta have to run into one. Most of the teams I joined the author specifically invited me, but there are also teams with sign-up forms that you fill out to join. And ofcourse a lot of authors don’t have a street team.
And that’s great when an author is sweet like that and gives the bloggers something in return.
Lola recently posted…Lola’s Advice: How to set-up a Street Team
Excellent post, Lola!
You’ve given me a nudge to get my butt going on this.
Hey, how is it going! I haven’t heard from you in a long time. What are you working on at the moment?
I am glad you found it helpful. This is a topic I know quite a lot about and I wanted to share what I know with others. Let me know if you need help when you decide to set-up your street team!
Great article, Lola! Someday I would like to do this, which is why I started my private group, but I think it’s still too early for me. 🙂
S. J. Pajonas recently posted…Sunday Update – June 5, 2016
Yes your private group has a few characteristics of a street team. I like seeing drafts for the covers and such in there.
You can always start your street team out small and slowly build it. I think small teams can be effective too, although I can also imagine you prefer to wait a bit longer. Please let me know if you need help if you decide to set-up a street team 🙂
When I was starting I joined a LOT of teams. I consider it like bragging rights then I got busy and that fell to the wayside.
I would like to mention though that it’s not wise to treat your streeteam like your own FREE marketing machine. I was once part of this ST and every week it’s like the group leader kept giving us tasks. It’s such a turn-off because it felt like they’re making us do what their publicists should be doing. And as for the perks, we all have to “battle” for one prize. I left because I felt like I was being taken advantage of
Braine Talk Supe recently posted…A Shot of YA: My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, Jodi Meadows
I joined quite a few teams at first too, it feels like a privilege to get invited to them. I am still art of some teams where I haven’t read the author books in a long time and feel like I should probably step out of the team because I am not contributing, but I find it interesting to see how authors run their teams. Every team has such a different feel.
And I totally agree you should treat your street team as your free marketing machine it’s giving and taking, like most things in life. Which is why I also tried to emphasize giving team members something in return. And things like free review copies or letting the team know ahead of time what you’re working on or showing the cover before others get to see it are small things for the authors, but can be a lot of fun for team members.
I also have been part of some teams which do the whole task thing, which often can feel pushy. And the dynamics can feel all wrong if the author asks for a lot and gives little in returns. I think it can be hard to balance that to get the right feel for a team.
I feel like I don’t really know what the exact definition of a street team is? I don’t join them if it’s just about promoting a book but not getting review copies. I suppose that sounds selfish, but, if I like a book, I don’t need to be on a team to promote it, you know? Like, I’ll just review it and talk about it on my own, not stress myself with extra rules. But I am part of one author’s team, I suppose, in which I get ARCs of her books, and there’s a FB group where members can kind of talk, but I’m also a lurker, and it’s mostly used for updates from the moderator. And I’ve just never found any other authors with street teams whose books I actually liked enough to join. I do see how they’re helpful to authors though.
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Usually a street team is a place for fans of the author to gather. You be the first to hear new information and the author might ask for help promoting their books. I agree you don’t need to be part of a team to help promote the book, but it can be fun to be part of them. I sure have found some great teams where there is a fun atmosphere and you get to talk with the author a bit more. Others are more to the point and some I join just so I can help the author and/ or get review copies of their books. It really depends on the author and how they run their team what the exact team is like.
I do prefer teams that are light on the rules as else it can be a bit restricting. But there are also teams which are very carefree with no obligations and is mostly just a fun place to be. I often am a lurker, but I still like being part of them. The two teams I helped set-up are probably the ones I am most active in. And I do believe they can be a great help for the authors.
I am a member of an actual street team, and then three other groups that are just the authors fans-a kind of place for discussion of the books and characters. I have enjoyed both kinds of groups and love talking books with people that like the same books I do. I do think that four groups are plenty for me! Great post 🙂
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There are some street teams which are light on the promotion and more a fun place for fans to gather indeed. In fact I feel like every street team is different and it really depends on how the author runs their team. I am not sure of how many teams I am part of, but quite some, but not all of those are very active so it’s still doable to keep track of them all.
You did a great job of explaining about Street Teams. From an author’s perspective, I think they are a great idea. Every little bit helps. But I also like how you pointed out about the give and take and the clear rules.
As a reader/reviewer, Street Teams are hit or miss for me. I was in a half a dozen at one point and it whittled down to one now. I’ve left it at that because I keep pretty busy just reviewing and doing tours. I still try to share on occasion even if I’m not on their ST. Of those six from before: Two I had to leave because there was unethical and unprofessional behavior going on with the author and their assistant by asking the team to do stuff I didn’t feel was right. Another two got to where there were daily pushes to do stuff and lots of pressure so I left the group. Another one just died off on it’s own. But the one I’m in now promotes a bit, shares a lot during her writing process, shares about her public and blog appearances, a bit of personal, and there are prizes and arcs available. Perfect balance.
I did want to mention that along with Street Teams, many authors are starting to have both a Street Team and a Fan group so that people could join either or both depending on how much they wanted to put in or get out of it.
Enjoyed your topic, Lola!
Sophia Rose recently posted…Branded as Trouble by Lorelei James #Review
Thanks Sophia! I am happy yo hear that you thought I explained it well. And I think it’s important to emphasize a team is give and take.
From a reader/ reviewer/ blogger point of view they sure can be a hit or miss unfortunately. I am still part of a bunch of teams, I think about 10 or so, but most aren’t too active so I can still make do.
I did step out of some over the years and some sorta disappeared or stopped being active. And I also agree you can still help share the word about books even if you aren’t on their street team. I do that a lot too especially when a book I know is discounted or I want to help spread the word.
I also left one because I felt uncomfortable with the rules they set, it’s a shame when that happens. And if they ask daily or constantly for help it sure can gets overwhelming.
The team you are in now sounds like the author has a perfect balance, it’s great when you find a team like that and it’s a joy to be part of one. I think it’s really tricky to get the balance right, an author has to post enough to make it a fun place, but not too much. And ask for help, but also give back.
Good point re the fan group thing. I haven’t encountered many authors who had both myself, but I have heard of it. Or authors who have a review list and team/ group.
Great article! I would love to have a street team but I don’t think it’s the right time for me. I don’t have an audience wide enough to interest people in one. Maybe someday!
I hope you get to start a street team once you feel the time is right. And please let me know if you need any help or have any questions I might be ale to answer!
Lola recently posted…Lola’s Advice: How to set-up a Street Team
I’m on a couple of street teams and it’s fun.
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I agree street teams can be a lot of fun, I enjoy being part of them.
Lola recently posted…Lola’s Advice: How to set-up a Street Team