People need to know about your writing group before they can attend any meetings, but how do you get the word out?
My first efforts at advertising our creative writing critique group was to use Meetup. And we did get our first few members from it, but what we found was that a lot of people join Meetup groups with no intention of ever actually attending.
A problem arises once your Meetup group passes a certain number of “members”. It’s then that you have to pay a lot more money for the Meetup group. It’s unfair that the Meetup website doesn’t count only the people who actually attend meetings. Instead they count every person who clicks the little “join us” button on your Meetup page.
These people are easy to spot. Just look at their profile in Meetup, and you’ll often see that they also joined 50 or 60 other groups on the Meetup website. Clearly, since there are only 30 days in a month, they’re either spending every single day attending Meetups or (much more likely) they join Meetup groups willy-nilly with no intention of ever attending.
Our experience was that we had dozens and dozens of people joining the Meetup group, which forced us to pay the extra money, but never had these people attend any of our writing group meetings. So we deleted the Meetup group.
I then tried using Facebook advertising. This was expensive, but it allowed me to advertise only to people who were interested in fiction writing. I think I spent about $130 on a two-month advertising campaign, but got only two or three new members.
What finally worked for us (and was totally free), was that we decided to start networking within the writing community. We attended local author events, workshops, and other fiction writing events in our area. By meeting people and talking to them, word of mouth began to spread. Pretty soon we were being invited to speak at some of these events.
On every occasion we let people know about our writing club, and new people began showing up at our meetings.
It’s not necessary to spend a lot of money on advertising. It’s much better to spend a little time getting to know people in your community. Word of mouth is best.
Photo credit: flickr Creative Commons, Network by Jurgen Appelo