What can writers do with QR codes? Do we even need them? When most writers still have that “I’m a writer, not a marketer” attitude, embracing something as 21st century as a smartphone, let alone a QR code, is going to be difficult.
But, if you’re trying to reach a particular kind of audience — let’s say a tech-savvy audience — or people who might not otherwise discover your work, a QR code could be a great way to market your work in some surprising and creative ways.
The whole point of a QR code is to reach a mobile audience. People who use their mobile phones to read articles and watch videos. People who use their tablets to read ebooks. Basically anyone not using a laptop or desktop computer, or reading paper-based articles and stories.
By tapping into the growing mobile market — and it’s growing fast — writers can get their words in front of a brand new audience, or at least an audience who can access your old work in new ways.
You can reach that mobile market in a few different ways, including emails, or making people tap long URLs into their web browser. But a QR code — that funny looking pixelated square — is something people can scan with their mobile phones to perform a certain action, like open a website or a video.
For writers, you can point a QR code at some of your work, and allow people to read it on their mobile phones. Here are a few places you can point them:
- At one of your best articles or short stories: This should be the first place your QR codes should go. Point them at some of your best work, and then put the QR code on a business card or writer’s resume. Or if you’re at a conference, put it on a t-shirt. Make sure that your website is mobile-friendly. Best way to do this? Install WP-Touch on your WordPress.org blog, or use Blogger, Posterous, or WordPress.com for a mobile-ready blog. Warning: Do not just point a QR code at your main website. For one thing, it’s boring and unimaginative. Hopefully you’ve already got a short, and clever, domain name, so a QR code is wasted. But if you don’t have anywhere else to point it, at least make sure your site is mobile friendly. A site designed for a desktop is awful to negotiate with a mobile phone.
- Your book page on Amazon.com: Have a book flyer or sales card? Put a QR code on it and let people scan it. They can make their purchase right on their mobile phone and have it shipped to their house or office.
- A mobile-only video: If you have a book trailer, consider making one especially for mobile use, and maybe even specifically for QR users. Speak directly to the user — “Hi, thanks for scanning the QR code and checking out the video.” — and tell them what is so special about this particular video. (“I’m sharing three additional personal branding secrets you won’t find in the Branding Yourself book.”) Make sure the video works on your mobile phone too. Some videos can’t play on mobile phones, so make sure you choose the right format and size.
- At your ebook: If you’ve got an ebook for sale, whether it’s on Amazon.com or another ecommerce page, write up a small card about the book, and put a QR code on it. People can read the ebook on their phone or tablet, especially if they’re using the Amazon Kindle app.
- At a secret page on your website: One of the best uses I saw of a QR code was a friend who put it on a t-shirt that he wore to conferences. People who scanned the code were immediately taken to a hidden page on his website where they could find how to connect with him via Twitter, LinkedIn, etc., as well as some special information that wasn’t available on his regular website.
The nice thing about QR codes is that you can point them anywhere you want. When you want to change pages, just edit the QR code. No need to create a new one or get rid of anything with the old code on it. Just go to the place where you created it, change the destination URL and you’re set.
You can put your code just about anywhere it can effectively be scanned, and point it anywhere that makes sense. On your business cards pointing to your book pages. T-shirts to your About.me page. Book covers to mobile videos. Anywhere you can think of, you can point it. Just don’t point it at your regular website, or put it on a highway billboard.
Watch Scott Stratten (@unmarketing) talk about QR codes and how they should and should not be used.