Cost Justifying Your Author Sidekick
How is it possible to cost justify subscribing to Author Platform Sidekick when everything that the service does on behalf of authors are actions they can undertake themselves? After all, Ian designed the service around the techniques first revealed in his book Advanced Twitter Strategies for Authors. This is a step-by-step guide on how to increase your engagement on Twitter while attracting thousands of new followers.
So, if an author can read Ian’s book for just $4.99 and apply everything themselves, why on earth would one subscribe to Author Platform Sidekick, paying between $69 and $99 per month (depending on subscription plan) to have everything done for them?
Feedback from existing customers tells us there are three main reasons: time, skills and, despite the at-first-glance difference in cost, money.
There is a one-time set up that every author needs to go through to implement the techniques outlined in the book. After this, it’s a monthly process to optimise and ensure everything is working well, tuning to ensure that the message remains fresh.
However, once set up, there is also the daily activity of following and unfollowing others. While the tools recommended in the book make this easier and quicker to do than using the standard Twitter interface, authors have to manually work through a list of people, clicking follow and unfollow hundreds of times each day.
Twitter prohibits tools that automate the process of following and unfollowing and will suspend vendors and Twitter accounts using any such tools. Their number one rule is that the act of following or unfollowing must be performed by a human. This means that authors need to carve out about 10 - 15 minutes every day to click through a list of targets. Not only is this time better spent writing, it’s a very mundane and laborious activity.
Frankly, it’s boring!
Author Platform Sidekick utilises a team of offshore operators who carry out this activity out on behalf of subscribers to the service. The approach completely complies with Twitter's terms of service because each act of following or unfollowing is manually performed by a human. This time saving benefit alone is the number one reason why people choose to outsource to Sidekick rather than do it themselves.
Although Ian lays out full instructions on how to implement the third-party tools in the book, with screenshots and examples, many authors are technophobes and still find this challenging.
Author Platform Sidekick presents a simple set of forms for the customer to fill in. Lots of help and guidance is provided to ensure the author provides the correct data to set up Sidekick. And even then, when authors have questions, they are able to contact Ian by email and he always replies personally.
It should be noted that the Emailer Option is not covered in the book as Ian came up with the approach after publication. Authors would need to work out how to configure this themselves.
The book may only cost $4.99, but implementing all of the techniques requires the author to subscribe to multiple third-party apps that sit on top of Twitter. There is Tweepi ($25/month) for fast following and unfollowing. SocialOomph ($39/month) for managing RSS feeds and tweet queues. And StatusBrew ($25/month) for implementing the welcome tweet automation that drives the email subscriptions.
This total monthly cost for all tools is $89/month. Sidekick is priced at between $69 and $99/month depending on the plan chosen.
Doing the equivalent of 'Builder' yourself only requires Tweepi, a difference of $44/month to Sidekick's Builder plan. But Sidekick’s operators will do all the follow and unfollow clicking on your behalf, so the question is whether $44/month is worth it to get back 15 minutes a day (equivalent to over 7 hours a month). And don’t forget, clicking follow/unfollow a few hundred times a day is boring! The cost difference for doing the equivalent of Engager and Promoter yourself is $21 and $26 respectively, making the effective cost of the the offshore operators even more attractive.
Manually implementing the Emailer Option costs $25/month for a monthly subscription to StatusBrew. Sidekick’s price is less, at $20/month. And even then, the Sidekick team will set everything up on your behalf, this being the most technically challenging aspect of the service. As mentioned previously, it’s also the element of the service not actually described in the book!
Ian has achieved all this by negotiating volume pricing vendors and passing it on to his customers. Sidekick is also using a different, more powerful tool than Tweepi. And don’t forget, the cost of the offshore team of operators is included in the subscription. So, although Sidekick is slightly more expensive, that difference can be justified by the cost of the offshore team doing all the manual clicking of follow and unfollow every day.
What About Return on Investment?
You'll notice that this post is not about selling more books to justify the cost. At no point in the book Advanced Twitter Strategies for Authors or on the sales pages for Author Platform Sidekick do we make promises about selling more books.
While some Sidekick customers have reported increases in book sales directly attributed to their increased activity on Twitter, it's a well known fact that Twitter is not the best social media platform to sell anything. Increasing your engagement on Twitter should be considered more as branding and giving you greater reach to get your message out. Any increase in sales would be a side benefit, but is unlikely to cover your subscription costs.
If driving greater book sales would be how you'd prefer to focus your budget, then you should consider advertising on Facebook or Amazon or running Bookbub powered discount promotions.
Can You Afford Not to Hire a Sidekick?
So, if you’re serious about taking advantage of the techniques laid out in Advanced Twitter Strategies for Authors, you really do have two choices. Follow the instructions in the book and do it yourself or have the Author Platform Sidekick team do it on your behalf.
Author Platform Sidekick saves you lots of time, requires no technology skills and actually saves you money, assuming you value 7 hours of your own time at more than $21 - $44/month!
Lastly, if that's not enough, customers of Author Platform Sidekick receive a free copy of Advanced Twitter Strategies for Authors as well!