Posts Tagged ‘bloggers’
“If you build it, they will come.” That may be a great slogan when it comes to baseball fields, but it’s definitely not true when it comes to websites. In fact, I’ve worked with a multitude of authors who have launched author websites, expected to see thousands of visitors, and just sat back and waited. And waited. Not surprisingly, they didn’t come.
You see, building an author website is just one step in the process of building an author website presence. Next, you have to figure out how you’re going to get people there.
Here are five ways you can do just that.
1. Optimize. You’ve been told all about search engine optimization. What you probably don’t know is what it is, how it works, or how to implement it. I could talk about this for days, but I’ll try to make it brief. Do your keyword research (or hire someone to do it for you). Pick the keywords in your genre that get the most searches and have the least competition. The more specific, the better. Then make sure to work those words into your site – both in the metadata (which visitors can’t see) and the actual text on the page. It may take some time to work, but this optimization can help you tremendously. Learn more from our post on SEO tips.
2. Blog. You probably don’t want to hear this, but it’s true. Blogging about the topic that your book covers can increase your site traffic exponentially. Why? Well, because a blog is chock full of information – not just marketing copy – which makes your site much more likely to show up on search results. It also makes your posts much more likely to get clicks. Think about it: if someone goes to Google and searches for “how to write a perfect resume,” what are they more likely to click on? A page that touts your book about how to write a perfect resume or a brief blog post that you wrote with resume-writing tips. You have the answer. Find out why and how authors should be blogging.
3. Go social. Social networking is the singlemost effective form of marketing in today’s online world. Think of it as an interactive form of advertising. You build a website to really sell your product. Then you use social networking (Facebook, Twitter, etc…) to get people there. Sure you can’t write too much in a Facebook status update or a tweet. But the point isn’t to share your story there. The point is to get people to click on that link to your website.
4. Update your email signature. Quick … what does your email signature say? Probably not much. But think of all the people that you email on a regular basis. How many of them know about your website? Make sure that your email signature contains your name, your book title(s) and the URL of your website. You’d be surprised just how much traffic this could bring you.
5. Reach out. There are probably dozens of other websites out there that cover similar topics as you. Why not reach out to them about some sort of cross-promotion? Maybe you can each include a link to one another on the site. Maybe you can each write a guest blog post on the other’s site? The opportunities are endless, depending on the subject matter you cover. If someone else has the ready-made audience that you want, then see how you can finagle your way into their world!
Finally, my last piece of advice: set up and monitor your Google Analytics account. This will tell you how many people visited your site, which pages they visited and how long they stayed. Without this information, you’re working blindly when you try to analyze what’s working and what’s not. After all, why spend your time doing all the things above if you have no idea how effective they are?
If you want help with any of these strategies, contact us at Smart Author Sites. We’ll be happy to help!
I chimed in to a discussion on LinkedIn last week with this very same title: Is An Author’s Platform Now A Prerequisite?
Little did I know just how much commentary there was going to end up being.
A few people had commented before I found the post, saying that they felt an author platform was important. One of my favorite responses was from Ian Miller, who said, “You don’t need a platform to, write, but you need one to attract readers.”
I then chimed in with the following:
I agree with most of the comments here. That doesn’t mean that it’s impossible to get published without an author platform, but it means that you’re starting with a great disadvantage if you don’t have one. Put yourself in the position of a publisher: if you’re deciding between two or three authors, which one would you choose to publish? The one who has shown that he or she knows how to market books and has already built a following, or the one who hasn’t?
There have probably been 20 responses to my comment, mostly in agreement. But I thought I would give you some of the excerpts so that you can decide for yourself:
Beverly Bistransky • @Karen, Yes and No. I think the connection between the writer/author and editing publisher have quite a bit to do with who they choose to deal. At least the better publishers etiquette if you will, know that this is just as important as the author already having a current following especially if the author is changing their subject demeanor.
Elly Taylor • And, as I’m just finding now, there is a lot of platform building to be done between being published and achieving commercial success. In hindsight, I could have done more while waiting for the book to be published, especially as far as social media is concerned.
Nancy Root Miller • Karin sums it up nicely. I am in the process of researching agents and publishers for my cookbook. Nearly every one asks for details on your platform: what social media do you use, do you have a blog and/or website, do you teach, are you a regular guest on television or radio. If you’re a terrific writer without a “platform” and you’re lucky, you may be able to find a publisher or editor who will take a risk on you anyway. You’ll increase your chances if you participate in Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn (!), Pinterest, and so on.
Sean Concannon • A unique proposal, and demonstrated ability to write are just as important in getting published as having a platform. With a high quality project, and a strong platform, you are almost certain to get published. If you have a high quality project to sell, and no platform or very little in the way of a platform, it’s worth getting started. A strategy for nurturing your platform will make your project more attractive to potential agents, who will know that they can use the quality of your project in combination with the potential of your platform to sell your proposal to a publisher.
Tannera Kane • I recommend authors develop a platform before publication. ONe can always adjust the platform after publication if one aspect of marketing doesn’t work.
Brad Windhauser • Today, I think a writer needs a platform more importantly, an author needs to figure out how to construct a sensible platform. How can you attract an audience that compliments your work? I have a traditional website where people can find samples of my work, etc. I plug away on Twitter. I have FB. along with four other writer friends, I started a group blog (5writers.com), a blog site we use to discuss writing. Since it’s a group blog, the burden of posting is spread out–and we all benefit from the attention each writer brings. I also started my own blog project (BibleProjectBlog.com) where, as a gay author, I chronicle my reading of the Bible for the first time. Since I don’t openly court “Christian” readers, I’m using this blog to develop my voice and expose my style to a new audience (hopefully).
Allison Bruning • I think its especially important nowadays for authors to build a platform. There are so many books in the market it’s easy for a new author to get lost in the sea. But if they can work on making their presence known throughout the social networks and various writing oppurtunities out there then they may be able to drive traffic towards the fans they have acquired.
James Hockey • I think we are falling into the error of comparing apples with pears. Elly’s case above demonstrates the classic route forward for non-fiction where there is a manifest social need whether it be parenting or home electrics.
Fiction on the other hand is very different and without building a platform the author is likely to die the death of total invisibility.
Beverly Bistransky • The subject also in itself can end up being the platform. For example: a disorder that is rarely ever talked about. If it is well written and touches the audience in a tangible way, it will be its own platform, the subject disease that is.
Reynold Conger • In spite of all the articles about platforms, I still do not understand what a platform is. Obviously a good publicity campaign helps the sales of a book, but does this need a platform?
Gaurav Bhatnagar • Coming to the answer on the original post from @Gemma, yes, indeed, it’s required. Problem is not with book discovery or authors discovery… Today’s book lovers are much aware on what they want to read than ever. A platform can give an author a boost to their books, an enhancement to their knowledge, increased fan base, new friends helping each other and so on.
There are about 20 more comments in the conversation, but I’m going to stop there. The general consensus? “Yes, authors do need a platform to sell books.” That platform can manifest itself in various ways — an author website, a blog, a presence on social media, etc.. — but every author needs to be doing something. Just writing isn’t enough to be a professional writer any more.
I joined a conversation on LinkedIn about how to add followers to your blog. One person responded with one of the most insightful quotes I have ever read in a social media setting. Here is what Shauntelle Hamlett had to say…
It’s important to remember that even blogging is “social” media… and people (readers) turn to blogs because they want a more personal interaction with the person that their following. So, as you create posts, remember to mix it up… people (readers) enjoy slice of life interaction as well as posts about your stories. I think that is sometimes hard for writer’s to understand because we tend to use the web as a tool… when we read, we’re often researching for inspiration or ideas or to solve a particular problem.
Your readers, on the other hand, are probably seeking to connect… especially if your core audience are women. They are seeking an opportunity to relate… to see that you understand their lives, their fears, their dreams… in a way, you should think of your blog as your online reality television show. Of course, you probably don’t want to attract the same fans as The Real Housewives of Atlanta or Jersey Shore (or maybe you do…), but you want to use similar tactics of providing a space where your fans feel they are getting an inside view of your life, your writing process, your character’s lives…
Do with this as you wish. I think it’s a wonderful approach to blogging! You go, Shauntelle!
I was reading my trusty “Internet and Marketing Report” this past weekend, and came across an article about 9 “can’t-afford-to-forget” elements on any website looking to sell something. An author website is no exception.
With that in mind, here’s what they had listed, along with my author-slanted twist on each one.
1. Descriptive headline. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. You’ve got three seconds to catch someone’s attention. Make sure you take advantage of those three seconds with a headline that tells people what they will get out of your book and your website.
2. Brief benefits copy. People are more likely to buy your book if you can tell them what they will get out of it. For a nonfiction author, this may mean “information on… that you can’t find anywhere else.” For a fiction author, it may be something like, “laugh and cry at the same time.”
3. Above-the-fold call to action. For those of you not familiar with these terms, let me define. “Above the fold,” means what someone sees on your site without having to scroll down. “Call to action” refers to a specific direction on what to do. So, an “above-the-fold call to action” is a specific action — be it “buy the book” or “sign up for the newsletter” — that you’re encouraging someone to do immediately upon arrival.
4. Features. Once you’ve sucked someone in with the “benefits” of the book, now you have to tell them about the “features” of the book. For example, how long is it? How many chapters? What formats do you sell it in?
5. Success indicators. Make sure to include excerpts from rave reviews of the book, testimonials from professionals, etc…
6. Supporting image. Use a picture (and not a stock image) to sell your book and your website. Maybe it’s a powerful book cover. Maybe it’s a photo of you. Whatever it is, make sure it conveys something.
7. Resource center. According to Internet and Marketing Report, about 96% of website visitors won’t be ready to buy anything right away. So make sure you give them a place they can spend some time on the site, learn more, and come back to regularly.
8. Content offer. The best thing you can do is collect a visitor’s email address. But how do you get them to give that to you? You offer them a bonus for doing so, like a downloadable white paper or a list of secrets behind the book.
9. Social media icons. This is practically a requirement in 2012. People want to know that you’re up-to-date and responsive. Having places for people to friend or follow you on Facebook and Twitter sends that message.
See? An author is just like any other website owner. Follow these nine guidelines and you will have an author website that helps accomplish your goals.
I’m a huge fan of Google Alerts. And, apparently, I’m not the only one.
For those of you who are not familiar with Google Alerts, it’s a handy-dandy system that Google offers, through which you can receive email notifications whenever a particular search term is used on a website. So, for example, every time someone writes about “author websites,” I am notified, and provided a link to read the article.
There are tons of blog entries out there explaining all the reasons to sign up for Google Alerts. Here are four that I think are especially helpful to authors.
1. Ideas for blog entries. How do you think I come up with all my ideas on what to blog about? Sure, some of them are from work with clients and some are from news in the industry. But a large percentage of them are from Google Alerts. I receive those emails and I get to read all about what other people are saying regarding author websites. I may agree with what I read, or I may disagree with what I read. Either way, it’s fodder for my blog entries. The same can be true for authors. Sign up for Google Alerts and be notified whenever someone mentions the subject matter of your book, Voila! You’ll now have something to blog about.
2. Staying on top of conversations about you. Chances are that, at some point, another website is going to reference you, your website, or your book. And when that happens, you want to know! You can then go and read what’s being said about you, and respond. When I mention an author in a blog entry, that author often posts a comment in response, thanking me for my kind words. If I happened to say something negative — which rarely happens — the author who signed up for Google Alerts would have the opportunity to rebut my claim. Either way, by signing up for Google Alerts, you will be aware of what’s being said about you and when.
3. Following your competition. What are other authors in your genre doing to promote their books? Sign up for Google Alerts and you can stay on top of their latest marketing efforts, website updates, etc… See what’s working for them and copy it!
4. Taking advantage of PR opportunities. According to Sherrie Wilkolaski of Infinity Publishing (a partner company of Smart Author Sites), “Using Google Alerts to get you better synced up with your local media and writers communities is a wonderful way to put yourself ‘in the know’ and keep you out in front of the completion and giving you a greater chance to be called on as the local author expert.” In addition, Sherrie adds, “It is typical to find other authors, bloggers and media personalities posting via their own sites and social media networks for authors to interview for future articles, interviews, etc. It’s usually first come, first served so if you are positioning yourself as an expert in your field or genre, set-up Google Alerts to notify you. ”
Signing up for Google Alerts is quick and easy. Simply go to http://www.google.com/alerts and specify the keywords you’re targeting, how often you want to be updated, and the email address you want the updates to go to. Voila!
And, as always, if you’re looking to discuss developing or upgrading your author website, contact us today for a free consultation!
I came across an article in my trusted Internet and Marketing Report magazine. In it, the manager of Brand Marketing for Gap clothing, Samantha Willems, was asked how to create good Facebook content and boost engagement.
Her answers were good, but what struck me was that they’re relevant to far more than Facebook. Follow these guidelines for just about everything you create content for — your blog, your tweets, etc…
Here’s an overview of her recommendations (in my own words, of course), customized a bit for authors…
1. Create a schedule … and then be flexible. Plan your posts in advance by creating the equivalent of an editorial calendar, but be ready to act if something newsworthy happens related to the subject matter of your content. Then post on that stuff ASAP.
2. Use multimedia. Text isn’t enough any more. Try to make your contributions a blend of audio, video, questions, and straight text.
3. Interact. I tell this to clients all the time. Your blog (or Facebook or Twitter) is not like an editorial column in a newspaper. It’s a conversation, and you’re making a mistake if you don’t treat it as such. Respond to comments and questions. Engage with your readers. If you don’t make them feel involved, then they’re not likely to come back regularly.
4. Treat readers as friends. Don’t make your content too marketing-centric. Nobody likes that … on any platform. Instead, remember that the web is one huge world of friends communicating with one another. Their voices are just as important as your voice. So treat your readers with the same respect that you would want to be treated.
See what I mean? Samantha is right about this being the best way to create compelling Facebook content. But what she didn’t mention is that these golden rules should be followed on every platform.
You know that you need an author website. Everyone has told you that you need one. But what exactly should be on that author website? Why do people visit author websites at all?
This is a common question. And it’s a question that is very helpful to know the answer to before you start building your site. So why do people visit author websites?
A first-time visitor is likely to visit your website because:
a) they heard your name and want to learn more about you
b) they read your book and want to see if you’re written others
c) they stumbled upon your site from another site
No matter which of these three methods someone went about finding your site, what’s important is that they did find it. And the truth is that you now have only a few seconds to grab their attention.
You need to know right off the bat what exactly you want someone to do on your site. Is it buy your book? Give you their email address for future correspondence? Sign up for your blog notifications? Set a goal for yourself and make it as easy as possible for first-time visitors to help you accomplish it!
This is where it gets a little more complicated. It’s easy to explain why someone might wind up on your website the first time. What’s harder to figure out is why some author websites get visitors to return time after time, and others do not.
Thankfully, we have the answers. Not to toot our own horn or anything…
Before I get into the nitty gritty details, remember this: if you’ve set the goal of getting first-time visitors to sign up for something (as described above), then you’re far more likely to get them coming back for more. If all you’ve encouraged them to do is learn more about your book, read an excerpt, or even buy the book, then what motivation have you given them for coming back?
Now on to the meaty stuff. You see, the best way to know how to get a reader coming back to your website over and over again is to find out why people opt to return to some author websites and not others. With that in mind, I’ve collected some anecdotes from various message boards to see what people are saying about why they visit author sites repeatedly. Here are some of the highlights…
- I love to check out Sarah Dessen’s blog, where she posts pictures and gives lots of little tidbits about her new books. She’s been showing pictures of the new covers for the re-released versions of her books, and she dropped a hint that her next book, due out in May 2013 will be called Someone Else’s Summer.
- I visit author sites because they usually have their book info and bios layed out more clearly than Amazon does, along with links to their Twitter, FB, and/or blog. They mention upcoming titles and events and many have special sections devoted to their series, discussing the larger story arc behind the series, whether readers can expect additions to the series, etc.
- I think trying to connect with authors is a big part of it. You wonder if they’re really and truly human. Do you have anything in common? The books is another angle. What do they have? What series? How many? Are there going to be more? My daughter is a huge reader and she stalks the sites of the authors she loves to see what conferences they’re attending, where are they signing, when is that next book, do they have a new cover yet, and so on.
- I occasionally visit author websites to find out about the status of their works-in-progress. That’s when I’m a fan of their writing.
- I’ve only ever gone to one I think – but he’s my favorite author. For some reason I want to read about his life! And the the funniest thing is that I don’t even think I’d LIKE him in real life. Yet, still – every few months I go check it out to see what he’s up to.
So what do all of these quotes have in common? They all have to do with currency. No, not currency as in money; currency is in timeliness. What is the author currently doing? What is the status of his or her latest book? Where is she doing book signings? Are there any teasers in place for the next book?
Yes folks, that is “the answer” to the question. Why do people visit author websites? Because the website gives them something new and interesting to digest. Keep that in mind before you decide that you don’t have the time to blog or simply want the site to be a static portfolio of your work. You may be losing out on a lot of repeat visitors. And less visitors = less book sales.
Just about every author thinks that they book they’ve written is a wonderful piece of work. Sometimes they’re right. Sometimes, they’re not. But that’s for another day. Unless the author website reflects the quality of the book, an author is shooting himself in the foot.
With that in mind, here are some interesting points from The Creative Penn about common mistakes that authors make in regards to their websites:
Mistake #2: Underestimating the importance of a website.
Many authors know how important first impressions are, but don’t realize how that translates to a website. They go to bat for good cover art design, but not for website design. A website is just as important as a book cover in terms of how a book should be seen by the public eye.
Mistake #3: Thinking that a beautiful design is all that an author website needs.
Unless the site is easy to navigate and contains valuable information, even the best design in the world won’t make a potential reader stay long enough to get sucked in.
Mistake #4: Not engaging with readers via the author website.
Think you just need to build a website and then it will sell copies of the book all by itself? Think again. Use your website to feature upcoming events, share news, and allow readers to talk with each other. Blogging, of course, is another great way to communicate with fans directly. Ditto for a newsletter. All this makes it much more likely that readers will be there for you when you ask them to show support for your new book.
Mistake #5: Building a website that doesn’t reflect you.
You need to be comfortable with your website. It should look like you your books. And you should feel that the colors and images are a nice reflection of you and your work. After all, if you’re not comfortable in your own online skin, then no one else will be either!
I belong to several author groups on LinkedIn. I love offering tips and advice to authors who are just starting out (usually, advising them to build a website and/or start blogging). However, I also get a lot of great ideas from those groups, too. After all, there’s nothing like authors helping other authors.
With that in mind, I stumbled upon a conversation today titled, “Any ideas on how to get the buzz going about my book?” There were tons of answers, many of which I found to be very insightful and creative. Here are the highlights…
- You may want to add a mailing list feature to your website so you can keep in touch with your readers. Also, having a media kit readily available on your web site makes it easier for an interviewer to research you/your book. Perhaps some pre-done interview questions for them, A virtual book tour could also stir things up for you. – Judy Robertson
- One ‘word of mouth’ strategy I tell my clients is place your book at the airport where people are checking in ( or a bus depot, coffee shop) . Write in the 1st page this book that it is is “from the author and please leave behind for someone to read when done. ” Sign your name and provide you email and website. You’ll be surprised by emails and where your book has traveled. One clients book went around Europe in a months time. — John Weaver
- I’ve donated a book to a library and placed a small article in local media. –Kent Whitaker
- Have you thought about Pinterest at all? Remember, the key is exposure. Also, get profiles up on Good Reads and Library Thing, too – big sites getting lots of traffic. –Penny Sansevieri
- One of the most efficient methods we’ve found is to create and send a press release with a good “hook” to journalists and media outlets for whom the book would be of particular interest. –Ron Kaye
- Check out some of the book bloggers/ book reveiwers out there. Many of them will post reviews to Amazon, B&N, or Goodreads, as well as on their own blogs. It’s a great way gain exposure. –Thomas Hill
- Check out some of the indie book contests (such as Readers Favorite). Books that win awards get noticed and can greatly enhance your marketing efforts. –Thomas Hill
- I haven’t launched my book yet either but one of my ideas is to have flyers made from the book cover. I plan to hang them anywhere and everywhere. –Lawrence Weiner
- Viral marketing is the equivalent of hitting a home run. Whether it’s a blog post, a comment on someone else’s blog, a video trailer, media interview or a very clever ad, such efforts can go viral and have a life of their own. –Charles Weinblatt
- Drive people WHEREVER you have OUTSTANDING book reviews, a solid blurb and where people can see a sample of your book, as well as seeing that other people HAVE bought it and enjoyed it. Every time you get a great review, tweet it. Make good use of hashtags, like “amreading,” etc. –Kimberly Hitchens
Do you have any other marketing ideas that have worked for you? If so, share them below!
Did you know that Facebook “shares” is the most popular way to drive traffic to your author website or blog? Yup … according to the most recent statistics, people visit a website more often because a link was shared by a friend than as the result of a Google search.
But there are certain types of articles. blog entries or Facebook posts that are shared far more than others. With that in mind, here are five different techniques that you can use (ideas courtesy of Internet & Marketing Report) to make sure that your post gets spread around the world of social networking.
1. Be an advocate. Write Facebook posts that are helpful and informative, or advocate for a cause. People love to share something when they feel like they’re doing it for the greater good. A great example is sending around a link about an injustice related to the subject matter of your book, or information about how a percentage of your sales this week will go to charity.
2. Connect people. Some people love to share links because it helps them strengthen relationships with others. So give them something that tugs on their heartstrings and they will enjoy sharing it.
3. Be provocative. There’s nothing that gets people talking — or sharing — like a provocative post. Talk about a hot-button issue related to your book’s subject matter, or ride the coattails of a controversy in the news that’s somehow similar to the book.
4. Offer information. Provide lots of helpful information and people will want to share it with friends and co-workers. Offer a “how to” list or Q&As related to being an author, getting published, etc… It’s almost guaranteed to go viral.
5. Start trends. Everyone loves to be the “first to know.” So stay on top of the news related to your book’s subject matter, and post immediately about it. People will want to share it with their friends …. whomever knows before everyone else is automatically the “cool” person.