Thirty-nine. Treinta y nueve. Trente-neuf. Thelathini na tisa.
No matter how you say it, that was the number. After months of hard work and promotion, my first month of sales on my first self-published book netted me the whopping sales total of 39 copies. I wanted to give up. But I believed in the story too much. And I’m glad I didn’t quit. That little book has now reached over 13,000 people and has been #1 on Amazon’s best-seller list for books in Christian Evangelism (multiple times). Better yet, it’s helped me grow my platform and reach many new readers who I wouldn’t have had otherwise.
I’ve had the opportunity to work with several authors and dozens of self-publishing projects in recent years. One particular client has about a dozen books released, and some do really well, while others flop. The crazy thing is when we think we hit on an idea that will really resonate with readers, often they flop. Meanwhile, other less scintillating e-books quietly bring in the sales, anchoring an impressive library of content.
I think where some aspiring writers fall short is by giving up too easily or not thinking enough about long-term strategy when it comes to publishing. Here’s the thing…
With that in mind, here are a few pointers which may help you maximize the reach of your message, and build your platform to share whatever it is God puts on your heart next.
(1) growing your e-mail list
Especially with a first-time author project, I usually recommend launching the book in Kindle and PDF format. We get it out there on Amazon to start selling, but the big strategic move is leveraging the project to build a mailing list. Offering the free download get’s people on your list so you can continue to share through your blog what God is putting on your heart.
More importantly, it gives you the chance to continue to market your stuff down the road. You may reach out later to tell them about special Kindle promos, the project becoming available in other formats, additional study and small group resources, and new projects you’re launching.
The ROI of email is typically higher than any other platform, so using the project to get emails should be at the foundation of your long-term publishing strategy.
(2) using the free download to promote paid sales
One of the differences between PDF and other formats of the book is that the PDF should clearly inform the reader that it’s also available on Amazon. PDF is a great way give them the content, but it’s not as convenient to read, especially on mobile devices. So letting the reader know the book is available in a more friendly format (along with the link to go purchase it) is a simple way to drive sales. Many readers will register to download the free version, start reading it, and then when they decide they like it, they’ll go buy it in the more convenient format.
(3) switching to kdp select
Whenever I do the free download, I usually do it for a limited time. The length of time depends on how well it’s driving email subscribers for you. Then at some point, you’ll want to pull it down and switch to a Kindle-only strategy for the e-book. Amazon KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) has a program called KDP Select. The idea is that when you enroll your book into KDP Select, you are committing to at least 90 days of it being exclusive (in electronic format) to Amazon.
In return, you’ll get some sweet benefits. One is that it can be made available to Amazon Prime members in the lending library. They get it for “free” as part of their membership, but the author still gets paid a cut of the fund Amazon dedicates to participating books. Sometimes, you even get paid more than the sales price of the book!
Then there’s also the opportunity to stimulate sales with a discounted or free promotion.
(4) using free kindle downloads to increase paid sales
One of the most important factors of success on Amazon is understanding the Amazon ecosystem. You can certainly promote your stuff to the people who already follow you, but your goal is to gain some new audience by getting your work in front of people who don’t know you. There are some key triggers in Amazon that will lead to your book being found. One is the reviews, especially by those with a “verified purchase”. The other is getting into the “customers who bought this also bought” rotation for other books.
The KDP Select program allows you to offer 5 days of free download every 90 day enrollment period. You should use every single one in every single enrollment period!
The math is simple. The more people who get the book in their hands (with a verified purchase), the more likely you are to get reviews on the book. Additionally, when an Amazon customer gets your book for free, they’re still “buying” it. Their purchase price was $0.00, but they still bought the book, which makes it part of their purchase history, which means it’ll build up sales to become part of that “customers who bought this” rotation for other books those readers have purchased.
I regularly see that when we’re not doing free promos, paid sales dip. And when we do the promos, paid sales rise.
(5) never stop selling it
This one is tricky, but it gets down to this question… How much do you believe in the message God has put on your heart? If the answer is “a lot,” then you won’t give up on it. And selling doesn’t have to be an annoying thing. Often it can be done simply by talking about milestones. I’ll share on social media when one of my books hits the top of a sales chart, or when I get a review that fires me up…
Just saw this statement in a new review on The Unlikely Missionary: From Pew-Warmer to Poverty-Fighter over on…
I’ve just seen too many examples of books going completely against the traditional sales spike in the first 60-90 days from launch to think that we should stop telling a certain story after sales settle. In fact, I’ve seen sales rise substantially after 6 months or a year on the market. But it won’t rise if you give up on it.
(6) never stop creating new content
If you’re a writer, then chances are you’re not going to be done writing after you got that one project out. In fact, you probably can’t imagine NOT writing. So keep it up! Keep working on new projects. This is another simple math deal. The more publishing projects you have out there, then more potential “entry points” you have for someone to discover your writing, and to connect with everything else you do. Some will hit big, and some won’t. So just keep moving forward with this as part of your regular writing strategy.
Set a goal for yourself. Maybe it’s one new e-book every 3-6 months. Just set a schedule and commit to it, just like you do with your other (daily?) blogging.
Here’s the key to all of this. Too often writers look at getting something published as an end goal. We work to get published so that one day we can make money from our craft. Wrong. We write because we have something to communicate, we have a story to tell. And self-publishing is one of the tools that can be used to help you do that. It also happens to be one that could generate income. More importantly, it’s a tool you can use to share ideas and whatever God puts on your heart. If you approach self-publishing with a solid strategy to guide you, then you can substantially expand the reach of your voice.
Note: This post was originally published on the Allume Blog.
That’s how I feel about Facebook, every day of my life. I don’t know if I can take another algorithm change. And it seems like the wounds from the last one haven’t even healed yet when another comes along and rips in even more. Sometimes I don’t think I’ll ever recover, and walking away seems to be the best option.
But then I look at the data.
Facebook is one of the top drivers of traffic to my websites, second only to Google. And the quality of the traffic coming from Facebook has been much more engaged than other sources, making it probably the single most valuable referrer of people checking out my work.
So are all the headaches worth it? Well, it depends.
I read somewhere recently that all the algorithm changes aren’t a reason to jump ship right away, that is unless your strategy is a shallow one. The article pointed out that the opportunity is still great for smart marketers.
It’s not about tricking the system or developing elaborate systems to make it do what you want.
The first thing you need to understand
Facebook is about people. It sounds simple, but we quickly forget as we try to focus on numbers for reach, likes, shares, and comments. When we post something, we want it to be seen by as many people as possible. But the second we start thinking about numbers, we start to lose sight of people.
Many feel like Facebook’s attempts to limit the visibility of brand page content is merely an attempt to force people to pay for views. While there may be an element of truth to that, think about what your news feed would look like if brands weren’t limited in any way. It would be overflowing with “commercials” from brands trying to get you to buy something. And I don’t know anyone who gets on Facebook to sort through a steady stream of advertising hell. And Facebook is more likely to keep people on the platform when it can keep the focus on people.
That’s what we want to see when we sign onto Facebook. So next time you sign in and can see your in-laws’ awesome vacation photos, thank Facebook for changing their algorithms. Okay, so maybe that wasn’t the best example, but I’m sure you get what I mean. #fistbump
Personal Profiles vs. Brand Page (Which is right for me?)
No lie. This is one of the most frequently asked questions I get when I talk to people about social media. With all of the talk about Facebook pushing down the reach of pages (unless you pay-to-play), it’s difficult to see a brand page adding value. At the same time, many book publishers look for fan page numbers as evidence of an author’s platform. Ultimately, a brand page can add value… as long as you understand it’s strengths and limitations. But the greatest traction you get on Facebook will come when you post to your personal profile.
I recently did an informal study of engagement on some brand pages. One of the pages I looked at is an author page belonging to a popular New York Times Best Seller. Averaging 1,383 likes per post, there’s enough engagement to make the best of us covet our neighbor’s social media platform. But then consider that this person’s page has over 146,000 followers. The average engagement rate turns out to be only 0.9% of the total fan base. And that’s actually a good rate of engagement!
Remember, the platform is about people. So any successful strategy should be centered on how you use your personal profile to get the better reach.
In another informal study, I’ve posted new content to my brand pages and watched the rate of engagement for the first few hours. Often my efforts make me feel like I’m watching the proverbial pot of water waiting to boil. But after a period of low organic engagement on the page post, I’ll share the post from the page onto my personal profile. Usually within minutes I see 5-10 times the engagement. The point is that IF you decide to use a brand page, it’s re-sharing your content to your personal profile that will drive the greatest organic reach. And if you can get a few other people to share it as well, then your organic reach expands exponentially.
I think it speaks volumes that Facebook’s founder, Mark Zuckerberg, doesn’t post to a brand page. Instead, he allows people to subscribe to his personal profile (where he has over 27 million followers), and posts everything there (some posts only to friends, and others to the public for all followers). #justsayin
Tools to help you maximize your impact
I always, always, always advise people to follow the data. Don’t base decisions for how to manage your Facebook presence on emotion, feelings, what someone said works for them, and what some “guru” said you should do. Even if it worked for someone else, it doesn’t mean that it’ll work for you.
One of the strengths of brand pages is the Insights tool. It’ll give you a wealth of information about your audience, and how they’re engaging (or not engaging) with your content. You can even find out when your fans are online (which should give you a good idea of when to post). So it’s a good idea to review your page Insights on a regular basis (maybe once every week or two), and ask yourself how you think you need to revise your strategy based on what you’re seeing there.
Unfortunately, personal profiles don’t have the same Insights tools. That’s why I like to use a tool like Buffer to post content that I want to measure. Buffer uses special tracking measures that give us better insight into what’s working and what’s not. In addition to that, it makes it easy to schedule content for specific and/or set times which help you take advantage of waves and cycles of visibility.
Facebook presents us with a tremendous opportunity to engage and connect with people, and to share ideas. And when it comes to building your brand on Facebook, you should stop thinking like a brand, and focus on thinking like a person.
Note: This post was originally published on the Allume Blog.
Everyone wants to know what blogging and website success looks like. The list of measurements most people look to contain the usual suspects… page views, social media likes/shares, number of followers on social media, and number of subscribers. Understandably, those metrics are simple numbers which show how visible your content is.
But, one number is likely a better gauge of success than any of the others most think about. Work on this one measurement, and you’ll launch your blog to new levels. What metric is it?
Time on page.
This one measurement can tell you more about the behavior of your readers than anything else. Think about it. You write a 600 word post that gets 100 page views, and it gets an average time on page of 30 seconds. Since the average adult reads approximately 250-300 words per minute, then that means most people hitting your post aren’t reading very much of it. That realization can hurt when you know you’ve poured out your heart and soul to write something you think is amazing.
On the other hand, imagine the same post had an average time on page of 1:30 or more. Some readers lose interest and drop, but this would definitely indicate that what you wrote is resonating more with your readers.
Why is this important?
Two reasons, really. First, time on page speaks to the quality of your content. Increase this metric, and you’re probably getting at a more engaged, connected reader. Second, it’s a metric that Facebook (and Google) is looking at in their algorithms to determine which link posts get pushed up/down in people’s news feeds (and search results). It’s a way for them to battle click-bait links, and push up good quality content.
Here are a few tips on how you can improve your time on page:
(1) write great titles
Your first, and most important task is to write great titles. The reader should be able to look at the title of the post, and anticipate what they’ll find when they click-through to read it. It also helps if the title contains some sort of emotional connection or value statement. What will they get out of reading your post? Not only does this help get them to click-through in the first place, but it also sets proper expectations. If they know what they’ll be getting, then they’re much more likely to stay on the post long enough to actually get it.
(2) write an amazing first paragraph
Once you have them on the post, then it’s the first paragraph which will set the tone for everything else. Your opening statement should hook the reader and give them even more reason to keep reading. If the title left any question on how long they should stick around, then the first paragraph should solidify that buy-in. Don’t feel like you have to give everything away up front. But sell your big idea right away, and make sure the reader knows what’s in it for them.
(3) improve the graphic appeal of the post (and whole website)
Using strong images has proven to increase the reader’s time on page. Think about the images your add to your blog post like adding art to the wall in a museum or art gallery. Good art will cause someone to stop, and spend time just looking deeply into to piece. They’ll analyze the colors and different parts in the work. They’ll try to figure out what it means, and what message it sends. If a picture is like a thousand words, then try using one that will get them to spend the time on your page equivalent to how long it would take them to read a thousand words. In addition to strong post images, there’s much to be said for keeping the overall visual appeal of your site clean too. Having a cluttered sidebar (or two) can create visual noise for readers, and cause them to disengage with the content.
(4) use embedded video
Having a video embedded in your post is not only a great way to bring in a different style of communication alongside your writing, it’s also a great way to easily boost the time on page. Even adding a one-minute video could quickly double the average time on page. But don’t just add any video. Make sure it’s relevant and engaging. Having a five-minute video on the page doesn’t add as much value if people are only watching the first 30 seconds. So filter this in the same way you would any other content. Make sure the reader has enough buy-in to stick through the whole video.
(5) make it easy to read
Lots of really long paragraphs can tire your reader and cause them to lose interest. One of the best things you can do is offer regular visual breaks and work on making the content easily scannable. Breaks can be created by using images or header tagged breaks. In fact, getting some of your desired keywords into H2 (or Heading 2) format can be good for your SEO. These breaks makes the content which follows them easier to read because it’s a smaller piece of content to consume, which increases the likelihood they will continue to work through it. This is particularly effective with long-form content.
As you look at your average time on page metrics (or any others), it’s important to have benchmarks. One trap to avoid when benchmarking is comparing yourself to others or a magical standard published by some social media “guru”. The best numbers to measure yourself against are your own. I’m not going to tell you that ___ number of minutes on the page is what you should target. Instead, figure out where you are now, and simply try to improve that by 10%. When you reach that number, then try to improve by another 10%. Keep pushing yourself for a personal best, and make whatever adjustments are needed in order to get you to the next level. That’s when you’ll start to realize the greatest success with your website.
Note: This post was originally published on the Allume Blog.
I never make a design decision with my sites based on feelings. Everything I do follows what my blog analytics tell me to do.
Don’t get me wrong. I often covet cool design and/or functionality on other websites. But the truth is that I, like many other bloggers, have spent far too much time spinning my wheels chasing #allthefeels for my sites. I only end up frustrated because I’m not seeing the results I was hoping for. Like most of us, if I’m going to spend my time pouring myself into something, then I want to see the benefits coming from it.
Here’s another scenario. We usually ask a series of questions to help us understand what people envision for their site when we start a new project.
One of the questions we ask is, “Are there other websites you’ve seen that you particularly like for style and/or structure?” Many of the responses to that question point to one particular website (I won’t mention the writer’s name here).
The design of the site is attractive. Yet, it breaks many of the rules I would suggest for someone who is trying to get noticed. She can get away with that because she already is noticed. So trying to replicate her site is likely to leave many people not seeing the same results.
I’m not saying that we can’t model styles and designs we like. In fact, I still suggest looking for those samples to help with the design. But great site design needs to have a strategy and use techniques that will drive results. Here are a few areas where you should spend some time to ensure you’re building a site that works for you…
This is one of the most fundamental things that I see people struggle with on their blogs. They need to find the right focus. When people visit your website, it needs to be clear what you’re about. Here’s a simple test you can do right now. Show your site to someone who hasn’t seen it before, and ask them to tell you what they think it’s about. This can often be eye-opening for writers. It helps them see how their site may or may not send a certain message.
One step you should take is to ask yourself what you want your site to be about. If you have to explain to me in one word (or two, or three), what would it be? And that key idea should be the central focus of everything you do on the website. Your design, your content, other things you promote… everything should center around that main idea.
It can also helpful to run your main ideas through a tool like Google’s Keyword Planner or Keyword Tool. This will help you to see how people are actually searching for those ideas. Often what we think people should be searching for does not match what they actually search for. Understanding how people search for the ideas you want to write about can guide you into building a strong foundation to help you get found.
Google Analytics 101
Yeah, I know. This part is always voted most likely to freak people out. I’ll admit, digging into website stats can get pretty crazy. It doesn’t have to be overwhelming, and there are a few basics that you’ll want to know. And statistics aren’t always about just how many “hits” you got on your site today. There is some valuable information in there that can help you improve what you’re doing.
Here’s a quick explanation of a few key analytics, and what they mean to you:
Total Visitors (Users) – This represents the total number of actual people who visited your website over the specified period of time. Your goal should be to see this number increasing over time. If it’s not moving, then you’re not growing. This number isn’t as important from day to day, but you’ll want to track this over time. Extend the date range to display the past six months, and then toggle to view the numbers by month (rather than by day). If there’s not growth, then you may want to consider some changes. Think through your sharing strategy or your email opt-in strategy (which we’ll look at in a moment).
Pageviews – This is the number of pages viewed, regardless of how many visitors. If I visit your site and look at three different pages/posts, then I count as one visitor/user and three page views. Comparing page views to dates that you published new posts can tell you a little about which posts are resonating with readers. If you change how you share your posts, then this could show you the impact of those changes.
Pages per Session – This is an average of all how many pages views happen among all visitors. Continuing my example, if I visited three pages, and another visitor only visited one, then that’s four page views for two visitors, or 2.0 pages/session. For sites that have steps people need to go through, this number is important because it shows engagement. But for blogs, your main goal may be to get people to visit each blog post when you publish a new one. So a lower number isn’t bad. But if you have other things you’re wanting people to connect to, then watch this number to see the engagement level. And if it’s not happening, then take a look at how people should be taking that next step.
Average Session Duration – This number shows you how long on average people hang around on your website. You don’t need a 10-minute average here to be successful. Most people read at a pace of around 250 words-per-minute. At that pace, it would take two minutes to read a 500-word blog post. If your average session duration is more like 30 seconds, then that’s an indicator that you’re not keeping their attention for long. You may have some people spending five minutes on the site, while others only spend 10 seconds and bounce. If this is the case, take a look at how you structure your blog posts. Are they engaging enough, especially in the beginning of the post? Try some different approaches with your writing to hook them better to see if you can impact the average session duration.
Bounce Rate – This is another one that depends on your objectives. A “bounce” happens when someone visits one page and leaves. If your goal is to get someone to read a blog post, and they do, but then leave the site right away, then you accomplished your goal, right? So a high bounce rate may be okay, especially if your average session duration is where it needs to be. But a high bounce rate and a low session duration can mean that you have some work to do to make the site (and/or your blog posts) more sticky.
Email Subscriber Metrics
If you want to grow your audience, then you’ll want to grow your email subscriber list. Nothing is as effective as email when it comes to getting readers to return to your site when you publish new content. I may follow your stuff on Facebook, but if I’m not active on Facebook on a day you publish a new post, then I may miss it. If I’m subscribed to your list, then I’ll have the new post in my inbox waiting for me when I’m ready.
Here are a few metrics you should be looking at with your email subscribers:
Opt-In Rate – A great tool for email subscription opt-in on your website will tell you what percentage of visits result in a subscription to your list. If this number is too low, then consider trying some things new to encourage people to subscribe. I encourage people to try different things for their opt-ins. I’ve seen people switch to a different offer only to see the rate drop to one-fifth of what it was before.
Open Rate – This shows you what percentage of people opened the email. The biggest driver for the open rate is the subject line of the email. If you’re set up so that the subject line of the email is the title of the blog post, then you may want to try different title formats for your blog posts.
Click Rate – This number shows you what percentage of people clicked on a link in the email. Again, this may not need to be a big number if you’re not driving people to something specific. If you’re delivering the full blog post (not just a summary), then opening the email counts as a page view, and a click may not be necessary.
A Final Thought
Having at least a baseline understanding of these blog analytics can help you build a strong strategy (and design) for your blog. Don’t build someone else’s website. That strategy can leave you frustrated. Build yours on a foundation that gets you results (and #allthefeels).
And when you’re measuring these numbers, don’t ask, “What should my ____ be?” Don’t compare yourself to others. Compare to yourself. Get a starting baseline for where you’re at with your numbers. Then figure out which are most important for you to improve. Then focus on improving the numbers in those areas.
If blogging had a secret sauce or magic potion, this would be it. By far, this is the most common question I get asked about blogging and social media.
When is right time to share blog posts on social media?
I can confidently respond without hesitation…
I’ll be honest. I really wish I could tell you an exact formula for sharing your (amazing) blog posts so they reach the millions of people who need to be reading them. But the reality is that there isn’t a formula.
With that said, there are some things you can do that’ll help you figure it out. With a little bit of testing, measuring, and retesting, you’ll find the right answer for you pretty quickly. In no time at all, you’ll be able to share blog posts like a boss.
The First Key to Social Media Success
It’s not about you.
First and foremost, the success of your blog posts in the world of social media has nothing to do with you. Well, maybe a little bit. Many bloggers misunderstand social media success as having to do with getting the right mix with when and how they post their content. However, if it only depended on your sharing, then it’s not really social, is it?
If you want to find success in social media, then you need to be thinking about how other people share your content. Your role in that is two-fold:
Create content that’s share-worthy. Think about blog post titles that make readers want to click. Think about eye-popping images that catch their attention. Think about writing content that would make them want to share with their friends because of how it moved them.
Make it easy for them to share. I’m amazed at how many websites I visit where I can’t find social sharing buttons. Sure, I could copy/paste the blog post URL, but if I have to go to that much effort, you’ve already lost me. Share buttons should be highly visible and easy to use.
Finding the Right Times
While most of your success comes from how other people share your content, you’ll still want to optimize how you share your blog posts for maximum reach. This is where you’ll want to experiment with different types of posts (text, images, links, and videos) at different times of the day.
Social media gurus will look at the data and tell you that you should be posting your content at 2pm on Thursday afternoons (or some other flavor of the month). However, that’s based on meta-data from thousands of accounts, not your data.
So how do you find the optimum times for your accounts?
If you run a Facebook page for your website, then you’ll have access to Insights for your page.
In your Insights, you’ll find “When Your Fans Are Online” on the Posts tab. The initial chart shows general population volume, but when you mouse over different days of the week you’ll see when your fans are online that day. This is based on recent data specific to the people who are fans of your page. Note that when your followers are online will vary from day to day.
You can find similar data for Twitter using third-party tools, like Follwerwonk. Once you sign in with your Twitter account, you’ll be able to analyze followers… both those who follow you, and those who you follow. You’ll get a great deal of demographic information about your followers, and a detailed chart of when they are most active on Twitter.
I want to draw special attention to that “Schedule at Buffer” button below the top chart. That brings me to my next point…
Buffering Your Way to Success
Once you’ve figured out the best times to schedule your posts, then you can plug that information into a tool like Buffer. In Buffer, you’ll be able to create a custom schedule for each of your social media profiles and set the times you want to post. You can even schedule different frequency and posting times for each day of the week. In the example below, you’ll see that I set my schedule to reflect the peak times for my Facebook page on Tuesdays.
This is where that “Schedule at Buffer” button in Followerwonk comes in handy. You can select a frequency for scheduled posts in a day, and automatically import an optimum posting schedule into Buffer.
One of my favorite parts of Buffer is the analytics for the posts you share (only through Buffer). Based on interaction thresholds, you’ll get a good idea of what kinds of social media posts are resonating the most with your audience.
It’s important to note here that using Buffer for scheduled posts doesn’t mean that everything you do on social media needs to be scheduled through Buffer. It is, however, a great tool that will help you push your blog posts out to different platforms at predetermined times, making sharing much simpler.
CoSchedule: A Premium Solution
If your blog is on (self-hosted) WordPress, then you can use some cool tools like CoSchedule. This WordPress plugin comes with a small monthly fee, but it has some pretty slick scheduling functionality. Basically, while you in your Edit Post mode, you can also create your social media posts to publish at whatever times you specify. Create, text, image, and link posts to run at the same time that your blog posts publishes. And then run a different kind of social media post at x-number of hours after the blog post publishes.
If you publish your blog post at 6am, you can publish a link post to Facebook at 6am, then an image post 5 hours later, and a text post 10 hours later. Then think about the Twitter and Google+ posts you want to send out in order to get the best coverage for when your followers are most likely to see it. Everything is triggered automatically based on the publishing of the blog post. CoSchedule even has a slick calendar that shows you all scheduled blog and social media posts for easy management.
The best thing you can do to determine what social media posting methods and schedules are best for you is to test, measure, adjust and test again. When you share blog posts, pay attention to the types of social media posts you run at different times, and how well each of those resonates with your followers. Before long, you should be able to pick up on some trends and patterns with your followers that will help you optimize every post you make…
Like a boss.
Note: This post was originally published on the Allume Blog.
One of the most frequent questions I get from new authors is, “Should I make a website for my book?” The answer is, it depends. Here’s why.
My first question is, why would you want a website for the book? So people can find the book? You don’t need a whole website for people to find the book. Google does a great job of indexing Amazon book pages already, so people searching for it can find it without a whole website being there. Is it for marketing the book? Marketing can be done anywhere, so a whole website isn’t really needed for that either.
Here’s the thing with building a website with the intent of it being a tool to help your book get found. Search engines these days are always looking for fresh, relevant content that answers people’s questions. So if you build a full website for the book, then it really needs an active content strategy so that fresh content continues to produce relevancy for search engine users. This means you probably shouldn’t build a full, stand-alone website for your book unless you plan to have a long-term strategy for content development. So I’m not saying don’t do it, but if you do, then there are some things you should consider…
How To Make a Website for My Book
The trick here is that any website you create should provide some sort of value to your potential audience, not just the fact that you can help them out by selling them your book. Whatever topic your book is on, the website should provide a wealth of information on that subject. Provide additional stories, resources, and information on the topic. Maybe even ride the wave of current news and events that connect with your theme.
Here are a few considerations for a strong book website strategy:
Don’t just make it a sales landing page. Make it a valuable resource. The more you can position the book and the website as something valuable, the more likely they are to want to buy the book. You should be shooting for a show-don’t-tell approach to website development. Forget the snazzy sales copy, and show them how helpful all of this is for them.
Have an ongoing content (blog) strategy. Plan to continue to produce valuable content, especially if you can focus on current news and trending topics. This will show that your book is always valuable, not just during the first 90 days after you launch it.
Sell more than just the book. Specifically, sell yourself as the author of that book. Leverage the site to help you book speaking engagements and cross-sell other book projects you may have going on.
Grow that mailing list. This is probably the most important item on this list. Offer a free download, maybe a short e-book or special audio/video just for subscribers. Get them on your blog subscription email list. The more you can build that list, the better off you’ll be when you’re ready to launch that next book.
Book Website Alternatives
If you don’t plan to have an ongoing blog content strategy, or if your project simply doesn’t warrant it, then there are some simple alternatives. You can still buy the domain name for your book, but then you can point that domain name anywhere you want.
For example, one of my books is The Unlikely Missionary: From Pew-Warmer to Poverty-Fighter. I used to have a stand-alone website for it at theunlikelymissionary.com, until I realized how much work it was trying to maintain relevancy there in addition to the work I was also doing on my main blog (which lead up to that book project). It was simply too much to manage. Now, the domain name points to a book page on my blog, which is where my primary focus is.
The process is simple. First, you can buy the domain name for your book. If the .com name isn’t available, then try one of the hundreds of other not-com names, many of which may work better (i.e. you can get names ending with .life, .family, .community, and many more). Many of these can be bought for under $30 per year, so it’s not expensive to maintain.
Once you have the domain name, then you can point it anywhere you’d like. A couple great options are:
A book landing page on your website. One awesome way to do this (for WordPress users) is to use the MyBookTable plugin to create the book landing page. The plugin has a strong template for building the basic page, and then you can add whatever other information and resource you want to the rest of the page. It’s a good idea to include things like endorsements, social media shareable resources, and maybe even links to blog posts on the site that dig deeper into the topic. And if you need a place to host your website, then check out some of our incredible WordPress hosting plans.
A Facebook book page. This would also require some ongoing content strategy, but it might be easier to manage when you’re sharing posts from your main blog related to the topic of the book. You could also share other links and micro-content (graphics, quotes, etc) that would help readers connect at a deeper level. This could be an amazing tool for keeping conversation going, and continuing to market your book (as part of a solid Facebook content strategy).
Whichever direction you go with this, the key is to add value and simplicity for the user on the other end. There are many more factors to successfully launching a book, but regardless, it’s a great idea to own the domain name to the book title. The important thing is what do you want that experience to be like for the potential reader who goes there.