by Kristen Eckstein
One of the most valuable pieces of marketing you can invest in is your “digital business card”—your website. If you feel having a social media presence and a Facebook page alone are enough, keep in mind that you don’t control those websites.
You need a hub—a central location for your entire book marketing plan—so readers can connect with you, learn more about your book, and buy it for themselves and all their friends. This profit portal must be controlled directly by you, or you could literally lose your online presence overnight.
Marketing your book online can be time consuming and frustrating for non-tech-savvy authors. And here’s the good news—you don’t have to do it alone! There are plenty of free tools, tutorials and resources to help you along as you test different marketing strategies with your website.
In addition to all the free platforms and tools available to you today, there are professionals who make it their life’s work to understand what you need and how to get it for you (in a fraction of the amount of time it would take you to do it yourself)—and they’re only a click away.
While there have been entire books written about marketing your book online [see D’vorah Lansky’s Book Marketing Made Easy and my Kindle book, Author’s Quick Guide to Marketing Your Book Online and Off ] the five quick tips in this article should give you enough information to revise your current online presence or start off on the right path toward money-making success.
Tip #1: Know Your Audience
Knowing who you’re marketing to is key to the success of your book. In a future article for The Future of Ink, I’ll cover how to sell more books to your target audience in-depth. Just as targeting your book to the right reader is important for sales, so is targeting your website to the right potential buyer.
If your website is specifically about your book, make sure your branding and content is reaching the same audience.
The number one thing to keep in mind when thinking of your audience is to narrow that entire audience down to one specific person.
Design everything on your site for that one visitor, and your site will automatically begin to draw in the people who are looking for your type of book. Attracting the right people is the most essential part of turning those prospects into profits!
Tip #2: Professional Design
My fellow The Future of Ink contributor and friend, Penny Sansevieri, touched briefly on this point in her article, Making the Sale: How to Sell More Books on Your Own Website. She began her point with, “There’s a high trust factor with a site that looks professional.”
And she’s right. There’s nothing like stumbling on a website with mismatched colors and animated gifs that looks like it hasn’t been updated since the early 90s to instantly create distrust in a potential customer—and subsequently cause that person to seek out the “close” tab on his or her browser as soon as possible.
The fact is, with the power of WordPress and the number of professional themes available today, there’s no reason you can’t have a professional-looking website. Keep these key elements in mind as you design (or hire someone to design) your site:
- Less is More—A busy home page makes for a confused buyer. And confused buyers don’t buy.
- Branding is Everything—If your website is about your book, make sure the colors, fonts and imagery matches your book cover. If it’s about you, keep your brand consistent throughout.
- Clean is Clear—The cleaner your site looks (organization, colors, fonts, etc.), the easier it will be for buyers to find your book—and click the buy button.
Tip #3: Easy Navigation
While this tip could fall under Tip #2: Professional Design, easy navigation is more than just a good design. Make your site menu clear and easy to find, and direct your readers where you want them to go in the quickest way possible. Try to keep every destination on your site to a maximum of two clicks to get there.
This will take some planning as your site grows, and the use of special menu attributes like drop-downs and sidebars, and it will help prospects find your book’s buy button faster.
Tip #4: Security
A website is great. A secure website is way better. In 2013, all 35 of my websites were badly hacked. A year later we were still picking up the pieces.
From losing sales and taking six months to rebuild my primary money-making websites to having iTunes tell me I wasn’t legitimate so my podcast couldn’t be approved (which stalled my now defunct podcast indefinitely), it was an enormous money-sucking mess.
Not to mention the money I had to spend on professionals to clean up the mess. Let’s just say there were five digits involved in that bill. Ouch!
Nothing will set your business and book marketing plan back faster than a hacked site. If you don’t think you have the money to invest in a few key plugins and an expert to look over and fill potential holes in your site before it’s hacked, find it somewhere.
I’m telling you from personal experience, you must make sure your website is as secure as possible from hackers, or face an enormous expense, headache, and lost sales and marketing opportunities later. I personally recommend the good people over at WP Security Lock.
Tip #5: The Right Pages
Without the right pages on your website, you’re losing sales. Prospects need to be able to find out about you, see you as the expert, learn about your book, etc. Here’s a short list of the essential must-haves for your author website:
- Bio Page—An “About the Author” page is essential. People won’t spend money without a high trust factor, and sharing yourself and your credentials with them goes a long way toward building this desired trust.
- Book Page—A book page should include a cover image of your book, description, some endorsements and a buy button. Make it easy for prospects to buy your book by providing a buy button on your website!
- Blog—The easiest way to get ongoing traffic and build search engine optimization is with a high quality blog. Even fiction writers can blog about the writing process, short stories, etc.
- Media Page—Make it super easy for media to interview you about your book by providing one page with your headshot(s), book cover image(s) and samples of various-length bios where they can grab that information to market your interview.
Take action on at least one of these five tips today, and watch your profits grow as your reach on the web expands!
This article was originally published on The Future of Ink and is reprinted here in its entirety for our Magnolia Media Network readers.