Talk about a chicken-and-egg situation. You have to design and build a website. You also have to get traffic there. Which should you do first? Which is more important?
Well, they’re equally important. And obviously building the site should come first. But here’s the catch: if you don’t build it the right way, all the traffic in the world won’t mean a thing. In other words, what good is having a website if the people who visit it don’t do what you want them to do?
Whether your goal as an author is to sell books, build a mailing list, or turn yourself into a superstar in your field, here are some tips I’ve collected on how to build your site right the first time around.
1. Talk to one audience. Who are you trying to reach? Is it readers? Prospective clients? Agents? Don’t spread yourself too thin trying to be too many things to too many people.
2. Track conversions. What’s your goal? Is it books sold? Sign-ups? Track how many people are doing each of these, and use Google Analytics to determine exactly how those people are getting to your site and what they’re doing while they’re there.
3. “Sell” what you want to sell. Authors have to wear many hats today. Being a marketer of themselves and their books is just one of them. Don’t be afraid to talk up your book and explain to your readers how their lives would change from reading it or how it’s the best book in its genre today. If you want people to sign up for your email list, give them incentives to do it. Be a salesperson and don’t be afraid of doing so.
4. Prioritize content over design. What would make you decide to take the plunge and buy a book? Would it be the cool graphics on the author website? Or would it be the compelling description of the book, the tantalizing testimonials, or the quote from the great review that the book got? Sometimes, authors get too caught up in a flashy design and forget what’s most important to visitors: information.
5. Build relationships. Don’t treat your website like a brick-and-mortar store. This isn’t a business you’ve created. It’s your author persona. When people join your mailing list or decide to read your book, they’re committing to you. Return the favor by writing personal thank yous to your readers, offering to answer their questions, and taking a genuine interest in how they enjoyed your books and services.
6. Be a kick-ass copywriter (or hire one). As I touched on before, words are very powerful. The websites that get the most sales are ones that literally go out, grab a potential reader, and don’t let go. If you can write that way, then great! If not, consider hiring someone to write some of your sales copy … or at least getting some feedback from other professionals on your efforts.
Remember, if you don’t do it right the first time around, those visitors may never come back again.