author who wants to stop blogging

I Want to Stop Blogging. Now What?

author who wants to stop blogging

Image courtesy of jk1991 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I’ve been building websites for authors for over a decade. Many of them were built with blogs. So it’s not surprising that after all this time, I occasionally get the question, “I want to stop blogging. Is that okay? Will it hurt book sales?”

Look, unless you are a professional blogger with a following in the thousands, the chances are that you are not going to be inclined or inspired to continue blogging for more than a few years. Eventually, that fire burns out.

Here are three questions I frequently get when people want to stop blogging, and what you as an author need to know about cutting ties with your blog.

1. Can I just stop blogging cold turkey? Should I notify my followers?

Yes, you absolutely can just quit if you want. There’s nothing stopping you. If you’re done, you’re done.

However, it’s probably a good idea for you to thank your followers by writing a last post that explains why you’re going to “take a break” from blogging. I would refrain from saying that you’re quitting for good — you never know when you might get the urge again. Some followers might be disappointed, but they’ll understand.

2. Should I shut down my blog completely?

If you no longer want to be responsible for maintaining a domain name, site hosting, images, etc… you certainly can. That’s especially true if you’re walking away from writing altogether and get no benefit from eyeballs on your site.

But my strong recommendation is that you leave your blog as it is and simply let your already-created posts continue to live on. Here’s why.

All of your previous blog posts have been submitted to Google, and are likely already showing up on some people’s search results. That’s the result of the work that you put into them. Ditto with any links to your blog posts from other sites, social shares, etc… If you take your blog down completely, you will lose all those placements. If you do nothing and just allow the posts to live on in infamy, you’ll still get traffic to them. And as long as there’s a plug for your book on the pages where those blog posts live, you’ll still potentially generate sales from them.

Now here’s the tricky part: if your blog is a stand-alone entity (i.e. its own domain name), there’s little reason why you should change anything after you stop blogging. Just let it sit. If, however, your blog is a section of a larger author website that you want to maintain, my recommendation is that you keep the blog posts living, but take the links to your blog off the site. In other words, if “blog” was one of the tabs in your navigation, have it removed. You certainly don’t want a user coming to the site, clicking on a “blog” link and seeing that you haven’t updated it in several years. Just removing that link should rid you of the problem.

3. How will it impact traffic to my website and/or book sales if I stop blogging?

I’d be lying if I said there would be no impact at all if you stopped blogging. Just having regularly-published content that is optimized for the search engines drives additional traffic to your site. There’s no question about that. And since traffic = book sales, you may see a small hit there as well.

But the impact might not be quite as huge as you fear. After all, if you keep your old blog posts alive, the equity that those have built over time will still be sending traffic your way. In addition, if you maintain your author website apart from the blog, that will continue to generate some of the traffic you had before — especially if people are searching for your name or your book title.

Just how much your site traffic and book sales are impacted can vary when you stop blogging — depending on how much you relied on your blog for site traffic before. If nothing else, take a short time off of blogging and assess the difference before deciding whether to quit altogether.

——————

So, in short, if you want to stop blogging, here are my key takeaways for you:

  • Don’t take the blog down completely. You don’t want to lose the equity you’ve built over time.
  • Look at it as taking a break from blogging. You can always change your mind later if you’re re-inspired, or if you see that your traffic is significantly impacted.
  • Remove any links to your blog from your author website. You don’t want to drive people to something outdated.
author website templates as a house frame

Author Website Templates: 5 Things You Need to Know

So you want to build an author website. It used to be that doing so would require a large technical team to design your site and then hand-code the whole thing in HTML. Not very practical (or cheap). But now, with author website templates, that process can be a whole lot easier.

author website templates as a house frame

Courtesy of Photo by khunaspix/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

So whether you work with a design/development/consulting firm like us, or choose one of your favorite author website templates and create your own site, here are five things you need to know.

Important Facts About Author Website Templates

1. A “WordPress theme” is just another name for a website template. We build all of our author websites in WordPress. And within WordPress, there are thousands and thousands of themes available. A theme is just WordPress lingo for an author website template. They are one in the same.

2. Think of a template as the frame of a house. An architect designs a house. He/she determines how the house will lay out, how the entry foyer will be shaped and where the bathrooms sit. But that’s just the frame of the house. Notice that an architect doesn’t decide what colors the walls will be, where the couches will sit or whether or not there is trim around the floorboards or a wooden handrail on the staircase. Your author website template is pretty much the same thing as the work of an architect. It spells out for you how your site is laid out, but not what is on it. In other words, it might designate some space for a header image, but what exactly is in that image is totally up to you.

3. Most author website templates today are mobile-responsive. I’ve written many, many posts about the importance of mobile responsiveness in today’s world. Today, nearly every author website template is mobile responsive. In other words, each of these themes is built in “modules” — sections of the page that lay out differently on desktop and on mobile, with the purpose of giving users the ideal experience regardless of which device they are viewing the site on. However …. some older themes that haven’t been updated may not be mobile-responsive, so it’s definitely worth making sure the one you are choosing is current before diving in.

4. Different author website templates offer different amounts of customization. We talked about the framework of the house. But the analogy kind of ends there. Because different themes allow you to do different things with them. Some author website templates give you more flexibility than others to move things around, change sizing, etc… Do your research (and study other users’ reviews of the theme) to make sure that the one you choose will give you the flexibility you’re looking for. And without going into too much of a shameless plug, I will say that when you work with Smart Author Sites, who has developers who can really dig into a theme, your flexibility to adjust that author website template is multiplied.

5. You get what you pay for. There really is a difference between free themes and paid themes. The majority of WordPress themes are free. But you will also find some that are “premium”; those that require paying a fee to use them. So are the ones that require payment better? Well, yes … especially if you’re building this site on your own. Just a few of the reasons why include:

  • a premium theme often comes with a support team if you need help
  • they generally look more professional/less templated than free themes
  • there are more options for customization of these themes
  • they are updated by the developer more often, reducing long-term security risks

Now, obviously the cost associated with some of these (sometimes $100 or more) make them out of reach for some authors. It’s up to you to decide the best route to take.

We work with clients all the time to find the right author website template to meet their needs, and then customize that theme to be exactly what an author wants it to be. But if you decide to go it alone, choosing the right author website template and adjusting it as you see fit is crucial to building yourself a successful presence on the web.

 

author tips october

5 Author Tips from October

author tips octoberIt’s time for our monthly round-up again! If you missed any of these five author tips that were published in October, this is your chance to catch up. Enjoy!

October Author Tips: 5 Must-Reads

1. Your Author Page: 5 Questions to Ask Yourself
In this post, we explore a few different approaches to a successful author page, and examples of people who have done interesting things with theirs.
Smart Author Sites/October 11, 2016

2. Anatomy of a Book Cover
We are always admonished to not “judge a book by its cover,” but that’s exactly what happens, because your book cover is a retail package.
BookCoaching.com/October 11, 2016

3. Pitch Your Book to Holiday Gift Guides
Would your book make a good holiday gift? Now’s the time to start thinking about how you’ll pitch it to annual holiday gift guides that run in newspapers and on websites and blogs.
Build Book Buzz/October 12, 2016

4. Is Social Media Toxic to Writing?
What happens when an author won’t join social media?
Publishers Weekly/October 14, 2016

5. Website Hack: 5 Reasons Your Author Site Might Be Down
Here are five possible causes of your site being down, and what you can do about each one.
Smart Author Sites/October 27, 2016

Happy November!

author page deidre havrelock

Your Author Page: 5 Questions to Ask Yourself

So you’ve decided to build an author website. Among other things, that website will include an author page.

First, let’s define what an author page is. In it’s simplest terms, it’s the section of your website in which you would include information about yourself — like where you’re from, what your background is, why you write, etc…

But an author page can be much more than that. In this post, I explore a few different approaches to a successful author page, and examples of people who have done interesting things with theirs.

Questions to Ask Yourself Before Creating Your Author Page

author page ig hughes1. Should I write it in the first person or the third person?
This may seem like a silly question. After all, a whopping majority of bios are written in the third person. But not everyone’s is. In fact, some might argue that an author page that has a bio written in the first person is a bit warmer and more welcoming than the traditional bio. After all, you might feel like “Judy Adams” is really talking to you if she says, “I have the most adorable little puppy dog named Larry,” as opposed to reading a sentence like, “Jane lives with her husband and puppy.” It’s really a personal preference thing, and obviously would not be applicable to someone who wants to maintain a more business/professional writer profile.

See examples of a few author bios written in the first person:

author page alison kartevold2. Should I include a photo? If so, what kind?
Yes, you should include a photo. Obviously, there are people who — for whatever reason — really don’t want their picture out there. And that’s fine. But know that your readers are going to want to see a picture (or multiple pictures) of you on your author page. As far as what type of picture to include, I’ve seen all sorts. Some of them are casual. Some of them are more professional. In general, I lean toward recommending that an author have some professional photos taken for this purpose. After all, this is an impression on your readers and you want it to be a good one.

See a few examples of good author photos:

3. What kind of information about myself can (or should) I share?
Again, this is a personal preference thing. It also depends on the genre of your writing. For example, if you’re writing a book chock full of financial advice, then you want to use your author page to talk about your background in finance and what makes you qualified to write such a book. A different type of nonfiction author — say, one who writes about history — would want to talk about what made them interested in history in the first place, why they felt compelled to write this book and retell a story, etc…

A fiction author, on the other hand, probably has less to talk about as it relates specifically to the subject matter of the book. So her bio might be a little more personal, like what novels she likes to read, her hobbies, where she grew up, if any of the characters in her book are based on real-life people, etc…

Here are a few in particular that I like:

author page deidre havrelock4. Should I format it like an interview?
I’ve seen a few authors go this direction with their bio. And I think it’s an interesting one, so I’m including it here. It allows the author to tell his story in the form of questions and answers, instead of a traditional bio.

See two examples here:

5. What else can I do on my author page that’s unique?
I’ve seen author pages include “10 things you don’t know about me.” I’ve seen others that include video of an author talking about him/herself, comic strips, the author’s life in chapters and more. Think outside the box about how you can really connect with your audience and stay true to your brand. Then get creative!

See examples of a few such authors who really “got creative” with their author page:

Hopefully a few of these will spark ideas for you. But if I had one word of advice about building your author bio page it would be this: make your author page your own. Make sure the format and the photos reflect who you are. Your readers will appreciate it.

what's my website load time

Website Load Time: 7 Things You Should Know

website load time“What’s my website load time?” … “Why is my site so slow?” … “How can I speed it up?”

These are questions I frequently get asked by clients whose author websites take a while to load. To help you figure these things out, here are seven things you need to know about website load time.

Facts About Website Load Time

1. There are a variety of factors that can impact website load time. Load time literally refers to how long it takes a page on your website to fully load for a user. That’s the simple part. But what determines how quickly your website loads is dependent on a multitude of factors. Examples of some of what can speed up or slow down load time include:

  • Content or images on the page
  • The quality of the server it’s on
  • The plug-ins you have running
  • Back end code

These are some of the primary pieces that can impact load time, but it’s definitely not a comprehensive list. All of this is to say that speeding up website load time can be a complicated task.

2. Different pages have different load times. There’s really no such thing as a site load time. Each page of your site loads independently, and each one has its own time associated with it. So, for example, your book excerpt page — which may have a large image in it that shows pages of the book — could take a whole lot longer to load than a shorter page with a quick author bio. Make sure you examine the load time on each page of your site independently.

3. Slow load time is directly related to user abandonment. Yes, there is a cost to having a site that takes a long time to load. Basically, people just won’t wait for it. Check out this handy dandy chart, courtesy of Hobo.co.uk. It pretty much says it all.

facts about website load time

4. Website load time can be different on desktop and mobile. It’s true. The amount of time your site takes to load on a phone may or may not be drastically different from desktop. In other words, if your site is mobile-responsive (which nearly every new site is), by definition it provides a different user experience on desktop and on mobile. Which means that one version may use plug-ins or formatting that the other doesn’t, which can (of course) impact load time.

5. You can check/test your website load time(s). Yes, there are various tools that can allow you to do this. But the one that I find most effective is Google’s Pagespeed Insights. Not only will this grade your site load times for mobile and desktop, but it will tell you what you’re doing well and what you’re doing wrong, with concrete direction on how to improve your site speed score.

6. Website load time can affect SEO, too. One of the reasons I recommend the Google tool for testing your site speed is because there’s another hidden implication associated with slow site speed: a hit on your SEO placement. In other words, if Google deems your site to be too slow, it is also likely to determine that your site is a poor user experience and t’s going to penalize you by making the site show up lower on search results. So making sure that you get the seal of approval from the Google site speed test serves two purposes.

7. There are simple things you can do to decrease load time. The process of speeding up your website load time may or may not be simple, but it’s always start to smart with some of the lighter lifts before getting too in the weeds. Those include.

  • Optimizing the images on your site
  • Reducing the amount of content on specific pages
  • Uninstalling any plug-ins you’re no longer using

If these simple fixes don’t work, then you can start looking into if it would be helpful to have a developer reduce the CSS or JavaScript that is associated with each page. But first things’s first: figure out what your load times are and try some simple ways to speed them up. Your users will thank you.

author-website-technology

Author Website Technology: 5 Must-Have Features

author website technologyJust like everything else, author website technology is changing rapidly. So what are the latest must-haves on your author website? Whether you’re just building your site, or you have an older site that needs some updating, here are five features that we highly recommend for authors.

Author Website Technology Musts

1. Newsletter sign-up functionality. What’s the best way to get someone to come back to your site multiple times? It’s by collecting their email address, so that you can continue to keep in touch with them. I’ve written extensively about strategies for compelling readers to sign up for your newsletter; but from a tech perspective, you actually need a way for them to do that. There are various types of author website technology that allow newsletter sign-ups, from simple and free WordPress plug-ins that collect/maintain the list to more advanced options (which often involve a fee) like Mail Chimp. But regardless of which type of service meets your needs, you won’t want to have an author website without a way to properly build your email list.

2. SEO plug-in. I write extensively about SEO strategies — from how to form blog posts to keyword research strategies. But, once again, it’s the author website technology that has to be in place to make it work. There are a variety of plug-ins that WordPress offers for SEO — from the simple to the more advanced. My personal preference is called Yoast. It allows you to enter the preferred keyword for each page on your site and then guides you on how to make sure to properly incorporate it in the appropriate places. This makes a huge difference in how your site places on search results.

3. Social networking integration. Maybe you have a strong author presence on Facebook. Or Twitter. Maybe LinkedIn is more appropriate for your writing. You probably have an author profile on Amazon, or a page on GoodReads. And if video is your thing, then you may have a YouTube channel. All of these are social networking channels, and whichever ones you’re involved in need to be prominently displayed on your site. Whether you go with simple social networking buttons in the top right corner, or you have fully-embedded widgets from your most active profiles, make sure those are visible. So if a reader who is very active on Facebook comes to your site, she can easily find your Facebook page and become a fan or follower.

4. “Buy the book” links. It’s such a no-brainer, ad yet it’s frequently forgotten. Make it easy for people to buy your book! If you prefer to sell copies yourself, there are easy ways to integrate a PayPal buy button on your site. But most authors simply choose to offer links to buy the book through Amazon, B&N etc… Give buyers as many options as possible (since just about everyone has a preference) and make it a prominent, easy click.

5. Mobile-friendly design. This is one of the most important pieces in author website technology today. I’ve written full pieces about the whats and hows of mobile-friendly design, but here’s the gist: more than half of today’s internet users are browsing on their phones or tablets. In addition, Google is punishing sites that are not mobile-friendly by having them fall lower on the search results pages. All of this adds up to one basic rule: Make sure your author website is in a design format that adjusts for mobile devices. It’s that simple. The majority of current WordPress themes are mobile-friendly, so it’s simply a matter of selecting the right one, checking it on your mobile device, and running a simple mobile-friendly test on Google.

Don’t let today’s author website technology leave you in the dust. Make sure you have these five features in place on your author website.

what-do-my-analytics-really-mean

What Do My Analytics Really Mean?

what do my analytics really meanYou’re an author. You have a website. And (if you’ve been properly advised) you have Google Analytics that allow you to regularly review your site traffic. But like many authors, you may be asking: “What do my analytics really mean?”

After all, when you log into Google Analytics, you’re likely to see a slew of numbers and terms you don’t know. And many authors are not exactly “numbers people” who naturally understand what all the tables, charts and digits represent. That’s okay.

Here are 10 specific things to look at in your Google Analytics, what they really mean, and what you should do as a result.

  1. Users (under “audience”): This is a pretty basic stat. It’s how many people visited your site in the time period you’re reviewing. “Users” is also subdivided into two segments: new visitors and returning visitors. So if 100 people visit your site in a given month, and half of them come twice, then you’d have 150 users, 100 new visitors and 50 returning visitors. Obviously, one of your primary goals in driving traffic to the site is to increase the number of users. Depending on your personal goals (selling books, building a fanbase, etc…) you may weigh new visitors more heavily than returning visitors, or vice versa.
  2. Pageviews (under “audience”): This is a pretty simple stat. It’s how many pages on your site were visited during that time period. So if you’re 150 visitors each visited an average of 2 pages each time they came, you’d have 300 pageviews. Again, the higher the better!
  3. Bounce rate (under “audience”): A “bounce” is considered a visit to your site in which only one page was viewed. So if someone came to your homepage, looked briefly at it and then decided, “nah, I was really looking for something else,” that would be considered a bounce. And your bounce rate is shown in percentages, so if, of your 150 visitors, 100 of them only looked at one page, your bounce rate would be 66%. As scary as this number may be, it’s actually not unprecedented. According to an article on GoRocketFuel.com, “As a rule of thumb, a bounce rate in the range of 26 to 40 percent is excellent. 41 to 55 percent is roughly average. 56 to 70 percent is higher than average, but may not be cause for alarm depending on the website. Anything over 70 percent is disappointing for everything outside of blogs, news, events, etc.”
  4. Mobile (under “audience”): Do you know what kind of device people are using to view your site? It’s important that you do. This stat will show you what percentage of your users are on desktop vs. mobile. If a large percentage is mobile, you will want to make sure that your site is mobile friendly.
  5. Geo (under “audience”): This cool feature will tell you which countries your visitors are coming from. Depending on the type of book you’ve written and where it’s available, this could be some very valuable information.
  6. Acquisition: This is a very, very important stat. It tells you where your visitors are coming from. And it’s broken down into three buckets: “organic” (which means people searching on Google/Yahoo/Bing and then clicking on a link to your site from search results; “referral,” which refers to links to your site from other sites (like Facebook, for example); and “direct” (which means people physically typing in the URL based on having read it or heard it somewhere).  There are marketing efforts that can be put in place to increase all three of these, like advanced search engine optimization for organic, outreach to other sites/bloggers for referral, and making sure to include your site URL on your book jacket (direct). This stat is how you will know which of your efforts are effective.
  7. Site content (under “behavior”): This tells you which pages on your site people actually visited. It will break down for you all the pages that were visited, how many people visited each one, and how much time they spent on each page. If you look at very little else in your analytics report, this one is super important, because it gives you an idea of where on your site people are going and how long they’re staying there.
  8. Landing pages (also under “behavior”): A landing page refers to the page that someone entered your site through. And while authors commonly assume that most people come into the site through the homepage (and often they do), you may look at these stats and be surprised to learn that a large percentage of users are coming in through a blog post or your author bio. This information is important because it allows you to recreate the user experience, arriving with a fresh eye on something other than your homepage. What do they see there? Are there links to other parts of the site? An easy way to see/buy your book? You may consider adjusting what’s on these pages if you discover that a large percentage of users are entering through them.
  9. Users flow (under audience): This is a super cool feature of Google Analytics. It allows you to physically view the flow that users went through on your site. This visual demonstration allows you to see the pages people entered your site through, and then where most of them went from there. For those of you who prefer to see your stats visually, this may really open your eyes about where people are on your site.
  10. Exit pages (under “behavior”): So a landing page is where people came into your site. An exit page is where people left. If you look at the user flow and exit pages and notice that it’s, for example, the “buy the book” page that is your biggest exit page, then it’s time for you to pay some extra attention to what’s on that page. What is it that is boring or frustrating users enough that it’s making them leave? Take a look at your largest exit page and try testing a change or two to it. Try changing the copy that’s on that page, or add a photo to make it more engaging. Most importantly, make sure there are links on the page that allow people to keep reading if they’re interested. Play around with it and see if you can identify one or two small changes that might lower your exit rate on this page.

Whew! Now, all of this isn’t to say that Google Analytics will ever be easy or come naturally to authors. But hopefully, you will now know what to look at and what it means. And if you have questions, feel free to contact us for additional help!

book website 2017

5 Things You’ll Want to Add to Your Book Website by 2017

book website 2017We’re only halfway through 2016. And yet, everyone’s eyes are on the future already. Based on all the conversations going on in the publishing and marketing worlds, here are five things that I hear each book website should have in the new year…

Book Website Technology Musts for 2017

  1. Podcasts. Content is still king. But audio content is … well, whatever is higher than king. Authors should consider repurposing some of their blog content or book content in the form of podcasts, or podcasting interviews/conversations with other authors or experts. Podcast listening grew 23% between 2015 and 2016. There’s reason to think it will grow even more in the coming year.
  2. Livestreaming. I’ve written many posts about the hows and whys of using video on your website. But suffice to say, if you’re not using it by the end of 2016, you’ll be missing out on a lot of site traffic — both to your site and your videos on YouTube, as YouTube is now the second biggest search engine (behind Google). But the latest trend goes beyond that … it’s about livestreaming video. According to Dave Kerpen of Likeable Local via HuffPost, “Apps such as Periscope, Meerkat and Blab will grow in popularity and create opportunities for marketers to cut through the ever-cluttered landscape.” Think about livestreaming your videos from conferences, book signings and more.
  3. Instant articles from Facebook. According to socialmediaweek.com, this relatively new feature allows you to immediately post any new content on your site — like blog entries — directly to Facebook. “Essentially, the company’s content management system interfaces directly with Facebook and can seamlessly publish new content as it is ready for release.” It’s currently only available to big publishers (like NY Times, etc…), but predictions are that anyone will be able to use it by the end of 2016. So next time you post a blog entry about, say, your commentary on last week’s Brexit vote and how it ties into your book, that would immediately appear on Facebook and be visible to all.
  4. An omni-channel experience. It’s quite a buzz word, right? Well, what it refers to is creating an experience for your readers on various channels at various stages of their journey. An example provided by conversionadvantage.com is one that Disney used:
    • Users book a trip online and then use the My Disney Experience tool to help them plan the whole trip from booking hotels, obtaining passes etc.
    • Once they arrive at the park, the app helps users locate attractions and waiting times.
    • But the experience gets better with their Magic Band which acts as a hotel room key, photo storage device for any pictures, and a food ordering tool.

    Think about how you can provide something similar for your users. Maybe their experience starts with them viewing your website. Then they buy the hard copy and read the book. Maybe you want to offer them an app that they can use while reading the book to track their growth/learnings/progress. Then maybe they can come back to the website and join an online community to share their thoughts. Think about all the different ways your book can touch a reader, and how you can offer, as they call it, an omni-channel experience.

  5. Personalized emails. I’ve been saying forever that it’s important for authors to collect email addresses. And that hasn’t changed. But it’s what you do with those email addresses that is changing. Instead of just putting everyone’s name on one big email list and sending out emails en masse, today’s emails are becoming more and more personalized. First, it’s helpful to actually use a person’s name in the email to make it clear that it’s customized for them. Also, ask users when they sign up what they’re looking to receive. Do they want news updates? Do they want to be pinged every time you post a new blog entry? Are they just looking for a monthly recap? Give them options and then bucket your lists so that people are receiving exactly what they’re looking for. Also make sure to collect users’ geographic information so that you can update the appropriate people if, say, you’re doing a radio interview in Philadelphia tomorrow. By collecting a user’s name, location and interests (in addition to their email address), you can ensure that their email experience is a satisfying one.

What other book website trends are you predicting for 2017? Share them with us.

seo blog search

Authors: SEO Blog Posts in 3 Easy Steps

I’ve written many, many times about why authors should be blogging. One of the main reasons? Search engine optimization.

Let me explain. Authors — especially nonfiction authors — should be regularly posting blog entries. Each one of those entries should be optimized for the proper search term — something that a reader interested in your subject matter might actually be searching for on Google. For example, if you write a book about how to lose weight, you would also want to write various blog posts on the topic. By optimizing those posts for the right keywords, you can attract the audience of people searching for terms like, “How can I lose 5 pounds?” and drive them to your author website. Then you can promote the book while they’re there and expose potential readers to your title.

But how do you actually SEO blog posts to make sure that you show up high on those search results? How do you make sure to optimize your blog posts for the right keywords? Here are three easy steps.

3 Steps to SEO Blog Posts

Step 1: Install the right plug-in.

In WordPress, my preferred plug-in is called Yoast SEO. But if you’re using a different platform, I’m sure there’s another one you can use. This will provide you with the information you need in order to ensure that you’re doing SEO the right way (see step 3).

Step 2: Find the right keywords. For a fee, I can do advanced keyword research for my clients. I then provide them with a long list of specific keywords to target on their site. But there’s an easier way to do this if you don’t want to make that kind of investment. You can simply start typing a search term into the Google search bar to get a good keyword idea. See the photo below to see what I mean.

seo blog search

 

 

 

 

 

In this instance, if you’re writing a blog post with tips about losing weight, you can start typing in your guess for a search term and Google will literally tell you exactly what people are searching for. Pick one of those keywords (one you haven’t used before) and decide that you’re going to optimize your blog post for that one specifically.

Step 3: Work the keywords into the right places.

There are certain staples to properly optimizing a blog post for a specific keyword. Those include having the keyword (exactly) appear:

  • In the title
  • In the URL
  • As an “alt” tag on an image in the post
  • In the first paragraph of the post
  • In the metadescription
  • In subheads throughout the piece

The nice thing about a plug-in like Yoast is that it consistently reminds you of these things. If you do it right, then all the circles are green. If you forget something, it always reminds you. See below.

seo blog yoast

Simply perform steps 2 and 3 each and every time you post a blog entry, and you should start noticing your traffic (and conversation in your blog) increasing.

Photo credit: Skley via ChairsHunt / CC BY-ND

E-mail Tips for Authors: Building and Using Your E-mail Lists

Photo credit: Skley via ChairsHunt / CC BY-ND

Photo credit: Skley via ChairsHunt / CC BY-ND

Some people think email is soooo 2000s. After all, isn’t everyone communicating via Facetime, Snapchat, Twitter and such… now?

Not necessarily! Email can still be extremely useful as an author marketing tool. Here are some basic e-mail tips for authors … from collecting email addresses to using your lists wisely.

Step by Step E-mail Tips for Authors

Step 1: Set up an email collection system
In order to start collecting emails on your author website, you need to have a place to store them. There are a few basic systems that you can choose to use.

The first is a simple WordPress plug-in (assuming your site is built on WordPress). One basic one is just called “Newsletter.” This is a free system that stores any email addresses that people enter on your site, and offers some bells and whistles, too, like newsletter creation, the ability for users to unsubscribe automatically (a legal requirement) and more.

Other people opt to go with something a bit more complicated, like MailChimp. This service is also free up to a certain point (once your email list gets to about 2,000, there can be a charge involved). It offers a bit more flexibility in terms of newsletter design, analytics and more.

Then there’s a more advanced service, like Constant Contact. There’s a monthly fee associated with this one, but it has more bells and whistles.

All of these types of services are incredibly easy to set up and give you a simple code to put on your site. Which one you choose should depend on how much time, energy and money you want to invest in this project. But the concept of all of them are relatively similar: Any email address entered through the site is automatically stored in the system, and that list can easily be accessed any time.

Step 2: Plan your communications with subscribers
Just collecting email addresses isn’t enough. You actually need to … you know …. use them. And this plan should be mapped out before you start collecting addresses, because (as you will see in step 3), you need to tell people what to expect before they sign up.

Start by planning how frequently you’re going to send to that list. Will it be a monthly newsletter? Will you just send everyone a quick notification every time you post a new blog entry? Or will it be a news-based notification — like if you’re doing a radio show tomorrow?

Once you’ve figured out the strategy you want to use, then make sure you have everything you need in place — like a newsletter template, a blog feed etc… — to make this actually doable.

Step 3: Start collecting emails!
So now that you CAN collect email addresses, how do you actually convince people to start giving you their email? It’s not as easy as you may think.

I’ve written extensively about this in the past, like in this post: 4 Ways to Improve and Increase Your Email Sign-Ups. So I’ll keep this one short.

But here’s the gist of it: People need a reason to sign up. They’re not going to give out their email for no reason. So offer an incentive, like a free download. And make sure you spell out what they should expect to receive and when if they give you their email address.

Finally, it’s important that you tell anyone and everyone that you will not sell or share their email. That assurance of security is essential.

Step 4: Think outside the box about utilizing your list
In this super-helpful recent article on PW by Jane Friedman, she outlines many of her recommendations for using email lists creatively. Here are some highlights.

  • Review your list and determine if anyone on it might benefit from an individualized email instead of a mass email. For example, if someone is an influencer (like a blogger who reviews books), this is someone that you might want to pull out of the larger list. You can then reach out individually to each of these influencers with a more customized message. This will increase the likelihood of making the most of that relationship.
  •  Your email list can be an essential tool in your book release strategy. For example, if you send out a newsletter pre-launch, you can include key details about where the book is available. You might also want to consider offering bonuses for people who buy the book on a particular day (like the day of launch). This can help you sell a lot of books at once, and might allow you to make it on one of Amazon’s top seller lists.
  • Consider collecting additional information from users, and then segmenting your email lists. Asking for more than just an email can be risky (the more you ask for, the more people will bail out). But if you want to be bold, consider collecting additional information, like where someone lives or how many of your books they’ve already read. This will allow you to segment your list and do what’s called “targeted newsletter sends” — dividing your list based on the specific message. In other words, you could notify only people in the midwest if you were doing a local book signing. Or allow you to send separate newsletters to people who are already your superfans vs. the newbies.

As Jane says at the end of her article, “That’s the point at which email marketing becomes among the most valuable and profitable marketing tools, where you can tie specific sales goals to each email you send out.”

I couldn’t agree more.