blogging mistakes

6 Blogging Mistakes Authors Often Make

blogging mistakesI’m a big proponent of authors blogging. That’s because a blog is truly the best way for an author to:

  • Keep the site current
  • Build a following or email list
  • Drive traffic to the site via search engines

Many authors hear this. They know they should be blogging. What they don’t know is how to blog, or how to make sure they are not blogging “into thin air” so to speak. With that in mind, I present…

5 Blogging Mistakes Authors Often Make

1. Not blogging often enough. 

Now, authors certainly don’t need to blog every day. Not even every week. But probably more than once a month. And certainly more than once a year. I’ve looked at too many author sites in which the most recent blog was posted over a year ago. That just tells me that not only is the blog not a priority for the author, but the website as a whole is not a priority. It’s almost like a big billboard to a visitor that says, “I’m not spending time here. Why should you?”

2. Not looking at their blog analytics.

Look at your analytics people! Not doing so is kind of like publishing a book and then not paying attention to if anyone is buying it. Setting up a Google Analytics account is free. You can then log into that account any time and see who is visiting your site. You can learn a lot more about how to review and interpret your analytics report, but let’s stick to the basics here. View your report regularly. See how many people actually visited your blog in a given time period. Find out how they got there. Was it via Facebook? Search? Which posts got the most visitors? Is there a trend in posts that seem to resonate? This information is key in helping you figure out what’s working and what’s not working. This will help you avoid future blogging mistakes.

3. Not optimizing for SEO.

This is yet another of the common blogging mistakes. If you’re an author — especially a nonfiction author — your blog is likely the most common entryway into your author website. But in order to do its part, it needs to be optimized for the right keywords. There are a bunch of steps that an author can take to do this, but the basics include:

  • Installing the right plug-in (like Yoast, for example)
  • Researching the right keyword for each post
  • Working that keyword into the blog post title, URL, etc…
  • Ensuring that post is submitted to the search engines

Once all of these pieces are working in tandem with one another, your blog posts can each start serving a purpose in driving traffic.

4. Not having a clear voice or message.

Contrary to what some authors might believe, a blog is not a dumping ground. It’s not where you might stick a short story one day, a personal musing the next and a firm editorial after that. A blog is a place where people come to follow your writings. So you need a consistent voice and message. For example, your blog could be a place where you post a weekly short story. Or it could be the venue through which you write a pointed editorial when an item in the news touches on your subject expertise. Or it could have a daily uplifting message — straight out of your book. There are a million ideas for what a blog can be, but it has to be one thing and people need to know what they’re getting. Otherwise, why would people continue coming back?

5. Not categorizing blog posts.

Blog post categories are a nifty, difty feature that come with every blogging tool. But they’re not utilized often enough; another of the common blogging mistakes. Categorizing blog posts allows you to break up the hundreds (or thousands) of posts you may have into logical groups. So if, for example, you’re a life coach who works with people on career success, financial independence and relationship issues, you may regularly be creating blog posts (in the same message and voice, of course!) that cover all three of those topics. But maybe a site visitor is only interested in financial independence and isn’t really looking for relationship advice right now. Or vice versa. By being able to categorize your blog posts by topic, you can allow visitors to easily sort your posts by topic they’re especially interested in.

6. Not including enough links. 

One thing that you will notice when you study your analytics is something called the “exit rate” on specific pages. This refers to what percentage of people leave your site after reading what’s on this page. Blog posts, in general, tend to have high exit rates. The reason? Not enough links to other things on your site. There are several ways you can fix this common blogging mistake:

  • You can work multiple links into the blog post itself. Those can be to other blog posts, your books, etc…
  • You can promote other elements of your site on the blog page. For example, if you offer a free chapter of a related book, that should clearly be called out.
  • You can use a plug-in that will automatically include links to other blog posts in the same category at the end of the piece. It would look something like, “Read more like this ….” at the bottom of the page, and then send people to related posts.

Fix the six problems above and you’re more likely to not only get more traffic to your blog, but ultimately sell more books as a result. That’s a win-win.

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.
good reads for authors

Good Reads for Authors from January (No Pun Intended)

good reads for authors

Image courtesy of bplanet at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Another month has come and gone. And with that in mind, here’s a list of the good reads (and no, I don’t mean GoodReads) for authors and writers that were published in January. If you missed any of these, now’s the time to go back and make sure you don’t miss them.

January in Review: 5 Good Reads for Authors

1. Memoir Author’s Book Marketing Success Story
Jen Miller leveraged her platform, skills, and experience to turn her memoir launch into abook marketing success story. Here’s how she did it.
BuildBookBuzz, January 4, 2017

2. Building a Platform to Land a Book Deal: Why It Often Fails
If you’re preparing to pitch your nonfiction work to agents or publishers, you’ve probably heard about the necessity of having a platform.
JaneFriedman.com, January 5, 2017

3. 8 Book Marketing Mistakes to Ban in 2017
Avoid the most common book marketing blunders made by self-publishing authors.
Reedsy.com, January 10, 2017

4. 10 Times Book Reviewers Totally Got It Wrong
I love reading book reviews but I always take them with a grain of salt. Thing is, no matter how much of an expert the reviewer is, a review is an opinion, not a fact.
#AmReading, January 24, 21017

5. Author Tip Sheet: The Whys and Hows
You may have heard about an author tip sheet, sometimes called an author sell sheet. But what in the world is it? Let’s answer some of your questions.
SmartAuthorSites.com, January 26, 2017

Happy February, everyone! If you come across other good reads for authors this month, please share them with us.

Group Blogs: The Hows and Whys for Authors

So you know you should blog to promote your book. But you worry it will be a waste of your time and effort. The solution? Group blogs.

Why Authors Should Consider Group Blogs

First, let’s define group blogs. These are individual blogs on specific topics that have multiple authors, each contributing posts.

Group Blogs for Authors -- Image courtesy of olovedog at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of olovedog at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

So, in other words, you might create a group blog on, say, weight loss. Then you might have five different authors who each have written books on diet, exercise, etc… who regularly contribute to this blog with their own individual posts. People who visit the blog would be able to read all the posts in chronological order, or simply read the ones by the contributor they are most interested in. Each of those posts would also include promotion of the individual titles that each author has written and/or links to their personal site.

The benefits of group blogs for authors like you is numerous, including:

  • You can expose yourself to a new audience. In other words, people following one of the other blog contributors are likely to see your posts as well.
  • The shared responsibility of keeping the blog updated doesn’t sit solely on you; it’s a team that keeps it alive and kicking.
  • More posts = more traffic = more book sales. It’s simple.

Creating or Joining Group Blogs

If group blogs sounds more palatable to you than blogging on your own, how would you go about doing it?

First, see if there are already any group blogs created in your genre. Do some Google searching to identify any that may be out there, and then reach out to those bloggers about becoming a contributor.

If there aren’t any group blogs in your genre, you can start your own if you’re willing to take on the responsibility. Start by setting up a blog for free at WordPress.com. Post one or two entries yourself to set the tone and theme. Then reach out to other authors in your field (if you know them personally, great; if not, a simple search should allow you to find authors promoting themselves) and ask them if they’re interested in being a contributor. Create posts on Facebook and/or LinkedIn pitching group blogging — you can link to this blog post — and asking those who are interested to reach out.

Group Blogging Tips

If you are going lead a group blog, here are some tips and things to keep in mind.

  • You can add authors and contributors easily through WP Admin. Go to Users → Invite New to invite others to join your team to be contributors or authors (more on this distinction below).
  • Decide if you want final authority over everything posted on your group blog. If you give contributors “author” rights, they can post and publish instantaneously. Or you can decide to make them “contributors,” in which case you would be able to review each post before it goes live.
  • Make sure to have each contributor create a user profile and gravatar. This will allow visitors to easily differentiate between each contributor.
  • You can also have each author be his or her own “category” of posts, making it easy for readers to sort posts by contributor.
  • Have all your contributors follow the same guidelines about tagging blog posts, optimizing them for keywords, etc… Consistency is key.
  • Use the super-cool author widgets that WordPress offers. Consider “Author’s Widget” — “an easy, direct way to display your team, as shown on The Smoke-Filled Room. When configuring the widget, you can adjust some settings, from a custom widget title, to the number of posts to show for each author, to the ability to specify avatar size.” Or try “Author Grid,” which brings in the photos of each of your authors/editors.

Have you tried group blogging? What worked for you? What pitfalls did you face? Share them with us!

What Authors Should Read: November in Review

what authors should read

Photo credit: Foter.com / CC0

Another month has come and gone (and we are in the midst of the holiday season). We did a lot of posting and sharing in November — both of our own content and of other sites’ interesting articles, blog posts and more.

In case you missed any of it, here’s a summary of what authors should read to stay on top of industry trends.

What Authors Should Read From November

1. Is Passion for Your Book Enough? Include These 10 Hot Selling Points
Knowing these before you write your book will make all of your copy more organized, succinct, easy to read and engaging.
Book Coaching, November 5, 2016

2. Author Website Templates: 5 Things You Need to Know
So you want to build an author website. Here’s what you need to know about selecting and utilizing the right author website templates.
Smart Author Sites, November 7, 2016

3. Guest Blog Post: Author Website Tips
This article offering author website tips is our second guest post from Irish children’s book author Avril O’Reilly, who I met when she took one of my book marketing courses.
Build Book Buzz, November 16, 2016

4. Social Media Marketing Evolves
As social media platforms get more crowded, indie authors are recalibrating their marketing efforts.
Publishers Weekly, November 18, 2016

5. 4 Steps to Selling More Books with Less Social Media
Traditionally and self-published authors use Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms to help sell books. But should they be doing that?
Digital Book World, November 28, 2016

Happy reading!

marketing tips for getting an agent for a book

Getting an Agent for a Book: Why Self-Marketing Is Essential

So you’re starting to think about getting an agent for a book. Your manuscript is almost finished and it’s time to get it out there. Where do you start?

In today’s world, I would argue, becoming a self-marketer before getting an agent for a book is essential. Now, not everyone agrees with that. I was just looking at a conversation on LinkedIn specifically about this. Here’s how it went…

marketing tips for getting an agent for a book

I personally got a kick out of the “trying to get your kid into Harvard before you meet any women” reference. But I would venture to say that argument is wrong. Here is why.

Point #1: You Need to Prove Your Marketing Chops Before Getting an Agent for a Book

In the olden days, authors were just authors. Publishers did everything else — from book editing to cover design to marketing. Well, the world has changed.

Some people mistakenly think that only self-published authors have to wear all those hats. But what they don’t realize is that the publishing industry has changed significantly in the last decade. Sure, publishers invest lots of time and energy in making sure that the upcoming books of their bestselling authors have the perfect covers, press releases sent to premium media outlets, and great presences on social media. But that’s only done for the authors that have already made them loads of money. Every other author they work with? They are on their own.

And that’s where pre-pub marketing plays in. Since a publisher knows that the success or failure of your first book depends, in part, on how good a marketer you are, they want to work with authors who understand marketing and have shown some success with it in the past. And agents know that. In other words, “good marketing=agent interest=publisher interest.”

Point #2: You Need to Sell Yourself to An Agent, So They Can Sell You to a Publisher

You may have written the best manuscript in the world. But unless you know how to sell it, it’s for naught. Trust me: the last thing an agent wants to have to do is spend his time helping you rework how you’re positioning your book before reaching out to publishers.

So as you start the process of getting an agent for a book, you need to ask yourself the following questions:

  • Who does my book appeal to?
  • Why is it different or unique from other books out there?
  • What is the most compelling aspect of my book?
  • How can I summarize my book in several paragraphs?

Keep these points in mind as you craft your inquiry letters and book summaries. These are questions a marketer would ask herself as she starts to scope out her brand — whether she was selling jewelry, real estate, or a book. So put on the hat of a marketer before reaching out to an agent. You need to show that you can sell your book before he will put himself out there to sell your book.

So How Do You Start Marketing Yourself?

While the term “marketing” can sound somewhat intimidating for some, here are some simple ways to get yourself started:

  • Build yourself an author website. I could go on and on about this. Or you can just contact us for a free consultation.
  • Create at least one social media presence for yourself. Here are some ideas on how to choose the right ones.
  • Start blogging to drive traffic to your site and help build your brand.
  • Collect email addresses. When an agent asks you how many names you have collected, be prepared to answer.

There’s obviously plenty more you can do, but taking these four steps are a great way to dip your toes in the marketing necessary for getting an agent for a book.

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 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.

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.

author website questions

10 Things About Author Websites That Might Surprise You

author website questionsOver the last decade, we have built websites for hundreds and hundreds of authors. And since we do this for a living, we tend to know the ins and outs of author websites like the back of our hands. But, surprisingly, there are some basic facts that I’ve found that many of the authors we work with don’t know or don’t understand.

With that in mind, here are 10 things that might surprise you about building and maintaining an author website.

1. Building your site doesn’t pay for hosting your site. I can’t tell you how many clients I have worked with who think that once they pay to get a site built, that their site can then live on indefinitely without paying an additional penny. That’s not how it works. I like to explain that a site hosting fee is like paying rent for your space on the internet. Think of it like a store: you pay a large one-time fee to get the store launched, but you still have to pay rent each month for your store space. Hosting is similar.

2. Domains are separate from hosting. Along those lines, there’s often a lot of confusion about paying for hosting vs. paying for your domain. So let me clear that up here. Think of your domain as the name of the store you want to open. You need to first decide on and purchase your domain. The fee for that is nominal — only about $15 per year. You then own that. And YOU need to own it — not whomever is building or hosting your site. You can then build a site and point that domain name over to it. To continue with the analogy, that’s like putting your store name on the awning in front of the space you’re renting. For as long as you’re going to be in that space, you will keep the domain pointing there. But if you ever decide to have another site built or have your site hosted elsewhere (i.e. move your store to a larger location), you can simply then re-point the domain to the new server. But the two are distinctly different.

3. Email boxes can fill up. Yup, it can happen. Over the course of five years or so, you might accrue 50,000 emails. Each and every one of those is taking up space on your server. Eventually, your server will tell you that it can’t house any more email, and the address will stop working. Be proactive about this and clean out your email box every once in a while.

4. Google Analytics is a free service. So many people ask me about if/how they can get a website traffic report. If anyone wants to charge you for a report like this, they’re hosing you. That’s because Google Analytics offers free website traffic reports to anyone who wants them. You can sign up easily with any email address associated with Google. You can then get an account number, which you simply have to put in the right place on your site. Then, voila! You can log back in to your Google Analytics account any time to view your traffic numbers.

5. Today’s sites are built off templates with modules. This is sort of a long and complicated point, but I’ll try to keep it brief. Today’s websites are built off templates. Each of those has a pretty structured layout. And each page follows the same layout. What this means is that it’s super important you choose the right template. A design firm like Smart Author Sites can help you adjust that template somewhat — to insert your own color scheme, logo, widgets, photos, etc… but the structure is pre-built. This means that you can’t have each page look different, and you can’t simply “move,” say, the social networking icons from the bottom to the top of the page. So choose your theme wisely.

6. Sites and themes need to be updated. The internet is ever changing. And there are people out there getting into and hacking sites each and every minute. As a result, the good guys have to keep trying to stay on top of things, and continually update security settings. So if you have a WordPress site, it’s essential that you log in at least once a week and run any updates that they recommend. If you have a site hosted through us, we will do that for you. But either way, it’s essential for your site security that it be done.

7. People don’t always enter a site through the homepage. I have this conversation at least once a week. Clients want to, say, feature their book on their homepage … and nowhere else on the site. This comes from a natural assumption that visitors always come into a site through a homepage. This is especially common among authors, who tend to think of sites linearly — like a book. That’s not the way people use the web, though. In this particular example, let’s say someone does a Google search for the author’s name and comes into the site through the author bio page. They may never have seen that homepage. And let’s say they’re then looking to learn more about the book. They go to the site navigation … there’s no “book” tab. Would they know to go to the homepage to find the book details? Not likely. So it’s important to remember that the homepage is like a teaser — not a replacement  — the other sections of the site.

8. Site design affects load time. I’ve worked with many authors that want the most beautiful site in the world. They want rich photos, illustrations and detailed design. Can it be done? Sure. But is there a cost? Yes. It’s load time. The more images there are on a page, the longer that page is going to take to load. And longer load times cost you site traffic — both in terms of frustrated users who can’t get the page to load and the search engines who punish you for having a site with long load times. So it’s important to find the balance in your site design between functionality and appearance.

9. Site content is distinct from site design. When you look at a page of an author website, you see many things: a header, a logo, a navigation, and maybe a photo and a lot of text. But for developers, that one page can be divided into two very distinct areas: the design and the content. In other words, the site design is the more complicated, code-based section of the page. It’s also the stuff that stays consistent throughout the site. For example, every page will have your logo, your name and your navigation. It’s the text and photos that differ from page to page that qualifies as your site content. That’s the stuff that’s super easy to swap in and out — either from page to page or from day to day. This may not make a lot of sense or have a lot of meaning to you, but it’s huge to us. Because your site design is a whole lot more complicated — and difficult to make alterations to — than the words on your bio page, for example.

10. Yes, it’s easy to link out. This question has probably surprised me more than any other. I’ve talked to so many authors who have asked me if they can have links from their author websites to buy their books on Amazon, B&N, etc… Yes. Absolutely. Linking out to a bookselling site is one of the easiest things you can possibly do. It’s a no-brainer.

Do you have additional questions like these? Anything you want clarification on? Post them below!