Websites should be fun places to visit. They should be full of stories, tips, ideas, and things that can improve your life.
Unfortunately, most author websites don’t do that. Too many authors use their website more as a portfolio — a place to feature their work and themselves, but not really offer anything of value to their visitors.
As anyone who has worked in marketing knows, you have to offer something to your customers to get them to bite. Whether “biting” involves purchasing your book, signing up for your email list, or becoming a fan on Facebook, those things will only happen if you give people a good reason to do so.
With that in mind, here are some ideas I’ve culled off other conversations around the world wide web (and I will continue to add to these in the future) on what people really want to see on an author website:
- Write blog posts. I’ve blogged about blogging more times than I can tell you, but I can’t say it enough. Use your blog to offer tips and advice to people. That’s what will make them keep coming back for more.
- Answer questions. Address people by name and respond to their inquiries. That gives your website an interactive, personal feel.
- Feature new/upcoming releases. Don’t forget to tell your site visitors what’s coming up. It’s important to keep your site current and give people a sneak peek at what the future holds.
- Include excerpts. This is a no-brainer, but how do you expect people to buy your book if they can’t get a sense of the tone, story, etc…? Offer at least one excerpt that people can read on your website before taking the plunge.
- Create web-exclusive content. Post a weekly recipe, a funny read, your comments on another book, or a money-saving tip. This content — exclusive to your website — is a fun little tidbit that can really make your site interesting.
- Include more than a book description. Readers can learn about the basics of the book — the publishing details, a summary, etc… — just about anywhere. That’s why you have to use your website to offer something extra. Maybe it’s a description of what went into writing the book, struggles you had in writing the book, when you hit writers’ block, how your characters got their names, etc… The more personal, the better.
- Hold contests. Ask people to submit their own personal stories, short stories, book reviews, etc… What kind of contest you hold depends completely on who your audience is and what kind of book you wrote, but giving people a chance to win something is a “sticky” element that can keep people coming back to your site.
- Offer bonuses. You put some time and money into building yourself an author website, so you probably want to get something out of it. So before you ask people to purchase the book or sign up for your newsletter, make sure you give them an incentive to do so. Maybe if they buy the book through your website, they get an autographed copy. Or if they sign up for your newsletter, they can download a PDF with inspirational tips. Again, it completely depends on your subject matter and your audience, but the idea is the same: give something to your readers, and they’ll give back to you twofold.
Do you have other ideas on how to spruce up an author website? Share them in the comments box!