When you build your author website or blog, you hope that someday it will be hopping with people and full of conversation and debate. But there’s a potential downside to your site becoming so popular: the isolation of new visitors.
Some author websites feature blog entries or conversations that date back for months. When someone stumbles upon that kind of site for the first time, it’s likely that they would feel like they “missed the boat,” or are not part of the clique. By letting that happen, an author is losing out on a potential reader and long-term fan.
So what can an author do with his or her website to prevent this type of occurrence? Here are a few ideas…
- Include a “Welcome” message on the homepage. I recommend this for many of my clients. There’s nothing that makes new visitors feel welcome like a friendly picture of the author and a brief message that encourages them to click around the site, guides them to the pages they may find interesting, and gives them an idea of what the website and the book(s) are about.
- Avoid a traditional blog. Many sites (ones we build, included) are built on blog platforms. But what an author should not do is have a blog-centric website. You’ve seen sites like that — where the homepage is essentially a stream of the latest blog entries. When people arrive on such a website and know nothing about the author, they don’t want to see the author’s ramblings about the long line at the supermarket, or a blog entry that’s building on a conversation from the previous week.
- Invite readers to join the conversation. Another thing I often recommend to authors is a “Join the Conversation” or “Talk Back” box on the homepage. That’s where you would list all the different ways that readers are contributing to the blog, and invite new readers to chime in. It may include a mention of the “Conversation of the Week,” or it could encourage readers to submit their own reviews of the book. This is a good way to make new visitors feel welcome to join the group.
Hopefully, your website will someday be popular enough for you to have this problem. If so, following the guidelines above should help you ensure that your audience continues to grow.