Category Archives: Grow Your Author Platform

Why Aren’t People Signing Up For Your Author Mailing List? | Web Design Relief

You’re ready to move your writing career to the next level, so you’ve worked hard to build an author mailing list of your fans and followers. You have an account with MailChimp, MailerLite, or some other e-mail marketing automation platform. In the back matter of all your books, you encourage readers to join your mailing list. The same invitation is pinned to the top of your Twitter feed and your Facebook newsfeed. And on Instagram, you periodically post an invite for readers to sign up. In other words, you’ve worked hard to build a newsletter subscriber list—so why aren’t people signing up?

Perhaps you aren’t offering the right hook or incentive. Fortunately, the marketing experts at Web Design Relief have a list of great ways to make your readers an offer they can’t refuse.

How To Effectively Entice Readers To Sign Up For Your Author Mailing List

Build Your Mailing List With A Free Book

To coax readers to follow you, consider offering them what they want the most: a free book! Specifically, a free e-book.

Before the digital disruption of publishing, the idea of offering a free book meant paying full price for a copy and mailing it, a cost-prohibitive venture when you’re hoping to attract thousands to your author mailing list. But with the advent of e-books, self-publishing, and an easy-to-use service like BookFunnel, offering up a free e-book to new subscribers can be effortless and free!

Using this kind of grand incentive is one of the best ways to move your social media fans and followers to your mailing list.

Lure Fans And Followers With Exclusive Content

Books aren’t the only powerful incentive you can offer. Followers and fans want to be part of the “in” crowd, so consider giving people who join your newsletter some uber-exclusive content, which may also prod them into buying your books.

Exclusive content options could include:

  • A bonus prologue or epilogue to your most popular novel.
  • A deleted scene from your latest novel.
  • A sneak-preview of the first chapter of an upcoming book.
  • A novella or short story in your series world written exclusively for newsletter subscribers.

Nonfiction writers may want to offer:

  • A resources page where readers can get more information about the topic at hand.
  • A favorite recipe that is representative of, but not found in, your cookbook.
  • A cheat sheet of bonus information, such as “best knitting tips” or “how to make a log cabin out of Popsicle sticks.”

If you’re looking to increase traffic to your author website, you can make this exclusive content available on a “locked” or “hidden” page accessible only to newsletter subscribers.

Boost Sign-Ups With Fresh, Original Content Ideas

Mark Dawson, a hugely successful British writer of spy thrillers, uses a partly redacted fictional MI5 “case file” on his main James-Bond-like character as a highly successful sign-up incentive. Dedicated readers of his novels may already know most of this information, but the compilation is original and intriguing.

Consider these other ideas:

  • An annotated family tree for your fantasy novel or multigenerational saga
  • A timeline that maps the evolution of your long-running series
  • A short nonfiction book about the creatures that live in the world you’ve imagined in your sci-fi or fantasy novel
  • Unrevealed backstory about the villain or monster in your horror novel

Maintaining an author mailing list is actually more important than social media when it comes to building a true-blue following for your work. Social media platforms change their algorithms all the time. On a whim, they could switch up the way they do business and significantly reduce your reach, since your list of followers is in their hands. So build your mailing list with gusto and confidence: Your cultivated list of email subscribers will always belong to YOU.

 

Question: What incentive does your favorite author use to entice readers to sign up to his or her list?

7 Things Writers Think They Must Do When Building A Website Vs. What They Actually Need To Do | Web Design Relief

When it’s time to create a website, many authors aren’t sure what they should include—so they go above and beyond what’s really necessary. If you’re new to the idea of website design, you might think adding more-more-more is the best way to get your money’s worth. But at Web Design Relief, we know you don’t need to use all the bells and whistles to build an engaging, professional, and functional author website. In fact, focusing on clean and uncluttered design is the best thing to do when building a strong online author platform.

Here are some so-called author website must-haves vs. what you actually need:

Website so-called must-have: A costly, professional headshot from the lead photographer at Vanity Fair.

What writers actually need: A clear, good DIY headshot that could easily be snapped with a cell phone, tablet, or by your camera-savvy best friend. Play with the filters. Adjust the lighting and exposure. Wear something that defines your style. A combination of soft, natural light and well-chosen clothing can be an affordable alternative to an expensive portrait. So “say cheese” and learn how to take your own headshot!

Website so-called must-have: A complex, fancy concept with many moving parts.

What writers actually need: A homepage call to action that gets results. Successful websites are designed with clarity and ease of navigation in mind. This doesn’t mean your author website can’t be intriguing or eye-catching. But rather than focusing on flashy effects, put your most important content front and center. Make it easy for your visitors to move around on your website by providing links or buttons to buy your book, read your portfolio, or sign up for your mailing list.

Website so-called must-have: A page for every single publication credit you have.

What writers actually need: One page with a list of your publications. It’s very unlikely anyone will make an effort to scroll through multiple pages to see your published works. Consolidate your publication history into a single, essential page with external links to read or preview your writing.

Website so-called must-have: A forum, instant messaging, and a visible snail mail address.

What writers actually need: A dedicated contact form. When you have one safe point of contact for your visitors, it will limit confusion and increase the odds of getting—and reading—messages from fans, editors, or agents. It also protects your personal information.

Website so-called must-have: As many buttons and links as possible (aka the infamous bells and whistles).

What writers actually need: Social media and Buy Now buttons. A button is a very powerful design element, so save it for something you really want to direct your visitors to do—like purchase your work and connect and share your content on social media. Use hyperlinks for any other content you want to steer visitors to.

Website so-called must-have: Elaborate aesthetics and elements.

What writers actually need: An easy-to-navigate and mobile-optimized design. You may think having a website that looks like a piece of art in a museum will impress your visitors, but functionality and professional standards are what will keep your audience coming back for more. Web visitors will quickly bounce off your site if they can’t figure out how to find what they’re looking for, or if your author website looks all wonky on a mobile device.

Website so-called must-have: A cybersecurity team.

What writers actually need: A good hosting provider. While you don’t need the CIA to keep your website and Internet visitors safe, a good host is one of the best ways to secure your website. What makes a good web host? One that performs regular site backups and software updates, just like the tech experts at Web Design Relief’s hosting service!

It can be easy to break the bank and go overboard with your website. Remember, for a professional-looking, high-performance author website: Less is more! Find more budget-friendly website tips here!

Writer: Create Your Own Author Blog Editorial Calendar | Web Design Relief

So you have an author website and blog? Great! But are you posting interesting, new content on a regular schedule? Life can get busy: A few long days at the office, extra carpools to violin lessons and soccer matches, binge watching that show everyone’s talking about…and before you know it, you’ve neglected your blog. The experts at Web Design Relief know that one of the best ways to manage your blog and increase your website’s readership is to use an editorial calendar. Here are smart, simple tips to help you create your own author blog editorial calendar.

How To Set Up A Blog Editorial Calendar

First things first…before you start planning your editorial calendar, you’ll need to consider the following things:

Goals: What is the goal of your author blog? Maybe you want to market your self-published book, gain more readers, or promote a cause that is meaningful to you and your writing. Once you know what you hope to accomplish with your blog, you’ll have the foundation for your editorial calendar.

Scheduling: The next step is determining when and how often you expect to post on your blog. Scheduling conflicts are one of the biggest problems writers face when maintaining a blog. If you know you work late on a certain day or are preoccupied with other commitments, avoid scheduling posts on these days. This will prevent blogger burnout and make it easier for you to post regularly!

Topics: If you don’t have any ideas or topics to write about on your blog, it will be difficult to stay on track! Plan as many topics as you can in advance. Here are a few blog post ideas that can apply to almost every genre of writer: a day in your writing life, what inspires you, or your latest project. Really stumped about what to post next? Try out some of these 40 blog post ideas.

More Elements Of A Successful Editorial Calendar

Due Dates: For blogging consistency, include a section to schedule both the date you need your blog post completed and the date you want the post to go live. This will give you ample time to edit and adjust the post while still keeping to your schedule. Check out how to stay sane when you’re on a writing schedule.

Blog Post Title: Every professional blog post needs a title! You’ll definitely want to add a section for titles and even subtitles in your editorial calendar. Engaging, clever titles can be tough to come up with, so if you need some inspiration, check out this guide on how to title just about anything.

Content Details: When you outline the details of your blog post right in your editorial calendar, it makes actually writing it so much easier. You’ll have the basis for your post readily available, and a few key points to get you started. For more easy tips, take a look at this weary writer’s guide to better blogging.

Keywords: Keywords give the SEO of your blog post a boost! When readers search for the keywords that appear in your article, having good SEO improves the odds that they’ll find your blog and visit your author website. Make a list in your editorial calendar so these keywords are included in your post!

Target Audience: Knowing the type of reader you want to attract to your blog helps you focus your blog posts to best appeal to your audience. You may wish to reach longtime readers with your content or connect with new fans. With targeted posts, it can even increase your number of comments.

How To Create Your Actual Calendar

There are many programs available that you can use to create your editorial calendar. The most popular is Microsoft Excel, which boasts an extensive array of options, layouts, tabs, and more. Google Sheets is an online alternative that lets you create an editorial calendar where you can upload files. And there are many other programs available that will help you create a blog editorial calendar that works best for you as a writer.

An editorial calendar can keep you organized and consistent—and make it easier for your author blog to effectively function as a powerful promotional element on your website.

 

Question: Which type of calendar do you use to track your blog posts?

10 Social Media Book Marketing Strategies Writers Should Avoid | Web Design Relief

These days, the life of an author is often divided between writing books and online marketing on social media. But do you know what kinds of posts and book promotions are unwelcome—or even prohibited— on social media platforms? At Web Design Relief, we know that even innocent efforts to attract new fans and friends may… Continue Reading

How To Create A “Book Me” Page On Your Author Website To Get More Speaking Gigs| Web Design Relief

Networking, shaking hands, and meeting new people is a great way to drum up interest in the speaking or book signing events you can offer as an author. But your author website can be equally effective at nabbing you some new invitations to speak—if you’re using it right. Imagine: You could be lounging around in… Continue Reading

Online Book Marketing Isn’t Working? Here’s What To Adjust | Web Design Relief

As a marketing-savvy author, you know building a social media platform is vital to your writing career. That’s why you post frequently, respond to all comments, and monitor your social media platforms throughout the day. But at Web Design Relief, our experts know that sometimes your online book marketing strategies don’t show any real results.… Continue Reading


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