When recently working with a client building her author website, I thought about the fact that this process of pre-launching an author website is an area that authors really don’t invest any planning or forethought into.
You may of heard a friend or colleague who was all excited about creating a new blog. They announce their new blog is up and running. Their closest family, friends and pet dog visit, only to find an empty shell with a basic single name title at the top and no content available, apart from the trite four lined post, ‘here’s my new blog‘.
One month later, you ask how their blog is going and they’ve got bored after the rush has passed and become disenchanted, as no one else has visited. Sound like anyone you know?
If you are serious about selling books at all, building your author brand and making money doing what you love, then you need a platform that’s working for you.
If this is you, then you’re reading the right post.
Having a blog today is key to finding any level of success online. It serves as your author platform hub for your brand and marketing campaigns. I’m going to be focusing on one particular website and blog framework…WordPress. The reason for this is because it’s a scalable platform that can grow and change as you do, requiring very little financial investment. It’s easy to use for those who are non-tech savvy and is robust enough for the serious internet veterans.
This is way above any sub-par freebie platforms like Weebly or Blogger, not to mention it’s regarded as the number one option by successful bloggers, entrepreneurs and authorpreneurs, for those serious about building an online presence.
- Avoiding one key factor that most failing authors don’t consider
- Factors in creating a good author website pre-launch
Before we get into all the bells and whistles, it’s crucial to understand and answer this one question…
Who is my author website for?
In other words, who is your target reader or who is your ideal website visitor? Having clarity on this, really defines the level of success you’ll have and this is responsible for more failed blogs than any other factor. The second is authors who just talk about themselves. You can put all the effort in the world into great content and design, but if you’re an organic cookbook author and you’re writing to those after discount takeaway meals, then you’ll hit the wall of frustration when no one visits, reads or shares your content.
It’s the biggest factor that determines whether you’re in the 90% of bloggers who quit and fail in the first 6 months.
So how do you define this?
Define your “ideal visitor”. Put yourself in the visitor’s position. What interests will this person have to find your blog interesting? Why would they come back? How will visiting your author website educate or entertain them? I cover this in the Free eBook ‘The Big 3‘ which includes a single page worksheet that will help you define this in about twenty minutes. Subscribe on the right>.
This pre-launch phase is the preparation of your author website, before officially going “live” and telling people about it. Without preparation and content there’s simply an empty shell. Once your author website is installed, you’ve created some content and have completed your list of pre-launch preparations, then you can start broadcasting to world. Not before.
Setting Up Professionally
After you’ve acquired a domain and hosting, you want to use a good theme. Don’t go with the plain white standard theme. If you’re building a professional author brand, a loyal following and selling books, look the part and give people a reason to take you seriously! With thousands of other blogs and authors out there competing for attention, you have to be different and stand out.
If you don’t look like you’re taking yourself seriously as a professional author and blogger, don’t expect anyone else to!
As part of your pre-launch list, you should definitely include these following elements before officially launching your site.
1. Get a good website header design, a book buy badge and a professional author photo of you (not cradling your pet dog)
2. About page: Be sure to create a compelling About Page, that shows who you are, why you started writing and arguably the most important thing, what are the benefits for your readers!
3. Contact page: Make sure people interested in contacting you, can. Include your email address, Twitter, Facebook and perhaps your Skype details.
4. Have compelling content ready: After successfully making your one and only first impression with the things mentioned above, it’s now up to delivering good content to keep people interested and coming back. Give value to people, educate, entertain and inspire them. Ideally you’ll launch with at least five blog articles.
Second biggest reason author websites fail, is because the author talks all about themselves, instead of thinking of what readers want.
If you’re a non-fiction author talk about the topics you’ve written books about, give people extra content that helps them.
If you’re a fiction author write about what inspires you and include a lesson for your readers. Write a short story blog, about 1000-1500 words long. Offer extra world building material for readers.
Ongoing regular content is the key to finding success with your author website. You can mix it up by doing podcasts or videos for topics that will benefit from the different media delivery. It’ll also provide variety for your readers.
When writing your blog articles, always ask yourself this; ‘What’s in it for my readers?
5. Build your list: It’s a crucial piece of any successful online blog, whether you’re an author, business person, or topic blogger. Authors and Bloggers Andy Andrews and Tim Ferris know the importance subscribers have played in moving their books up the Amazon charts. Your list serves as your warm interested readers that are keen to hear more from you. They already know and like you, so building trust with your subscribers will help build your relationship with readers and ultimately turn them into fans. Fans of course, buy books. More on this in an upcoming article.
Install and optimise your plugins
This is part of having your author website running smoothly and supporting your efforts of content building and marketing. There’s thousands of plugins available, but there are some core plugins that every author website should launch with. You can find those plugins here.
Selected Social Media Accounts Ready
By this stage if you haven’t already done so, create your account profiles on the main social networks you plan to focus on. Remember, who your audience is and where are they hanging out? The two main ones are Twitter and Facebook. Create your profile on Twitter, flesh out your about section and have a professional background that reflects your author brand. Create your Facebook Page with an effective cover photo that represents you well.
At this point you’re just about ready. Check you haven’t made any of these website mistakes before launching. Once you flick the switch and your website is live, announce it to the world, first by inviting friends and colleagues. When your author website is live, it’s time to market it and start your traffic and readership building.
I’ll cover post-launch marketing in an upcoming article.
Crafting author websites that people actually visit!