Recently I set up a new platform for my fiction writing… I recorded the process and tried to explain the choices I was making and why I made them. It won’t completely walk you through setting up a WordPress Author Website (there are other, better videos to teach you how to use WordPress) it should educate you in regards to using an author website to build a platform and sell books.
Enjoy – please share if you feel this is a useful resource.
A brief introduction to author websites.
2 Do you need a blog or a website?
What’s the difference between a ‘blog’ and a ‘website’? Do you need both?
3 Landing pages vs. Content-based blogs
Do you need a landing/static/sales page? Or a blog with lots of content? Or both?
4 Beware of Wix and Weebly
Drag and drop interfaces are popular because they seem easy to use, but they are unlikely to produce great results.
5 Why use WordPress
WordPress is a free content management system that is frequently updated and has tons of options, themes and plugins. It will take a little getting used to, but it’s not much harder than learning MS Word, and there are lots of training resources.
6 How much should you spend on your author website?
Average prices, and the dangers of spending too much but getting an ugly site.
7 Design Examples
A few examples, from graphic heavy to light and minimal (and which you need!)
8 Do you need a publisher/imprint website?
You may think you need a website for the publishing imprint you set up, to make it seem more professional. You don’t…
Choosing a domain name
Do you really want “authorname.com”? Are you sure? Try to think of some other options, that will give you more flexibility in the future.
(The sound on this video is really bad, sorry…)
9 Choosing a domain name (2)
Some more thoughts on picking a domain
10 MultiAuthor/Hub sites
Setting up a “Hub” that is inclusive of other authors in your genre will be more effective long term.
Choosing a wordpress theme
Pick something simple and clean. Don’t worry so much about the homepage (usually with a slider or magazine view). Look at the blog page; that’s probably what you’ll use.
Some themes I recommend:
Installing a WordPress theme (1)
Setting up WordPress (2)
Setting up a WordPress theme part 2
I decided finally to change to a simpler theme, with less resistance to making something minimal and functional. A little less “cool” but ultimately a safer choice.
How to set up a email subscription form/signup
Integrating WordPress or author email subscription form on your sidebar and pages.
Using an autoresponder and email list to sell books
I talk a bit about using an autoresponder to build trust and create demand for your books.
What to write about
Congrats! You have a site! Hopefully you kept it clean and simple, and didn’t add a bunch of ugly graphics, awards, bells and whistles, or an ugly header/logo. The good news is this: content matters most. The majority of authors who have become well known in self-publishing circles, “celebrity bloggers”, are using WordPress’ default theme or a free blogger theme or something else rudimentary and poorly designed.
But they had a lot of good stuff to say, so people followed them and shared them. Most authors, even if they manage to set up an author website, have no idea what to blog about – so they don’t. Or they post banal, trivial updates about their life.
You’re going to do better, right?
Firstly, you need a bunch of content so Google recognizes that you exist. I recommend starting out with 100 posts. That seems like a lot, but it isn’t.
Choose five main keywords. Focus on “longtail” keywords (phrases, rather than words).
For this site, for example, they might be:
- WordPress author website
- Book sales page
- Author Platform
- Book Marketing Tips
- Setting up WordPress
For Urban Epics, it might be:
- paranormal romance
- indie published books
- urbane fantasy
- free kindle books
Those keywords might be too competitive, so I could focus on longer ones by combining them, like “free paranormal romance kindle reads” or “indie published urbane fantasy book”.
Then use a title generator: here are some.
Type in one keyword at a time, and make a list of 100 article titles. You can tweak them a bit if they sound strange, or use them to think of better ones. Don’t overthink these: you need a “body” of content up on your site quickly, so Google knows what you’re all about. I would suggest writing 5 of these a day. Shoot for around 500 words each (that’s just 2500 words – it should take you a couple hours or less). They need good titles and some writing, and shouldn’t be total crap: write them for humans. But don’t overanalyze either – it’s very possible you won’t get many readers. But you need the content so that Google starts to trust you. You can spend more time rehashing good topics later. From then on, after you get your first 100 posts, you can just write something every week or two.
What to write about next
- Keep a lookout also for trending issues you can jump on
- Review books, movies and TV shows in your genre
- Offer free book reviews to other indie authors in your genre (it’ll make you popular and bring you a lot of traffic, quickly).
- Round up posts like “The 10 best new paranormal urban fantasy books I read this year” (or do a monthly roundup; search Amazon for bestselling books in your genre and post a monthly list of top sellers.”
- You can also blog about your life, your moods, but don’t whine or complain, or show off or preach. Just try to be authentic, but also share things of interest that are related to your genre.
Improving your sales rank
It takes time for Google to know you and trust you. Probably a year or two. But you can grow your traffic faster by:
- Getting people to link to you; by having great resources or doing lots of guest posts.
Jamie Gold, for example, put up this page of ‘writing beat’ worksheets in excel that I keep coming back to when I need help plotting.
- Repurpose content: make videos, powerpoints, image quotes – when you post a blog post, also make extra content for Twitter, Facebook, Slideshare, Pinterest and Youtube.
- Write stuff that people will want to share (using the title generators will help a lot with that).