Your Author Funnel

Your Author Funnel

I wrote recently about author funnels on Creativindie but the point was this: you can’t try to give everything to everybody. You have to focus on the 95%.

Who is going to visit your blog? Either people who know you, your name, your book’s name – or people who don’t.

People who already know you and your books probably don’t need to visit your website much: when they finish a book you’ve include a call to action and links to go buy the next one, or sign up for a free book from your website. (If that’s the case, you have a special landing page where they can sign up for their free book, not just the homepage).

And it’s important to get those people onto your list.

But it’s more important to think about the people who found you by accident – because they were searching for stuff related to your genre, and because you were smart and wrote a lot of great content with keywords relating to your genre – they stumbled upon you’re site.

And now you’ve got, maybe, 3 seconds to catch their attention.

How do you do it? With fancy colors and images and moving gifs and flashing lights?

NO.

One Facebook or Twitter, when they are scrolling through a bunch of stuff, pictures help your posts stand out. But they are already on your website. You don’t need to catch their eye, you need to hook their brain. Probably with an interesting headline or subtitle.

All your posts should extremely clickable with captivating titles, but you also need your subtitle/tagline (under your blog header or logo) who you are and what exactly you do.

And then you want them to do something.

But don’t give them a ton of choices – too many choices will paralyze them.

Give them  one choice.

The choice will probably be, “Read Something For Free.”

You could offer a free book, but if they don’t know you yet, they aren’t going to want it – at least not badly enough to give you their email.

So instead you should try and get them to read an excerpt. “Read the first chapter free!” and immediately following, add social proof with a few reviews, or “over 100 5 star reviews” or “over 10,000 sold” or “winner of X prize.”

Give them a reason to start reading.

Back it up with social proof.

At the bottom of your excerpt you have “get this book for free on Amazon” (for your permafree book – if you don’t have one, you can link to your book).

At the end of that book, you have another offer – something even better – to try and get them on your email list.

Why do you need an email list?

So you can let them know when you have a new book out, ask them to buy it and review it, and hopefully share it with others. But if you only have one book, after they’ve bought it and read it, having them on your email list is worthless… unless you plan to write more books soon. It’s still a good idea, but it can be expensive once you get a few thousand people on your list to keep it up, unless you’re earning some money back.

So you need more content.

My point

Don’t give them everything. Don’t worry about everybody. Make the thing you want them to do the easiest thing to find; remove obstacles (price, confusing site, email optin). If you ask for their email too earlier they’ll leave. You need to make them want your book before they’ll trade their money or their privacy to read it.

You can do that with excerpts, or a brilliant description, or a beautiful book cover, or lots of quality reviews. Attract them with the right content, grab them with a good offer, get them on your list – OR sell the book hard and get them to click over to Amazon and buy.

What to write about on your author website to get more traffic

What to write about on your author website to get more traffic

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.

http://www.portent.com/tools/title-maker

http://tweakyourbiz.com/tools/title-generator/

http://backlinkgenerator.net/titlegenerator/

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)
No sliders, no magazines!

No sliders, no magazines!

You might see a lot of other sites using sliders or a “magazine style” on their homepage. They work for bigger sites with tons of content because they don’t care what readers look at. They get paid per view through advertising – so they just try to hook attention and get readers to stay on the page a few more minutes.

That can be useful, but it isn’t really what you want, and it’s easy to do it wrong.

You want readers to find what they’re looking for quickly and easily, and start reading what you want them to read. You also want to control the experience – you need to decide what action you want them to take and you need to guide their actions by telling them what you want them to do (probably – buy your book, or at least sign up to your reading list.

Sliders are only a good idea if you have so many books you want to show them all at once, click here for series one, click here for series two… but even then there are better ways to go about it.

Magazines are just too crowded and busy, and usually require lots of images, which can look great is some places (top of blog) but easily become too bold and messy.

A lot of author’s homepages are a big mess and scare people away, and that’s what you want to avoid. You don’t NEED to “catch their attention” with images and colors – they are already on your site! There’s nowhere else to look or be distracted, unless YOU distract them from yourself.

Hook their attention with strong headlines, a super “about me” section, your amazing book cover, reviews or optin offer.