Author’s Journey #19: Create an online hub for marketing your book

by Roger Parker on April 30, 2010

It never ceases to amaze me that, in the current WordPress and Typepad age, there are still authors who spend great amounts of money on websites they cannot update and maintain themselves!

This is sheer lunacy. There’s no reason for it!

If you want to fully harness the Internet to promote your book and your services, the only way to go is to have a blog-based web presence; you must be able to easily update your web presence on your own, without the costs and delays of hiring outside designers.

This is not to say you can’t hire a professional designer to set up your blog presence, but you must be able to add, edit, and delete content using basic word-processing typing and editing skills.

How blogs have changed

Today’s blogs are light years ahead of their predecessors. At one time, blogs were limited to just the posts. If you wanted a multi-page web presence, with separate pages for different categories of information, you needed a conventional website.

Now, however, blogging software allows you to combine posts with separate pages. This has changed everything, making it very easy for authors and business owners to create separate pages describing:

  • About Us. This permits you to add a background statement and list your experience and qualifications.
  • Store. You can easily create an online store describing the products and services you offer, linked to a shopping cart for ordering.
  • Testimonials. You can easily keep your client and customer testimonials updated, each time you receive a new one.
  • Contact. In addition to providing contact information in the footer of each page, you can create a page with a contact form that will help you screen your incoming e-mail and protect your e-mail address.
  • Archives. You can easily create a page containing constantly-updated links to articles, audios, and videos.
  • Bonus content. In addition to allowing you to add and create new pages, and track their traffic and performance, today’s blogs make it easy to deliver bonus content to your readers and clients. You can password-protect individual pages of your blog, or set up blog-based membership sites with automatic, recurring monthly billing that restricts content to current subscribers.


When I wrote my Streetwise Guide to Relationship Marketing on the Internet, Foreword by Seth Godin, only those who could afford 5 and 6-figure customized content management systems could update their own websites and control access to content.

Now, you can do most of the same things for free!





Best practices for new authors

Here are some ideas for authors looking for ways to market and promote a new book.

  1. Consider creating a separate blog-based website for your new book. Instead of grafting your book onto an existing website, especially a website you can’t update yourself, use your new book as an excuse to start fresh all over again. This permits you to focus your blog on your book, and the products and services that relate to your book.
  2. Reasonable expectations. There is a difference between updating a blog-based website and creating a blog-based website. Recognize the difference between setting up a blog-based website and updating a blog-based website. Updating is fast and easy; setting-up can take a lot of time…time you might be better spending in creating content and selling your services. Even though there are numerous free and low-cost blog templates, or, themes, available, you’ll often save money by having a blog-savvy designer to set up of your blog.
  3. Know what you need. A blog, by itself, is not enough; don’t settle for a partial solution! Blogs require integration with autoresponders and shopping carts. You need autoresponders to capture e-mail addresses, build and maintain your mailing list, and deliver sign-up incentives. Shopping carts are needed to sell products and services. Your blog will also require integration with today’s social marketing media, so content added to your blog will be automatically replicated on FaceBook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. You’ll probably also need training to add graphics and links to streaming audios and videos.
  4. Demand design excellence. Your blog doesn’t have to look like a blog! Blogs can be as simple and well-designed as the finest websites. Today’s blogging software permits your blog to have a layout for the home page than for the inside pages. The banner at the top of your home page, for example, can be significantly smaller on the inside pages of your blog. Make sure that you use design purposefully, to project an appropriate image and to differentiate your blog from the competition. Just because you’re using blogging software doesn’t mean your blog has to project an amateur, home-grown image.
  5. Hire the right designer. Hire a designer who has both a strong design sense as well as extensive experience with blogging software. Be careful when dealing with print-based graphic designers who are migrating to webside and blog design. Be especially careful when hiring designers who don’t have a blog themselves, or who haven’t updated their blog in months. Like all crafts, the more hands-on blogging experience a designer has had, the better. (E-mail me for a free copy of my Designer’s Qualifications Worksheet.
  6. Commit to tracking your traffic. Right from the start, commit to paying attention to the website traffic to the various pages of your website. Make sure that each of your blog posts and each page of your blog contains the information needed by Google Analytics, or an equivalent traffic monitoring system. This will permit you to refine your page titles and headlines for maximum traffic and conversions into sales.

Create a content plan

Most important, don’t start blogging until you have created a content plan that specifies how often you’re going to add new content, and the major themes, or content categories, that you want to blog about in future posts.

For example, visit the content plan I created for my series of Active Garage guest posts and download my original mind map for this series. My original map, created in a couple of hours last October, continues to guide my weekly posts.

Blogging is easy when you’re doing more than simply reacting to current events or blog posts by others. You can always add new posts when needed, but you should know how often you’re going to blog each week, and the general themes of your weekly posts, before your blog goes live.

Conclusion

Avoid the temptation to write a great book, but attempt to market it using a tired, “hostage” website that tries to serve too many different purposes. Instead, use the publication of your book as an excuse to join the blog-based Web 2.0 generation that will provide a fresh start and allow you to update your own site without the costs and delays of hiring others. Once you see how easy it is to keep your blog updated, you’ll never go back to “hostage” websites again.

rcp-heming-picRoger C. Parker helps others write books that build brands. He’s written over 30 books, offers do-it-yourself resources at Published & Profitable, and shares writing tips each weekday. His latest book is Title Tweet! 140 Bite-Sized Ideas for Article, Book, and Event Titles
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