Posts Tagged ‘publishedandprofitable.com’

One of your most important marketing and promoting decisions is choosing the right incentive to offer as a bonus to visitors who sign up for your e-mail newsletter or weekly tips.

It’s not enough to offer great information delivered at consistent intervals via e-mail; you have to go further and sweeten the pot with a sign-up bonus if you want to grow your list as quickly as possible.

Why you must offer an incentive

You have to strike while the iron is hot! One of the reasons to offer an incentive that is immediately delivered via an e-mail autoresponder is to immediately contact visitors who have signed up for your newsletter or weekly tips.

Visitors have short memories; if you’re midway between monthly newsletters or a weekly tip sheet mailing, by the time the next issue rolls around, visitors may have forgotten that they signed-up for it. C2010-523 dumps This won’t happen, however, if they immediately receive your incentive and a thank-you for signing up.

Characteristics of successful incentives

Your sign-up incentive should reflect the quality of information you share on a consistent basis with your clients, customers, prospects, and readers. Key characteristics include:

  • Engaging. Pay as much attention to the title of your incentive as you pay to the title of your book. Your incentive must immediately communicate a benefit that will help visitors solve a problem or achieve a goal. For help choosing the title of your incentive, use the same techniques used to choose article, book, & event titles.
  • Helpful & relevance. The success of a sign-up incentive is based not on how well it “sells” your services, but on the quality of the information you share in it. Let your information be your salesperson; don’t hold anything back- -share your expertise and leave your visitor looking forward to learning more.
  • Actionable. Avoid incentives that are long on theory, but short on information. Instead, focus on concise and simply-stated ideas that your market can immediately put to work.
  • Perceived value. Pay attention to the quality of your incentive; let the packaging, or the design and layout, of your incentive add value to your words and ideas. The design of your incentive should project an appropriate image, one that tells a story and differentiates you and your firm from the competition.
  • Low-cost or no-cost. Electronic incentives, like Adobe PDF’s, downloadable audios, or streaming videos are best because there are few out-of-pocket costs involved in creating them and no costs (other than the low monthly fees for an auto-responder) involved in distributing them.
  • Trackable. In order to test, and, thereby, continue to improve, the desirability of your incentives, it’s important that you carefully track the number of incentives you distribute and the conversions- -or sales- – that result. A simple spreadsheet will help you correlate newsletter or tip-sheet sign-ups to specific blog posts or pay-per-click advertising.

Types of incentives

As mentioned above, sign-up incentive can take many forms. Format options include Acrobat PDF files, audios, videos, and- -even- -templates to be used with popular software programs. CAS-003 dumps The following is a rundown of the types of content options you can choose from:

  • Assessments. An assessment can be as simple as a questionnaire, or as sophisticated as a self-grading interactive form. Assessments help visitors determine their needs and identify areas where improvement is possible.
  • Best-of compendiums. Your hard-drive may contain hundreds of previously-written articles, case studies, ideas, strategies, and tips, that you can assemble into a “Best of” incentive. Another source of information may be as close as your blog posts, which can be easily harvested for your incentive.
  • Checklists. Another popular incentive category idea includes checklists. Checklists help visitors evaluate their performance as they complete a task or work towards a goal.
  • E-courses. An e-course is simply an incentive sent by autoresponders at timed intervals. Typically, the first “lesson” is sent immediately, with follow-up lessons sent every few days or at weekly intervals. Each follow-up mailing reinforces your brand and your message, increasing the likelihood of a favorable outcome.
  • Glossaries. Every field has its own professional terms and jargon. Newcomers to your field are likely to appreciate a list of important terms and their definitions.
  • Resource compilations. What are the recommended books and online resources in your field? Who are the big players in your field? You can enhance your reputation as the knowledgeable “go to” individual in your field by positioning yourself as an expert “filter” who helps visitors save time locating and evaluating resources they’ll find useful…and you’ll get the credit for introducing them.
  • Software templates. Software templates, prepared for use with the popular programs like Microsoft Excel or Word, Adobe In-Design, or Mindjet’s MindManager, help prospects get a head start on their projects. Spreadsheet templates can help prospects make better decisions, and newsletter templates provide a ready-to-use framework for creating a one-page newsletter with Microsoft Publisher.
  • Speeches. Be sure your next speech is recorded, so you can offer it as a downloadable audio or a streaming video.
  • Survey results. After creating a survey of your clients, customers, prospects, and blog readers, compile a report summarizing the major trends. Survey incentives become more valuable each year, if you update the results and include comparisons with survey results from previous years.
  • Tip sheets. Tip sheets are one of the most powerful tools available. A tip sheet can be as simple as 10 tips printed on one side of a single sheet of paper, or they can become as elaborate as you desire.

Your sign-up incentives are going to be judged by their appearance as well as their contents. Ideally, the appearance of your incentives should reflect the brand associated with you and your book.

  • White papers. White papers which are educationally-oriented reports focusing on current challenges and new developments in your field are an excellent lead generation and list-building tool. The ideal length is 12 pages, or less. The key to a successful white paper is to avoid overt marketing or promotion until the very end, where you can stress your firm’s role in developing and delivering the latest advances.

Content and format options

Here are some things to bear in mind when harvesting previously written content from your hard drive and previous blog posts:

  • Clients and prospects have a short memory. Blog content quickly ages, no matter how carefully you have organized your blog posts by category. By drawing attention to valuable content 6 months, or so, older, you’re performing a valuable service for your market.
  • Different prospects prefer different formats. Just because you addressed a topic in a previous newsletter, and you have it archived on your website, doesn’t mean every prospect is aware of it. Thus, repurposing previous newsletters and blog posts into audios and videos exposes them to prospects who may welcome the information because it’s new to them.

Takeaway

Don’t make the mistake of focusing on writing the perfect book, but fail to offer a helpful, relevant, and actionable incentive. In many ways, the title and content of your sign-up incentive is as important as the title and content of your book. Successful incentives lead to successful books!


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.

Many authors find that finishing their book on time, and avoiding writer’s block, is easier than they expected. This is one of the reasons that successful authors spend a lot of time in the planning stage, positioning their books and preparing a detailed content plan.

The more you plan, the easier it will be to write and finish your book on time!

As a result, once you have created a content plan and have committed to daily progress, you’ll find finishing your book is mostly a matter of “work” rather than stress.

Keeping on schedule

Comfortable, stress-free writing is important because it’s essential that you finish your book on time. You simply can’t afford to get behind schedule; too many people are depending on you to finish your book on time.

If you’re working with a trade publisher, they have already committed to a publication date, and have scheduled numerous staff and freelance resources like:

  1. Cover and inside-page designers
  2. Developmental editors
  3. Technical editors
  4. Layout and production
  5. Proofreaders
  6. Sales and promotion resources

If your manuscript arrives late, it can lose its place in the publisher’s production cycle.

Worse, if your manuscript delays your book’s publication, it may not be available in stores when previously-scheduled marketing and promotion events take place. Delays also make bookstore owners and buyers question their previous purchase commitments, which can lead to canceled orders before your book even appears!

Keeping on schedule is primarily a matter of:

  • ŸStarting with a detailed content plan. Ideally, by the time you start writing, each chapter in your table of contents contains Level 1 and Level 2 subheads indicating what you’re going to be covering, and where it will appear in the chapter.
  • Prioritizing your time. Which involves recognizing the importance of your book to your future and committing to as little as 30-minutes a day to finishing your manuscript. Pages quickly mount up!
  • Avoiding distractions. Distractions can take many forms, including unnecessary self-editing while writing. Your immediate priority is to complete the first draft as quickly as possible, so you and your editors can make it all it can possible be.
  • Delegation. There are probably some tasks which you consider “writing” that you may be able to delegate, such as listening to, or transcribing, interviews, researching quotations, and checking for minor spelling errors as you go along.

    Writing out of order

    One of the most important ways you can keep your writing on schedule is to write out-of-sequence. Or, as I prefer to think of it, “Write the easiest stuff first!”

    Specifically, instead of starting by writing the introduction and chapter one, start in the middle, with an “easy” chapter- -one with lots of detail you can just about finish in your sleep.

    Not only that, you don’t have to write entire chapters! Instead, write an easy section, or subsection, then go on to another “easy” section or subsection of a different chapter.

    There are two points involved:

    • ŸFinish it! First, its essential that you finish the first draft, so it can be massaged into shape.
    • Build up speed. Second, progress builds upon progress. Even if you feel like a cat who’s stayed out all night when you begin writing, once you’ve written that first paragraph, or two, you’ll find yourself writing faster and faster. Once you get started, and into the rhythm of writing, it’s easy to keep going.

    In fact, it seems that writing a book is primarily a matter of “starting to write” each time you sit down for a writing session!

    Of the more than 500 nonfiction authors and book coaches I’ve interviewed, a large percentage state that the introduction and Chapter l of their books is usually the last to be written.

    What about writer’s block?

    A lot is written about writer’s block. Writer’s block refers to an author’s sudden inability to make any progress writing their book. It’s characterized by extreme stress that gets worse the closer it gets to submission deadlines.

    Many new authors fear writer’s block is “part” of the writing process. However, here are a few observations about writer’s block:

    • ŸWriter’s block doesn’t have to be a part of the writing process. Although writer’s block gets a lot of press, it’s not a given! It’s doesn’t have to happen. It’s not “part” of the writing process. Writer’s block is more a symptom than a cause. There are things you can do to prevent it.
    • Writer’s block isn’t forever. It can be cured! There are strategies and workarounds you can choose to restore productivity to your writing sessions. As you become a more comfortable writer, you’ll find yourself knowing the warning signs and can take immediate action.

      Tips for avoiding writer’s block

      Here are some of the ways you can keep writer’s block from appearing:

      1. Planning is the best way to prevent writer’s block. Stress is caused by the unknown, but when you know what you’re going to be writing, you’ll become comfortable with the writing process. That’s why a detailed content plan is so important; when you know, down to the subhead level, what you’re going to write about in each chapter, finishing your book becomes more a matter of “doing it” than “creativity” or “inspiration.”
      2. Consistent daily progress prevents writer’s block. Stress is often caused by overly-ambitious goals, like trying to write a book in sequential order during holidays, vacations, or weekends. By expecting yourself to write during “marathon” writing sessions creates a great deal of stress. It is infinitely less stressful to write 30 minutes every weekday, hoping only to write a page or two of double-spaced copy, than it is expect to spend a day in isolation and anticipate writing 25-50 pages.
      3. Progress builds confidence, preventing writer’s block. Your confidence and enthusiasm will increase to the extent you track your progress and can view a constantly growing number of completed pages. This is why it’s so important to print your latest pages on 3-hole paper and save them in a 3-ring binder, at the end of every writing session.
      4. Reasonable expectations prevent writer’s block. As a result of the way writing is traditionally taught, authors tend to compare themselves to impossible standards- -often, their own favorite authors. It’s important to keep things in perspective; few authors write perfect first drafts! Often, the perfection that appears in a book is the result of months of extensive writing, rewriting, and editing involving several specialists. Writing is a team effort, and your job isn’t to prepare the perfect first draft, it’s to write a good, solid first draft and be willing to work to make it as good as it can be.
      5. Frequently review what you’ve written and what you want to write the next day. Immediately before going to bed, for example, review what you’ve written that day, and go over your writing goals for the next day. This engages your mind; while you’re sleeping, your brain will be processing and organizing information. As a result, when you sit down to write, you’ll be amazed at how quickly you get up to speed.

      Basically, give yourself a break! Give yourself every advantage possible, beginning with a firm content plan, a realistic commitment to daily writing progress, and don’t compare yourself to your favorite authors. If you get to talk to them, chances are, your favorite author will admit that they depend a lot on their editors to get the job done right.

      What to do if writer’s block occurs

      Here are a few of the strategies that I, and my clients, depend on to defeat writer’s block.

      1. Write something else. Don’t prolong the agony; if you are stuck at a particular point, temporarily put it aside, and write something that’s easier to write. If you are stuck getting started in Chapter One, for example, jump ahead to an easy-to-write bullet list of resources or recommendations in the middle of Chapter Five.
      2. Change the format you’re trying to write. If you’re having trouble writing about a specific topic for your book, try describing what you’re having trouble writing in a letter or a memo. Tell your wife, a friend, your co-author, or a trusted customer what you’re trying to write about.
      3. Write less. Instead of trying to write a complete chapter, or section of a chapter, give yourself a 1-page limit! Force yourself to cover the topic in just one page! Reducing the amount you feel you have to write takes away a lot of the stress.
      4. Give yourself a time limit. Another way of overcoming writer’s block is to give yourself a 5-minute deadline; get a timer and see how much you can write, as quickly as you can, in just 5 minutes. Once you start writing, of course, you’ll probably find it difficult to stop…and your writer’s block is a thing of the past.
      5. Pick up the phone! Most people find that it is easier to talk than it is to write. So, invest in a digital voice recorder, or voice recognition software, and your pick-up the phone and call a friend or a trusted co-worker, and simply tell them what you’re trying to write, and why its so relevant. Have the call transcribed, and you’ll have the first draft of your book.
      6. Offer a free teleseminar. Teleseminars are great writer’s block fighters; they provide a deadline for action, and make it easy to share the information you already know. There’s little, or no, cost involved, and you can schedule them at the last minute, i.e., 24 or 48 hours in advance, thanks to today’s e-mails and social marketing tools. Don’t worry about the number of participants; the event is primarily for you, providing an audience, a deadline, and a limited amount of time, for sharing your ideas and creating a recording you can later transcribe.

      These are just a few of the simple steps you can take to cure writer’s block. The important thing to remember is that writer’s block is a result of stress; stress caused by unrealistic goals and/or a lack of planning your writing before you start to write.

      Like for health issues in general, for writer’s block – prevention is the best cure!

      Unless you are self-publishing your book, one of the most important steps in your journey to a published book is to attract the attention of the right literary agent. A well-written book proposal stored on your hard drive doesn’t do anyone any good. You need someone to help you with the birthing process of your first book.

      Agents and midwives

      Choosing a literary agent to represent your first book is similar to choosing a midwife for the birth of your first child. For example:

      • You don’t know where to look.
      • You don’t know what you’re looking for.
      • You want someone with credentials and experience, yet you also want someone with whom you feel instant confidence, rapport, and trust.

      That’s quite a list!

      As in so many other areas of publishing, there’s an “old way” and a “new way.”

      The “old way” of locating a literary agent

      Until recently, the starting point for most authors was to buy one of the guides to literary agents that were published each year. These guides contained listings of agents, contact information, and areas of specialization.

      After reviewing the hundreds, if not thousands, of agency profiles, authors would prepare and send query letters to agents chosen from the profiles.

      The problem, of course, that immediately comes to mind, is “How do you choose the agents you’re going to contact?” You can’t really afford to send query letters- -let alone, complete proposals- -to every agent, and “cold-calling” on the telephone is not recommended unless agents specifically invite telephone calls. So, what is the criteria you’re going to use in making your decision?

      On the surface, you could choose literary agencies based on their size, (“small is good” versus “a large agency with clout.”) Or, you could choose agents based on their location, (“I want a New York City agency!), or books previously represented, (fiction versus non-fiction, areas of specialization, or best-sellers you may recognize).

      Even if you make the right selection, the “guide” approach puts a premium on your direct-response letter-writing skills, and your ability to craft a letter that engages the agent’s attention and convinces to read further in the first sentence. Basically, your experiences and your potential have to be boiled down to a 10 or 30 word “hook” intended to get their permission to send them your book proposal.

      Another problem is the volume of query letters sent to agents listed in the yearly guides. It’s not only hard to boil a book down to 3 or 4 paragraphs, it’s even harder to make your query letter stand out from the 10, 25, or 100 letters that might be arriving the same week as yours.

      Plus, who is reading your query letters? Is it an agency principal, or is it a newly-hired intern who is hired to select a couple of query letters each day from the pile that grows a little deeper each day?

      It can be done; the old way does work, and numerous first-time nonfiction authors do it every day. But, thankfully, there is a better way, a new way.

      Improving on the “old way”

      I’ve never been a fan of the “shotgun approach” to attracting a literary agent. It doesn’t offer potential authors enough control or likelihood of success. The competition is too great, it puts a premium on skills that might not play to your strengths, and- -basically- -the odds are stacked against you.

      A refinement of the “old way” approach that slightly improves your chances of success involves attending writing conferences, where you are likely to get “face time” with potential agents. While chatting with presenters and attendees between sessions and during networking events, you might find yourself talking to an agent or publisher who might be the perfect “midwife” for your book.

      A variation to this is to seek out events where there are “pitchfests” where authors get a chance to present and defend their proposal to several agents as part of the program.

      The down side of pitchfests is that they’re usually time-limited, you need nerves of steel, they place you in direct competition with others, and you have to deal with conference, lodging, and travel costs- -which can quickly mount up.

      Branding: the “new way” authors attract agents

      The “new way” of locating a literary agent reverses the whole process: instead of authors seeking agents, it’s based on agents using the Internet to seek authors!

      The Internet- -blogs, search engines, and social media make it feasible for authors to attract agents the same way authors attract readers!

      The first time I became aware of the power of the Internet to facilitate getting published was when I interviewed David Meerman Scott, the author of The New Rules of Marketing & PR. In his book and interview, David described how his book’s success was driven by blogging about it and allowing readers to download chapters for free.

      Since then, for Published & Profitable, I’ve interviewed numerous other first-time authors,  such as Gar Reynolds, author of Presentation Zen and others whose first books emerged from out of nowhere as highly-successful business books because of the author’s blogging activities.

      During my interview with Gar Reynolds, for example, it turned out he wasn’t necessarily going to write a book, his immediate goal was to develop and share his presentation philosophy with others through his blog.

      His passion-driven blog created his market and- -in doing so- -not only validated the need for a book, but attracted agents and publishers who were looking for fresh book ideas!

      The key words, of course, are “agents looking for books”

      And, in a nutshell, that’s what the new way is all about, and that’s the power of blogs like this which has already served as the launch pad for several successful books, as continues to do for new authors. You can visit Rajesh Setty’s Blogtastic Project for an insider’s look at the “new way” in action.

      So, there’s a new way to attract a literary agent in the Web 2.0 world. Instead of going hat-in-hand to agents, doing exactly what tens of thousands of other authors are doing, you can attract agents to you by creating a blog with a title that creates a brand, and posting helpful, relevant, and useful at frequent interviews.

      Do your job right, and be ready for the day you receive an e-mail or blog post comment from an agent, or publisher, who is looking for a fresh perspective on your topic and is impressed by your blog.

      Resources, old and new

      Here are several books describing “old way” approaches to attracting a literary agent through query letters:

      The best of the “new way” resources remains the second edition of David Meerman Scott’s New Rules of Marketing & PR and his follow-up, World Wide Rave.

      Conclusion

      There’s finally a new and better way to attract a literary agent- -and I find it pretty exciting. No longer is agent acquisition a “blind numbers game” based on spending your time crafting 3 or 4-paragraph query letters sent to randomly-chosen recipients and waiting for an expression of interest. Instead, you can focus on developing and sharing your ideas, knowing that properly-managed content is its own reward, helping you attract literary agents who are searching for you!