Many experts in their field, be it scientific, business-related, personal-growth-related, or otherwise, often write a book at some point in their career. Either they self-publish as a way to create a resource cataloging their knowledge to-date to share with others, or they’re tapped by a publisher to do the same.
Author websites for experts are a little different than author websites for novelists as you need to establish the author’s expertise for the audience outside of their skill at writing engaging content, and that’s all about creating trust.
Also, since writing a book as an expert often goes hand-in-hand with giving presentations or being an educator, it’s important to introduce the author as a person so that their personality comes through. You can do this by writing the website copy in the first person, but you can also share great photos of the author doing what they do best. Both of those contribute to establishing trust too.
And all of this must be done without compromising the overall author website goals of making people more aware of the book to increase sales.
Here are some tips for what website content you might include for an author expert:
- Think of the book as one of the primary resources you have to offer. This means featuring the book along with text that talks directly to your target audience about how the book will help them. You want to establish not only that you’re an expert, but also that you understand how to apply your expertise to help your target audience. Your goals may vary — you may want to educate, or entertain, or provide resources, or all of the above — but the idea that your book is meant as a resource to help your target audience should never waver, nor take a back seat to your author brand, even if you’re already famous.
- Show evidence of expertise. Maybe there are photos and/or videos of you giving a lecture or presentation, or facilitating a workshop, or doing hands-on work in a lab — make sure you collect this kind of content so that you can share it. And you’ll be able to share it not only on your website, but via your social media (and other) outreach. If you don’t already have this kind of content, hire a photographer or videographer and start to compile it. Demonstrating that you practice your expertise and that it’s well received contributes to how much people trust you to help them.
- Gather testimonials. As an expert in your field, often you have peers, mentors, or customers who have had a great experience working with you. Ask them to give you a short blurb about why they love working with you or how your expertise is a game changer, then use those on your site strategically. For example, if you have a blurb that talks about what a great speaker you are, make sure it’s next to the content that talks about hiring your for speaking engagements. Not only does this help create trust, but it also helps people see how they might be helped by your expertise.
- Make it easy to write about you. Often, experts are tapped by journalists for articles or interviews, and you want it to be easy for them to find out how to book you for this type of work. Not only do you want to provide contact information specifically for people to contact you for articles or interviews, but you also want to provide links to articles and interviews that may already exist. You also want to provide a short blurb about you that will help journalists introduce you to their editors and audiences if they don’t already know about you.
- Offer your services or resources (beyond your book) to your audience. If you want people to hire you to speak at their events, or lecture at their school, or teach a workshop, or run a webinar, or write for their journal, etc… you need to list that these are things that services that you offer. And you need to provide a way for them to get in touch with you about them: a form, an email address, a phone number, etc.. You might also list examples of events you’ve done in the past along with photos from the events.
Of course there’s lots of content you might include beyond that, and you might read my article on Author & Book Websites: What to Include? & my article on Pages to Include on an Author Website for more information.
Here are some issues you may have to overcome in creating websites for author experts, and how to handle them:
- You’re relatively unknown. Maybe within your field you’re a superstar, but that doesn’t mean a general audience knows about you. Or, maybe you’ve done significant research work, but haven’t been widely published. When you’re looking for exposure and positioning yourself as an expert without lots of photos, testimonials, and exposure about your work, I recommend getting out there and answering questions and sharing resources/news. This means seeking out people on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn who are looking for information pertaining to what you know, and becoming a helpful resource for them. You don’t need to spend tremendous amount of time on this, or give away all of your expertise for free, but establishing your authority this way helps you create an audience you can then tap to spread the word about your projects. And when people say nice things to you in return for helping them, capture those statements and share them.
- You’re an introvert. Not everybody wants to get out there and sell themselves all the time. Sometimes you need to be in the right brain space for promotion, and if that’s true for you, consider a schedule for when you have “office hours”. Your office hours might include specific times you’re available for phone conversations, or specific times you’ll check in on social media. You can also disable comments on your website — just because you have a blog doesn’t mean you need to allow people to comment on it, and just because you have a public persona, doesn’t mean you have to make that persona available 24/7. It also doesn’t mean you have to be available to everyone — you can filter out what doesn’t pertain to your focus and your target audience so that the time you do spend is more meaningful.
- Your career spans different disciplines or you have books on multiple topics. Sometimes I work with authors who have written multiple books, perhaps fiction or children’s books, and then later decide to publish a nonfiction book sharing their expertise. They often ask whether they can or should list all of their books on their website, and my answer is really about author branding. I’ll use an analogy: If you went to a restaurant because they advertised that they make the best Italian food in town, but when you got there you saw that their menu had some Italian food, but also Thai and Peruvian food, you might think, “that’s odd” — and you might also think, “they can’t really be good at all of these, can they?” And, of course, it is possible to be good at multiple, different things — we all know that — but is it possible to effectively sell multiple, different things to people as successfully as if you just focused on one at a time? Probably not. Unless what you’re really selling is that you’re good a selling multiple things, as opposed to the things themselves — but very few of us are the equivalent of Amazon.com. I encourage you to think about your target audience — which should never be “everybody.” If you’re focused on a particular group of people (and you should be), you can use words and images that will resonate with them. If you create a site that talks about you as an authority on a particular topic, for which you wrote a book, that’s a focused, sellable message. If you also write children’s books and crime novels, that’s great, just don’t add them to the same website. I understand that it’s easier and less expensive for you to have a single website about everything that you do, but it simply will not sell as well. And this isn’t about you as much as it is about your customers.
As an expert, I expect you can speak with enthusiasm and passion on your topic, and more than anything I list above, that’s the crucial ingredient to include in your author site. Sharing your passion goes a long way towards getting other people excited about what you’re doing, so don’t be shy about it — just figure out the way that works best for you to share your enthusiasm so that it doesn’t feel awkward, and your audience will grow in no time.