Outbox Online https://www.outboxonline.com Tue, 23 Oct 2018 18:43:12 +0000 en-US hourly 1 How to Move Your Website to a New Web Host https://www.outboxonline.com/how-to-move-your-website-to-a-new-web-host/ https://www.outboxonline.com/how-to-move-your-website-to-a-new-web-host/#respond Mon, 22 Oct 2018 20:34:58 +0000 https://www.outboxonline.com/?p=52202

As a website designer, one of the first things I do for many clients is make sure that they have a good web hosting solution. These days, many of my clients already have a website, they just need a new one, so I need to look to make sure that their existing web hosting plan
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As a website designer, one of the first things I do for many clients is make sure that they have a good web hosting solution. These days, many of my clients already have a website, they just need a new one, so I need to look to make sure that their existing web hosting plan is going to be a good solution for them moving forward. What am I looking for?:

  1. Is it with a company with which I’ve had a bad experience with other clients?  This is my #1 because even if the stats are right for bandwidth, speed, etc.., if the company’s strategy with regards to customer service is to blame the customer and/or shirk responsibility and/or require you to have a software developer’s level of knowledge to get adequate help, it’s a bad choice.
  2. They support WordPress well.  I create WordPress-based author websites, so my clients need a solution that handles WordPress with expertise.  This means they need to make it easy to install, load extra quickly, and be secure.  It also means that they have enough storage to handle things like an ever-increasing media library of images, and backups, and data transfer, even for a relatively simple website.
  3. They’re a known entity.  I support innovation, but you want to work with a company that has a good track record.  If you do some googling, you’ll see good and bad things said about nearly every web host, so you need to look at more than that to help you make the right decision.  And whether a company has been around for more than a few months is important.  If an upstart company gives you a great deal, but they close down in a few months and take your website with them, it’s no longer such a good deal.
  4. They have a clear & easy upgrade path.  When you first start out, you might not need all the bells and whistles, but if your project really takes off you want to make sure they’ve got you covered without having to start again.
  5. You get the access that you need, and can delegate it to others.  Will it be easy for you to login to your account to make the changes you want to make, and/or to give access to your web designer?  In this day and age it’s unforgivable (!) for a web hosting company to make it difficult for you to get into your account with them, and to share it with your team.

Your web hosting company is the engine for your website, and modern websites have many moving parts.  They run on software that is tied to the web server with (ever increasing) requirements for storage and speed, so you need them to be in good shape for your website to be in good shape.  In an ideal world, once your website is built, you won’t have to think about your web host very much, if at all.  But you want to know that they’re there for you if you do.

If you’re looking for a recommendation, I suggest SiteGround.  They meet all of my criteria (this website is hosted with them), I’ve had a great experience with their customer service, and they’re reasonably priced.  If you’re looking for a new web host, they also offer an automated WordPress website migration, which makes the process much easier.

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Author Website Design for Memoirs https://www.outboxonline.com/author-website-design-for-memoirs/ https://www.outboxonline.com/author-website-design-for-memoirs/#respond Tue, 09 Oct 2018 21:21:02 +0000 https://www.outboxonline.com/?p=52097

As an author website designer I’ve been lucky enough to work with a bunch of memoirists on their author websites. I really enjoy these projects because these authors often bring the powerful combination of an amazing story to tell along with the thrill of finally reaching the point of being able to share it with
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Author Website Design Jenny MollenAs an author website designer I’ve been lucky enough to work with a bunch of memoirists on their author websites. I really enjoy these projects because these authors often bring the powerful combination of an amazing story to tell along with the thrill of finally reaching the point of being able to share it with the world.  Bringing this kind of project into being takes bravery, and it can be emotional for the author.  When that’s the case, part of my job is to not only be sensitive to the story, but also to help them focus their emotion into reaching the people who will get the most out of their story.

Some memoirists consider who they’re writing for from the very beginning, and others feel compelled to tell their story and then look to match it up with an audience once it exists.  Either way you approach it, it’s critical to identify who these people are who will want to read your book.  When I’m in the research and planning phase with a new author website client and ask the question, “Who is the audience for your story?” and the answer they give me is, “Everyone!”, I know we need to dig in a little deeper.  Of course every author wants their story to apply to every reader, but when it comes time to market your book, and building your author website as part of that, that approach is not sufficient.  Your author website, and your author marketing strategy in general, needs to connect with readers very quickly — through the visual design, through the language that you use, and through how you brand yourself as the person behind the story.  And it’s much easier to do that when your target is more specific.  I’d go so far as to say that you simply can’t appeal to everyone and find success in this field.  This doesn’t mean that people won’t read your book who are outside of your target market, it just means that the decisions you make about how to market your book (including what the book website looks like) are based on something more specific.  The advantage of that approach is in narrowing down the options from a seemingly infinite number of choices to a handful that make sense for your story and will most appeal to the folks likely to read it.  It also means that you’re in less danger of approaching your book marketing with “a little bit of this, and a little bit of that” which is a recipe for a muddled end result.

Author Website Design Christine O'BrienLooking to others for inspiration in how to go about marketing your memoir is extremely helpful, but make sure you don’t fall into the trap of adapting one idea from one person, and another idea from another, or even lifting a strategy entirely, and expecting it all to work out for you.  Every project is unique, and unless you were directly involved in that person’s project, you’ll never know all the reasons they made the decisions that they did.  Instead, if you expect that you share a target audience with an author you find inspirational, look at how they approach those folks — what visual cues they use, what kind of language they use (and its tone), and also, what they leave out — then really think about what actually applies to you to form your own well-considered strategy.

Memoirs reach back into the past, so common visual themes that apply to that time period are a natural fit, but so are concepts like “humor” and/or “resilience” and/or “beauty” and/or “femininity” and/or “strength” — these less specific themes give you lots of options when it comes to crafting an author website design for a memoir, so your creativity can be boundless.  After all, despite your story taking place during a specific time frame, the point in writing it is that you hope it resonates with people now and across time.  If you have photos you can share, I encourage you to do it to bring your story to life — this helps potential readers, and also people who have already read your book, connect with you further.  Consider that your story is, of course, about you, but you only have to share what you’re comfortable with.  Don’t feel compelled to bare yourself to the world just because others have done that with success — if that approach isn’t right for you, don’t try to force it.  Memoir writers often go on to write other books (even more memoirs!), so keep your goal of not only increasing the reach of this particular memoir mind, but also developing and supporting an audience for yourself as a writer with your choices.  It’s not always the right choice to make decisions solely based on a single book if you’ll be sacrificing your larger career in the process (even if you don’t know what shape it might take yet).

Author website design for memoirists offers up lots of opportunities to create a unique experience for your site visitors — an experience that will stay with them for a long time, or be a good companion to them on their own journey through life.  The kind of connection you create with these folks is the key to your success.

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Keeping Your Author Website Updated and Fresh https://www.outboxonline.com/keeping-your-author-website-updated-and-fresh/ https://www.outboxonline.com/keeping-your-author-website-updated-and-fresh/#respond Wed, 05 Sep 2018 16:22:28 +0000 https://www.outboxonline.com/?p=51781

In addition to making sure your author website is set up for modern browsing on various devices, you want to make sure the content stays relevant as your career progresses.  Even if you’re not releasing a new book, there are some things you should check on regularly to make sure they’re up to date: 1.
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In addition to making sure your author website is set up for modern browsing on various devices, you want to make sure the content stays relevant as your career progresses.  Even if you’re not releasing a new book, there are some things you should check on regularly to make sure they’re up to date:

Keeping Your Author Website Updated and Fresh1. If you set up preorder links before your book went on sale, update those to Buy Now links.  And if you haven’t already done so, consider tracking those links using a service like Bitly so that you know where your purchases are coming from.

2. If you used language like, “New!” or “Just Released!” or “Coming this Summer!” make sure that gets updated once the time has passed.  There’s nothing that dates a site more than seeing content that no longer applies.

3. Use a recent headshot.  If it’s clear that your headshot was taken in the mid-90’s, it’s time to update!  Not only do you want to represent your current self, you want to take advantage of current, popular headshot styles that demonstrate that you’re not behind the times.

4. Keep your bio updated.  As your career progresses, things like your newest books, award wins, and links to new projects might not make it into your author website bio.  Be sure to read it over so that you’re taking advantage of all your assets when it comes to encouraging people to write about you and your work.

5. Keep your social media channels accurate.  If you have a Twitter profile, but never use it, it’s not only not doing you any good, it might be demonstrating that you’re a disinterested party.  So make sure the social media profile links you list are well-used and accurate.

6. Add the latest reviews.  When your book is first released, there are often a collection of blurbs and reviews you have ready-to-go for your project, but as time goes on, are you checking to make sure there aren’t any great new ones available?  Be sure to do some Googling to see if there aren’t new articles that you don’t know about with kind words in them, or Amazon reviews with great pull-quotes.  Be sure to add them to your book pages.

7. Make sure your website doesn’t have any broken links.  You want to be sure that when people visit your site, you aren’t sending them to broken links as it can be a usability frustration.  There are plugins you can use with WordPress that will scan your site for broken links and alert you when any are found to make this easy.

All told, these 7 check-points won’t take very long to perform regularly, but will go a long way towards making sure your author website is making the impression you want.

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The Benefits of an Author Q&A on Your Author Website https://www.outboxonline.com/the-benefits-of-an-author-q-and-a-on-your-author-website/ https://www.outboxonline.com/the-benefits-of-an-author-q-and-a-on-your-author-website/#respond Mon, 20 Aug 2018 14:37:46 +0000 https://www.outboxonline.com/?p=51808

Sometimes as an author, it’s difficult to get into the mode of thinking about your author website visitors and what they might want out of your site.  You’re likely in the process of releasing your new book, after all, which includes tying up loose ends, scheduling publicity campaigns, and managing your release team.  It can
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Sometimes as an author, it’s difficult to get into the mode of thinking about your author website visitors and what they might want out of your site.  You’re likely in the process of releasing your new book, after all, which includes tying up loose ends, scheduling publicity campaigns, and managing your release team.  It can be all encompassing!

The Benefits of an Author Q&A on Your Author WebsiteAs an author website designer, I see it as my job to help my clients through the details of their author websites that might get overlooked in a busy time — details that help their site visitors get what they need/want out of your site so that they’re more likely to follow you and tell their friends about you.  One of those details is sharing more information about you in a way that resonates with your audience.  I’ve previously written about what you might include on your About page (sometimes known as your Bio page), and you can think of an Author Q&A as a “bonus feature” — not 100% necessary, but certainly nice to have.

The reason it’s nice to have is that it serves two simultaneous purposes:

  1. It helps your audience get to know you better in a framework that you control.
  2. It allows you to introduce the talking points you find most important about your work so that people who want to write about you (or interview you) have a solid jumping off point.

Creating an Author Q&A lets you establish a framework of questions you’re comfortable with, and get as creative as you want with the answers.  If you’re unsure what questions you might ask, consider asking friends or family what kind of interesting things people might want to know about you, related to your work.

When someone wants to write about or interview you as an author (and you want to encourage them to do so), your sharing some questions and answers can help steer things in a direction you like and make sure topics that are important to you are covered, rather than relying on journalists to go in blind.  When you watch late night talk show hosts interviewing their guests, it’s no coincidence that it goes smoothly — they’ve done their homework and have come up with talking points ahead of time, and so can you!

Finally, while you can make your Author Q&A part of your About page (or even your Book page), you might also consider adding a PDF version so that it can be easily downloaded, printed, and shared.  It might even be part of a larger Press Kit download on your site.

The benefits of being shy are few when you’re marketing yourself and your projects on the internet, so embrace the easy wins that help you beef up your author platform!

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Integrating Instagram into Your Author Website Design https://www.outboxonline.com/integrating-instagram-into-your-author-website-design/ https://www.outboxonline.com/integrating-instagram-into-your-author-website-design/#respond Sat, 28 Jul 2018 00:02:14 +0000 https://www.outboxonline.com/?p=50576

I recently wrote about How to Use Instagram as an Author, showing examples of what kind of content you might share, and why it’s valuable to you as part of your author platform. Today I’m going to talk about how you can integrate your Instagram feed into your website, and why you should consider doing
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I recently wrote about How to Use Instagram as an Author, showing examples of what kind of content you might share, and why it’s valuable to you as part of your author platform.

Today I’m going to talk about how you can integrate your Instagram feed into your website, and why you should consider doing it to extend your author brand:

1. Displaying your feed.
Your Instagram feed is the collection of images that make up your posts to Instagram over time.  And there are widgets you can add to your WordPress website that allow you to display them in multiple configurations.  Each time you post to your Instagram feed, it’s automatically updated on your website.  This is a great way to add visual content to your site, let people know you’re actively engaged in your platform, and to easily follow you on IG if they find your website first — all without having to do any extra effort once it’s in place.

Here’s an example for author Piper J. Drake’s website:

Instagram for Authors

And here’s an example from Madeline L’Engle’s website:

Authors Using Instagram

2. Embedding a post.
You can take any Instagram post and embed it directly on a page or post of your site.  This works well if you have a post about your book launch, a great award win or review that you’d like to share for awhile on your website.

Here’s an example of an Instagram post someone created about author Jill Eisenstadt’s book, Swell:

Which we added to Jill’s site on the Swell book page: http://jilleisenstadt.com/books/swell/

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Instagram for Your Author Website DesignSo, why do you want to integrate Instagram into your author website design? First, I’m a huge fan of taking advantage of any work you can do once, and then use multiple times over. If you’re already investing time in cultivating a great Instagram following as part of your author platform, then make sure as many people know about it as possible; not just via Instagram itself, but by sharing it to anyone who lands on your site.

Second, it shows that you’re engaged with your projects and willing to participate in an online community with your existing and potential audience, especially those under 40. Any author with a compelling social media presence is much more likely to stay in a reader’s mind than one who doesn’t have one.

And lastly, it’s visual content. Sometimes it’s less obvious what visual elements besides book cover art can be added to an author website, but since Instagram is a visual medium, it gives you the opportunity to display visual content that reinforces your brand without using the same image over and over again.

Some Instagram widgets come packaged with WordPress themes, and others you install separately as plugins, but all are relatively easy to use and integrate into your site.

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How to Use Instagram as an Author https://www.outboxonline.com/how-to-use-instagram-as-an-author/ https://www.outboxonline.com/how-to-use-instagram-as-an-author/#respond Fri, 13 Jul 2018 14:26:43 +0000 https://www.outboxonline.com/?p=50481

If you’re an author and you haven’t yet started your Instagram account, it’s time! It’s still the fastest-growing social media platform, often used daily (if not multiple times a day) by its users. In addition, Instagram has hundreds of millions of active users per month, and fully one third of those users have purchased something
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If you’re an author and you haven’t yet started your Instagram account, it’s time!

It’s still the fastest-growing social media platform, often used daily (if not multiple times a day) by its users. In addition, Instagram has hundreds of millions of active users per month, and fully one third of those users have purchased something they first discovered on the platform. Those are some compelling statistics!

(Learn more here: http://www.pewinternet.org/2018/03/01/social-media-use-in-2018/).

Instagram allows you to reach more women, and younger women especially, but it’s used by everyone, everywhere.  That means it’s a wonderful way to find your readers by using it to share your story.  So how do you use Instagram as an author?  When you work with words, what does it mean to share photos instead?
How to use Instagram as an Author

  1. It doesn’t have to be photos of you!  Many authors are reluctant to share photos of themselves online.  Some because they’re introverts, and others because they want to maintain a little separation between their work and personal lives.  And that’s okay!  You don’t have to be taking selfies constantly to have a successful Instagram account.
  2. Make it about what you love.  Do you love giving advice to other writers?  Do you love going to conferences?  Do you love breakfast foods?  Or maybe hiking is more your speed?  No matter what you love there’s a way to tie it back to your writing career, and your audience will notice when you’re sharing something you’re passionate about vs what someone told you to post. So post photos of what you love as it happens, including images of inspirational quotes you’re finding helpful in the moment, or your fans at a reading, or a meal inspired by your book’s characters, or your new book on the shelf at a store or on a reader, or meeting other authors you admire. The possibilities are endless!
  3. Promote what you’re doing, but don’t make it about that exclusively.  The best author Instagram accounts absolutely share information about their latest projects.  They might share award wins, or photos from readings, or the proofs of their newest book, or information about a beloved character, but they don’t exclusively do that.  They also mix in posts that are about their process, or their lives, or their community, and those accounts are the richer for doing that, and better received.
  4. Leverage your author brand.  Whether your books are fanciful, or thrilling, or mysterious, or hilarious, make sure your Instagram posts follow suit.  Continuity between your writing and your author platform is important, and since Instagram is a visual medium, you want to make sure you have a plan for how to extend your author brand visually.
  5. Make it easy on yourself.  If you need to spend a bunch of time staging each photo and worrying about the perfect shot, let’s face it, you’re unlikely to stick with it on any kind of schedule that will get you traction.  I’m not saying you should phone it in, but I am saying that when you think about the kind of content you want to share, factor in that something easy for you to do is much better than something really complicated.

And here are some tips for posting:

  • The best time to reach the most folks tends to be during the commute home (5-6pm).
  • When you start your new account, tell your other channels about it and encourage your audience to follow you there.
  • Get to know your hashtags.  See which ones are commonly used by authors (especially successful authors), and what the search results are like for each.
  • If you have a Facebook page or Twitter profile as an author, connect your Instagram account to it so that your Instagram posts automatically end up there.  I suggest IFTTT to connect everything up: https://ifttt.com

So who are some authors who are doing a great job on Instagram? Here are a handful I really enjoy:

A post shared by Renee Ahdieh (@reneeahdieh) on

A post shared by Lauren Sams (@laurenssams) on

A post shared by Sarah Dessen (@sdessen) on

A post shared by Gayle Forman (@gayleforman) on

A post shared by Susan Dennard (@stdennard) on

A post shared by Angie Thomas (@angiethomas) on

A post shared by Ransom Riggs (@ransomriggs) on

These accounts resonate with me because they’re engaging with their readers in an honest way, sharing stories of their lives as authors, and allowing us to get to know them a little bit as people so when their next book comes out, we’re ready to read it. And that’s what every author wants!

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Author Websites: What to Include? Revisited! https://www.outboxonline.com/best-author-websites-what-to-include-revisited/ https://www.outboxonline.com/best-author-websites-what-to-include-revisited/#respond Tue, 26 Jun 2018 14:11:31 +0000 https://www.outboxonline.com/?p=50238

Back in 2012, I wrote an article for this site titled, “Author & Book Websites: What to Include?” Lots of things have changed with the internet with respect to author websites over the last six years, so I thought it was time to revisit the topic!  What do you include in an author website these
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Back in 2012, I wrote an article for this site titled, “Author & Book Websites: What to Include?” Lots of things have changed with the internet with respect to author websites over the last six years, so I thought it was time to revisit the topic!  What do you include in an author website these days? And how is it different than what I wrote about many years ago?

As an author website designer, I routinely create the following types of sites for authors:

  1. For an author of multiple books, I create an author portfolio website that features not only their newest release, but also previous releases.  The books may be a series, or not.
  2. For an author of a single book with plans to create additional books in the future, I create an author site that showcases their current book and is set up to add additional books in the future.  Again, the books may be a series, or not.
  3. For an author of a book that is part of a larger body of work (eg: a professor, or speaker, or service-provider) I create a site that showcases their expertise, and their book as part of that.
  4. For a showcase book, either for a celebrity author or as a stand-alone project, I create a book website that helps promote that book.

Each type of site has its own strategy, whether I’m working directly with the author or the publisher, but they also share many commonalities.  Before we jump into specifics, however, let’s talk about what I consider to be the biggest things to have changed with regards to author websites in recent years:

  • Website technology has changed.  More people are viewing websites on a mobile device, and that means your author website needs to be responsive.  You may have heard the adage “mobile first” — that means that, when thinking about your site, you need to first design with that experience in mind.  Larger displays give you more flexibility to create an immersive experience relevant to your book(s) — and the design should reflect that — but it needs to work equally well for smaller devices.
  • Site visitors are more savvy.  It used to be the case that you had to consider things like website visitors not understanding how to scroll down, but with the dawn of mobile, that’s no longer a concern.  Beyond that, people are more experienced with signing up for mailing lists, subscribing to blogs, and how they share their information online in general.
  • Publishers expect authors to understand the internet.  I used to have author clients who literally said things like, “I don’t actually use the internet all that much, but I was told I need a website.”  These days, authors not only need to understand the internet in general (How it connects people with content & the value of a web presence), but also know what it means to create an author platform with a robust following.  You also need to have a strong social media presence, on whatever platform works best for you, and integrate that into your website.
  • Transparency is more important than ever.  For better or worse, our lives are increasingly tethered to each other through the internet.  We use it constantly to communicate with each other, share our experiences, perform our jobs, and so on…   This means there are increasing numbers of people who expect to be able to get to know you through your author website.  This is done in a variety of ways, including the visual design, the language you use, the photos you share, and the stories you tell.  This isn’t to say that you need to give away your deepest, darkest secrets to your readership, but you do need to be able to meet them on a human level.
  • Community interaction is a must.  There are so many ways to go about this, whether it’s a blog, Facebook group, email newsletter, Instagram stories, or even video content… but gone are the days of just putting up a simple site with your book cover and some text on it and calling it a day.  You need a strategy in place for how you’ll keep in touch with an existing and potential audience over time, how you’ll keep them engaged, and encourage them to share with their friends.

The Best Author Website ContentWhat does that mean for your author website?  What kind of content do you need to include to help your author site be a success?  Here are my recommendations:

  1. An introduction.  Whether you’ve written only one book or multiple, without an introduction, you’re missing an opportunity to connect with (and remain connected with) readers.  Consider using a great photo of yourself and telling people what kind of author you are.  As the first thing people will see, they’ll immediately understand who you are and what you do.  Here’s an example: “Firstname Lastname is a historian who specializes in early 20th century farm life in North America by bringing American Gothic to life.”  Or, perhaps: “Firstname Lastname writes intergalactic romance novels where no galaxy is large enough to contain the passions of her heroine.”
  2. Your featured project.  This is where you’ll share your just-released book (or upcoming book).  If it’s part of a series, make sure to mention that and let people know what number it is in the series.  You’ll share a shot of the book cover, the title, a great blurb/quote about the book, some short description text, plus links where people can buy it.
  3. Your other work.  If you’ve written other books, you’ll want to include those.  If you’re a consultant or offer a service (such as speaking), you’ll share information about that.  You’re sharing your expertise and successes here, so include your best testimonial excerpts along with it too.
  4. Information about you.  This is your About or Bio info, and should include a bit of a story about why you do what you do, and what you love about it.
  5. News and/or events.  If you make appearances, list those; if you won an award, share that; if your next book has a release date, let people know — you get the idea.  If you have a blog, you might share this information that way, but it needs to live somewhere on your website.
  6. Contact information.  If someone wants to interview you or offer you an opportunity, make sure it’s easy for them!  Remember, an email address is only one way people might reach you — they can also use your social media profile.
  7. A way to connect.  This can be a blog, embedded social media content, or a newsletter, but you should have some way for your readers to keep up-to-date with what you’re doing.  This can also be a place they can ask questions, share their enthusiasm for your work, and feel connected to the community of your readers.

You can achieve this on an author website with multiple pages, or on a single page — what strategy is right for you will depend on your project.  Of course, this isn’t an exhaustive list as your project might have other components worthy of sharing, but it’s enough to get you started!

 

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Author Website Design for Unpublished Authors https://www.outboxonline.com/author-website-design-for-unpublished-authors/ https://www.outboxonline.com/author-website-design-for-unpublished-authors/#respond Wed, 06 Jun 2018 13:39:33 +0000 https://www.outboxonline.com/?p=50126

If you’re an unpublished author, do you really need a website?  Like so many things, the answer is, “It depends.” Here are three situations you might find yourself in, and strategies you may be considering: Are you looking for a publisher? If so, having a website will allow you to demonstrate that you understand your audience and
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If you’re an unpublished author, do you really need a website?  Like so many things, the answer is, “It depends.” Here are three situations you might find yourself in, and strategies you may be considering:

Are you looking for a publisher? If so, having a website will allow you to demonstrate that you understand your audience and that you know how to build a following. At this point you’re selling to publishers, not readers, so your emphasis should be on community building.  You might leverage a newsletter, a blog, social media, or some combination of all three to achieve the level of community you’re looking for.  There is no “right” answer for which social media platform to use, or whether a blog or a newsletter is “better” — it’s really about how you use them.  If you love writing newsletters and your following is increasing steadily, then that’s a great option for you.  If you find yourself constantly posting to Instagram and you’re gaining followers there, then that’s what works best for you.  At the end of the day, the number of subscribers or followers you have will influence whether a publisher wants to gamble on your first writing project, so study what your followers love the most of what you’re doing, and do more of that.

Are you going to self-publish?  An initial focus for many self-published authors is building an email list and encouraging subscriptions by offering great content.  A robust email marketing list allows you to connect directly with your audience and that’s a level of access you want in your back pocket.  Similarly, building a social media following gives you a chance to regularly remind your audience what you’re up to so you’re not too far from their thoughts.  That means when the time comes to let them know they can purchase your book, they’re not like, “Who is this again?.”  There is no “right” platform other than the one you’re committed to using regularly to engage with your audience.

Do you already have a publisher, but it’ll be awhile before your book is released?  Lucky you!  You still want to build your audience on social platforms and your email list, but you also want to build momentum for your book launch.  Your website should make it easy to get in touch with you to book appearances and events (even virtual ones), and show examples of gigs you’ve already done (if possible).

It’s unlikely that readers will purchase your book from you directly, but you certainly want to point readers to where they can easily pre-order your book from their favorite retailer (once that option is available).  Simultaneously, your website is a place you’ll start pointing people to where they can learn more about you and your book, so make sure to include information that both readers and press will enjoy.  A press kit for your book launch is a great solution to providing information that makes it easy to write about you, and your readers might enjoy a behind-the-scenes look at your pre-launch activities and some teaser content to get them excited.

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Even if you’ve established your email newsletter with new regular subscribers, and have a growing social media following, having a website allows you to be discoverable to a new audience through search, to curate and archive your content over time, and removes the barrier for readers who may not use the social media platform you favor.

Additionally, your website allows you to control your content and how its displayed.  If Twitter or Facebook have a PR disaster and are suddenly revamping how their platforms work, you don’t have all of your eggs in their basket if the end result doesn’t work for you.

For new authors there are many things that need to be done to grow an audience, and one of the smartest things you can do is to create a space you control with the flexibility to grow with you over time.

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How to Choose the Best Author Website Design Company for You https://www.outboxonline.com/how-to-choose-the-best-author-website-design-company-for-you/ https://www.outboxonline.com/how-to-choose-the-best-author-website-design-company-for-you/#respond Wed, 09 May 2018 02:02:47 +0000 https://www.outboxonline.com/?p=49968

It’s a big deal to find the right person to build the best author website design for you!  You’ve worked really hard on your book, and also on getting it to the point of release. And you’re all set to work hard marketing it once it’s available to the world. If making a living as
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It’s a big deal to find the right person to build the best author website design for you!  You’ve worked really hard on your book, and also on getting it to the point of release. And you’re all set to work hard marketing it once it’s available to the world.

If making a living as a writer is a goal, you certainly want to set yourself up for success.  Having a website that achieves all of your goals is a critical part of that success, and you want an author website designer you can easily work with who will help you get there.  So how do you know who the right author website designer is for you?  Here are some things to consider:

  1. You see sites you like in their portfolio.  This advice takes for granted that there are lots of examples of their work for you to look at!  If you’re having trouble finding examples of author and/or book websites they’ve worked on that’s not a good sign.  When you have the ability to see their work, make sure it includes the kind of websites you’d be happy with.  All web designers have slightly different styles, and you want one whose aesthetic is a good fit for you.
  2. They’re going to build you something sustainable.  If someone creates a website for you that is time consuming, complicated, or expensive to update (Or all three! Oh no!), you’re going to be unhappy.  Only those with a massive surplus of time and money can afford to create a site without a reasonable update path in mind.  You want to know that your web designer is affordably available to you after the site has been built in case you need them, but you also want to be able to make simple site updates yourself.  This is where the designer being in business for awhile can be an advantage — if someone has only being creating author websites for 6 months, who’s to say they’ll even still be around next year when your next book is released?  Also, if there’s an unreasonable (to you) amount of time before getting a response from the designer, and/or they don’t address your questions/concerns in the lead up to the project, that’s not a good sign for their responsiveness down the road.  Sustainability for your website should also consider things like what happens when your next book is released, or when you offer a new service — you don’t want to have to start again unless it’s the right thing to do.  Ideally your web designer is asking forward-thinking questions to ensure you’re not creating something that won’t be easy to adjust as your career progresses, but if they’re not, this is something you need to be aware of.
  3. They understand SEO & web marketing.  Your author website designer doesn’t need to offer the same services and expertise as a web marketing firm, but they do need to understand how your website will fit into an overall content marketing strategy, and be able to set your site up so that it’s as searchable as possible.  It’s rare that a website exists these days without being connected to a social media profile, so they need to understand not only what your options are for how to integrate your social platforms into your website, but also how your website might support your social campaigns.  Preferably, they should additionally be able to tell you which of your website content creation efforts are worth it.  You might have all kind of ideas about content you could create for your site, but why waste your limited time on creating content that won’t benefit you in the end?
  4. They’re easy for you to communicate with.  Even if your author web designer knows lots of jargon and can conversationally spar with the nerdiest among us, they should still be able to communicate with you, no matter your knowledge level.  They should be able to explain things in a way you can understand, and not make you feel stupid for asking.  You should also feel comfortable speaking up and providing input and direction.  Your web designer should be seeking your input and direction at all steps along the path of the project, so look for signs that that’s their approach, rather than delivering a finished product that you either don’t understand or don’t like.  It’s totally okay for them to be in a different time zone, or even a different country, as long as communication is quick and easy.
  5. They’ve worked with authors before.  Lots of people have the nephew or cousin or neighbor who dabbles in web design, and can throw together a website quickly for next-to-no-cost, but that’s unlikely to be the right person to entrust your author website to.  The lifecycle of a book, the concerns of authors, and knowledge of your target audience of readers, publishers, and press coverage for books are all things your author website designer should be familiar with.  They should be comfortable jumping on a call with your editor, publisher, or publicist to strategize and ensure all project elements are being considered.  You want someone who can guide you in the right direction, and can support their decisions about how the website should look and what kind of content it contains.

Using these guidelines will help you be able to find the right author website designer for you.

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Secrets of a Great Author Website: 3 Tips https://www.outboxonline.com/secrets-of-a-great-author-website/ https://www.outboxonline.com/secrets-of-a-great-author-website/#respond Tue, 01 May 2018 01:44:00 +0000 https://www.outboxonline.com/?p=49875

There are three elements that some author websites use that make all the difference in their web presence.  It may be surprising to you that none of these secrets have to do with how the site looks, how fancy it is, what its budget is, or what platform it uses.  All of them have to
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There are three elements that some author websites use that make all the difference in their web presence.  It may be surprising to you that none of these secrets have to do with how the site looks, how fancy it is, what its budget is, or what platform it uses.  All of them have to do with the content itself and how you use it:

SEO for Authors1. Be discoverable through search.  Use consistent keywords throughout your site, social media accounts, and on Amazon & Goodreads.

Before you think about anything else (what the site looks like, for example) you need to think about how people will find you.  Search engines don’t “see” anything on your website — they’re just robots behind the scenes that look at the code & text that makes up your site, how it fits into your overall web presence, and figure out where to rank you for words and phrases that they think are important to you based on how you use them.

If a word or phrase is important to you, and you want people to find you for it, here are a few things you should do:

  • Create a dedicated page of your site for that word/phrase. Make it the title of the page (including using it in an h1 tag), and use it in the body text on the page more than once (including the first paragraph).
  • Make sure the images on the page reflect the word/phrase (in the image filenames, alt and title tags).
  • Link to your dedicated page (see above) from elsewhere (internal and external to your site) using that word/phrase.
  • If at all possible try to use a word or phrase that isn’t too generic:  trying to compete for the phrase, “romance novel” is much more difficult than trying to compete for the phrase, “historic new england romance novel”, for example.

Your most important word/phrase should be used consistently, as a brand, everywhere you appear online.  So use it in your social media profiles, use it on Amazon, and add it to your GoodReads profile.  To go back to our previous example, all your profiles might read: “Firstname Lastname, Author of Romance Novels Set in Historic New England”.

Surprisingly, few authors are doing this specific kind of branding, so it’s not difficult to stand out this way.  Also, for the journalists and bloggers putting together book lists for holidays (eg: Summer Reading Lists) you can call more attention to yourself as an author this way.  When journalists and bloggers are searching for who to include in their book lists they often want to distinguish their list by narrowing the focus — if they don’t already know about you and you’re a good fit for their list, make it easy for them to find you.

Building an Audience as an Author2. Engage with your audience.  Invite comments, answer questions, and share stories.

Sure, your website can be a static place where you put up some information about yourself and your books that you update periodically when a new book is released.  But you can also make your site a destination for your readers regardless of where you are in the book creation/release cycle. By doing this you’re creation a targeted, interested audience to whom you can announce news and information.

If you love sharing videos, then create a YouTube channel and share the videos on your site in a blog format and invite comments.  If you love getting feedback from your readers, then share short stories or have them vote on possible plot lines for your next project.  If you are constantly researching your topic and discovering new things, then share interesting resources that you come across and invite commentary.  Sure, you can do all of these things on a social platform, but then you’re not bringing people to your own website where they can discover lots more about you and your projects.

I suggest finding a way to use social platforms on your website where you can leverage work you’re already doing (like uploading a video to YouTube), but in a way that brings the audience to your site rather than only letting that content work for you elsewhere.  Let your community of readers be centralized around a site that you own and control, rather than somewhere else.

After all, you’re in charge of what your website looks like, its terms of use, and how long it sticks around.  But you’re not in charge of what other companies do with their platforms, so don’t risk your online presence by putting all your eggs in their baskets.

Sharing Resources on an Author Website3. Share something extra.  If your book is about a universe you’ve created, add something new. If your book is nonfiction, share new research or findings.

If a new reader finds you through search, that’s great, and basic content about your book will hopefully be interesting to them.  But what about an existing reader who wants to know what’s coming next?  Or a reader who wants to tell their friends about you?  Or a book club that wants to discuss your book?  Create a destination not only for new readers, but ideally to serve and build a community of readers.  If you create a space for your fans to interact with you and each other, that will benefit you much more over time. And providing supporting information to your work that promotes conversation among your audience is a reason for them to visit your site again and again. It also gives you a reason to create chatter about your work in a time between projects, when things my otherwise be slow.

A thriving online community is sustained by regular injections of new, relevant content, and especially content that gets them talking.  So think of creative ways you can do that for fiction and nonfiction alike.

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Remember, you can have a great website at any price point — whether you make it yourself or hire someone to help you — it’s what you do with it that matters!

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