Outbox Online https://www.outboxonline.com Thu, 17 Jan 2019 23:03:29 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Author Website Design for Authors of a Series https://www.outboxonline.com/author-website-design-for-authors-of-a-series/ https://www.outboxonline.com/author-website-design-for-authors-of-a-series/#respond Thu, 17 Jan 2019 16:37:14 +0000 https://www.outboxonline.com/?p=53178

If you’re lucky enough to be the author of a series of books, there are a few things to keep in mind when building your author website for your series.  Here’s what to consider whether you’ve published book one, or the whole series is available: What’s the setting & who are the characters?  It’s easy
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If you’re lucky enough to be the author of a series of books, there are a few things to keep in mind when building your author website for your series.  Here’s what to consider whether you’ve published book one, or the whole series is available:

  1. What’s the setting & who are the characters?  It’s easy to focus on the story of each book, but the story across the books, and who’s involved, is really important for a new audience.  Ideally, new readers will not only want to dive into your first book, but all of them, and don’t assume that they know anything about the series.  Giving them a jumping off point that helps people understand the themes of the books and how the characters play a part lets new readers get invested before they’ve even read a page.  To avoid spoilers you can tease characters that will be introduced in forthcoming books without giving lots of detail, and the same with plot lines.
  2. Each book gets a dedicated page.  While you want to introduce each of the books on the Home page of your website while focusing on the most recent one, each of the books should also have its own page with its own description, its own purchase links, its own reviews and extra materials.  And rather than requiring the site visitor to go back up to the site’s navigation to find the other books, link to all of them on each page and indicate the series number for each book.
  3. Create content that isn’t book-specific.  You could share a seasonal short story that takes place between books, or as a preamble.  Or you could create a video that celebrates the grandeur of your story, or a photo slideshow of the locations in the books, or a a playlist of music that elicits your stories.  Anything that celebrates the totality of your stories that can be shared with existing and new fans alike will have a great shelf life to help you again and again.
  4. Everyone wants to know the future.  If your long-terms fans are on your website, give them something to get excited about.  You don’t have to ruin plot lines, but tempting readers by leaving hints and clues about what’s coming next is a sure fire way to keep them hooked on your stories.  Think about how excited fans get about upcoming movies in a series — Star Wars is a great example — they salivate over and constantly discuss any hint or leaked detail about what’s coming next, and you can generate that kind of excitement too.  You can share upcoming cover art, new characters, or locations to give people something tangible to discuss.
  5. Your mailing list signup is critical. A mailing list is a wonderful tool to have in your back pocket for any author, but it’s especially important for authors of a series.  It allows you to communicate with your audience about the release of each new book, including building momentum ahead of a release, sharing “extra scenes” with fans between books, and sharing stories about the launch of each book as it happens.  So incentivize signup and make it front-and-center when people visit your site so that they’re more likely to get on board.

Even if you’re not yet sure whether your first book will become a series, consider these concepts when you’re getting started to set yourself up for success when you get to the point of being ready for the next book.

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Author Website Design Inspiration: Tips from the Best Author Websites https://www.outboxonline.com/author-website-design-inspiration-tips-from-the-best-author-websites/ https://www.outboxonline.com/author-website-design-inspiration-tips-from-the-best-author-websites/#respond Thu, 03 Jan 2019 16:16:30 +0000 https://www.outboxonline.com/?p=53061

Something I like to do as I embark on a new year as an author website designer is re-examine what makes for great author website design.  I’ve been doing this for over a decade, and each year I am encouraged by something new on the list.  Sometimes it’s a change to technology, like how mobile-devices
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Something I like to do as I embark on a new year as an author website designer is re-examine what makes for great author website design.  I’ve been doing this for over a decade, and each year I am encouraged by something new on the list.  Sometimes it’s a change to technology, like how mobile-devices revolutionized how we design websites, and other times it’s a visual element like bold typography or strong colors.  This year my list is content-focused…

Photogenic.  I’ve written before about how important it is to have a great headshot for your website (and life online in general), and there is increasingly no excuse.  Being shy isn’t an excuse.  Having a limited budget isn’t an excuse.  Having access to a camera isn’t an excuse.  We all (mostly) carry around a device in our pockets that can take amazing photos, and with the help of a friend and some thoughtfulness anyone can have a great photo of themselves.  Modern life requires us to share ourselves online — how much you share is entirely up to you — so that others can feel a connection to you and your brand.  And that connection is what turns people from strangers into fans.

Author Website Design Inspiration

Anticipation.  Being in the business of being an author means that you’re in the business of managing a release cycle of a product as much as you’re in the business of being a writer.  And part of what makes product launches successful is building anticipation.  You’re missing an opportunity if you’re not sharing much about your book ahead of its release date.  There are lots of moments leading up to release that you can share and get people excited about.

Author Website Design Inspiration

Personalization. Every author has a brand (or at least they should).  It’s a magic mixture of who you are, what you write about, how you write it, what you want people to think about you as an author, and how you present that to people.  While you don’t need to reinvent the wheel to be unique, you can easily use your website to communicate your brand uniquely.  Maybe there’s a quote you can share, or a sketch, or some photos, or some music, or a recipe — whatever makes you unique and will further connect you to your existing and potential fans.

Author Website Design Inspiration

Easy Purchasing.  If someone lands on your website before they’ve got their hands on your book(s), you want to make it as easy as possible for them to do that!  Give your site visitors big targets they can click/press to make the purchase, and place the purchasing options strategically throughout the site.  If someone is thinking about purchasing from you, don’t make them work for it and/or think twice.

Author Website Design Inspiration

Career Focused.  Often, when you’ve written a book (or multiple books) you do other, related things with yourself; like maybe you teach, or speak, or offer a service.  Your author website is a platform to showcase not just your books, but your career as an author.  If you’re not yet ready to share these related offerings, that’s fine, but make sure you’ve set up your site so that they’re easy to add in the future without having to rethink the whole website.

Author Website Design Inspiration

Supported.  It’s often important to hear the opinions of others when you’re considering whether to move forward yourself.  Amazon.com has made a multi-billion dollar business model out of it.  Maybe you don’t yet have quotes from high-profile folks about your work, but you can always ask your friends and family for something to get you started.  Hearing the positive perspective of someone else builds consumer confidence, and everything you can do to help people buy your book is an opportunity.  All you have to do is ask!

Author Website Design Inspiration

Of course there are many other things that contribute to the best author websites, and you can read more about what to include on your author or book website here if you’re getting started. This list is what I’m paying special attention to this year as I embark on new projects that help bring life to authors and their books on the web.

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Author Websites in WordPress: Making Website Updates Easier https://www.outboxonline.com/author-websites-in-wordpress-making-website-updates-easier/ https://www.outboxonline.com/author-websites-in-wordpress-making-website-updates-easier/#respond Fri, 28 Dec 2018 16:32:29 +0000 https://www.outboxonline.com/?p=53052

As an author website designer I’m constantly thinking about how to make sure my clients’ websites are not only created to meet their goals, but also easy for them to maintain and update.  I regularly talk with new clients about how difficult it was for them to update their previous sites: how they ended up
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As an author website designer I’m constantly thinking about how to make sure my clients’ websites are not only created to meet their goals, but also easy for them to maintain and update.  I regularly talk with new clients about how difficult it was for them to update their previous sites: how they ended up spending more time and money with their previous designer because they were the only ones who could make most updates and how much of a pain point it was. Maybe you’re in the same boat?

Creating author websites in WordPress certainly makes it easier for site owners (with or without coding knowledge) to make updates themselves, but even WordPress can quickly become difficult to use unless your website designer has considered how to keep things simple for you.  I like WordPress — and build all my client’s author websites with it — because it’s a great mixture of simplicity and flexibility.  So what kinds of things do you consider in the design to help keep things simple now and in the future?  And where and how do you make the trade-off of unique beauty and flexibility?Author Websites in WordPress: Making Website Updates Easier

  1. Start with the navigation menu.  If you plan to grow your website over time by adding new pages as you release new books, or adding services or resources for your audience, you need to make sure your website’s navigation menu is up to the task of growing easily.  If you have a super clever navigation menu design where each page has an attractive image and a special font, you’re not going to be able to update it easily.  Think about things like how much space is available to add to it over time, whether you can have submenus, and what happens if you need to remove a page in the future.
  2. Images — standalone and backgrounds.  Any text that is embedded in an image isn’t text you’ll easily be able to update unless you both have, and are fluent in, the program used to create that image (like Photoshop).  If your book cover is part of a larger background image you won’t be able to easily swap out the background, or use the cover image separately.  And composite images can be beautiful, but also require fluency in the program used to create them if you want to swap out an element.
  3. Font colors and sizes.  Ideally all your text styles, like the font choice, color and sizes, are determined by your WordPress theme’s stylesheet.  That means that by updating the theme’s stylesheet (or theme altogether) you’ll automatically update all instances of a particular kind of text.  If you are overriding (or asking your designer to override) individual headings or paragraphs in various places, it means that you’ll have to go through each page and/or blog post and manually update each one if you want something different in the future.
  4. Custom post types.  You may not have run across this in the past or even know if you’re using it already, but WordPress makes it easy to create a new category of content on your website via your theme, and then use that content in specific places.  If you’re familiar with Widgets in WordPress, it’s a similar concept.  The difference is that when you use a custom post type you’re often building up lots of content, while with a widget you’re only using a limited amount.  If you place lots of your website’s content into custom post types, rather than the Post, Page or Widgets that come with every WordPress install, updating your site to a new theme in the future is going to be difficult because often the custom post type is theme-specific. That means you may need to recreate that content to work with your new theme.
  5. Being mobile-friendly.  There are a few different ways to be sure your site is friendly to mobile devices, and one of those ways is by creating a design unique to the mobile environment.  That means that whenever someone on a phone visits your site they see something designed specifically for them.  Likewise, when someone on a large desktop computer visits your site, they see something different and designed specifically for them.  That means you now have two places to make changes each time you want to make an update.  If your site is designed responsively, that means that a single design adapts to the display on which its being used, so you only need to update things once.

Even given all of this, you might decide in some cases that it’s important to you that your site stands out by using unique images, or a fancy navigation menu.  I’m not saying you shouldn’t pursue those options — there are some really beautiful author websites that break many of these rules.  But I am saying that the owners of those sites either pay someone to keep those websites updated (and work with that person’s schedule), or have the skills themselves to make changes themselves when they need them.

So what’s a good alternative to make sure your site stands out from the crowd without making your life more complicated when it comes to updating your author website?

  1. Get creative with the stand-alone images you use — these can be photos or even illustrations — and ensure that swapping them out is a simple task that won’t break your site.
  2. Use great typography throughout your site.  Without sacrificing legibility, the size and font of your website’s text adds a great deal to its design and your brand.  So get creative, but keep everything centralized in your theme’s stylesheet.
  3. Use backgrounds and leverage a grid to lay out your content in creative ways.  You can play around with colors, textures, and images as backgrounds to your content, and organize rows and columns to present it in a unique format.

Sometimes you might not even know what to ask (or whether to ask) to ensure that your author website will be as easy for you to update as you’re hoping it will be.  So keep the above principles in mind to ensure your site is as sustainable as it is beautiful.

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Author Website Design: Creating Your Author Bio https://www.outboxonline.com/author-website-design-creating-your-author-bio/ https://www.outboxonline.com/author-website-design-creating-your-author-bio/#respond Tue, 11 Dec 2018 15:15:55 +0000 https://www.outboxonline.com/?p=53002

Did you know that your author bio is a critical part of your media engagement and your book marketing efforts, and is often the most visited page of your author website other than your landing page? I’ve written about your website’s bio page before, and this time I thought I’d make it specific to what
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Did you know that your author bio is a critical part of your media engagement and your book marketing efforts, and is often the most visited page of your author website other than your landing page?

I’ve written about your website’s bio page before, and this time I thought I’d make it specific to what authors need to do to get their bio page in tip top shape.

If you think about it, your readers will be spending a bunch of time with you indirectly — they might spend their last moments before falling asleep each day, or their commute to & from work, or on a long road trip in audiobook form, or waiting for a loved one at a doctor’s appointment.  You, and the universe you create through your writing, is interwoven into the fabric of their daily lives, so how you present yourself through your author brand is an important part of that indirect relationship.  There’s a reason there’s often a large author photo and a little bio about authors at the end of a book — it’s because readers want to know more about the person they’ve just spent a bunch of time with, and who they are is important.

Author Website Design: Creating Your Author Bio

So, where do you start?  Sometimes you see authors tell you the basics — where they live and how many kids they have.  I’d say that’s a missed opportunity.  Your author bio gives you a chance to not only connect with your readers so that they want to read your future books, but also to attract people to your other projects, such as doing speaking engagements, or your podcast, or video series, or webinars, etc..

Here’s what I mean:

Example 1 – Firstname Lastname is a professional ice sculptor for Disneyland.  She lives in southern California with her family where she enjoys playing racquetball and making French pastries in her spare time.

Example 2 – Firstname Lastname dreams about what her book’s characters will get up to next while sculpting ice at Disneyland.  Her podcast, Sculpting Ice by Day [link], explores how she balances her work as a fantasy author with the rest of her life in southern California.

Both of the above examples are relatively short (there is a reason for you to have a longer bio and we’ll talk about that in a moment), but the second one not only puts it in the context of her work, but also fits in some keywords like “fantasy author” and provides a link to her podcast to draw new audiences.

You also need multiple bio lengths in your back pocket.  You need a super short one for your Twitter profile (for example), a mid-length one for the bottom of blog posts or articles about you, and a longer one for your author website.

With that in mind, here’s what you can consider in terms of the content of your author bio:

  • Your opening line.  I like this to be brief, descriptive, and punchy.  There’s a formula you can use: “I do ___, for ___, so that they can ___.”  Example:  “Firstname Lastname is a fantasy author writing for millennial women who aren’t waiting around for Mr. Right to show up.”  Think of it like a tagline for your business of being an author.
  • Additional description.  What do you write about?  Talk about what genre you write for, whether it’s historical, if it’s funny, or serious, or any other relevant details.  And why are you passionate about it?  What led you to write what you do over everything else?  Is there an author who inspired you, or a story in your life that led you here?  Let your personality shine through here, and keep it in line with your author branding.  Writing in first person makes it easier for your readers to connect with you, while writing in third person makes it easier for people to write about you — so I recommend you choose based on the context in which your bio will most often exist.
  • Your credentials.  If you write historical fiction and have a degree in Shakespeare, that’s relevant.  As is your participation in writing groups or conferences you’ve spoken at or past books you’ve written.  You get the picture.
  • Share photos and stories.  Relevant stories about your life can be very charming, and showing photos that illustrate the stories is a wonderful value add.  The combination of the stories and the images will help your readers better remember information about you, and be more likely to share it with friends.
  • Don’t be shy.  This isn’t the time for mystery.  Your author bio is another marketing tool, so downplaying your achievements or personality is only doing a disservice to you.  There are plenty of shy people out there online who are successfully marketing themselves — they’ve just decided on a voice and amount of information that both does the job, but also feels true to themselves.  You can be charming and informative without giving up your deepest secrets.

Lastly, this page should also contain things like the signup for your mailing list, and/or your social media profile links, and/or a link to contact you about speaking engagements, and/or link(s) to your writing online.  As much as your author bio is a stand-alone document, it’s also part of your larger author brand and marketing efforts.  Don’t neglect to tie it into the rest of your platform to get the best bang for your buck!

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Author Website Design: Choosing Your Author Domain Name https://www.outboxonline.com/author-website-design-choosing-your-domain-name/ https://www.outboxonline.com/author-website-design-choosing-your-domain-name/#respond Thu, 29 Nov 2018 16:02:41 +0000 https://www.outboxonline.com/?p=52776

I’ve previously written about How to Choose Your Author Domain Name, but the question comes up with my author website design clients again and again so I thought I’d write an updated post to make sure all bases are covered! If you’re not sure what a domain name is, and how it’s only one part
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I’ve previously written about How to Choose Your Author Domain Name, but the question comes up with my author website design clients again and again so I thought I’d write an updated post to make sure all bases are covered!

If you’re not sure what a domain name is, and how it’s only one part of what you need to create an author website, you should check out this post about getting your domain name and web hosting organized first.

Your author domain is critical to the success of your site as it does a few important things:

  1. It’s an address people can remember (and tell their friends about) to find you online.
  2. It’s highly searchable for the words that make it up.
  3. It’s part of your author branding.

Author Website Design: Choosing Your Author Domain NameLet’s break those down…  For your domain name to be easy to remember and share it needs to be relatively short.  If your name or book title is long and complicated there’s little you can do about that, but you certainly don’t need to add additional words to make it even more long and complicated.  Ideally, you’ve given some thought to the marketing of yourself as an author, and to your book(s), when selecting a name to ensure it’s keyword rich — this will come in handy when it comes to URLs.

When choosing between whether your domain name should be your name or the book name (one of my most often asked questions), I recommend that authors think forward to their future plans and get their platform started off on the right foot.  If you’re an author looking to write multiple books then it’s a good idea to make your domain name your author name.  If your name isn’t available as firstlast.com, then look for firstlastauthor.com or authorfirstlast.com — that also gives you the added searchability for your name tied to the word “author.”  If you’re only going to write a single book, or a single series, then think about using the name of the book or series.  If the name isn’t available as yourbookname.com, then look for yourbooknamebook.com.  Regardless, I always suggest, because domain names are cheap these days, that my clients own not only their own name, but the name of their book(s)/series.  You can permanently forward any domain name to any website, or even a single page on a website, so this gives you lots of flexibility.  Even if you’re not well known now — meaning not many people will be searching for your author name — you want to stack the deck in your favor for the future. You might also read this post on What to Include on Author & Book Websites for some additional information on how I think about the differences between author and book websites.

You want the content on your author website to be as searchable as possible, of course, but you also want your domain name to be highly searchable too.  And my advice is always to be as direct as possible.  There are lots of cute ways you can go with your domain name, but if those words aren’t tied to your author name, or the titles of your book(s), it’s going to be more difficult to find you.  Sometimes self-published authors create a self-publishing business name so that it’s less obvious that their book(s) are self-published, and they create their website using their publisher name.  This would be a good idea if you wanted to market your publishing business — but you don’t, you want to market yourself and your book(s). Dot com domain names are always the best (over .net or .org or .biz, etc..) unless your target audience is in a specific country (that’s not the USA) in which case you can use the country-specific extension. Lastly, hyphens are difficult to remember and get forgotten more often than not, and they’re also often associated with spam sites.

Your domain name will follow you all over the internet — and you want it to! — so it’s as much a part of your author branding as your headshot.  So make sure it’s nothing you dislike intensely, or that people would have trouble spelling, or that won’t have staying power for you.  If you need to change your domain name down the road it’s certainly possible, but you’ll need to think about how to make sure existing links to your site won’t break and how anywhere it’s been printed will now be out-of-date.  Not to mention that you’ll need to update your URL on every platform where you have a profile.  Again, roads you can certainly cross, but you may not have to if you give this decision plenty of thought first!

If you’re looking for a place to purchase a domain name I suggest SiteGround* as they’re my recommended hosting platform and a domain name comes with your hosting plan, so you’ll be all set up to build your site there when the time comes.

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Author Website Design for First Time Authors: 3 Quick Tips https://www.outboxonline.com/author-website-design-for-first-time-authors-3-quick-tips/ https://www.outboxonline.com/author-website-design-for-first-time-authors-3-quick-tips/#respond Thu, 08 Nov 2018 15:38:19 +0000 https://www.outboxonline.com/?p=52630

If you’re a first-time author, congrats! It’s a massive undertaking to write a book, whether you’ve got a traditional publisher or not. When you get to the point of thinking about your author website (and see this post on Author Website Design for Unpublished Authors if you’re not yet finished with your book), you’ll want
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If you’re a first-time author, congrats! It’s a massive undertaking to write a book, whether you’ve got a traditional publisher or not. When you get to the point of thinking about your author website (and see this post on Author Website Design for Unpublished Authors if you’re not yet finished with your book), you’ll want to know what are the most important elements to include on your site as a new author.

Author Website Design for First Time AuthorsI’ve written extensively about what to include on your author website, but it’s important to call out specific author website elements first time authors should pay attention to:

  1. Start your Mailing List.  If you don’t already have a mailing list, it’s important to start building one as soon as possible, and ideally well before the release of your book.  A mailing list lets you communicate with your target audience whenever you have news to share, or want to generate buzz about a new project, so the more people you have on your list, the more excitement you’ll be able to create when you need it the most.  Giving something away that’s valuable to as many people as possible, such as the 3 successful books that influenced your own writing, is a great way to generate interest.  You can also give away your own work, but since you’re a new author, that might not generate as much interest.  You’ll run this promotion for a specific period of time with the giveaway at the end, and you’ll let as many people know about it as possible — ideally on social media — so people can share the opportunity to win with friends.
  2. Get people excited about your book, its universe, and you as an author.  Here’s where you get to be creative about bringing your book to life through visual design, through the content and media that you use, and how you tell your own story.  Your readers will be indirectly spending time with you by reading your book, so make sure your author personality comes through on your site.  Be approachable through the language that you use to encourage people to follow you and join your mailing list.  If you’re active on a social media platform, make sure that’s clear from your website and that it’s easy to follow your feed from there if someone doesn’t already know about it.  As a new author, fewer people will find you via search, so keep in mind that people will likely end up on your site through your outreach efforts, and you want the payoff to be good so that they keep you in mind when talking about books with their friends and thinking about what they’ll read in the future.  The more creative you are with the kind of information you share, the more likely it is to be remembered.
  3. Get some quotes about you and your work to share.  Of course it can be difficult to get blurbs/endorsements when you’re a new author, especially from high-profile folks, but don’t let that stop you from working with what you have.  Every author has people who champion their work, and starting with quotes from folks, even if they’re unknown (even if they’re your mom!), helps lend credibility to your claims that your book is not to be missed.  This is not the time to be shy — so ask the people who you think will come through for you to send you a few words about your writing that you can share with people online.  As you gain traction, you can start swapping those initial quotes out (if you want) with higher-profile review blurbs that help demonstrate what’s enjoyable about your writing and your stories.

Although you might be shy, now is not the time to give in to your introvert tendencies! If you want success as an author, you need to put yourself out there a bit to get noticed. You don’t need to dramatically overhaul your personality, but you do need to champion your inner marketer so that the efforts you do make with your limited time and resources pay off as much as possible.

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Author Websites and Social Media https://www.outboxonline.com/author-websites-and-social-media/ https://www.outboxonline.com/author-websites-and-social-media/#respond Tue, 30 Oct 2018 14:18:53 +0000 https://www.outboxonline.com/?p=52374

When I work with author website design clients who aren’t already spending a bunch of time on social media, they often have a couple of questions about what it means for them to use social media to help promote their book.  First they want to know which platform they should use (Facebook or Instagram or
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When I work with author website design clients who aren’t already spending a bunch of time on social media, they often have a couple of questions about what it means for them to use social media to help promote their book.  First they want to know which platform they should use (Facebook or Instagram or Twitter? What about Pinterest? What is LinkedIn all about anyway? Should I make YouTube videos?!), then they want to know what they might post to that platform.

If you’re not already a social media user, the answers really come down to the question of why you’re going to start using it now.  Perhaps your publisher requires it, or maybe you’ve read enough advice telling you that it’s important to your success, but at the end of the day, you really need to understand what you’re going to get out of it.  Because you’ll get out of it what you put into it.  If you’re only going to show up sporadically, and if you really dislike doing it, it’s going to show.  Even existing communities of book lovers aren’t poised and ready for new authors to show up to sell their book. Instead, they’re there to make recommendations to each other, to share stories about what they’re reading, and to invest in a like-minded community — they’re not there to be marketed to.  Using social media because you feel like you have to isn’t a good enough reason, especially when you don’t understand how it’s supposed to work.

Author Websites and Social MediaI encourage my clients to think of it this way, imagine you were going to a party where you knew very few people.  Not only would you not expect people to fall all over you just because you walked into the door, but you also wouldn’t walk right up to a bunch of strangers and ask them for money, or to do you a favor, or expect them to listen to you while you endlessly talk about yourself.  Social media is the same as real life that way — you want to find and invest in a community of folks you find interesting by sharing resources and information with them, learning about them, and showing up consistently to give at least as much as you get.

There’s no right answer for what you might post, just as there’s no right answer for what kind of personality you should have.  If you love to take photos, and can imagine being delighted by sharing photos of the locations from your stories, or things that inspire you, or even the day-to-day of your life, then a platform like Instagram is going to be a good fit for you.  If you’re a natural researcher, and are constantly coming across interesting links that you think your readers would enjoy, then Twitter or Facebook might be a good fit.

And if you can’t imagine a scenario in which you’ll be able to find any joy in using social media, consider doing something else instead.  You can blog for yourself or others, be a guest on or create a podcast, create videos, teach courses, or write email newsletters.  You can absolutely have success as an author without it if you’re willing to invest in other methods to get the word out about your work.

Where this fits with your author website is primarily on two fronts:

  1. Sharing content from your website onto your platforms. Ideally, your author website is a hub for information about you, such as information about your books, your events/appearances, etc..  so you want to be sharing information from your website out onto your platforms.  That means that when people come across it — especially folks who are new to you — they might click through and do things like buy your book, or join your mailing list, or even just better understand your brand to keep you in mind for their future reading.
  2. Sharing your social content via your site.  Of course it’s unlikely that someone would ever come to your website to see what you’re sharing via Instagram, but you do want people to know that you’re active on a platform, and to make it easy to follow you there if they don’t already.  If someone comes to your website first, you want it to be really easy for them to follow you on your social platforms — don’t waste that opportunity.

Unfortunately, there is no magic formula or marketing strategy that you can implement that will give you instant social media success as an author.  But with diligence and some strategic thinking, the opportunities are huge to create an impact on your author platform if you’re dedicated to it.

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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 my 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 my 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, established 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 a few anecdotes 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, or by bringing your website down until you pay them a bunch of money.
  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 to help you make your website a reality.

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 when you need them.

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 than doing it manually.

Disclosure: The link to SiteGround in this post is an “affiliate link.” This means if you click the link and purchase something, I will receive an affiliate commission. Despite this, I only recommend it because I use SiteGround personally for myself and my clients and I believe they it will be a great solution for you.

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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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