You've heard over and over that selling books requires a robust author email list. These 7 tech essentials will help you create a website that compels your visitors to give you their email address. Before you start: Create a free giveaway or "lead magnet" to offer site visitors in exchange for signing up for your list. A good way to do this is to create what's called a freebie, a giveaway, an ethical bribe, or a funnel book.
I know this process may seem overwhelming, but make it easier on yourself and tackle one task every week or two. Make sure to follow the links to the training videos and other resources I've provided.
Get a Self-hosted WordPress Website
Build a solid foundation for your author platform with a self-hosted and not a free WordPress website. Your safest choice is a managed, hosted WordPress website by a trusted web hosting company. That way you own your website (it's not hosted on a free site that can get closed down at any time), it’s backed up daily, and offers 24/7 support.
My WordPress blogs and websites are hosted with GoDaddy, which is where I also buy my domain names. Click here for a $1/mo deal on a GoDaddy Managed Hosted WordPress Website that includes one domain name through my affiliation with them.
- The Insider's Guide to Your Author Website: Set Your Foundation
- Insider's Guide: Essential Author Website Component Checklist
- Insider's Guide to Your Author Website: Execute!
Add a Great Premium Theme
A premium theme provides features that give you a lot more flexibility and marketing power than a free theme. Reputable companies I like include Studio Press, Elegant Themes, and my new favorite, Thrive Themes.
Some themes charge a one-time fee with an annual membership for support and others are by subscription. Thrive Themes is $19.00/mo paid annually at this time, which is $228/annually. They're growing quickly and prices will go up, so the earlier you can lock in your annual fee the better.
See the "Minus" theme by Thrive Themes and use the drop-down menu at the upper left side of the screen to see more themes to see what I'm talking about.
With a good website, you can convert visitors to fans, subscribers, customers, and clients. A premium theme with conversion-based tools can make this much, much easier.
To get started you might try the Thrive Architect plugin, which adds visual click-to-add widgets to your site.
- Click to Tweet
- Credit Card
- Disqus Comments
- Facebook Comments
- Lead Generation
- Social Share
Plug In Some Lead Pages Software
Lead pages are pages that do one thing: lead your readers into a sales funnel without distracting headers, footers, or menus. You can create lead pages for freebies, books, training, products, services, anything.
Lead pages are awkward and difficult to make with most themes which is why so many companies provide software solutions. LeadPages, UnBounce, Instapage, Clickfunnels, and other solutions cost from about $25 to $97 per month.
LeadPages is probably the most popular and on the low-end of the price scale at $25/mo and they also have a Facebook Ad Builder and A/B testing. There are a lot of free templates to choose from that you can easily customize.
So I was super happy to discover Thrive Themes which are "conversion focused" WordPress themes and an all-in-one online business toolbox (with landing pages included in its subscription) which costs $19/mo for everything. With it, I was able to create a lead page in about an hour, which was mostly spent futzing around with finding the right graphics and images. (Get their free Beginner's Guide to Landing Pages.)
There's one more solution for landing pages, and that's your email marketing service.
Choose an Email Marketing Service
I use MailChimp to manage and build my author email list but you can choose from many companies that offer the same thing such as MailerLite, MailMunch, Constant Contact, Vertical Response, AWeber, and Sendy.
Many email marketing companies have started to provide landing pages for you, which makes sense because the whole reason for landing pages is to get people into your email list.
I experimented with the Mailchimp Landing Page capability to gather emails for people who are interested in joining a motorcycle tour to Cuba that I'm leading in 2019. It's not a book but it could be (after the trip). Here's what it looks like right now. Click to visit.
Consider a Countdown Timer
You may have noticed countdown timers are everywhere lately. They create a sense of urgency with a time-limited offer and have been shown to work really well.
You can use free, freemium, or paid countdown timers for your scarcity marketing experiments with services like TickCounter, MotionMail, and Deadline Funnel, or you can use the Thrive Themes all-in-one site builder and conversion software which comes with a countdown timer built-in. (See a demo here.)
I am experimenting with a countdown timer at the bottom of one of my blog posts. It was super-easy to drag-and-drop the timer into the page. You can see it in action here in the bottom of my post on How to Use Amazon KDP Print plus IngramSpark for Print Distribution. (Click on the image below.)
You just drag-and-drop the counter onto your page and customize the colors and time to count down.
Be Unobtrusive with a Notification Bar
Have you even see those email opt-in bars at the top of a website? They're called notification bars or ribbons and studies show they work, especially when paired with a freebie.
These are good tools but I use the Thrive Leads plugin which not only offers ribbons but pop-up signup forms and slide-in widgets with various triggers (immediate, 50% down the page, or on leave). (See a demo here.)
Here's what one of my ribbons looks like. I'm working now to incorporate the other features of the plugin.
Don't Skip an SEO Plugin
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) helps you get your pages ranked higher on the search engines by allowing you to include specific metadata about you and your book. Yoast SEO is the number one SEO plugin for WordPress with over a million installations and a 4.9 rating from over 15,000 reviews.
With its real-time content analysis, you can see right away if your blog post and page titles are on target, your image tags and titles, meta descriptions, and more. It’s kind of magic. There’s a free and premium version and it is an $89 one-time fee well-spent in my opinion.
What Will You Use to Build Your Author Email List?
I'd love to know what website tools you're using right now, whether you think they're working or not, your specific struggles, and opinions on any of the tools and services I've mentioned here. Let's start the conversation!
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