I was reading an article in the Romance Writers Of America magazine, Romantic Times, the other day, and in the article a book publicist was asked by an author how to get people to visit her website.
The publicist responded that the way to get people to your website is to give people something worth reading when they get there. Which is what inspired my post today.
Think about the blogs and websites that you visit regularly. I can just about guarantee that those sites update on a regular basis and always have something new and fresh and interesting to you when you visit them. Not to brag – okay, I’m bragging – but I have several dozen very good posts on this site about how to publicize yourself all over the internet, how to write press releases, where to submit them, etc. – and a lot of people link back to my site or recommend my site, and my services, to others because of it.
To start getting visitors to your site for the first time: join social networks, visit relevant blogs in your industry and post on them, visit relevant forums in your industry and post on them, with links back to your site, and, ahem, hire someone to write and submit press releases to online press distribution sites – you can write press releases that update fans on your upcoming book tour, on your recent book sale, on the contest you just won, and you can also hold contests, charity fundraisers, give away promotional materials, all of which are good press release subjects.
Writing those press releases and submitting them online gets you excellent coverage in the search engines. Thus ends the self-serving portion of this blog post.
Oh – word of caution – make sure you are writing interesting, thoughtful responses on the forums and on the blogs you are commenting on – if you just go on there and say “nice post! Very interesting!” you will be seen as a spammer.
So, once you’ve gotten visitors to your site – make sure that your site is filled up with interesting content that is worth coming back for. If you just have a standalone website that talks about you and lists your books, your products or your services – you’re not giving people a reason to come back for more.
Also – you want people to recommend your website to their friends, their followers, their fans, etc. People recommend sites full of good content; they don’t recommend a site which just has an “about me” page and a list of products.
Here are some of the sites that I regularly visit:
www.pubrants.blogspot.com, because I want to get a book published some day and this agent/blogger has at least a few fresh, interesting blog posts every week.
www.tessgerritsen.com, because I love her writing and she updates regularly with news about what she’s doing, and writes about creepy forensic stuff
www.thrillerwriters.org, because I like to read author interviews and there are hundreds on the website.
www.cuteoverload.com because I am a sucker for cute animal pictures with goofy captions and they have thousands of them.
Yes, that’s a weird variety of websites. But the thing that all of these sites have in common is that they update regularly and have a big archive of stuff that interests me.
The only reason for people to come to your site, and come back again and again, is if you give them something interesting to read when they get there. So if you’re an author – you may give away free short stories, or the first few pages of your books, and you can update people on your writing progress, tell them anecdotes about how you researched your murder mystery, etc. Let’s say you have a book about dog training – write anecdotes about dogs that you have trained, write dog training tips, give away dog food recipes, link to interesting posts about dogs on other blogs, etc.
What if you write, say, Christian romance novels? Do posts on your favorite proverbs. Blog about particularly inspiring moments in your life. Blog about faith and your marriage. Talk about how you met YOUR loved one. Write reviews of other authors that you admire. Talk about how you market your books. Talk about what drew you to this field.
Mystery and thriller writers – as I mentioned, Tess Gerritsen is a supreme world class thriller writer and she has written numerous blog posts about forensic subjects. Write about your research, review other thriller writers, write about the mystery convention you just went to, write about mystery movies that you just saw.
In short – and you all know this, it’s like saying “To lose weight, eat less calories then you expend every day”, but it needs to be said – the only way to have a popular blog/website is to regularly update it with topics that will be interesting to your readers.
If you don’t have the time or energy to update your blog daily you can:
Hire someone to do it for you,
interview interesting people in your field and post those interviews
Post lists of resources and links that would be interesting for your readers – that gives them a reason to come back! 0r
Join up with other writers in your field and take turns blogging. Get five people together – you’ll each only have to blog once a week to have five days a week of fresh content!
Yes, it is a fair amount of work to update your website or blog regularly, but it is the best and most effective form of free advertising that I know of!