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  • Why EVERY Writer Needs an Author Website

    Posted on November 28th, 2012 jean 2 comments

    Definition of Digital SharecroppingI’m lucky in that my dad purchased JeanOram.com for me somewhere around a decade ago and hosts the site for me (he’s into web stuff). However, there is MUCH more than just convenience and happenstance when it comes to writers and authors needing their own author website. (Even for those who aren’t published yet or even soon-to-be published–having your own ‘home’ on the net is very important.)

    I know it is an expense, and in some ways terrifying. BUT if you are making connections with other people in the cyber world and want a place where agents, editors, readers, and other folks to find you it NEEDS to be your own website–or in other words: something YOU control. (I’ll dig into exactly why in a moment.)

    And we won’t even dive into how you need to begin building an audience and developing that precious trust and awareness in your own personal writing brand before you have a product (books!) to sell and that a website is the place to do so.

    But really, the big take-away in this post is this: An author website is important because it is that somewhere you can direct your time and energy and still have it be there next week. It is your home, not just the latest cool coffee shop (social media website or free blogging site) where you hang out but could close without warning–and taking all the poetry you pinned to the walls.

    I’ve felt strongly about writers and authors needing to be careful about what content they place on sites they don’t control as well as how much of their audience is solely connected to their social media account–don’t get me wrong, they are good, but you need to make sure you always direct your audience back to your website.

    Why?

    Three Big Reasons You Need to Direct Your Audience Back to Your Website

    1. Your website will always be there. (Hopefully.) People move on from different social media sites. Also think Fail Whale (Twitter crashes) on a larger scale.

    2. You can sell products from your website–i.e. books. People don’t buy your book based on your tweets about it. You can show more about your books on your website and why it will give your audience something they need. You can also engage in ‘permission marketing’ also known as a newsletter or email list from your website.

    3. You can connect on a deeper level on your website. I might be able to give you soundbites on Twitter, but the ‘real’ content is always a link to a website or blog, isn’t it?

    Why Building Your Online Connections Solely on Free Sites Isn’t In Your Best Interests

    1. You can’t always do whatever you want, your way. That is, without getting in trouble. For example, you can hold any kind of contest on your website. (Although local laws might come into play if it is a ‘sweepstakes’ or something along those lines.) But if you are on a site like Facebook and decide to hold a contest or use Facebook to promote a contest being held elsewhere you are subject to some very stringent rules. What happens if you break them unwittingly or not? Facebook takes down your account without warning. Period. All gone. Hello, good-bye audience. I hope they know where else to find you–like your website.

    2. When you post content (poetry, photos, videos, or written what-nots) on the majority of social media sites you don’t OWN your content. Okay, you do. But so do they. A lot of social media sites, if you read the fine print, mention that they have the right to use your content as shared on their site–or even in modified form–(no matter what) in their own publicity WITHOUT compensation or credit to you. Who cares if you are a photographer or a writer sharing your first chapter on a site like Facebook? They can do whatever they want with it.

    3. I know this might come as a surprise, but not everyone who might be interested in your writing is engaged in social media. There are people out there without Facebook or Twitter or Google+ accounts. However, most people have access to an Internet connection. That means they can come to your website and blog and communicate and interact with you. Not so if you use social media for all your audience building and connecting.

    Social media is good for expanding your audience, websites are great for keeping it. <–tweet it

    4. Free websites and services can suddenly disappear. Overnight. What happens if one of those free sites breaks the law and the site is ‘seized?’ Then what? Or what if MySpace suddenly is dropped for Facebook? Like that’s going to happen. Oh, wait… And then Facebook is dropped for some other big new thing?

    5. The free websites and social media services you are using to gain followers could suddenly change the rules or the way you are allowed to interact and engage with your audience. For example, a lot of Mom Bloggers are moaning that their ‘likers’ can no longer see their page’s updates in their feeds unless they click a certain button. A button their audience probably doesn’t know about–but how do they let them know to click it? Exactly.

    6. It can be difficult to analyze your traffic on a ‘deeper’ level on some other sites compared to your own website.

    7. When people do a search for you online… what do you think they are looking for? Your website (homebase where they can learn more about you on a deeper level and gain an accurate impression of you) or your social media profiles?

     

    Google search. First page results. Top hits are jeanoram.com

    A quick Google search of “Jean Oram.” First page results and a screenshot of the top hits–top two are from jeanoram.com.

     

    The Benefits to Having Your Own Author Website:

    1. As mentioned earlier–selling. You can craft your calls to action (specific requests like: buy my book now [LINK]).

    2. You can create landing pages. These are special pages on your site that you direct people to so they don’t have to surf around, get lost, and leave when you are trying to direct them to something specific. Such as a page where you can buy your books or download a sample of your work, or subscribe to your mailing list (permission marketing which is KEY to connecting with your audience and making sure they know when you have a new release), or even to your contest or media page.

    3. You control everything about your site from its look to the content. Even the arrangement of what you want to draw your audience’s eye to as well as how you choose to interact.

    4. Brand Management. You can also control the impression you make. Everything from style, to content.

    5. There is a certain legitimacy to having your own site and a well-made site can also lend authority.

    6. People know where to find you. Always.

    7. Branding. Because on your own website you can control the look, the brand, the interactions, you can also control the impression you make as well as your brand development. Not as much on social media sites where others can comment, weigh in, and friend or follow you.

    If you want to read more about the importance of building a ‘home’ online and why social media may fail you, I highly recommend this article from CopyBlogger: Read their article on digital sharecropping here. (Sharecropping being–you, the user as the ‘farmer’ and not ‘owning’ the land you are working (social media sites, for example), and also not gaining the profits. Plus, you could be ousted!)

    If you don’t ‘own land’ online (i.e. your own website) I urge you to start shopping around if you are actively building an audience or will soon have a product to sell (ex.–the next month). Building a great website can take months and you want to make sure you start sending your audience to a great place before you find yourself in a crunch situation.

    Do you have a website or blog? Share the URL in the comment section or your thoughts on this topic. I love hearing from you.

    P.S. Want to tell others and happen to be a Twitter user? Click here to tweet this –> Why you need an author website. It might be for reasons you don’t expect.

  • Back to Balance… and Marketing

    Posted on January 14th, 2010 jean 12 comments

    A few weeks ago I mentioned that one of my current goals is to balance things in my life in order to rejuvenate and celebrate the joy in what I do every day. (That’s not to say I’ve been miserable, simply that it’s incredibly easy to get swept up in the myriad of ‘shoulds’ and forget to have a complete and utter blast.)

    As if hearing the cries of aspiring (and published) writers, literary agent Nathan Bransford posted his ideas on marketing and balance. The long and the short of it is that writers should have some sort of Googleable web presence, but that trying to do ‘everything’ in terms of promotion–and there are a zillion ways to do this these days–you are going to dilute yourself and not do anything well.

    Here, here.

    It all comes back to balance. (I love it when things come full circle.)

    Jean Oram

    Create Your Badge

    Lately, I’ve been reading here and there little somethings that reflect my own thoughts on Twitter and Facebook and all those ‘follow/friend’ social networking opportunities. That is: Don’t follow everyone just to count coup. (There is an actual term for those who do this, but my brain is letting me down.) Their advice (and mine too): Follow those you are genuinely interested in.

    In other words: So what if you have 1200 followers? If you are following 1200 people we know exactly how you obtained those 1200 followers. You can’t possibly read all those tweets and create a true relationships with those followers. My warning is: Don’t kid yourself into believing all those followers are a true platform and that they are all going to run out and buy your book if you ask them to (if you are an unknown).

    Interesting fact that I can’t back up (it’s in a book around here somewhere–Later note: Here’s an article on Dunbar’s Number): People bottom out around 150 relationships. After they reach that threshold, they are unable to maintain and sustain more relationships. True relationships take time, energy and memory making them genuine and rewarding for all involved.

    Now, a little clarification on my rant–there is nothing wrong with using social networks and gaining a following. You don’t have to know someone’s favourite colour or know their lineage to have a relationship that will result in them supporting your endeavours. In fact, I recommend building online platforms and using social networking sites. I guess what I am trying to say is: keep it genuine. As Nathan says, if you don’t ‘feel’ it (blogging, tweeting, etc), your audience is going to know. So, do what you are good at. Do what feels genuine and it will get you a whole heck of a lot farther in your promotion or platform building.

    Nobody can do everything. And nobody can do everything well.

    Jean’s book montage

    Daughter of Fortune: A Novel
    An Undone Fairy Tale
    Library Lion
    Ignore Everybody: and 39 Other Keys to Creativity
    How to Stop Backing Down & Start Talking Back
    Girls of Riyadh
    The Alchemist
    Five Cities that Ruled the World: How  Jerusalem, Athens, Rome, London, and New York Shaped Global History
    The Guinea Pig Diaries: My Life as an Experiment
    ePublish: Self-Publish Fast and Profitably for Kindle, iPhone, CreateSpace and Print on Demand
    King by Right of Blood and Might
    Something Blue
    Something Borrowed
    All the Tea in Chicago
    A Child Called "It": One Child's Courage to Survive
    Corduroy
    Come Back, Amelia Bedelia
    Amelia Bedelia
    Little Bear
    Three Little Kittens



    Jean Oram’s favorite books »

    So, another tough question for you blog readers–where is the balance between writing and promotion? How do you keep it fresh when you are blogging and tweeting and facebooking? Or do you?