Someone asked me if I would draw up some of the best tips on how to make a GOOD website. I decided that I would include the information for each of you as a bonus. This is not just for Star Publish LLC authors, but for anybody who is looking to succeed in their business. Nobody does something with the hope of failing. I hope these will help you towards that success.
(Main website: http://www.janetelainesmith.com/)
- Make it interesting—and fun. There are at least hundreds of thousands of business websites today. If people open your site up and see that it is the same boring thing they’ve seen on the other sites they’ve looked at recently, they will probably not bother reading it, even if the products or services you have to offer are new, different and exciting. They have to read on to find out about them.
- Make it easy to read. Remember, not everybody has perfect eyesight, especially if you have some elderly readers. Even if you have to use a larger font, the readability is crucial. Also, check out the colors you use. Red print on a black background is very hard to read. The same is true with a light green type on a yellow background. White background with black type or black background with yellow type are supposed to be the easiest to read.
- Don’t drag it on too long. If you have too much material to put on the home page, instead of making people scroll down forever. Instead, create additional pages and include a link to that page. Make sure you mark it to open in a new browser window to make it easy to get back to the home page so they can continue reading.
- Make your site interactive. Link to other sites that you think will offer things your readers are interested in. For example, if your new book has a castle from
in it, link to a site that has good historical resources listed, or to the website for the actual castle. Scotland
- Use your site for a roadmap. If people like what they see, let them know where else they can see articles you have written, your blog, other websites you might run, etc. Be sure to include easy-to-follow links. Consider your website as your readers’ GPS system.
- Keep it fresh. Update your main website often. I used to do mine every month. I now do it at least every two months. Frequent changes are the best way to get repeat visitors. I try to keep mine seasonal. That helps raise your rankings on the search engines.
- Share the spotlight with fellow authors. One of my most popular features on my main website is my “See your name in spotlights” section. When somebody says something kind about me, whether it is about my books, my books, my marketing, or just me in general, I will pick a different quote each time I update the site and put it up on a billboard with lights flashing all the way around it. I then link to that person’s website, blog, book, or whatever is available for your readers to find out more about that person. This not only makes the person feel good about themselves, it is also a great way to spread the word to your website. They are not going to keep quiet about this. They will probably put a link on their website or blog to yours, and will also tell others about it. Word-of-mouth is still the most effective advertising there is.
- Be creative. You use your imagination in your writing. Creating a website is just an extension of that creativity. A couple of years ago USA TV was running a little image on the bottom of their programs, announcing “Characters welcome.” It was to try to get people to follow not only their programs, but their favorite characters. I set up a website (characters welcome websites) to highlight my characters, and I offered to do websites (at a low fee) to bring their characters to life. I had already done that for a couple of my characters. (Monday Knight and Patrick and Grace Mysteries) It is fun to have your characters get e-mail and other things of their own. Monday Knight, a top model in the high society world of fashion, has had no-interest loans offered her, grants to complete her college courses, great discounts on cars and travel. I think the funniest one, though, was when I got a sample pair of pantyhose in the mail. (Snail mail, of course.) I opened the little package and held them up. There was no way on earth I could stuff my more than ample body into them! I laughed as I made that comment to my late husband. He picked the package up and looked at the name on the outside. “It’s no wonder,” he said, laughing. “They aren’t meant for you.” He handed me the package. There, in bold letters, was the name “Monday Knight”!
- Be daring. Don’t go looking for a webmaster as soon as you decide you need a website. There are a lot of free easy-to-build web hosting services. Most of them also offer upgraded reasonable services. The primary two things the fee-based offer that the free ones don’t are: (1) no pop-up ads, and (2) more storage space. My own preference is Tripod . They are very easy to use, have a lot of variety in preset templates, have many clipart and photo images you can add to your site, and they have a very easy-to-follow tutorial that will walk you through the actual building of the website. One of the biggest advantages to doing your own website is that when you want to add something, you don’t have to wait for somebody else to do it, which can sometimes take weeks.
- Make your product easily available. Every single time you have an image of your book up, or even if you just mention it, make sure it is a link that goes directly to a source (such as amazon.com) where they can purchase it. I have read that for each additional time a person has to click an additional link, you lose 25-30% of your potential customers. At that rate, it doesn’t take long to lose most of the people who might have purchased it if they had been able to get there on that crucial first click.
- Advertise, advertise, advertise! You can have the best website in the world, but if nobody knows it is there, you have wasted your effort in building it. Make sure you have the link in your signature line on every single e-mail you send out. Every time you leave a comment on a blog or another website, make sure you include the url to your website. Include the url to your website on all of your promotional materials. List it (as well as your e-mail address) at the end of your book or on the back cover. One of the best parts of being an author is the feedback you get from readers. Make it easy for them to find you. I also use ineedhits to get my websites and blogs onto over 100 search engines at no cost to me. Make sure your keywords are not only important to your book, but also those that will catch the most attention from people who might be searching for similar topics.
- Keep track of your viewers. Having a counter on your website is not an ego trip; it is important to see if you need to find new ways of drawing an audience. There are many such services available. I have found the best and easiest add-ons are available (again free) from bravenet.com. They have a lot of things to add (daily comic, counters, chat rooms, guest books, and much more). One that I have found particularly helpful and informative is that when you add their counter, they have a map option so you can see where in the world your viewers live. You will be surprised at how international you can become in short order.