With so many online vendors selling books, sites like Goodreads and WattPad, and social media profiles being plentiful, many authors are left wondering if they even need a website. If so, what does it need to have to get readers to visit it?
So for today’s Technical Tuesdays, we’re talking about 10 things your author website needs to draw readers in.
1. Exclusive Online Content
This one shouldn’t be a huge surprise but to many, it is. Think of it this way: what can fans get from your author website that they can’t get anywhere else? And what would this content be exactly?
Get creative. You’re a writer. You can do a lot here. You can offer character interviews, short stories, entire books (Shelly Laurenston, for example, would post a new chapter to her website each month for entire free books on her website), and more. You might post playlists for certain books or that you personally enjoy. You can create MP3s, exclusive videos, and even things people would be willing to pay for. The sky’s the limit.
Oh, did we mention that Google loves exclusive content and having such can really give you a nice boost when it comes to SEO?
2. Book News
About a third of romance readers want email newsletters with updates on books in progress, new releases, reviews, tours and appearances, and more. There are also some great plugins you can use on your website to show your progress in fun, visual ways particularly if you use WordPress.
So ensure you’ve got a newsletter signup and that your website is meeting all of the criteria for GDPR and acceptable information and data use. If you don’t know what I’m talking about here, watch out for next week’s article all about GDPR and what that means for you.
3. Make It Easy to Buy Your Books
One of the primary goals of having a website is to provide readers with a way to purchase your books. Shouldn’t you make it easy for the reader to do just that?
While the temptation is there to link to every retailer under the sun who carries your book, maybe choose a top three, particularly ones that allow your reader to easily specify the format they prefer for the book to be in. Many authors use Universal Link from Books2Read as a tool that allows readers to select their favorite retailer in just a couple of clicks. It’s free to use too.
4. Recommended Reads
All of who are authors are usually voracious readers. What do you enjoy reading? Because if you have a strong following of readers who like what you write, chances are you have similar tastes and they just might enjoy reading what you do. Recommend books as you finish them, write about them, include affiliate links on your website for them. You can also help fellow authors out by giving them props on your own website. Bonus!
5. Responsive Sites Only
What’s a responsive website? A responsive website is one that looks great and functions well no matter what device it’s being viewed on. While growing numbers of users mostly access the web from their smartphones and tablets, many folks still view the web on desktop and laptop computers.
It’s important because we’ve all ran across websites that look fine on your laptop but on your phone, they have tiny text, require a lot of scrolling, and frustrate you away to another website in seconds. If I just described your website, it’s time to change things up.
If you don’t have the budget for a designer, no worries. There are many free platforms, or very affordable services, available now to help you. You can set up a site with domain, hosting, and a drag and drop design interface in as little as an hour when you use platforms like Wix, SquareSpace, and WordPress.
When it comes to WordPress, we’re big fans here because WordPress is, by default, responsive. Plus there are literally thousands of themes available, mostly for free, so you can customize the appearance of your website and make it your own. Just always ensure you get your themes, and plugins, directly from WordPress.org. Contrary to popular belief, WordPress themes are mostly user generated but if they are posted on WordPress.org, they are checked for quality and security.
6. Social Media Icons
Guess what? Your fans are on social media as much as you are. So make sure you have links on each page where readers can find you on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other social media platforms. Also, use them. Fans aren’t going to follow you just because you have a profile up there. They are going to want to see you post actual content. (And you will because you’ll be offering your exclusive content, recommended reads, book news, and more, right?)
7. Contact Information
Make sure that the reader has a way to reach you on your website that’s not your social media. An email or a contact form they can use to send an email to you works just fine. And if you have time and are so inclined, try and answer the queries you get. Communicating with your readers is a winning strategy for gaining loyal fans.
Remember that you are also a reader. If you question anything on your website, stop and remember to ask yourself, “as a reader, would I like this?” In crafting a website a reader loves, you have a better chance or developing a following of loyal readers.