Saturday, June 15, 2013

The Top Five Simple Steps You Can Do To Improve Your Website

I'm learning that if you want to be seen as a professional writer, you need to have a professional appearance online, which means your website needs to be too. As part of having an author platform, your website and blog plays a critical role; it's your business card, your public relations director and its your billboard all in one.

It needs to be and look professional because people will judge it (and you) all in less time than you can say "wait! don't go!!!" Also, if its not well designed guess what? You just lost a potential sale. Already two strikes!

People in this day and age have come to demand and expect certain things when surfing the web and if we can't keep up, they'll just move on to the next thing that captures their brief attention span. They have the ability to process a lot of information very quickly and filter things out just as fast till they find what they want.

Sadly, up till yesterday, that was me and my website. When you came to my page, you were hit with spam... my books plastered for all to see with little reason to buy them. I had my covers larger than life and the links to buy them but little else. Honestly, I didn't know what my website was for; what purpose did it serve? It turns out for the last 8 months, it's been hurting me and I didn't realize it.

I didn't know better but it was because I wasn't educated on how to do it right. That's okay because this is all a learning process.

It's all part of this journey and its okay to make mistakes as long as we learn from the lesson presented. I saw what I had and decided I needed to change it so I did.

Here's what I've learned...

1.) People don't always come through the front door of your website. Thanks to search engines people can discover you through many of your other pages and links.

What does this mean? It means that every page should look as good as your front page or landing page because for the person whose just seeing you for the first time, that is their front page.

2.) Have a banner that tells your visitors what your site is about.

What does this mean? It means that your name, who you are (Your Brand) and what you offer should be easily seen within the first four seconds. Take for instance my new banner:

Right off the bat, it tells you who I am, shows you a nice photo, tells you that I'm a writer in the paranormal/fantasy and young adult genre along with a tagline "Let me tell you a story..."

It sets up the visitor to know they are welcomed here and that maybe my stories will appeal to them... all in less than 4 seconds.

I'm not saying my way is the right way or is how you should do it but it's merely a suggestion and the reasoning behind it. You can make your site and banner look any way you want. In fact, if you have a better way, share it with us in the comments section below.

3.) Your site should be easy to navigate.Believe it or not, this is the most crucial step people forget when making their web pages.

What does that mean?  It means that no matter what page the person visiting your website is on, they should be able to find the buttons or links to the most important things they probably want to know. One of them should be the Contact Me button. People like to feel a connection with their authors and sometimes want to email them or ask them a question. Another one is the BUY or STORE button. If they are at your site, they like who you are and your sales pitch, now would be a great time to show them where they can buy your book. If you leave them hanging, having to search for where your books are for sale (or if you make it too complicated) they will leave your site frustrated.

4.) Sign up for my newsletter! - One of the most neglected but most important thing to have on your website.

What does that mean?  Repeat after me: "You want to have a newsletter signup link" Why? Because it's a numbers game. Let's pretend you've slowly built up your email contacts list to several hundred (or several thousand). They signed up because they are interested in what you have to offer. If you tell them "Hey, this Friday I'm going to sell my NEW book "Blah" for a certain amount (usually .99 cents) on Amazon but it's only a 24 or 48 hour sale! Be sure to get it this weekend! (Give them enough warning time/heads up). Come Friday, Amazon will see a surge of people buying your book(s) and that will cause Amazon to boost your ranking which in turn exposes you to thousands of potential buyers who will also see your book. It's a snowball effect and had you not told your followers (fans) when to go, nothing would have happened. (Think of it like a Flash Mob on Amazon.)

5.) Less Is More. 

What does that mean? It means that if you don't have a lot of clutter on your website, people are able to see the posts and images you want them to see. People like simple, clean and clutter free sites. Look at Google's home page. It's a simple white page, with its name and a search bar and that's pretty much it. Simple and to the point. The same goes for flashing icons, gifs, etc. If people want to see that, they'll go to MySpace.

There you have it, 5 simple steps you can do to improve your website. If you would like to share your own tips, please leave a comment below and as always, thanks for reading.  :-)

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Update on the previous book cover (& a new one)

Believe it or not, my previous book cover with the dragon has *NOT* sparked any interest, nor has it generated any new sales. This is very disappointing because the book itself is a gem waiting to be found. Right now because of limited funding, I can't afford to hire a real professional book cover designer but I am saving up for it. Again, this shows that people DO judge a book by its cover.

The other day at work, I came up with a book concept that I'm going to write later on down the road. (I've got a LOT of books I want to write but for now I need to focus on the projects I'm working on.) It's called DRONE and it's about a multi-million dollar drone attack plane that is hacked and stolen in mid flight. One of its two missiles are fired upon a high profile target and kills them, sending shock waves all over the world. Unable to find this drone, tensions are high as the group responsible for hijacking it demands something or else at a certain time, someone will die.

I'm excited to write this, and sometimes when I'm feeling creative, I'll make a book cover to kinda help "push" me in that direction. Here's the book cover I made for this book I've yet to write.

Surprisingly, I'm really liking this cover on so many levels. While its simple, it's to the point and makes you want to know more, just by reading the cover. I hope this is a successful cover. I'm sure I'll tweak it one last time before the book goes live but I kinda like it. Who knows how long it'll be before I make the book but at least it looks cool. For now, I still need to figure out what to do with Anica Storm. Those who have read that book love it but in the millions of books out there, I need it to grab peoples attention so when I can afford it, I'll hire a professional and keep my fingers crossed. If you know of any designers that are great, please list them below. Thanks!  :-)

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Try, try again... (New Book Cover)

This is the latest cover of my book - Anica Storm & The Wand of Time. I spent 16 hours drawing it from scratch and trying to make it relevant to my book. It includes the dual moons - Leo & Luna, James the Were-Dragon and Castle Alveydor. I don't have a lot of money to hire someone who knows what they're doing (yet) but until then, I'm trying to save a little money by doing it myself. My book hasn't gone anywhere in the last few months and it's not because it sucks, it could be because of the title or the description. I don't know. This book took me 3 years to make and I'm hoping it will take off but it's limping, even barely. It's not because the story sucks, those who read it love it so I don't know what to think or do. For now, this is my last ditch effort before I move on to other projects I'm working on and if those projects bring in more income then I'll revisit this and see if I can get some expert opinions on it.

I welcome your comments and feedback if you have constructive things to say.  :-)

Monday, June 3, 2013

Steven Hears A Who?

Hey, it's been a while. How ya been? I've been busy with my full time job, packing, moving, unpacking and maintaining a relationship with this incredible woman I'm seeing... and oh yeah, I'm writing too. Not as much as I want because time is limited when you've got lots to do. It's already difficult as a writer to sit down and make yourself write, much less add on other distractions. Writing is one of the easiest and hardest things you can do at the same time. (You can quote me on that)  ;-)

It is, anyone can write anything but it takes focus, time, dedication, energy, and a strong will to put the words together so they sound fluid. It doesn't help if you're A.D.D. like I am and all over the place. While I have an incredible ability to multi-task, it does sometimes get in the way of what I'm trying to do. I'm like the dog in the movie UP... "Squirrel!"  It's true.

I am blessed with the gift of imagination and creativity. Words do flow easily when I'm writing and I'm thankful for that. I'm also getting better with my sentence structure and grammar, thanks to owning the newest Office 2013 professional edition. It helps point out flaws and has taught me a thing or two about where to put commas, etc.

I've noticed I'm starting to gain a following but it's hard to tell if they are from other authors or from fans of my books so I wanted to ask you if you are a fan of any of my books, will you please leave a comment below? I'm just curious who's out there and I really want to connect with my fans as you go along with me on this journey.

My Got Ghosts? books are doing great but my Anica Storm hasn't been moving. I think maybe its the cover and so I've been swapping them out and seeing if there's an uptick in people buying them. (So far, nada.)  I'm determined to find the right cover and tweak the description so people will want to buy it. Anica - the series has been doing great on its own which is basically the whole book split into pieces. I heard that authors have been having success with that so I decided to try it out and sure enough my fragmented book is selling better in parts than my whole book.

I'm working on multiple books right now, one of them being "How to be a ghost hunter - (A step by step guide for beginners)" and the other is my Zombie series "Self-Aware" which I'm really excited to release but it's not ready yet. It's going to be a six part series and I'm going to release it every two weeks leading up to the opening of AMC original series - The Walking Dead in October. That means I'm planning on releasing it in September (maybe sooner, it depends.) Either way, i'm excited because it gives fans the usual stuff they like but also gives them a fresh twist on the genre. 

So if you're a fan of my work, leave a comment below in the comment section and say "Hello" ~ I would really like that. 

Thanks & Happy Reading,
Steven Wolff