Best Tips for Building an Author Website with Rob McClellan

that mediums welcome to the writers journey show a rearmed jury together to learn more about writing success thank you for joining us I'm your host learn more and with me is the gorgeous and talented Kenan Williams site we're talking about author websites should we build them and if so how but so to answer all of our burning questions we've invited on veteran website designer Robb McKellen the sharings best tips for building a beautiful and effective website a 20-year Navy veteran Robb McKellen first started building author websites in 2009 in 2014 he launched third scribe a first-of-its-kind author website and marketing system after providing support for thousands of authors and readers Rob close third scribe in 2018 in 2019 Rob launched mod farm design a boutique website design and management service that caters specifically to the needs of professional authors and editors bob resides in sunny Southern California with his wife and three children and is joining us tonight thanks so much for coming on the show Rob hey thanks for having me it's awesome and we've also brought on Allen Campbell she's fantastic editor she is a host on t-shirt medium she's part of our team and you are in the middle of redoing her website yes I've been managing her website for years she was a third scribe member yes way back 2014 and so she's been with me the whole time I have I'd never leave well I can see why I've seen some clips and little sneak peeks of your website introduction and it looks incredible I am very excited to see the final product when it's done so thank you for coming on the show and how are you guys been doing Cillian would start with you um I've been doing hanging in there just waking up getting out of bed and getting words writ remembering to eat you know normal stuff we both have tea because we both have a cold so yeah the difference yes you know my son is getting a little bit of a summer cold this is gonna scratchy throat maybe he's been doing salt gargle probably not as good as tea hopefully it'll stay away from you all right so hopefully you guys recover quickly and don't give it to me sorry for God's sake don't give it to Ellen no the whole rating self publishing community will collapse Adelie so Rob he talks a little bit about yourself and what you've been up to lately in the professional world uh sure um for the website stuff I guess I see my I made my first author website in 2009 and it was probably in the wild days of WordPress we had no idea we were doing but it looked really good it probably didn't work all that great but you know it looked good but after that I kind of did freelance you know friends would contact me or people would find me and I would make something for them and you know we learned a lot as we made it but in 2012 I came up the idea for a third scribe and we launched early 2014 Ellen came late in 2014 but um the concept of that was just to try to mass produce it in a way that that we made a system tailored specifically for authors that fulfilled kind of all their needs almost right out of the box it was very simple setup but very rich on design and we were always kind of working to improve it and make it more effective and better and stuff like that so we did that for four years but you know like any com I think we were being overcome by by many things and we just in 2018 I kind of said you know we're gonna go a different route and so I made sure all of our premium customers are paying customers were migrated and taken care of and then we closed our doors mid 2018 and after that I kind of said well not sure really what I'm gonna do you know I can do my regular job and so on but you know Ellen came to me right after and said that you can't leave me like this I know as I recall you came to me and said Ellen I'm shutting down third scribe don't panic I'll take care of you we kind of slowly decided I guess about six months ago to just start building a back up you know a lot of people kind of asked me about things questions here and there and I said you know let's just let's just do it and let's kind of go sort of boutique not exactly high-end but very structured you know we're not we're kind of designed for working authors that really don't want to work with the or I guess lose time with a lot of the minutiae of their site they just want to focus on writing the next book and so we take care of all their technical needs for them while they do that which is something we all need try healing too difficult question okay sorry already bring it on follow the line of questions so we're talking about author websites frozen cons of having one what their purpose is how to set one up let's start with why how well why have one in who needs one okay basically every author needs one you have to have some presence on the web some people have made do with Facebook pages and a MailChimp landing page I I'm I'm not a fan of that and that's really rare I mean it's maybe one or two people I know of had been able to pull that off and then they famously never went to a website ever I think probably the most famous is Joshua Dells l he doesn't have anything he's he's a literally a Facebook page and a newsletter signup and that's it so actually when I was a third scribe we spent a lot of time trying to figure out people what you really needed like what was the minimum product in your website what did you have to have taking notes so so for that you were looking at one you didn't need it to be super elaborate he didn't need 50 million pages you didn't need you know super complex menus or graphics or all this other stuff you really didn't need all that what you really needed was an about page so people can learn more about you as author who you are what your story is neither have your books on it yeah that's kind of a no-brainer but you'd be surprised how many author websites don't have books on them they might have a picture of their book but they don't have a link to buy it they don't have a description they just say look here's my books and there's a picture and you're like well that's awesome that's lovely where can they go about it your cover artist is great how do I know what this books about and so then you would have to go hunt down on Amazon some people just don't do that yeah so one of information about your books and ways to buy your books links to buy your books you want a newsletter sign up some kind some way to grab on to people you know get new visitors capture readers stuff like that keep in touch with them and people talk about newsletters forever Brett Bruno gave a great discussion with you guys a little while back about newsletters and you know most you know a lot of that is completely true you know after that you know what else do you need a blog can help a lot but you have to write a blog a lot of people out of authors just for their blogging they do a quick hey this is what I'm up to and this is when the next books coming out and that's to be honest that's kind of all you need in the website world if you are a big blogger and you really like blogging like Everett terrible Minds you know Chuck lending is a great blogger and he gets huge traffic from his blog Nick Cole when he was with third scribe he took a year and just wrote a blog posts like at least every week I think he was doing daily for a while and he was getting huge traffic and big you know changes in sales as a result but it was a tremendous amount of effort so he was vlogging but not writing and I think when you do the trade-off if you have to pick one you pick writing you know the rest of it will kind of follow along it's the book that drives almost everything so the quality for an author should always be the book the book should be primary no matter what and that drives traffic to your website it drives your newsletter feed it drives your the fans that you find through your books is what drives everything else it doesn't work in Reverse you can't get all these fans and then suddenly sell books it's the other way around so always focus on the book but the essential elements of the website are generally a clean layout you know an about page information about your books if you have a bunch of series then maybe the reading order of those series that's kind of important so make sure your books will be labeled hey this is fun you hate when I help you track down the order of yes the series and it is all over the place people just oh I got a new book out it's book seven where's put one oh it's on Amazon somewhere you know that shouldn't be the case that the website should always be the hub kind of of your information and I think I've done everything yet but okay definitely the website commutative place for information about you and your books and if you do it right it will do a lot of your advertising for you your advertising will be built in so when things share it will share and look like an ad you'll have a nice image level right up and won't just be some random stuff that shows up on social media so there's ways to structure that with different plugins so that it it does more work for you you can get plugins like mailpoet which I'm a big fan of that put the newsletter inside your website itself and it gives you a lot of cost savings options you know cuz like MailChimp gets expensive gonna hurt mail or lights you know it's just the cheaper of them but it can get expensive in a hurry but you could pay SendGrid if you could access their mail system which is a mail distribution system for like ten bucks a month and send more emails and you can you're ever gonna have Amazon STS is even cheaper it's pennies and it's more emails than you can ever send but you need a way to create and do the newsletters mailpoet does that you know so there's sometimes there's tricks that you can throw into things that that your website do more for you than just be a business card on the web you know there's a lot of little tricks like that you just that's how it is so right now you're talking about newsletter systems MailChimp yeah we're like mailpoet uh-huh um well it's not got five of them just now what would be the order in which an author would set those up set up their website and set up their newsletter system whatever their newsletter system is evictions to use which one should come first well but me you're gonna do a website first you're gonna have to have some place for people to go to sign up now you can do that through the I think mail shift has landing pages now that they've kind of built in you can do that but now you're dependent on someone else there used to be a big thing Copyblogger used to write about this all the time I think they still do and it was the concept of digital sharecropping whereas if you're using other people's platforms you're not in control of that you know what a change in policy can ruin you you know so for example if you're relying on a MailChimp landing page and MailChimp decides they don't want to do landing pages anymore but they want to change how they work but they want to make that premium function well now your day is ruined same thing with Facebook there was a big hub of a few years ago when Facebook changed its timeline policy you know how things show up in the feet that hurt a lot of people you know they've relied on it you know and they felt there was a bait-and-switch especially with the early days of Facebook groups and pages where people spent a lot of effort trying to get people to be on their Facebook group and then Facebook made you pay to reach them so you know that the less you control on the web the more you rely on other people you know is it's the risk analysis you know some things aren't gonna change much I don't think the MailChimp's can change his policies that much but people didn't think Facebook ever would either and it did you know so I always feel that the more you have control over the better so you want to do a website just theory you should have but you know after that you put your your newsletter in it you create a landing page for your newsletter and that's where people sign up and it's on your website and you use a forum or some maybe the newsletter provider provides you a forum some I have a little snippet you can post in I use a plugin for all that kind of our form needs called gravity forms and I know we'll talk about plugins later but so it it allows you to link directly to MailChimp or to mailpoet or to pretty much anything else you want to link to you see the landing page system it was pretty nice but yeah it's kind of like paying forward I don't think it was look pretty but it wasn't changing wasn't make anything easier better but it looks pretty you know so you're kind of working in that order now you get your website and then you put things into it and and use the website is the basis for all your stuff yeah I try to sign up for a Miller Lite the other day and they asked me for a website and I'm like oh I don't have one I guess I'm stymied a lot of them now require I just got a number of our clients have had to do this they muslim had this already but we had double check in that you had to have an authorized sending address and it couldn't be Gmail right exactly I'm second in the dress they're linked together and it's not you know that's right so luckily you know there's ways around that you don't have to buy a premium email just you don't want to like if you use Google domains for your registrar then you can set up a proxy and just say if any email goes to this completely fictitious address send it to my regular email and they'll take care of it for you and then you use that fictitious email as your authorized email so when they send you the verification email you it goes that email which again is forwarded to your personal email and you click the button and say yep authorized how would I set one of those up sure just Google um you know Google email like if you don't have your domain your your website domain set up okay so let's say you're gonna be Lauren com you don't have Lauren calm yet then you have to buy it you have to register for it yeah you can do that through all kinds of places named cheap GoDaddy hosts hostgator both on and on on this is this hundreds but I really like Google domains so its domains and they're the same price pretty much as everybody else it's about twelve dollars a year but a lot of stuff they make very easy for you and email is one of them especially if you want to link it to your Gmail so if you run it through that domain they kind of they are great yeah they take care of all the records for you you don't have to set up extra records you just say like an MX record or a triple a record or cname records that some may be a third party would require to verify that that domain belongs to you you can't just sign up somewhere and say this is my email up this domain is Allen Campbell edits comm you're not Allen Campbell Lauren you can't be on Campbell ascom you've got to be born calm so if you you have to do some verification if you do it through Google domains they do that for you which just makes easier for clients there's also some third-party forwarding services that'll do it they're better free but if you haven't bought the domain yet just make it easy for yourself okay so sign up for my domain but my website and get one of those newsletter servers right write your book so the definitely where all this like really starts is you know getting that host so what I guess you kind of touched on what we should be looking for in a web host and also we had a question from the chat I've lost the chat I forgot who said it but can web poet do an automation sequence yes Mel poet is actually really good at that and if you build it because they it's done in your site it's just kind of convenient so you can do a lot of things with with mailpoet you can do the same things with male potency came with MailChimp that you came with me Laura light is probably pretty much all of them I mean there comes a point where they have a premium that the the level Solara pretty you know they have pretty similar services so mailpoet's a free plugin it has the free tier for they're attending service which I recommend you do if you're starting if you get to the point where your premium you kind of got to start thinking about well how much you want and how much do you have and what are your options so for example let's say you have 5,000 people in your email list okay you're well past anybody everybody's premium it up so if you're on MailChimp I think you're looking at $60 a month or something like that in it and may lowlights probably somewhere similar in the $50 range I'll bet and mailpoet is probably similar for you sticking with their premium sending service yep the difference is that mailpoet allows you to not use they're sending service and use someone else's so now you're in a whole different method because what you have is you have a way to make the email right if that's something that makes some programs email it sets up the scheduling that says send this but then there's the transference of the email it gets it from the mail server wherever it is but someone else's email right to do your email kaeleen so when you have an email newsletter and Kayleen as a as a member and you need to get it to them a so MailChimp will do all that themselves they have their own service and they savor it but there are a lot of third-party services that do these 10 greatest one modoch is one Amazon SES is one you know and there's more and they're made for bigger marketing and you know people do kind of their own thing but they're also so if you didn't want to spend 50 $60 a month or some people have really big lists they're up in the couple hundreds a month now you could use a system that leverages these giant economy is scales you know so say you do it through Amazon s yes well you would set up your your relay with Amazon into the MailChimp plug-in and say hey I'm not gonna use you mailpoet sorry am that can use you mailpoet I'm gonna I got my own thing covered you put in the Amazon credentials and now you're sending you know emails once a week to ten thousand people for you know like five bucks a month you know so it's it changed you know it gives you a different scale the difference is though that one you have to know how to do that and two you have to be able to do that a lot of people just you know they they don't they just know from your day which yards there's definitely options there are options and I think it's good to know the object some people have no desire to change and some people every penny really matters kind of depends on where you are and what you got going on there are lots of options more than people think yeah I wasn't even aware of all of that so you just blew my mind because I mean I totally ever heard of MailChimp and Mahler white and of knowledge of newsletters I mean that's what white people know what they're told they get on groups and before I use this it works for me there are other apps so one of our questions was what's the purpose of Natha website with different functions can use it for it I think we pretty much hit on that branding branding yourself as an author showing who you are what you're about also putting your books up there in a series but they can click on and buy are there any other really key functions that a good website should have be the surface of a website is what you see right it's the load that you look up on the screen on your phone or whatever it is so that information is important and you want that to be there you know that's what that's what people are coming to visit that author gets a visitor their website it's usually not a random they're usually looking them up they've heard about you they saw something about you someone said something about you so they're coming to learn more or they have a question you know hey what's the next book when's it coming out hey what's this ones are coming out so that's all surface information that's stuff that they're looking for that you want to provide but there's also things that you as an author want and you want help with your marketing you know you want insights into your readers you Warren analytics you want it to work as a tool for you and that requires some other systems that that a lot of people don't focus on that much so a search engine optimization is one which not only helps you get listed in search and makes ensures the relevance is is you but also it allows you to control what shows up in that search so it's not just random information I've seen even big-name authors that when you find their website in Google search or any search engine it'll have something weird in the metadata so they'll have you know famous author com blah blah blah I'm not sure what this is about or fees right up that's which toes underneath the title that might not be what you want to show underneath the title someone for you you know what I mean you wanted to look professional you want to say hey this is the official website of me the famous author or you know this is my latest book or whatever and you want that for all of your pages when a book is shared when someone searches for you're serious or whatever you want to control that message you also know who's looking for you you know how often do they come and stay what pages are they visiting so there's a lot of that type of information when the page is chaired was that an easy thing to do where they're sharing buttons on the site you might want that and when it's shared how does it look when it shows up on Facebook does it have the right picture does it have the right description does that the title does it have something that engages your readers all that's controlled through your website and there's plugins under the hood that allow for that so I think that that's just as important because the website you want it to be shared you want it to work for you so if you look good when you share it so I think that's important to you so that actually kind of brings us into our next question making it look good but you know like a lot of a lot of the you know indie authors you know we're on a budget you know where a lot of us are working a job while we're writing so how how could someone set up a professional-looking website on the on the cheap set I get that question a lot pinching pennies I my parm is not expensive you know in terms of what like a lot of you'll go like words videos things like that and you're kind of into this couple thousand and they're worth that they make a good website say they're not we're at a four hundred dollar range really that complicated you kind of really know what this but we charge a monthly fee to make sure running and keep going really are at zero and every zero is matter and man I back in the day was five dollars a month that was literally the cheapest that I could make and that guy that's why I went out of business because it's hard to maintain everything at five dollars for you know I think that this option if you look at the full package is gonna be it WordPress installation I never Twix I know the Squarespace I know people like them and they can make a pretty website but when you get in costing for those hurry get in for five dollars or free or something at suddenly you're at $45 a month because they know you doesn't take long to get WordPress you can pretty much get everything for free or close to free except for the hosting itself I recommend that you buy but what you're looking at in the cost of a website is the MM a name that's $12 a year you're not getting around that you might go buy one for seven or something but a 12 year any extra jump it's just up and then you need the host so yeah you went to Google domains or Google Docs or somebody and you've got you have your domain name famous often so that you and I need a website to go with you can look at some place like Bluehost is fine there's a lot of premium WP engine a I mean you can get really expensive you want to host a cheap hosting for like eight dollars a month those people have problems and if you ever get a good spike in your hosting or in your traffic you're gonna go there twenty five dollars a month can get used really rock solid stuff that's in its aim Kurtz it will have a right page speed in a beaker so I recommend that level personally but I would probably like most pack they're pretty good Packers are $25 you don't need 150 a few hundred or WordPress the IP that's like 1500 a month Emily you don't need that yeah the New York 25 dogs a month's max probably for what any often approach and you look at freaking or a website is comprised of a couple parts look and feel give the content which is what you make and we're you kind of make it yourself it's a publishing platform please make your own pages and stuff you arrange that and then you have buttons that provide extra functionality no mail for example for newsletters or ghosts or our crawler well actually they do if you're me and you don't understand anything that Rob just said then you definitely need Rob that kind of brings us to our next question talking about plugins what are plugins what plugins do you need what do you recommend what's out there give us and give us a crash course on plugins okay I actually wrote down my list of like our standard plugins that we use it at my farm and they're the base level this goes on every site pretty much unless we have a specific request my music oh what is the plug-in yeah okay so like I said you have your your theme your content and your plugins okay that's kind of how this works so the theme is literally the canvas that you're using it decides what font you have kind of the way certain elements are laid out maybe the colors where pictures go sometimes you know and that's that's kind of it's sort of like the structure of your building it's like the skeleton of your building now the content you put in it's like putting furniture so if you think about it like a house the theme is your house okay that is like you had an empty house that's it it is what it is it's you know a two-car garage it's painted blue it's got these kind of windows that's there it is X number of rooms that's all you got your content is what you put in that house the furniture you have maybe you changed some paint maybe some things you know that's kind of the content okay the plugins are like the electricity in your house the HVAC in your house the oven that you have there the functional things you know you can have a website without those things but you probably won't like living there you know so the plug-in provides those types of they're active things and it could be a wide variety of stuff you know mailpoet provides a newsletter gravity forms provides forms Yoast or smart crawl provide SEO support they be talked about for search engines to tailor the information that goes in your search engine or that it's reported search engines you can have different plugins that are page builder plugins that allow you to build and decorate the content of your site a little easier there's I mean there's like hundreds of thousands of them so it is basically anything you want to do there's probably a plugin for it you just have to find one that works the WordPress eco structure you know per plugin is pretty amazing because it's open sourced and all kinds of people can write and write them a load them up the problem becomes there might be a hundred of them that provide forms I can guarantee you that 85 of them probably aren't good they might not be very well supported they might not have the features you want they might not they might be quirky they might have a conflict with your team they might be you know what I mean so the trick is kind of defined the ones that kind of this name-brand you know or at least trust if they have a lot of installs are they regularly updated you know and then do they actually do what you want for example you might want a form plug-in that connects to mail alight so you went to WordPress and you said oh this is a cool for plug-in and you download it and you add it to your site and it was free and that's awesome it doesn't connect tomato like so that way so now you got a uninstall that one and they go back on the hunt and find one that does connect you may only see what I mean so there's a lot of options but every option isn't always a good option in even the most as good options that there's only a few that do what you want specifically so you kind of look I look for ones plug-ins that are very robust that are very well supported almost always are premium because I don't mind painting if you know my clients and I get what we want and are very broad that kind of do what I know that they need to do they're either extensible or I can tailor them or it just do what I need to do right out of the box okay what themes do you recommend for authors you can something gigantic Thanks I like simple and I like stable so I don't like things that are don't like things that are too busy I have too much stuff going on 50 kinds of fonts and all these complicated choices and visual disparity I ain't definitely be mobile responsive so they basically put on a phone if 50% of author website traffic is on a phone now flap up not a tablet 40% is on a laptop and the rest is on tablets or you have any favorites yourself I like video press and Genesis that's what Ellen has it's too depressing and it's based and it's based on Genesis framework they're a very old company they've been around a really long time they're very well supported and those teams are the most stable themes out there I mean they are literally full of food so the chance of a conflict or an instability or something are really really low and I think that's I think that's very important a Genesis thinking will run you between 100 and 150 bucks but it's a one-time buy once you bought it you own and you get updates for forever and it's fun and it's very well supported so I like those some people like Divi which is a kind of a page builder based one that's very popular I don't like the page builder ones myself but some people really like them and they like to manipulate their website I think that there are a lot of work I don't like to work that hard to make it I like kind of things that I can you knock out a few dropdowns and that the content does the work for me I don't want to have to make Content ID like to make the pages and then have them set up so that I can manipulate them wherever they are on the web on the website and they'll show up and they look nice and they kind of do the decorating for me I don't like to have to let me drag this over and do this and make this and you know every page is different some people are like that to me that's just a tremendous amount of work I like the work we're gonna do is show sponsor in a minute but real quick one more question about plugins James s Erin says I'm willing to pay for plugins that make it easier to federate content I know that means better eat content from Facebook RSS etc can you recommend ways to share content between platforms so I don't have to update five different places good that's there are some ones to do that I think jetpack used to have the publicise module inside of WordPress jetpack that would do a lot of that for you and there are things you can do to set up a feed with each service that will also do it for you without a plugin you just kind of go on Richard you can do that with Facebook pretty easily and going to say hey here's my website whenever something new publishes I want you to post it and it'll do that you don't need a plug-in but there are some plug-in social sharing plugins that will do that automatically I don't like to automate it I know that people do I don't because I've had a number of people of clients and myself on occasion publish something that maybe wasn't looking right and once it's on there it's a pain to get it off you know so now I'm updating you know debugging Facebook and I'm just trying to fix this and so I'd like to kind of be sure of what I'm sharing before it goes out automatically but if you do want to do it automatically there I don't have anything offhand I could probably look at it but I know that jetpack publicize used to do it I'm sure they still do but you can also set up directly with the services question kettle you look for you awesome Thank You Julie great so show sponsor tonight we're gonna have to because I'm just gonna say stuff was happening now we have to so this episode is brought to you by firstly alabaster noon the Omega war book twelve by Chris Kennedy and Mark laundry the invasion of Earth is a broken dream a victim of people's ability to play the long game better than anyone thought possible with Alexis Cromwell shot in the back by her XO and the fleet in ruins the humans have run back to new war shot to lick their wounds but the murk guild now knows the location of their hidden base and they are in hot pursuit led by the new era the dread-nots built for the sole purpose of destroying humanity they are an unstoppable force but the Golden Horde has been fortifying the system for a decade though and it won't though and it won't fall easily the question though is whether the Cubans can summon the will to defend it with Alexis gone the winged the Tsar's are in turmoil and the morale is at an all-time low humanity's space fleet is in a shame Chambliss and sansaar Hank realizes her dream of being unable to stop the dread-nots oh my god okay no answer that went over humanity's space fleet is in is in shambles and San Star and realizes her dream of being unable to stop the dread-nots is about to come true alright despite her best efforts the final battle is at hand with the survival of mankind at stake the Sun is at its zenith as the forces take the field well the humans crush the murk guild forces and take their place in the new hierarchy although the Sun forever set on humanity dum-dum-dum and we are also brought to you by Rob McClellan our lovely guest our guest tonight he is the wizard behind mod farm design the lovely boutique web diet web design and management service that caters specifically to the needs of professional authors and editors he is in the process of redoing Ellen Campbell's website as y'all have already been made aware so you should check it out and see the fabulous work that he can do for you thank you that was good job healing there's a drink to that one first one so more audience questions prepared ahead of time on our Facebook group J Clifton Slater asks can you explain a strategy for the use of links for instance should be linked directly to our books on Amazon or to a page to capture the visitors info or to a landing page that has options for folks I gave this question a lot because I know he asked that yesterday and I've been thinking about it and how to kind of do it I'll put a couple things out there and then I'll kind of get into it some all right so here's that here's the fun complicated part okay nothing converts higher than a well-designed book page on your website nothing when we when I was running third scribed we had you know lots of author websites thousands and thousands of books and we did a lot of metrics about where clicks happen you know where it was and we usually had like different ways for people to get to the book like because their purchase links embedded into the books into the book cover image so if you were on an index page but the big list of books that were syllabi button there you could buy right from there you didn't have to click anything else we had it on people's you know this is my series just the five books of my series and then there's the book page itself like for the individual book the book page itself got way more clicks than any other you to purchase actually go and make a purchase than any other page anywhere in the network any index page any third web page anything a dedicated book page so so then I thought well okay well how is that compared to a Facebook ad or you know Amazon itself or whatever you know how does it compare to those clicks and so we started gathering those metrics you know how does that work the book page outperforms them all just hands-down by by large factor like three or four in Facebook it was like ten because I think people just tune out as in face at least on Amazon you know you went to the page you just think you might buy it I mean that's why you're there but on the book page if someone actually went to the book page on a website and looked at it and they clicked from there they were buying like that's what they were there for so but that sale is different for everybody people are different places in their journey to purchase things and so it changes so my answer is kind of all the above sometimes you have fans that have been waiting for your book to come out and you think you're they're gonna buy it on Amazon because ninety five percent people do and so you throw that out in your Facebook you know worth Twitter or whatever and they're waiting for and they're clicking in they're buying they don't need to go to your website to click and buy they know what they want you have other people that don't know what they want and they maybe need a little more convincing they need a little more something so if you look at your Amazon page like you look at a book on Amazon right now just any book you're gonna see an ad for something that's not for you there's gonna be other stuff for Amazon it's on there the blurb for your book is most likely gonna be truncated after the first sentence so you're gonna see the cover image someone else's add the cost for it on Kindle you maybe you'll price a free if your Kindle you know unlimited it would probably tell you to be on Kindle unlimited but you want to buy it and now you have a harder to find out how much it cost and you get like the top sentence that's not the most converting page you know you go to your website it sees everything you get a nice little picture you get the full blurb you get the price you get this that you get a little books you know if it's an audiobook or not you know what it is maybe you get some really easy to read you know reviews and and you know more about it so that page kind of converts more to the uninitiated you know the people that that find you another way that's a good converting page it's also because you control it if you have things set up right when it's shared on Facebook it looks nicer if you share a page on Amazon you don't really get to control exactly what shows up it's got an image and maybe something you know maybe the first sentence or something maybe that's not the sense you want to lead with for the ad you know for the social stream so again you have more control from your own website I don't like to have a joint mean you know join my newsletter on a book sales page if you have the dedicated book page on your website do you want people to buy the book or they want you to confuse them if you have different objectives if you have you know hey buy the book or you know don't forget join my newsletter we're not gonna do both we're gonna make one click and you're gonna work hard for that one click so for a book page I think you should streamline in for the purchase you had the purchase options there and that's it if they don't want to look around and join your newsletter believe me they'll find it it's it's not hard to find if you know most people to step up a link right on the top you know join me readers club newsletter or whatever they know what it is Peach's converts oh well then would that be good place to actually sell your book directly to your customers rather than sending them to Amazon to buy it well that again it kind of comes down to what you have if you're a wide author for example and I was listening to my clan girls talk with you guys a little while ago and he was talking about experimenting with wide for what this publishing company if you can't share that upwards links you know with one link you know and you don't want to individually keep sharing out here it is on Barnes & Noble here it is on Amazon here it is on script here is them you know so in that case is sort of access to funnel you know you can share one link and all your stuff is on it and it's a sales page that you control highly so if you're wide it's probably better to share from your website at least you know fairly often it doesn't have to be every single time but you know like that's got all your information on so that might be what you want to share more you know and that's wise to kind of mix it up some people are just looking to buy it right now and they know they buy from Amazon and they know and they're waiting for you they're your fans make it easy for them Center directly to Amazon but other times you mix it more from your own website too because you have more readers than just those set ones and I personally like and it's a personal thing it's the meat I don't like to be sent straight to Amazon for a new author if I don't know you and I see an ad like there's an ad on Facebook and if it's good enough for me to click on and occasionally I do and you send me right to Amazon I'm clicking out I'm just not going to go there I'm like you move too fast you got to woo me in a little bit you got a support plate something you know oh I don't want to be a foregone conclusion you know come on so there's some but that's me personally other people don't have the same same concern but I think that the the trick there is sort of to have a couple different options mix them up but if you're wide you know your your website is if you have to share ten links share them from one place you know just do it all the ones people figure it out so how would you gonna be wooed and just a nice page on the website so really all you need to know I want to know that you are professional enough to have one you know are thoughtful enough do to care about your readers and that you know your book is there and then that I can read it you know I don't have to work to find out what your books about I can just go and see it is a part of a series how many books are in that series you know on Amazon that's three clicks just to figure that out you know but it's a really interesting point you're making about that cuz I hear a lot you know with you know click-through rates and and you know not getting any sales but I'm getting clicks you know with the Facebook ads or the Amazon ads specifically you think with Facebook you know so they click on your ad being sent directly to Amazon if that analogy fits so perfect cuz they're just like whoa okay we're already going there I'm just gonna but if you sent them to your website that they're like okay check out the authors see all the books and the good bits and then you have the links that go to the Amazon or the Google or wherever even I think it converts a little better you know and again the eve you can see for yourself go and look on Amazon right now just pick any book it doesn't matter which one oh god it's so hard to navigate that I try to find reviews forget it y'all nasty everything that's there you it's almost like well then it makes buying very easy but it makes learning not as easy so I think a good if if I was making an ad for Facebook just and this is just my psychology in the way kind of I do things you want that ad to go to it a highly converting page you want that ad to go to a page is just streamline this just has one purpose in mind and that is to make you buy this book well wait for you to buy this book you know and then it gives it to you and it makes it very clear you're not the look you don't have to click it's just hey look here's a picture here's what it's about here's some reviews and here's a big ol button that says buy here and it's you know but other places you know but if the more you make it complicated your your conversion rate starts to go down the more people have to work to get what they want the less that they do it you know so that's that's just kind of kind of how it is but with a good book page you're giving the reader back the browsing experience like we used to have in a brick-and-mortar stores a little bit you know one of the things that we found with third scribe was that you got very little clicks to purchase from an index page like from these are all my books page like a my books because you know all of your books on it right you didn't get a lot of clicks to purchase on it but we got a lot of clicks to learn more about books yeah browsing part they wanted to kind of hunt around and they we went to your website and looked they said oh here's all the books oh that one looks good learn more about that one oh it's part of a series oh let's check that out you know look around and then by you know when we saw that I mean you could trace their journey you know through the website through through the analytics and watch them do it and we sold a lot of books you know on on Thursday yeah but yeah there it's the you can also kind of embed books where they don't belong you know so a blog post for example and again people don't log a whole lot but when they do it works Nick Cole was a huge example of this when he did control-alt-delete you know when he got dropped by his publisher forth he wrote a blog post saying you know I got dropped by my publisher those dirtbags but you know this is why this one books about and you guys should buy it and that that blog post went viral you know we got it got a lot of views I managed you know looked at at analytics every day and he put that up and I didn't think anything about he and tell me I mean just write stuff and I saw a big spike in traffic and I thought well what's that's unusual you know I think he published did it like Peter nine in the morning by noon we'd had 25,000 views at nighttime you know over 50 and it just kept going I think that thing ended up being like two hundred seven thousand views there were like the week as people just started picking it up and everything well that had a huge impact on his sales cuz he put a sure the book and I buy this you support me and buy this book button on there and people clicked it you can click that a lot you know and he shared a screenshot like of his he sent me a screenshot I have Bryce I'll have it somewhere of his own from his Amazon sales because it was registered you know a lot and he was in a moving copies and that had a huge impact on him and his career you know so sometimes you know I mean my only job and that was to make sure the site didn't crash but you know you know he did that he made happen he had a great book and it went on to win a dragon Award and it went on to really change the tremendous amount of things I am you knowing that sometimes that stuff happens so on on that note you know with like the conversion rates and sort of with with doing what you want the readers and the people coming on your site to do Clara woods would like to know about some more top tips for conversion by that she means getting someone who visits to perform the action you want them to most likely sign up for your newsletter in the case for us authors and as a side note Brian Meeks also adds that we should start calling newsletters reader groups instead as Nick Stephenson has proven that conversions go up considerably when we call it a reader group well mix I mean Nick's the the what the the 10,000 readers thing it I don't remember what his book is but he's been doing it for a while and and I know he has some a lot of stuff on that that's been his big push and I know Brian Meeks is really good with Facebook Ads stuff I've seen him around he the four newsletter stuff you have kind of two ways you can go about this and we experimented with both ways and we've got a lot of data in this and even the in the apocalypse weird days with Allen we've got a lot of really interesting information about newsletters that we weren't expecting so people are gonna join for one or two reasons or both reasons you know see the game they're gonna want the free stuff you're offering is everybody's offering pretty stuff they want free stuff in the future in addition to the free stuff you're offering now or they're just really excited about you in your books it's it's one of the two sometimes it's both yeah but it's generally one of the two if it's the first one if all they want is free stuff you don't want that I mean I can tell you you don't want them they're gonna take their fruit stuff and then that's gonna be the end they'll probably never leave a review they're never gonna check back with you and the only time they'll ever open a an email from you is if it has here's some more free stuff for you and we tracked this we tracked this over thousands of subscribers you know and and so they weren't helpful they might have been a little helpful but they weren't really that helpful the people that want to join your newsletter because they really like you in your books can be very helpful and it doesn't take a whole lot of them either there was a I saw a talk a while back from some bookmarking lady he said 250 Super Readers is what you need for a best-seller yeah we'll get you a number one tag period right off the bat oddly I know cuz you know Nick Cole and I still talked quite a bit he has a Premium Membership for galaxies edge you know you have to pay for but not only is he not giving you something he's making you any to be part of it and his fans are very happy to do it and once they are members they get a tremendous amount of freebies they get to be part of the experience they get to really be a part of the community and that's what you selling you saying look if you're a paid member I'm gonna give you the books because you're basically buying them in advance by being a paid member and I'm gonna bring you into the inner circle and have you he's God I think between two and three hundred people you know on that list that do that so not only does he get a nice him and Jason get a nice little amount of membership money to kind of help keep everything going while they're making sales but those people are really rabid fans they are huge huge fans they love it they love everything the guys are doing and they are really enthusiastic being part of it they put their money where their mouth is and they are all in and there's guys are a sales team like no other but there aren't $20,000 and yet they can chase are selling 20,000 copies now when you have that strong community that radiates out and that's really what you want in your newsletter list you don't necessarily just bolt numbers the numbers have to have a value because again you're paying to reach them you're putting effort here to get to them so there's kind of a bit associated with that that you want and that's kind of a little bit of the quantity versus quantity thing when we were doing the apocalypse weird stuff we had a core group of fans that shined up early like in the pre-release stages they didn't get free stuff they didn't sign up for free stuff they didn't do any of that they just wanted to be they knew the author's involved and they wanted to be part of it they're about 50 and then we put the red the Red King up for free and to get it all you do is sign up and you got the book for free and we get thousands people sign up for their free book our click rate in our open rate did not change and there's an it those people clicked on everything they read every email they were part of it the whole time and we went from you know fifty maybe to a hundred of superfans you know I think you're about a hundred superfans yes five six thousand five six thousand people took that free book and I mean maybe that's like you can if you offered a free book it would open it but they wouldn't click to buy because they're like oh what's the free punch and so that a little bit there's definitely a camp that says hey more is better and that's there's some definitely some truth to that but there's also a quality versus quantity camp and they got their argument – I know Chris ox really kind of discusses about trimming your list if you have people that aren't opening all the time get rid of them and I think that that's definitely something to be done in order to get those people though and this that's where we're kind of doing the long the long story here we experimented with offering an incentive which got more people but less active people and then not offering incentive at all but having a little slide out that said hey we're awesome you like us we love you join us that converted a lot less but the people have brought in were way better so when you see a slide out we had another question earlier from James s Aaron I'm asking about the email signup pop-ups are they dead should we keep using them he says he hates them but he knows they work so is that was white out everybody hates up but they work there's different types of popups are slide into or whatever that you wanted to marketing plugins do you have like bloom or thrive or hustle which one I like there's a bunch and some of them you can program with different intents so for example if it's just you've been on the website for five seconds the slide out it's gonna come out you know hate this or if you try to leave the site navigate a bit signals an exit intents and a pop-up jumps up in the North screen says wait don't go so there but they're all basically the same thing that it's how it presents out is just an option you select personally I found a lot of luck and good results from a slide out which one that slides out and not pop up in the middle but flat dot from the bottom right corner of your screen not right if someone gets there but maybe five ten seconds in let them come and read something to poke around and then it gets them that has an offer but not some of them sign up and they have the form like you put your email in write in that form no those are the worst there's no one ever makes it in time and it never works and they they're not ready to do it right at that moment but if it's fire comes out and it has hey here's my I'll put a screenshot up and when I have from Michael bunker you can go to Michael bunker calm and find it and basic cut down says hey I'll give you this book it's first letter click here and so you click on that and it takes you to a nice landing page that explains what's in the book and what Michaels newsletter is about and a little sign up at the bottom and the conversion on that isn't immersion on anything in the web is low so people might say oh well it's only converting at 3% 3% is not too bad 10% it's just absolutely rocking it if you're getting 10 percent conversion on slide out then then I want all started easy getting all the wooing right let's take a whole lot you know again a lot of authors even trade publishers I have a number of trade pub authors that are that are pretty good in their field Vermont farmers clients and they're looking at 150 200 people visitors a day so with that rate you're picking up 2 3 5 new email signups pretty much every day sometimes it spikes sometimes not but it's just you just lit it on there you set it forget it and it goes for a while in every couple months you change the incentive and get something else and it just kind of progresses so I think Michael bunker right now is like or to sign up pretty much every single day you know what that's up you know it's a couple you know over you know five six months you can add up quickly sometimes it spikes but generally yeah you're like that and it converts so a lot of what keeps people though is the follow-up email so you send somebody the email and they they downloaded your book well then you get to another one that says hey all right look you guys have the best readers ever I'm so happy you're with me here's my next book or here's what's coming or here's what's happening you need to build that connection it can't just be a transaction and I think that's where a lot of people make the mistake they oh you sign up for the book here at your book I'll talk to you again in three months it is about the connection and either people came to you because they they already know you and they want that connection or they kind of to get something and here's your chance to build that connection the connection is the key yeah Nick and Jason with their insiders they definitely have a teen feel you are joining our team you are joining you're becoming a Legionnaire and there are waves as an insider to actually contribute to the books yes they're using book fun all I believe to send out beta reader copies of the book and if the readers see something seen mistake or something like it's a bow or something they can you know the authors if that changed so they have ownership in the editing process to some extent and that's really cool too as a fan to be a part of that to be a part of a team in a very real way um and as an author you're getting you're getting you're getting beta reader services only there hang you to do it that's right there they're basically buying the book in advance yeah they're there they're already bought in and they want to be a part of it and and you know that's again that that's the best scenario ever I mean that's just the self looking ice cream cone right there yes yeah but as as fans like it's a cool experience be part of that team so in question it's as authors is how can we create that how can we create that team experience around your book somehow I think a lot of people try to think and I'd Nick and I used to go around this long ago and then chase into we've been friends for a long time there they were both on Thurs Fri and I knew them obviously with a buck looks weird and and I'm a big Nichole fan I really like his books and Jason's – I loved his til death books instead they started with the book like that was the driver they've had barely nothing with galaxy said before the fleet chair came out I mean they had their personal emails list that they had generated already but they weren't galaxy's edge it kind of set it up and done some rough marketing and people were looking at it going oh you know what's that about you know oh maybe maybe I'll check in you know but they weren't there super fans were they they both had like one or two super fans that Burgess whatever you do I'm supporting but it wasn't what it is now and they launched yeah they did thumb launch if you caught their their course on how they launched galaxy's edge and they didn't put any advertising here they just kind of put it out there and let Amazon do its thing they had a great hook they they really went all-in on quality and they had a heck of a book and if and it went I mean it just went and then they kind of did a few things to keep the engine going but Nate was on its own once that book went out and people were like yes this is what I've been craving and people start descending on the galaxy's edge that's when it started so we've said this a lot and I I've tried to say it all the time is that the book is your primary marketing driver website it's not your newsletter it's not you know advertising it's not anything if that book sucks there's only so much advertising you can put behind his book that sucks you know it's just it's not gonna happen no not some books are hitting the miss like like the author a great book but they didn't find their audience I remember here in Brent weeks he was talking about he I think it was him on the Hank Carter's podcast he's like yeah we put this book out and went nowhere and then like six months later just BAM exploded you know I don't know what happened we'd all written it off and it just went nuts and there was it was a message in a bottle we found the right short you know and sometimes that sometime that happens you know but it's always going to start with the book if you don't have fans fans convert into better fans strangers are just they're strangers I mean they might come for the free beer but then they leave you know so you kind of got a if you're looking good and I kind of have that the book has to be good and that drives everything else so get yourself a clean website that gives the right information about you about the book you know put effort into that cover put effort into that blurb make it hooky you know drive up the foreplay okay that is now officially an author thing we are wooing with our words and you know newsletters you know there are way more options than I ever thought possible and I know we had one last some this will be easy question in the chat because you know we're all basically offers but we do have a few illustrators and whatnot that also follow and shadow the illustrators wanting to know do you work with image based sites at all or strictly author editor sites right now I just do author editor sites I the process is kind of streamlined for that and I don't want to keep the way that I host and manage all the sites I don't like to mix too many extra elements into it and what I mean now is different plugins and different control systems in different themes I've done that before where I try to like really just go wild and inevitably there's a conflict and then some one site goes down and then you're like trying to figure out why and it's a big mass then you have to rebuild somebody and so I don't in order for me to keep the price where it is I kind of have to have the system set up a certain way otherwise it's too much so long answer to a quick question is no but I do know what I do and and you know probably directing someone oh there you go there is always somebody out there for you illustrators that can help you build your websites and woo your people does I mean who knows the author's might be your people so we need to speak the same language we are over did you have any last questions Wow II really want to touch on that fix one stuff a couple times on in the past and I know you saw those episodes he's mentioned that in the chat talked about setting up a facebook pics on your website to track this very traffic quickly could you explain what that means what's it's boring how to set one up okay so if if anyone's listened to mouths episode with you guys you should he knows a lot more about Facebook pixels than I do because I don't use them but I know I know how they work and I know where they go okay so a facebook pixel is a code snippet that Facebook provides that is manifested in a one pixel wide thing on your screen it has ever presence and it's one pixel so it's you can't see it and it's a tracking pixel and it's a common advertising thing so that goes on every page of your website and it reports back to Facebook who is visiting and it Flags if that person is on Facebook if they're in a page or a group of you if they're friends with you of their friends with other people you know what's their connection why are they there so it does all that for you it's pretty powerful device now for marketers it's kind of a godsend and I think mal definitely talked about this for other people it's sort of creepy you know but I guess how they read your mind man what you don't know won't hurt you I guess so I don't know but it's manifested by a snippet yeah in your page on Facebook there'll be an option to get a Facebook pixel it will provide you some type of a code snippet a little script and you insert that into the header of your website I'm most likely I don't know of any other option to do it so if depending on what your theme is this can either be very easy or could be very complicated genesis themes have access to the header directly in the customizer so you can just go in and copy paste it in and you're done if you get another theme that does have that access then you either need to get into the code of the website which might be fun for you or you need to find a plugin that allows you to access the header in provide that a set snippet but that's that's pretty much what it is so you're gonna input that code into your website it gets distributed on every page and it monitors people that really personally he's watching at all so so I mean yeah those things are really cool that yeah that's how you know you were thinking about pizza and Momsen you're seeing pizza on facebook that's right these little pixels and all the websites that you click look on touch tap comment they're generating info and then they're spitting ads back out you which I need to add that the pixels following me are broken because I am apparently in over weights right I'll dysfunction white male who is looking for love because that is all I get tell us your face looks as you are oh you need it oh you're muted Allen unmute yourself and then tell us what facebook says you are Lois hilarious I am a gender-neutral african-american teacher who graduated from Duke that is also addicted to heroin better than mine that's a special kind of special there Ellen yes I keep them guessing slow clap for you oh thanks rod so much for coming on and sharing all our wisdom and you did a whole lot of homework for this episode so we're just really super impressed back here thank you for all your preparation and for sharing all of your experience and ideas and I'm gonna start saving money for my website seriously and you'll need a whole lot 25 bucks a month five bucks a month when you get Rob and Rob is amazing I couldn't do it that rub I'm 15 months but you know it's just the extra 25 right 15 25 you you want to do it yourself and end up with a big hot mess or do you want my website I think you will and website that will not be you know extra awesome I just don't love it the old one you can find Rob at why don't you tell us where we can find you because I can't find calm Maude farm I keep wanting to call it something else yeah so anyway as Lauren has said thank you for coming on the show to everyone in the live chat thanks for hanging out with us let us know what you thought about the show in the comments show your support with a thumbs up hit the subscribe button ding the bell and so you always know what's going on and hear from us for more and more I am kaeleen Williams thank you for joining us on your writers journey we'll see you next time to talk about some reading writing and everything in between right here on t-shirt medium good night guys

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