This is the second article in a short series on how to sell ebooks using longtail marketing strategies. In this article I talk about how to build a customer base on Twitter that you can use as part of your Longtail Marketing Strategy.
You can read the other articles here:
Website Content for Longtail ebook marketing
Your website is your brand.
The internet is a brilliant tool for selling to niche markets. If you want success as a self published author, find a niche audience that your novels appeal to and write for that niche.
If you have written a novel that appeals to a wide audience, stop right here and pursue a traditional publishing route! Traditional publishers love novels that appeal to the mass market. If not, or you have already tried that route and failed, find a niche audience.
How your novel serves this niche is your brand. Everything about your website should appeal to that niche audience. In other words, you need to write interesting things on a theme/themes that fit in with the books/novels/series you are promoting. If people are interested in your theme(s) they might be interested in your novels, and visa-versa.
You can always find more than the one niche and write for each of them, but you will probably need a separate website for each niche.
A brand is more than just a novel; it is a whole experience. Tweet this!
Set up a Website for your Niche
I use WordPress.com for my NickTraversAuthor.com website because it is free and does the job – WordPress.org would be slicker and has lots of useful integrated widgets, but it needs hosting which costs money.
WordPress.com, with a few workarounds, is good enough and does the job. (Other website providers are available, I just happen to use this one because it works for me. If you use another, by all means provide details in the comments section).
Oh, and did I mention WordPress.com free? Arguments about me being a skinflint aside, free is actually an important consideration, because I am running a business here, which means anything I spend on promoting my novels has to come out of profits from sales. Any of my book profits I spend on marketing, and a website is definitely a marketing tool, potentially detracts from the quality of my next novel – I need to spend as much money as possible on polishing, editing and publishing in order to produce a quality product and still make a profit.
If I didn’t take this approach, I would be supporting a hobby – which is fine if that is what you want to do, it’s just not my particular aim.
Stick to a Few Simple Themes
My website, NickTraversAuthor.com has three thematic elements:
- Steampunk – anything about the world of steampunk that I find interesting
- The Steampunk world of Nina Swift – ideas, things I am researching, or creating for the steampunk world of my protagonist.
- Free writing advice – potted blogs on what I have learned about the craft of writing/story-telling, with plenty of linked examples to my own novels. I tell it like it is, warts and all: no hype, no frills, no romance, no conns, no subscriptions, no charge.
There are also pages where I sell my books, give away freebies, and present ways to earn money (I offer 50% commission through an affiliate scheme to anyone who wants to promote my books). These last two pages are the most visited on my site. One thing I have learned from the awesome Derek Murphy, is to give away lots of things with real value. I wish I had more to give away, but these will grow as I write more books, develop marketing funnels, and build the writing business.
The aim for a themed website, is to have lots of interesting articles that your potential readers will want to learn/read about. This is all about creating buzz for your theme and giving content away for free. It is also known as Content Marketing.
Build your Content
Most of my blogs fall into two categories: those with Steampunk in the title, or those with ‘Writing Workshop’ at the start of the title, but I also include other stuff in the blogs (Like this article) just because I find them interesting and to show that I am really human.
Shorter articles, of less than two thousand words, are published as regular (or in my case irregular) blog posts. Apparently, the Google search algorithms like articles to be more than two-thousand words in length – I have no idea if this is true, but it sounds to me like a reasonable length for a good in-depth article.
Longer articles (2000+_words) are published as ‘pages’
Sometimes, several blog posts on a common theme can, at a later date, be combined to make up a full article, as is the case with this sereise on selling ebooks.
I’m aiming for a minimum of twenty-five articles on my website, of two-thousand words or more. The articles are then published on stand-alone pages on the website so I can direct traffic straight to that article. At the end of each article suggestions are offered of other similar articles on my website. Without a variety of interesting content to entice your niche audience to your website you will have little or nothing to offer on social media.
I am always careful to include examples and illustrations from my own books in each of the articles and blogs I write. The theory being that if a reader gets to know my writing and my books a little, they may want to investigate further and even buy the books.
Build your Authority
The optimum number of articles and blog posts on a website appears to be seventy-five (a friend in the SEO business has tested sites to find what number tips the balance for search engines and has found that those with more than sevety-five entries tend to rank higher without any additional SEO – this, of course, is all subject to change.)
In addition, I include links within my articles and blogs to other pages within my own website. I’m sure we are all familiar with the idea that external links to a page increases the ‘authority’ of that page, and that search engines use page ‘authority’ as part of their algorithm for ranking. What you might not be so familiar with, is that internal links from other pages on your own website also increase page ‘authority’. So pick two or three pages on your website that encapsulate your ‘brand’ and link to them from everything you publish.
Once you have a blog set up you can embed it into other services. The only place I do this is on my Goodreads.com account, where I get a lot of ‘friends’ linking to my blog. The only reason I do this for Goodread.com is because I write and sell books and their audience read books – sounds like an ideal fit. Let me know in the comments if you link your blogs to other fruitful services.
A feature I include i my articles and blogs, is a ‘Tweet this’ options on selected short sentences within the blog or article. Again, there is a widget for this in WordPress.org, but nothing in WordPress.com, so what you need to do is add a piece of additional HTML coding to your blog as a workaround.
It took a while to track this code down, so to save you the trouble here is. <a href=”http://twitter.com/home/?status= It took a while to track this code down, so to save you the trouble here is. http://bit.ly/1IT9KAx via @njtravers” target=””_blank””>Tweet this!</a>
This is what it looks like in the blog:
It took a while to track this code down, so to save you the trouble here is. Tweet this!
Build a Mailing List
Mailing lists, I am told, are absolutely vital to selling new books as they are published and drawing attention to special discounts. These are email addresses of your die-hard fans. I offer readers the opportunity to sign up for a VIP emailing list so I can send them interesting stuff in the future, like newsletters, exclusive stories, and details of new publications. I also have individual sign-up lists for many of the free offers, such as ‘free books in return for honest book reviews’. This enables me to set up automated email responders to instantly deliver the relevant discount codes for their free offers, etc.
WordPress.com lacks any widgets for auto-responders, so I use a third-party programme called Mail Chimp. Building mailing lists through Mailchimp.com not only allows me to collect readers email addresses, but also allows me to set up an auto-responder ‘thank you’ letter (with discount code included). They also allow me to target my email lists with limited auto-responder campaigns (news letters, etc).
For me Mail Chimp has two distinct advantages for me over its rivals: it is free at the volumes I am using (by now you know how much I love free), and I can download my email lists to store on my own computer. Having control of my own email lists is an absolute, non-negotiable, must for me. (Other email aggregator services are available. If you use another, by all means provide details in the comments section).
Now, because WordPress.com will not allow me to embed the MailChimp.com sign-up forms into my website, I need a workaround. Once I have finished the design of my Mail Chimp sign-up forms, in MailChimp.com, I take a screen shot of the finished product, clip it and turn it into a photo, then post it into my webpage text at WordPress.com, then hyper-link the picture of the form to the active Mail Chimp sign-up form.
When a reader clicks on the form to start filling it in, another copy of the form appears in a new window for them to complete. Not quite as slick as an embedded form, but pretty close.
I use the same workaround for videos, because I cannot embed them either – in this case the picture is hyper-linked to my YouTube channel.
Start to Monetize your Website
I also use this workaround on a new feature I have only recently added. A reader asked if they could make a donation to support my site, so I have added pictures of ‘Donate’ buttons to my site. This is only linked to my Paypal.com account, because linking to merchant cards (Visa/Mastercard etc) is far too expensive. So at the bottom of every article and blog about writing, I now add the words, “Please support the work of this author by buying their works or donating below via Paypal.” It never occurred to me that people might like to support the free stuff I provide by giving a donation, but I guess if you don’t ask you don’t get.
Obviously the ‘via @njtravers’ bit will be your twitter handle not mine.
You can also add google adverts to your website if you wish. Personally, I like to give my readers a clean reading experience, but I could be missing out on a valuable income stream.
Keep your Secrets
There are a lot more pages on my website than are available from the site menu. These can only be accessed if I give you the page address (URL), or in some cases, if I give you the password.
WordPress.com has a nifty feature called ‘menus,’ that enables me to turn off the automated menu feature that adds every created page to the website menu. It is worth setting up a manual menu right from the outset and getting into the habit of having to manually add new pages to this menu.
The advantage is that I can create pages featuring free or discounted offers that I can specifically target at selected people. I can also create free sample pages, and work in progress pages, that I can promote via social media.
At the moment, in conjunction with a third-party provider, I am also experimenting with ‘pay-per-view work in progress pages’, using hidden pages and passwords. More about this in the blog (if it is successful I will update this article at a later date).
If you have any other useful workarounds for Wordpres.com, or cool features, or experience with other website providers, I would love to hear about them in the comments below.
Next time I will talk about how I use Twitter to drive traffic to my website and Amazon books.
In the meantime…
Please support the work of this writer by buying his works, pledging a monthly amount in return for rewards, or by donating below via Paypal.