6 Things every author should have on their website

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Have you ever clicked on a website link and as soon as the page loads you go ‘WOW! Now, this is what I’m talking about!’ Have you even gone as far as signing up for their newsletter, downloading all their freebies, liking their Instagram, Facebook and Twitter pages before adding their podcast channel to your list of favourites? I know, right… Stalker central.

But it’s great when we find those communities and spaces where we feel at home. Where engaging content is a plenty and the sheer beauty of their pages inspire us to recreate their recipes, dress up our living room like theirs or maybe even inspire you to create something similar for your own website and brand? I know what you’re thinking… “But I’m not a brand, I don’t have a company. I’m a writer.” But let me ask you this: are you selling something to another individual? Even if you’re not selling a physical book yet, are you selling an idea? Are you sharing your thoughts and ideas? Are you opening the inner workings of your mind for public consumption? Then you have a business. That business is ‘YOU’.

Every ‘business’ needs a brand, an identifiable look with a clear target audience and coherent messages. We’ll talk about targeting your Unique Customer Avatar (UCA) in another post but for now, let’s concentrate on your author website. Perhaps your website was created 5 years ago by a friend and it needs a ‘refresh’ or maybe you don’t have a website yet but want to know how to start.

When thinking about your website you need to ask yourself ‘What do people want to see?’. In today’s fast-paced world we have around 6 seconds from the moment people click on our website link to when they decide if they’ll stay and look around or they want to move on. So, that’s 6 seconds to grab some attention. This is not long enough to read text and so the obvious key to capturing someone’s interest is: images.

They say a picture speaks a thousand words, and they’re not wrong. With the right images, you can evoke sentiments, feelings and desires within anyone visiting your website. Get the look of your website home page right, and you’ve got a potential author stalker/customer in your pocket.

But how do we create an amazing author hole page? Some websites cram EVERYTHING onto the home page in the hopes that visitors will stick around and find something of interest. This is no longer the most effective use of your home page. Here, we list the top 5 things that every author needs to have on their website home page to increase engagement, boost site visits (and therefore a higher Google ranking) and ultimately widen your audience for book sales.

1. Author photo

Help people know they’re in the right place. For new fans, your photo is a strong trust signal. People also like to see a familiar face. The person behind the writing. That’s why every good book has an author bio on the back or inside cover. Start to build your brand from the grass roots; YOU. If you don’t like having your photo taken (we hear you!) consider having an illustration drawn like the Freshly Press team and change a negative ‘please don’t show my photo’ response into a positive ‘let’s get sharing my picture’ response.

Pro tip: Ask a friend or professional photographer to take some nice author photos of you and keep them for later use on your blog, social media sites and author interviews/article submissions. Magazines and bloggers like to have nice photos to use on their blog or in their article.

2. Latest book cover(s)

New visitors to your website are probably looking for your latest work(s). Put your latest book(s) front row and centre. Show the full cover design with a very brief sentence summing up the plot, maybe with a READ MORE link to direct visitors to your SHOP/BOOK page.

Pro tip: Use a 3D mockup of the book cover to make it look like a real product – something attainable.

3. Email list subscription

Growing your email list is THE marketing strategy to get on top of. Email marketing has an average ROI of 3,800% and for every NEW subscriber to your email list, you can earn, on average, $1 per month! That’s crazy! But, I digress, getting sign-ups to your email list, even if you’re not ready to send anything yet, is GOLD

Pro Tip: Our absolute favourite email marketing tool is MailChimp. Use Mailchimp to send email newsletters, blog post updates, birthday cards to your audience or your latest promotions or giveaways. Even better; you can use automation to send out all these communications whilst you are off living your life.

4. Latest news

Use a section of the home page to highlight and direct visitors to another important page on your website. What are your audience looking for? What would they want to know after they’ve first discovered you? Is it your author bio with a short and quirky intro into how you began writing and what you love most in the world? Or perhaps it’s your blog page where you write engaging content about your writer lifestyle?

5. Social media links

Not all fans follow authors the same way. If you’re using social media as a channel, link to your social profiles, if not on every page (in the header or footer sections) then most definitely on your home page. Make your follow request more compelling by highlighting the benefits of following your account. What do people get by following or liking your social media pages? Make it obvious, direct and compelling. Regular giveaways, author interviews, writing tips.

Pro tip: Take it a step further and include an automated image feed of your latest Instagram photos, Facebook posts or tweets.

6. Call to action

When you create content ALWAYS think ‘what is my call to action’? What do you want your visitors to do next? What is the purpose of your home page? Is it to drive them to your book page or do you want to share your wisdom and increase trust with your blog posts?

Pro tip: Make this call to action big and bold. Try asking a question that leads the visitor do clicking on your link/button.

Summary

  1. ·       Your website home page has 6 seconds to grab attention. First impressions count!

  2. ·       Don’t be tempted to cram everything into your home page – keep it clear and simple

  3. ·       Give your home page one clear call to action

  4. ·       Determine your primary audience and what they’re looking for, then help them get there; FAST

  5. ·       Help visitors discover you on their favourite platforms by linking your social media accounts

Author home pages we love

If you’re looking for authors who are ticking all the boxes on their websites, check out the following pages for some inspiration:

Granted, not everyone has J.K. Rowling’s budget, that being said, everyone can take a leaf out of her book and create an engaging home page like the Pottermore site. There is a clear call to action as soon as you click on the page with links to News and Features. From there, we are invited to participate in a fun interactive quiz, to Discover More in their blog posts, a Shop link and Social Media links.

Author of over 40 books, Anthony Horowitz has one of the most visitor friendly sites I have ever seen. His picture is centre stage on the website header and stays with you on every page reminding you that he is ‘Author of Alex Rider, Foyle's War, Sherlock Holmes, James Bond, TV and film writer, occasional journalist.’ He has several professional author head shots throughout, a link to his latest news, books links with images, latest Tweet and links to his social media pages. Bravo, Anthony!

This website is a beautiful example of what can be created with a little imagination. Side stepping the amazing digital drawings that evolve as you scroll down the home page, this page maximises everything on our Top 5 Home Page list: Clear call to action with the ‘Download the Daily Wonder App’ banner at the top of the page, links to other pages (Books, Movie; Characters, About, For Teachers, News) and links to her social media pages.


Easy steps to get your website in search engine results

Now you’ve got a ZESTY website, how do you get people to see it? Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is not just for the tech wizards, you too can become an SEO genius with our FREE SEO Guide for Writers. Follow the easy steps within the guide to ensure that Google and other search engines are finding your page and offering it to people looking for your kind of content! Step one is creating the content, step two is making sure people see it.


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