Ron’s Tuesday’s Tip: Your Website

Welcome to Ron’s Tuesday’s Tip. Every Tuesday I will share a tip with you. This week I am looking at Your Website.

Principle

In today’s world it is virtually a necessity to have a website. Businesses large and small have a website. These sites can be just the basic few or multiple pages consisting of 20 or more pages. The TR-indbkstores website is a multiple page site that will undoubtedly grow as my wife writes and publishes her books.

Here we will begin with the basic website and then add to it.

Tip #1: Having a website is a virtual necessity. It is the primary way people get to know you.

That’s an important fact you need to remember. It is true that having a presence on FaceBook, Twitter, and other Social Media enables people to learn about you. But a website is like a hub. When a person comes to your website they have access to your social media, blogs, and whatever else you have out there to inform your potential readers about yourself.

So the first thing you need to do is buy yourself a domain name. Since the names of hosts change from time to time I suggest you Google ‘domain hosts’. One of the hosts you’ll spot is Godaddy.com which is what we have used in the past. But there are competitors who are probably just as good and possibly better.

As you consider the domain name you want to buy ask yourself the following:

How do I want people to remember me?

For example, you may have written only one book and have no intention to write another. This could lead you to choosing the book title as your website or domain name. This would bring the potential reader’s attention squarely upon the book.

Or perhaps you have or will write more than one book. A book title would then be too restrictive. So you might want to use your Author’s name. I used R. Frederick Riddle, my author’s name, and bought the domain rfrederickriddle.com. This served me for many years until my wife and I formed our company. The point is that you want your website to reflect who you are and what you do.

Tip #2: Your website should reflect who you are and what you do.

Once you start writing more than one book your emphasis changes. You now want your author’s name to become known, thus having your website named after you both promotes your name and benefits from your name. For years I used rfrederickriddle.com and learned some valuable lessons in the process.

So let’s dive into the Basic Web page.

Different people will have different ideas about the Basic Web page. Some think only a single page will do, others believe you need at least three pages. I favor the latter. Let’s take a look.

1 – Home Page: This page is where most people will land when they Google your author’s name. Technically they should land there by Googling your author’s name, any of your books (unless you have separate pages for them), your business name (if you have a business), and your picture or book picture that appears elsewhere (for example, your blog).

The Home Page and every page should be clean and not overly crowded. Always keep in mind that viewers on the Internet read from left to write, top down, and, finally back up to the right corner. Think of it as a ‘V’.

Your most important information should be ‘Above the Fold’. This term refers to the bottom of the viewable website as the ‘fold’. When a person lands on your site you want them to immediately see your most valuable information.

Tip #3: The visible portion of the Home Page upon landing there should be ‘Above the Fold’ where it will clearly be seen.

It’s recommended that you have a picture of yourself in the upper left corner so that potential readers immediately see it. The picture should be linked to your Biography Page or your Amazon Central page.

You could have a brief column in which you highlight moments of your life, books you’ve written, or plans for the future. Don’t use this for your biography; we’ll get to that later.

Depending on size of the pictures you could have a marquee of book covers that rotates cover to cover at the top. On our website the pictures are larger so we have them at the bottom of the page.

2 – About Page – This page is for the biography of your life as it pertains to being an author. It’s not recommended you talk about growing up, etc. unless that relates to your book(s). Emphasize the information regarding your writing career. If you’ve won awards this is a good time to mention that.

You will also want a picture of yourself. While it can be the same as the one on the Home Page, consider using another picture of yourself. You might want the picture to be less formal than the one on the Home Page.

Don’t forget to link your picture to either another location you’d like the reader to go (such as Amazon Central or to your Book Page).

Tip #4: On your About Page link to your Amazon Central site or to your Book Page.

3 – Book Page – If you only have three pages then I recommend the Book Page be it, otherwise it could be your fourth or fifth page. The name ‘Book Page’ is only used here as an indicator. You might want to name it something else, such as ‘My Books’, ‘Author’s Books’, or something else.

Aside from the Book Cover this is a good time to include a description of the book and its story. Writing your description takes just as much talent and commitment as writing the story itself, just not as long.

The Book Cover and the description Title should be linked to a Sales Page discussed below. You don’t want to miss any opportunity for a possible sale.

These are basics, but your host’s basic package may allow you more that only three pages. Godaddy allows more menu items or pages than three plus up to two submenu pages for each main menu page. See the TR-indbkstores.com site and you’ll see what I mean. The cost of this package is very low, in my opinion, yet allows you plenty of pages to work with. Whenever looking at a possible host be sure to find out how many pages you’re allowed.

It is important that you have a Call-to-Action on your Book Page. I recommend you have it at least twice. The first would be above the description and to the right with a button such as ‘Buy Now’ taking the potential buyer to the Sales Page. The second button would be at the bottom and to the right below the description.

Tip 5: It is important to have a Call-to-Action on your Book Page. Recommend one at top right, and one at bottom right.

#4 – Store Page. If your site will be an eCommerce website, you’ll need a secure page. Make sure the host offers that. You can use virtually any eCommerce financial institution from banks to PayPal. I originally wanted to have a Sales page right on my site and decided to go with PayPal. Earlier with my rfrederickriddle.com site I’d used a banking service. Either are excellent. When checking out your preferences ask questions, don’t take anything for granted.

If you choose Amazon or another venue as the point of sale you won’t need a Store Page. Use links from pictures, Titles, etc.

It is important that you have a Call-to-Action.

#5 – Media Page. You want reporters and other media types to visit your website. But they are busy, so a little consideration will go a long way with them. On the Media Page you want a picture of yourself or the book (if only one). You also want to have links to your Social Media sites (FaceBook, Twitter, etc.), Book Page, About Page, and anywhere else you want them to go.

#6 – Privacy Page. If you’re selling products on your website, then it is necessary to have a Privacy Page. Here you can assure them that their information is safe with you. See below for a sample.

#7 – Blog. Do you blog? You should definitely consider it. You can blog on writing, other book related topics, or something altogether different. Whatever you blog make it consistent and informative. The blog should be linked back to your website and to your Social Media.

Moreover you should have a Blog Page. I blog at rfrederickriddleblog.com on WordPress. My website is now attached to the blog and everything is right there.

Tip #6: Blog, blog, blog. It helps get your name out there. Either have it on your website or have an RSS feed on your website.

#8 – Update your website regularly. The bots that search your website for the search engines love fresh material. I recommend you update your material at least monthly.

Updating is little more than refreshing your site. You don’t have to completely rewrite the posts on the site. Tweak the text, change pictures, add material so that it has a fresh look and feel.

We update our Home Page at least monthly and other pages not quite so often. And whenever a new book is published we update the website with appropriate information.

#9 –  Promote your website wherever possible. Consider having a link on your FaceBook Business Page to the website. You can also link from other Social Media outlets. And if you have a blog have a link from every blog you publish to the website. Plus, use Business Cards.

#10 – Social Media. I’ve mentioned Social Media several times. You have a number of choices:

Facebook – Probably #1 in popularity.

Instagram – Can be used for promotion, customer service, etc.

LinkedIn – Mostly B-to-B; great for connecting with other authors

Pinterest – Good for promoting your book

Twitter – Probably #2 in popularity.

YouTube – Strong mailing list platform, getting subscribers, marketing your book(s), etc.

I don’t suggest trying to do all the Social Media, but several would work. I have accounts in all of the Social Media mentioned above but am seriously looking to concentrate on a few like FaceBook, Twitter, and YouTube while I may dabble in the others.

For information on TR Writing Services (“we edit, proof, and publish the book within you”)  contact us at marketing@tr-indbkstore.com. We have a Free booklet telling you about our services. And we are upfront on our prices (all are low).

VISIT MY AUTHOR’S PAGE TODAY: amazon.com/author/rfrederickriddle.

ARE YOU A BOOK REVIEWER? I am always looking for book reviews. Whether it is Perished The World That Was (Book One), World of Noah and the Ark (Book Two), World of Shem (Book Three), World of Abraham (Book Four) or Death Ship (Book One), Pauline A New Home (Book Two), Task Force Hunter (Book Three), Black Death (Book Four), Rise of I.C.E.S. (Book Five),  or Battle at Proxima Centauri. I value your reviews.

If you would like to review any of these books contact me at marketing@tr-indbkstore.com with the subject line indicating that desire. An example of an appropriate subject line would be: ‘Seek to review [book Title].’ In the email make sure to indicate your email address, your name, and the choice of copy (PDF or Epub).

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R Frederick Riddle is the Editor of TR Writing Services providing help to struggling and/or new authors to write and publish their books. In addition, he is the author of several books and is best known for Christian Historical and Speculative Fiction. For more information on him or his books visit his Amazon Authors Page. He is also co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books where his books are featured. To reply to any blog you have the option of commenting on a blog and/or sending an email to marketing@tr-indbkstore.com. You may also be interested in his Facebook page at RFrederickRiddlesWorld.

Author’s Resources Part 3

The following article contains Updated material.

Monday through Friday I deal with different subjects in this blog. I also post my blog to my Facebook page at RFrederickRiddlesWorld. Today I am writing about the Author’s Resources Part 3 of the series which deals with the author’s website.
In last Two Weeks I Asked Why Use Resources?
There was a time when an author only had his own imagination, his experience, and, if so blessed, a dictionary as resources. But the world has changed since those olden days. Back then few resources were available, but today there is a whole world of information available at the touch of a key. A computer key, that is.
Generally speaking, there are writing resources, publishing resources, and marketing resources. We will take a look at each, thus requiring several days of study. So let’s get busy.
Website Resources

  1. Authors need a website

It doesn’t matter whether you are an established author or brand new you still need a website. Consider it an absolute must!
Your “About” page is where you can begin building your credits if you don’t have any or brag about the ones you do have. Write a bio that talks about your passion for writing as well as your dedication and enthusiasm.
Include your goals, what projects you are currently working on, that which inspires and motivates you, and whatever interests/hobbies you may have. Your goal here is to paint a broad, positive image of yourself, one that the reader will instinctively trust.
The key is not to be shy. We are always told not to brag or boast. It is a negative that turns people off. That is true. However, in advertising just the opposite is true. Generally your reputation is in your hands. The bolder, more assertive you are (if done properly) the stronger your reputation.

  1. The Power of a website

There are many marketing tools. Don’t feel that you have to use them all. Some of them will be covered later and some of them you may decide not to use. However, it would be a severe mistake to ignore a website.
A good website has the capability to communicate to visitors. That is why you are encouraged to have a website in the first place. Many people will learn about you through your website.
It is true that Social Media is an important venue for your name and books. But you can move ahead without Social Media, albeit very slowly. Without a website you are basically stuck in the mud.
Your website serves both as a place to promote your book and yourself! If you plan on writing more than one book, it is wise to promote yourself (using your author’s name).
Above I talked about your “About” page. That is for your bio which will tell people about yourself. You can also create a page about your upcoming novel; you can actually allow visitors a chance to see your progress.

  1. Your website is not a get rich quick scheme

Don’t think of a website as making you a ton of money. Rather, think of it as a storefront. This is where your potential customers will get a chance to meet and learn about you and explore your site.

  1. Unlike stores websites need to attract visitors

When you open a brick and mortar store you are located on a street or in a mall. Foot traffic will bring people by your store and they will see your storefront. There is a chance they will enter through the door and check the store out.
But a website doesn’t work that way. You could have the most beautiful website ever built and people may never visit. Why? Because they don’t know it exists!
People have to be told about your website. There are many ways to tell people, such as Business Cards, newspaper ads, word of mouth, and social media (more on this later).

  1. Your website is the hub of your activities

When I first started out I made my website my hub. I placed it on business cards, and used it in my email (signature), as well as in social media. Now that we have T&R Independent Books our bookstore is the primary hub. But the website is still important!

  1. Your website needs to be updated frequently

Actually we are discussing SEO (Search Engine Optimization). This is another necessary thing to promote your website. Google, Yahoo, and others send out robots to examine websites resulting in a placement within their database. The higher the placement the better for you.
Part of having a good SEO for your website is frequent updating. You should update (that is, add or change content) at least monthly. The SEO robots like fresh sites!
A good resource for website building is the “Dummies” books. These books are usually a goldmine of information and you should go to your local bookstore and check them out.

  1. You need to OWN your website

You can’t be on the internet very long without learning about FREE websites. Be careful. Some may be scams and others are poorly written and designed.
But you need to own your website. By that I mean own your Domain name. I own the domain http://tr-indbkstore.com/. Therefore I have control over everything that is on it or within it.
The cost of a domain is cheap. For example, Godaddy sells them sometimes for only a couple of bucks, while your annual renewal is usually less than twelve dollars. Below you will find an Update about a guide that can deepen your understanding and aid you in creating (if you’re a beginner) and developing your website.

Here is a brief list of domain providers (alphabetical order):

  • 1 and 1 (1and1.com)

1and1.com is a domain registrar that is both trusted and a reliable provider of hosting. Its services pretty much cover all types that are related to domain and Web hosting. Ideal for ITs (Information Technicians) as it has a dedicated server, website builder, SEO services, powerful web hosting, and email solutions.
You can get a domain for only $0.99 (first year) plus up to 5 sub-domains. In addition, it offers ecommerce.

  • Bluehost (Bluehost.com)

Bluehost.com is one of the best at the web hosting services. It is very useful to manage and host your website. Starts at $2.95 per month. See Update below for further information regarding Bluehost.

  • Dreamhost (Dreamhost.com)

Provides Web Presence Solutions to professionals, individuals and small businesses. Helps customers grow and develop their online presence by providing business class email service, ecommerce solutions, website builder products, digital certificates and web hosting. Starts at $2.59 per month.

  • Godaddy (Godaddy.com)

This is probably one of the best web hosting providers and domain registrar in the world. We use it for our T&R Independent Bookstore website which includes author websites.

Godaddy provides many services in addition to buying a domain ($2.99 1st year) and hosting ($2.49/month). These are Godaddy website builder, business email accounts, SSL certificates, SEO and other services.

  • Hostgator (Hostgator.com)

It has a popular web hosting service. They provide various types of hosting such as shared hosting, Reseller hosting, and VPS. In addition it provides dedicated server and domain registration. Starts at $3.95 per month.

  • Hostmonster (Hostmonster.com)

This powerful web hosting service provides unlimited bandwidth, hosts unlimited domains, unlimited email accounts, free site builders, free online stores, and one click WordPress install. Starts at $4.95 per month.

  • Justhost (Justhost.com)

Real cheap Web Hosting. It uses shared hosting on Linux server and costs only $3.95/month. Plus they offer you Adwords offer ($100) and Bing Ad credits ($100).

  • Inmotionhosting (inmotionhosting.com)

A hosting service that provides business hosting, reseller hosting, virtual private server, or dedicated server hosting. Also provides marketing credits for marketing your business. Business hosting starts at $6.39 per month

  • iPage (ipage.com)

This Web hosting provider enables you to host your website at intro price of $1.99/month (reg. $7.99). It provides such features as unlimited email address and Disk space, site building tools, Search Engine and Marketing Credits, free online store, and more. In addition it has tools ranging from Google Adwords, Facebook, analytics, and other valuable tools.

  • Mediatemple (mediatemple.net)

Mediatemple has been around since 1998. It provides hosting plans called grids that can handle a large amount of traffic without slowdowns or crashes.

Their hosting plans include Shared, WordPress, VPS, dedicated server, and managed hosting.

  • Name (Name.com)

Mostly known for buying a domain name, they now provide website building, hosting and other services, including SEO. Starts at $4.99 per month.

  • Namecheap (Namecheap.com)

Provides domains and hosting services at very low prices (hence, namecheap). Also provides whois privacy feature plus other features, all at low prices. Hosting starts at $2.88 per month.

  1. Website creation need not be expensive

See the list above. Hosting plans are relatively cheap.

  1. You do not need to be an expert

You can easily manage your own website. I use Godaddy which provides a user-friendly interface allowing me to build the site the way I want. No HTML experience necessary although it is helpful for a more advanced website.

Update: Anya Skrba has written a guide that develops the theme of this blog further with emphasis on WordPress and Bluehost. It is a guide designed for beginners, but old timers (like me) can learn from it as well. The guide is called How to Make a Website. Check it out (I received no inducements whatsoever for recommending this guide).

VISIT MY AUTHOR’S PAGE TODAY: amazon.com/author/rfrederickriddle

ARE YOU A BOOK REVIEWER? I am always looking for book reviews. Whether it is Perished The World That Was (Book One), World of Noah and the Ark (Book Two), World of Shem (Book Three), World of Abraham (Book Four), or Death Ship to the Stars (Book One), and Pauline A New Home (Book Two), I value your reviews.
If you would like to review any of these books contact me at marketing@tr-indbkstore.com with the subject line indicating that desire. An example of an appropriate subject line would be: ‘Seek to review [book Title].’ In the email make sure to indicate your email address, your name, and the choice of copy (PDF or ePub).

– – – – – – –

R Frederick Riddle is the author of several books and is best known for Christian Historical Fiction. For more information on him or his books visit his Amazon Authors Page. He is also co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books where his books are featured. To reply to any blog you have the option of commenting on a blog and/or sending an email to marketing@tr-indbkstore.com. You may also be interested in his Facebook page at RFrederickRiddlesWorld.

Update on Authors Resources Part 3

Monday through Friday I deal with different subjects in this blog. I also post my blog to my Facebook page at RFrederickRiddlesWorld. Today I am writing to update my blog on Authors Resources Part 3.
In response to my blog on Authors Resources Part 3 I received an email from Robert Mening. I have never met or previously heard of this gentleman, but his email intrigued me. Now I have to confess I love my website with Godaddy, but Robert has some good points and I thought you might want to check him out.
Robert has a Website Guide that you might want to read and apply. He also has a special offer (I receive nothing for this update, nor is this an approval by me – I just felt led to offer this additional information.)
Before deciding to do this update I first went to his website and reviewed the content of his guide. I only found one minor thing I would disagree with. I use Godaddy’s Website Builder and have been very pleased with it. Robert indicated that Website Builders are limited to one page, however Godaddy’s has multipage capability, which I use. Just a minor disagreement.
I have notified him that this update was forthcoming and he was pleased. As a blogger I think providing good, solid information is always right. Whether you use this particular information or not it is your prerogative. As stated above I make no approval or disapproval, but I do consider it valuable information that can help you make decisions going forward.
Building a website is something that is critical.
When I first started out I knew some code and actually used it. But I have found that making use of good software, whether a website builder or WordPress, you find the going much easier and more professional in appearance.
One thing in reviewing his three step guide I found he covers some pertinent material that is helpful for the newcomer and his 3rd step is on how to Set Up & Customize Your Site.
Let me know your thoughts.
ARE YOU A BOOK REVIEWER? I am always looking for book reviews. Whether it is Perished The World That Was (Book One), World of Noah and the Ark (Book Two), World of Shem (Book Three), World of Abraham (Book Four) or Death Ship (Book One), Pauline A New Home (Book Two), or Task Force Hunter (Book Three), I value your reviews.
If you would like to review any of these books contact me at marketing@tr-indbkstore.com with the subject line indicating that desire. An example of an appropriate subject line would be: ‘Seek to review [book Title].’ In the email make sure to indicate your email address, your name, and the choice of copy (PDF or ePub).

– – – – – – –

R Frederick Riddle is the author of several books and is best known for Christian Historical Fiction. For more information on him or his books visit his Amazon Authors Page. He is also co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books where his books are featured. To reply to any blog you have the option of commenting on a blog and/or sending an email to marketing@tr-indbkstore.com. You may also be interested in his Facebook page at RFrederickRiddlesWorld.

Hosting Your Website

There are different ways of studying this subject. Some are much more technical than this blog will be. So for a detailed plan of action on hosting, then I suggest you Google ‘hosting your website.’

But I want to discuss the concept of hosting. Recently I blogged about marketing your website. In a sense this is an expansion on that subject.

There are two ways you can go. First, you can have a server such as Godaddy host your domain. The primary advantage of this is that you will have professionals design and maintain your website.

Chances are that the site will look good, attract visitors, and maybe even sell your books.

BUT YOU WON’T OWN IT!

What’s the big deal?

Let’s image for a moment that Godaddy goes belly up. Not likely, but let’s just pretend. Do you know what happens to your website?

It disappears.

You see, you don’t own it. Godaddy does. The domain may still exist (if you own that), but all content is gone, Kaput!

Second, I suggest the following:

  • Buy a domain
  • Make sure it is your name or company name (discussed in previous blog)
  • Do your own hosting

You might object that you don’t have the knowledge to do your own hosting. Well, that is a problem that is easily resolved. There are many companies out there, such as Godaddy, that provide easy to use interfaces that allow you to create dynamic websites.

Godaddy, for instance, has Website Builder. They also offer other hosting programs for relatively inexpensive costs.

I use the Website Builder. It is easy to use, has some powerful tools available, and is low cost.

In my blog about marketing the website I mentioned having good content above the fold. This term refers to when you first bring up the website on your computer or remote device. The fold is the bottom of the screen. You want some good, eye catching content above that fold.

Take a look at our website at www.tr-indbkstore.com. On your computer you immediately see our logo, site title, menu, marquee (showing clickable pictures of our books), our site motto, and the beginning of additional content. On a small cell phone you will see less, but all of this is information you want the visitor to see in the first few seconds.

Why? Because when we visit a site our attention span is very short. If we don’t see something to attract us and scream “Check this out!” then we will likely move on.

All of this was accomplished through Godaddy’s Website Builder. There are other hosting plans by Godaddy and other vendors that are just as strong or maybe stronger.

Here is a brief list of domain providers (alphabetical order) taken from Authors Academy:
·         1 and 1 (1and1.com)
1and1.com is a domain registrar that is both trusted and a reliable provider of hosting. Its services pretty much cover all types that are related to domain and Web hosting. Ideal for ITs (Information Technicians) as it has a dedicated server, website builder, SEO services, powerful web hosting, and email solutions.

You can get a domain for only $0.99 (first year) plus up to 5 sub-domains. In addition, it offers ecommerce.

·          Bluehost (Bluehost.com)
Bluehost.com is one of the best at the web hosting services. It is very useful to manage and host your website. Its one click installation of options allows you to easily install Drupal, Joomla, Prestashop, Zencart, and WordPress.

·         Dreamhost (Dreamhost.com)
Provides Web Presence Solutions to professionals, individuals and small businesses. Helps customers grow and develop their online presence by providing business class email service, ecommerce solutions, website builder products, digital certificates and web hosting.

·         Godaddy (Godaddy.com)
This is probably one of the best web hosting providers and domain registrar in the world. We use it for our author websites as well as the T&R Independent Bookstore.

Godaddy provides many services in addition to buying a domain ($2.95/year) and hosting ($1.99/month). These are Godaddy website builder, business email accounts, SSL certificates, SEO and other services.

·         Hostgator (Hostgator.com)
It has a popular web hosting service. They provide various types of hosting such as shared hosting, Reseller hosting, and VPS. In addition it provides dedicated server and domain registration.

These are just a few of the options available. Once you choose a hosting plan, dive in. Take their tour (if they offer you one). Learn about their tools and how to use them.

My suggestion is that you program yourself to write your website. That is just a fancy way of saying schedule the work. When people see a huge obstacle or job, it is like seeing an elephant. I always ask people, “Do you know how to eat an elephant?”

They usually give me a blank look until I answer, “By eating one bite at a time.”

And that is good advice when designing your website. Take your time, accomplish one task at a time. Before you know it the job will be done.

If you liked this blog visit our Facebook page, like it and post a comment.

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 R. Frederick Riddle is the author of several books. For more information on him visit his Amazon Authors Page. He is also co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books where his books are featured. Authors Academy provides training in writing, publishing, and marketing.