July 9th, 2014

Author Marketing: How to Find the Best Web Designer

Circling the drain of unresponsive or missing in action web designers is a common dilemma.

The Question is this: As a self-respecting author with a plan and a purpose, how do you choose a designer you can afford and rely upon?

As a small publisher, or self-published author, you are faced with the high cost of publishing a book. Your ever-growing budget includes editors, book cover and interior design, maybe a book coach or adviser, printing costs, fulfillment needs, marketing … my goodness, where does it end? When does the author start making money? Well, this is a question for another article altogether. The point here is: How much should you allocate to the added expense of Read the rest of this entry »

July 2nd, 2014

Not All Referral Traffic is Created Equal

I was doing some website traffic analysis for a couple of my clients recently, and one of the main topics up for discussion was bounce rate.

It prompted me to write the post What’s a Good Bounce Rate on Your Website? And, it got me snooping around Google Analytics to determine the cause of the higher-than-desireable bounce rates these clients had been experiencing.

The content on each site in question was being optimized using relevant and targeted keyword phrases, so I knew that wasn’t the culprit. (Understandably, if the content on a site were being optimized for keyword phrases not relevant to the content posted, users clicking through from the search engines would feel duped and would therefore bounce pretty quickly.) So, I decided to look at each site’s referral traffic to see what those bounce rates looked like.

The results were Read the rest of this entry »

June 25th, 2014

How to Write Sticky Content For Your Blog—Engage and Retain a Loyal Audience

The author’s blogging conundrum begins with this question: How do I build an audience of loyal followers?

Answer: Write sticky content so people remember you and want to come back.

stir stick dripping with honeySo how do you do that?

The popular answer is simple: Say something people want to hear.

You’ve likely read lots of marketing articles and have sat in on seminars where they tell you to answer a burning question, provide valuable resources and information, give something away for free, pull at someone’s heart strings, etc.

I don’t think it’s that simple, so I’ll turn it upside down and start at the end of a successful marketing funnel.

What makes an online blog successful? At the end of the day there are millions of websites that provide valuable insight, information and resources. So, what will make your blog more successful than your competition’s? Read the rest of this entry »

June 18th, 2014

Author Marketing: 10 Ways to Keep Your Website Fresh

1.    Don’t let your URL expire. Make sure you know when to renew your account. Not sure? Look it up here: www.whois.net
2.    Is your copyright up-to-date? People will often see if your site is updated and current by checking your copyright date. If you’re stuck back in 2012, your audience may wonder if you are still in business. Your audience will take you as serious as you take yourself.
3.    Are you blogging? Make the commitment. Once a week is enough to make a world of marketing difference.
4.    Bad Links: Not only do bad links annoy your readers, but they stop the search engine crawlers dead in their tracks — when a crawler hits a bad link they back out of your site on move on. Check your site bad links on a regular basis (there are WordPress plugins that can help you do this, like Broken Link Checker).
5.    Add new images: iStock.com is a great source for inexpensive images.
6.    Change your website colors seasonally — don’t let your site get stagnant.
7.    Track your traffic to see where people are coming from, where they land, what they do on your site and from which page do they leave.
8.    Offer monthly coupons that can be downloaded from your website (notify your audience through your newsletter).
9.    Update  your media page — do you need a new author head shot? Is your one-sheet up-to-date?
10.   Create an author interview video for your web site — video is a powerful way to extend your reach and touch your readers profoundly.

P.S. Join Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram — if your target audience is hanging out there, so should you!

June 11th, 2014

Buying Stock Images—Have We Met Before?

I’ve always advocated the use of images to break up text on the screen and draw attention to your words. After all, a picture’s worth a 1,000 words right? Well yes, but, here’s an interesting thought. What if everyone is using the same photo? What then?

Since I opened my design house (Monkey C Media) in 2004, I’ve become acutely aware of how common stock images are worldwide. There are quite a few popular and inexpensive places to buy royalty free stock photography and images online. It’s a great tool for finding just the right image to place on your postcard, website, in blog posts, and even on your book cover. Unfortunately, the secret is out. Read the rest of this entry »

June 4th, 2014

URL Registration Tips: Don’t Let Your Domain Expire!

Word to the Wise: Don’t lose your URL. Many people are tempted to purchase a URL (domain name, like www.JenifferThompson.com for example) for five years or more so they don’t have to think about it again. Well guess what—you do want to think about it. I can’t tell you how many calls I’ve received from someone whose website went down because they let a URL expire. What’s worse is that most of those people had no idea where they purchased the URL or how to get it back. Read the rest of this entry »

May 28th, 2014

Twitter Tips: Putting Periods Before Twitter Mentions

Have you seen tweets that start with a period, followed by someone’s Twitter @handle, and wondered what that dot is all about?

First, I should share some basics about who sees what on Twitter. Typically, when you compose a tweet and hit send, it is broadcast to all of your Twitter followers. However, if your tweet starts with a Twitter @mention (e.g. @jeniffergrace), then that tweet will only appear in your stream, the stream of @jeniffergrace and the Twitter streams of people that happen to be following both you and @jeniffergrace. It’s essentially a way to cut down on some of the Twitter noise, so two people can have a back and forth conversation on Twitter without it inundating all of their followers’ streams. Read the rest of this entry »

May 21st, 2014

The Value of Professional Author Headshots—Priceless

Whether you are a fiction or a nonfiction writer, start thinking of your self as a celebrity or an expert in your field, respectively. With that said, you will need a professional headshot. That’s not to say you need a glamour shot or that you should worry about competing with the faces of Hollywood. On the contrary, you want your photo to be sincere, professional, and, most importantly, you want it to look like you. Your photo should show you at your best. Read the rest of this entry »

May 14th, 2014

Web Design Tips: Which Color is the Right Color?

colorsNever underestimate the power of a simple palette. Keep it simple—avoid using too many colors. Avoid clutter. The eye is like a muscle, if you overuse it, well, it gets tired. If you overwhelm your readers with too many colors, they may lose interest without even knowing why. Read the rest of this entry »

May 7th, 2014

Famous Book Titles and Their Working Titles

slaughterhouse-five book coverHow much thought have you given your title? Kurt Vonnegut gave tons of thought to his 1969 novel:

Slaughterhouse-Five; or, The Children’s Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death, by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr, a Fourth-Generation German-American Now Living in Easy Circumstances on Cape Cod (and Smoking Too Much) Who, as an American Infantry Scout Hors de Combat, as a Prisoner of War, Witnessed the Fire-Bombing of Dresden, Germany, the Florence of the Elbe, a Long Time Ago, and Survived to Tell the Tale: This Is a Novel Somewhat in the Telegraphic Schizophrenic Manner of Tales of the Planet Tralfamadore, Where the Flying Saucers Come From

That is one long title. Fortunately the only thing that made it to the first edition cover was Slaughterhouse Five; or, The Children’s Crusade.

Here are some more working titles and what they came to be: Read the rest of this entry »

April 30th, 2014

Internet Marketing: Back to Basics

Most authors know that they need a website, they’re just not sure why. An effective site can be your most powerful marketing tool—the difference between a book that sells well and a bestseller. Never underestimate the power of the Internet. Read the rest of this entry »

April 23rd, 2014

The Art of Writing for the Web

While many of us are professional authors, we have no idea how to write for the web.  It’s an art in itself, and it could make or break the success of your website.  Here’s some food for thought:

1.  Write in narrow columns of text. They are easier to read and less likely to fatigue your reader.

2.  Use bullet points and Read More buttons. Research shows that people will scan a page for interesting tidbits of information before they read it. If you have a lot to say, try summarizing it into a succinct paragraph and then link it to the rest of the article on a landing page deeper in your site.

3.  Stay on point. You should distill your web copy down to the most important points and eliminate everything else. You have less than a second to grab someone’s attention, don’t risk overwhelming your reader.

4.  Use captivating headlines. Be sure to make your message obvious, use headlines, lists and bold text to convey your message.

5.  Use links. An obvious benefit of web writing is that you have an opportunity to link to other important areas on your site.  Here you can reference resources, news sources, audio clips, other relevant websites and your own call-to-action.

6.  Use relevant keywords. Try to use words that are relevant to the content within your site or article, words that other people might type into a search engine looking for the information you offer.  The more you can do to help people find you, the better.

Tips by Monkey C Media

April 16th, 2014

Keep It Fresh: How Often Should You Blog?

If you are not updating your website at least once a week, you should be. This is a great way to keep your site fresh and exciting, and to ensure that search engines will spider your site. The more activity your site has, the more it will get noticed. Also, the more content you have (with lots of relevant keywords) the higher you will appear in search engine results on the likes of Google and Bing. And besides, your readers will have a reason to revisit your site and refer you to others.

A great way to keep your site updated is to keep a weekly or even daily blog, or add weekly free articles. If you provide your readers with a weekly newsletter, you should upload it to your site as well. There are many ways to add relevant content. Brainstorm some ideas and chances are you will be delighted with the results — and so will your readers.

This tip was brought to you by Monkey C Media.

April 9th, 2014

Blogging Tip: Create an Editorial Calendar

Whether it’s to help stave off writer’s block or to better position the timeliness of your blog content, devising an Editorial Calendar for your blog is a smart idea.

Posting quality, relevant content on your website — and frequently — is an important component of your internet marketing and search engine optimization strategy. But, continually coming up with ideas to post about on a weekly basis can sometimes seem overwhelming. This is where an Editorial Calendar can come in handy.

Think of your Editorial Calendar as a loose road map of ideas. These ideas can be based around national holidays, seasons, new product releases, timely news stories, etc… — whatever makes sense for your website.

For example, if you are a food blogger, you can map out post ideas based on seasonal ingredients, holiday gatherings, national events (like the Super Bowl), or National Food Holidays (did you know April is National Grilled Cheese Month?). Or, if you’re an entertainment blogger, you can map out post ideas based on different awards shows, like the Oscars, or TV premieres, or celebrity news.

Or, maybe it makes more sense to create weekly themes, and come up with content each week based on those themes? Like, posting tips on Mondays, posting inspirational profiles on Wednesdays and posting resources on Fridays — whatever works for your brand.

Once you have a rough Editorial Calendar sketched out, the rest of the month’s posts can be based on in-the-moment inspirations, breaking news or ideas related to your field and so on.

I find that just taking the time to sit down and map out even 1/3 of your posts for the next month lifts quite a bit of the “what to write about” pressure, leaving you with more stress-free time to actually write.

Happy Blogging!

April 2nd, 2014

Viral Marketing: Sexy Kraft Man Goes Viral for Salad Dressing

At Monkey C Media, we conceptual, design and develop book trailers. Perhaps the number one question we get is: Will a book trailer sell more books?

The question you should be asking is: Will people want to watch my video? Case in point, Kraft salad dressings are being pimped by a sexy, half-naked man with a sultry voice. Hello! Yes, I’ll watch that video. Will I buy the salad dressing? Perhaps, but that’s not the point. A viral video gives Kraft more visibility among their target audience. Read the rest of this entry »