Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Online Marketing--What's necessary and what's not

     M.J. Rose, best-selling author of 11 novels, made an interesting observation in "The Must-Have Online Marketing Plan" in the 2011 edition of Writer's Yearbook (Writer's Digest):  that authors who use free templates to create their websites get the same number of visitors as authors who spend thousands of dollars to have a website created for them by a website designer.
     The comment got my attention because I listened to a speaker spend a great many words on the premise that only professionally-designed websites are acceptable. I rejected the idea then, as did others in attendance, and now I feel vindicated.
     My budget did not and does not allow for that kind of expenditure, so if I'm to have a website, it's going to be one of my own creation--and that's what I have. Personally, I like the freedom to make changes as I deem necessary. I did buy a domain name and email, but the cost was negligible (relatively speaking).
     I digress. The author says that a strong writer's website is mandatory. However, she went on to say that a blog is optional. If the number of comments left on this blog is any indication, it doesn't get that many visitors. I do my best to visit/comment on other writers' blogs, but there are only so many hours in a day. Frankly, I enjoyed writing my personal blog more, but I ditched that to concentrate on a writing blog. Maybe I (we all) should do what I (we all) enjoy most.
     Ms Rose's advice certainly lends credibility to the idea that 'one size does NOT fit all'. Yes, authors have to market their books, and there are some basic 'gotta-do's'. I'd recommend reading her article. It left me with a good feeling that I was doing something right, a feeling of relief that I didn't have to do everything 'they' say to do, and a feeling that there are more things I can do.
     What do YOU think?

     Writer's Yearbook 2011 is not part of the Writer's Digest subscription. Visit your nearest bookstore/newsstand and look for it there.


Maeve said...

Thank you for this "reassuring" post! I maintain my own website too. It's not anything fancy but it's mine AND it's affordable. I've had a few compliments on it and wondered if I should spring for something fancier. Now, I feel much better about saving my dollars and taking care of my own little corner of cyber-space for an affordable price.

Linda Banche said...

Like you and Maeve, I do my own website. More than one person has said they like my website because it's easy to find everything. It's simple because I can't do anything fancy, but apparently, that's what people want.

As for blogging, from my own experience, I say it does NOT help sales. I write detailed historical posts that take a lot of time to research and write, time I could spend writing a new story.

If you like blogging, fine. But don't think of it as a marketing tool, because it's not.

Judy said...

Linda and Maeve, I totally agree. I don't have enough time to write as it is, which is why I cut back to blogging weekly instead of daily. Thanks for chiming in!

Brenda Whiteside said...

I opted to have my web site done for me after frustration with doing it myself. It was too time consuming for me. But I didn't pay thousands. It is simple but beautiful (I think) and frees up my time. There are affordable web masters out there. I don't have my own blog. I, too, find I need the time to write my books. I do guest spots and very occasionally comment - like today. If only there was some hard data out there to guide us on what works for on-line marketing. All we really know is "get your name out there". What works is a mystery. Thanks for the great blog.

Mona Risk said...

Thanks Judy. My son created my website from a template and he taught me to maintain it. I created my blog from blogspot and I like it a lot. Easy to use and update..

Celia Yeary said...

Hi, Judy--Now I feel vindicated, too! I have a Yahoo website, $25 start-up fee, waived because I caught it on a day when the ad said--sign up NOW and get your set-up free. Domain name fee--free. Monthly fee: $14.00. Self-satisfaction of "doing it all myself,"--Priceless.
I hate for authors to fall for that line about "you must have a professional site." Mine looks fine, good in fact, and I read 1st Turning Point often, especially when they do a Website review. I've learned a lot from those reviews, what an author should or should not do.
Yahoo tracks my visitors, total and according to each page. That, too, is satisfying. I also get a graph that shows the days when I get the most hits. I've used that bit of info to know what seemed to work.
My blog--I love my blog--much more than I do my website. It's personal, and I can do what I want. It gives me real creative license.
Thanks, Judy--wonderful information. Celia

Judy said...

Brenda, Mona, and Celia--read your comments with much interest. My website is through Yola, and I haven't figured out how to track the number of visitors yet, but I'm sure there must be a way.
I can see a professionally-designed website for a business--or for a very young writer who intends to earn his/her living by writing. But if, like me, it's just something I'm enjoying to the max in retirement, articles like M.J. Rose's are very helpful!

Jannine Gallant said...

Thanks for posting this. I'm another do it yourself website creator and maintainer ($8 per month). A professional site would have cost more than my royalties for last year!

Susan Macatee said...

I built my own website through Yahoo webhosting and expanded it as I had more to add. When I first built the website, I wasn't yet published, but it seemed a necessary part of building a writing platform. I like my site and like that I can go in and make changes any time I want. I also have a blog where I mostly talk about my writing projects and belong to a couple of group blogs as well.

So far, I don't have much to show for in sales and don't want to spend money I don't have on promotion. I spent most of my promo money last year entering my published books in contests, but that's always a roll of the dice. I did win, place and final in three of the contests, but didn't see much of a boost in sales.

I think you just have to go with what you can afford and have time to do.

Judy said...

Jannine and Susan--thanks for stopping by. Those of us who are 'do-it-yourself-ers" are probably in the majority if a poll were taken. One size definitely does not fit all. I say, go with whatever works, what is enjoyable, and most of all--what is affordable! We don't need the $$ stress!

Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Judy,
Great post. I did have my webpage professionally designed by Rae Monet one of our TWRP covered designers. She is very talented and is quite reasonable in what she charges. Unfortunately, I would never be able to to do a website myself, my technical skills are just not good enough. But I agree, expensive websites aren't always the best.



Judy said...

Margaret, Rae did my first two covers. She's terrific!

Anonymous said...

My website was created by me too. I use a template from Authors Guild which is marvelous. I can do anything I want to the website whenever I want. I wouldn't have it any other way. Thanks for writing about this. I too have heard and read opinions to the contrary, but ignored them.