Part IV; The Website ~ Storefront
Having a web-site is no different than opening a store in your neighborhood, with the difference being a much larger customer population as well as less boundaries between the two storefronts. Running the business is very similar. Having owned and operated my own businesses over the course of thirty years I am all too familiar with demands of owning a business. One of the biggest hurdles in self-promotion, is one's control over self-motivation. Your web-site is the store which showcases your books, beginning with the first one you have printed. There are several methods for designing a web-site, which include using page design software, such as Publisher or Dreamweaver, allowing the novice web-designer ability to create a web-site using what is termed a WISIWYG; (What You See Is What You Get) Such programs are easy to use. The drawback to this method is that these programs also have an enormous amount of information written into the instructions. What this means is that the bots of today have a hard time making sense of these instructions, with the unintended consequences being a much higher rate of being bumped to the back of the search results. Another method of web-design is to utilize readymade web-templates. This is the method I used when starting out. A vast majority of these templates are written using Flash. Not the time to go into exactly what Flash is, but the simple answer is that they offer up the ability for animated content, like streaming video or audio content, animated banner text and other pretty cool stuff. The drawback to this format is that the bots see this as one item, not so much the material within the site's interior pages. That is the simpleton's explanation I was given from my daughter who was a web-master and online marketing specialist for a large corporation, which owned several dozen newspapers. She is also the one who designed my web-site. The method I used for my last website, and one highly recommended by the web-master of my site, was not to use the Flash templates. Stick with the html/CSS templates. Again, the simpleton's explanation I was given was that the current bots see all of this type web-site, and, if the meta words matched the page content then that page was bumped up the ladder on the query list. For most of those who have queried for a product or service on line, few reach the third page of listed returns. Not many go beyond that on a single query. Being on the first landing page of a query is the spot to be. That almost goes without saying. I have been made to understand that bots really like html sites. They get extra credit. They are also the smallest in file size for any site's disk space limits, although the hosting sites of today offer rather large storage space parameters.
A recent, relatively speaking, addition to web design is the WIX HTML5 web builder software, which is the method of my newest website. One can use the WIX site builder software then migrate that built site to whichever host site one is already using, or one chosen, although WIX also hosts the site for very reasonable rates. The options for WIX hosting your site range from free, to $29.95. The free option means WIX ads showing up on your website. The $4.95 level gets rid of the ads but offers little other service. The next level is $12.95, which is the one I chose as it has all the tools I need. The next level is $16.95 and offers further services, one being a shopping cart and other merchant services. The top level is $29.95 for the full range of merchant and support services. These levels of service offer the full range of needs for any website you will need. I have found the WIX website hosting to be very easy to design and use. As I said an IT guy I am not.
The reason I chose the $12.95 level is that I don’t need a shopping cart. Create Space offers an Ecommerce page, that showcases each book with cover photo and bio of the book/author, selling price and ability to purchase the book without leaving the page. It also allows for discounts to buyers by using the generated discount codes provided. A prospective reader/buyer can simply click on the book listed on your page to reach your Ecommerce page, then use the provided discount code and purchase directly. No need for any shopping cart. They are buying directly from amazon.com, on the backside. There are also sites which offer free templates, which can be downloaded to your computer. The templates are usually offered in various formats, as mentioned above. The site I used before WIX charged $29.95 for three months of use, which meant I could download as many templates as I wanted for three months. Query web-page templates and look for sites that offer what you want, at a price you feel comfortable spending for your template. Also read closely the terms and conditions of use. Later articles will cover topics of <meta-tags>, POD host methods, costs, comparisons and purposes. This article will be focused on the basic areas of showcasing your books, with the connection between web-page and blog. The web-site is your store, the place where you showcase your books, and yourself. It is one leg of your marketing efforts. Another potential leg of your marketing possibilities is a blog. The blog serves as your voice. It is a platform which showcases your thinking, a place where you can offer the reader a chance to see who you are as an author, as a thinking individual. If you can offer anyone landing on your web-site, or blog, something of value, something they can take away from the experience, or the information you offer, they are much more likely to return, or purchase your book. One of the more difficult tasks of web-sales is getting the visitor to look at your product, in this case, your book. If you can get the visitor to look at your book, read the preview and possibly excerpts from the book, the probability of their buying the book increases exponentially. The web-site is your store. The blog is your voice. Connecting the two offers the visitor a chance to spend time getting to know you, see your books, and make a purchase if they like what they see. Connecting those two functions also makes your query results increase the chance you will land on the first page of any query. The more links you have to your name, web-site or subset therein, the more listings generated during any given query. Using that to your advantage, adding certain content or connecting links to that content, increases the number of listings for a query. An example of that would be adding streaming video, as in a web-mercial (more on that later) or better yet, submit a video to YouTube. As I was told, bots give large gold stars to links such as this. The more internet activities you have linked to your name, brand, logo or product, the better for you, during a query. Done right, you may find yourself the first ten links showing on the landing page of a query. Pretty good odds that the person querying will then proceed to your store. This is but a simple outline of being seen on the internet and marketing your book. It is a simple overlay to the numerous methods available today. So many of these tools and opportunities are free, or so cheap as to make it available to almost anyone. Later articles will focus on the details of the processes, and specifics of marketing strategies available. Never let the unknowns, nor details of the process overwhelm you. They will try. And never, ever allow anyone to get in between you and your goals. This is why you are a self-publishing writer.