Raving Fans & Curious Newbies
Excluding trolls and scammer bots, people visiting your website can be split into two categories: Raving fans and Curious Newbies.
- The newbies are there to learn more about you and to decide if your book is something they want to read.
- Your raving fans are looking for MORE – more information, more juicy details, more insight, more immersion!
And your author website is the best piece of real estate for it all. Give the curious newbies all the information they need about you and your book/s, and give your fans that little bit extra.
We spend a lot of time optimising websites and content for new readers, but this post is all about your fans. What you can add to your website to keep them engaged and coming back to your site again and again.
1. The email list
Hands-down the first and most important feature every author’s website should include is an email subscription form. Even if you only send a bi-annual update to your readers, having the subscription box on your site ensures that you are able to connect with readers when you want/need to.
Why every author needs an email list:
- Most of your website visitors will expect it. They might just want to be notified when your sequel drops – not having an email list is like leaving a leaky tap running. Raving fans of your first book may have read 30 other titles while you were working on the second. You need a place to remind them – and email is king for this type of thing.
- It is the most effective way to stay in touch with your audience. Especially if you don’t update very often, a much higher percentage of your audience will actually see your email content than social media posts.
- Especially useful if you genre is self-development or other non-fiction, you can create automated email series to deliver at certain time intervals.
- You are able to personalise the email content with the subscribers name and other details. If you sell books or merch on your website, remarketing, upselling and cross-selling can all take place in automated email series saving you tonnes of time.
Who does the Author Website email list really well?
The Author I think takes the cake for best email list (that I know of) is Scott Pape, The Barefoot Investor. I have personally been subscribed to his list for 5+ years, and the weekly updates are always worth reading.
Each week there is a good dose of educational content with a sprinkle of genuine humour. It adds a bit of flavour to the otherwise very bland subject of personal finance.
If you want to get some email list ideas (and maybe even sort out your personal finances along the way) subscribe to the Barefoot Investor here.
2. The blog
One of the best ways to build your websites content is through a blog. Your blog is not just a personal memoir (unless you want it to be!) it can be transformed into anything you’d like. The basic premise is that it is a list of posts in reverse-chronological order that help the reader in some way.
The blog is most effective for the non-fiction genres, where you can offer additional information, resources and guides for your readers.
Your blog is a complimentary extension of your book. Think of ways you can expand the themes of your book and provide additional reading.
Fiction author blog ideas
Non-fiction blog ideas
Who does the Author Website blog really well?
Jessica Sepel is the first Author that comes to mind when I think of successful blog. She is a Naturopath/Nutritionist and her books are about the theory, answering the why/how/when/where of healthy eating. Her blog expands on those themes with a number of delicious recipes, extra information and personal updates. Jessica boosts her written blog with a vlog on Youtube, but the written blog is how she got started.
1. The shop
When you first start off with your author website, an eCommerce shop is probably not on the cards. It takes a bit of time to get setup, and there are a lot of decisions to be made – even if you’re only selling copies of one book.
However, once you are more established and you have a growing reader base (with an email list!), then an eCommerce shop to sell copies of your book/s and merchandise might just be the best thing you could do.
For fiction writers, selling merch can be quite lucrative, especially if you can find a good drop-ship arrangement. Get book illustrations, memes and quotes printed on t-shirts, bookmarks, hats, stubbie-holders… whatever appeals to your ideal reader. See example merch by international Author Sarah J Maas here.
Who does the Author Website shop really well?
An Author’s shop is not a huge catalogue of products shipped from massive warehouses. In fact, an Author’s shop could be as simple as digital books only. The Author I’m giving top spot for online shop is Monique Mulligan. I might be a little *ahem* biased here since I built the website, but Monique manages the content of her website 100% herself and has done a stellar job keeping her shop and enormous blog up to date. Monique’s book listings include bonus content and the option to order on her site for signed copies or links to other book retailers.
1. The bonus content
When it comes to bonus content, you’re only really limited by your imagination. A great example of bonus content gone mental is the incredible Wizarding World website created as a pure bonus for avid Harry Potter readers. Quizzes to find your Hogwarts house, patronus and more – this is bonus content at its best.
Of course you don’t have to go to that extreme – but bonus content that increases the perceived value of your book could be as simple as an online questionnaire, book club discussion prompts or a downloadable map.
Author Website Design Ideas - bonus content
Look after your raving fans and they'll look after you.
We all focus so much on getting new readers, but forget about those that have already read (and loved) your book. They are your best marketing tool – so by looking after them with at least semi-regular updates and some bonus content (all of which you can automate!), you stay top of mind when they have a friend to refer you to.
Don’t forget to add your call to action! Tell your visitors to share your website link, bonus content and books. Add a social share link to every blog post and email template and ensure that any interview, podcast or guest post you write has a back link to your site.