Category Archives: Business

Website Myth #5: Instant Credibility!

by Diane Holmes, (a) Chief Alchemist of Pitch University, (b) lover of learning, and (c) writer of fiction, non-fiction, and the occasional manifesto.

Unprofessional

WEBSITE MYTH #5:  A website creates a professional image for you and your writing. 

REALITY:  Have you seen some of those writer-sites out there? 

They actually decrease the professional image of the author.  They are anti-advertising, the kryptonite of self-promotion.  They are a very fine example of shooting yourself in the foot.

Design badness.

Content badness.

Marketing badness.

As Jane over at DearAuthor says, in her article What Every Author’s Website Should Contain

Let me say that like the writing, the quality of the website/blog varies a great deal from very amateurish to very professional. I’ve seen very good websites for bad authors and very bad websites for good authors.

Thank Goodness!  A Disclaimer.

When writers are told to have a website for instant professional cred, there’s a whole disclaimer that is left out, and it is thus:

#1 Websites only increase you professional quotient if (A) the design and (B) the written content are….

  • well-done,
  • easy to use,
  • engaging,  and
  • focused specifically on meeting your specific visitor’s immediate needs and taking key action

#2  You’re probably not the best judge of any of this, even though you are a writer.

#3  Excelling at A and B, if the results mis-represent you or your writing, will do you no good at all.  (Especially if you’re misrepresenting quality.)

#4 Failing at A and/or B can generate negative word-of-mouth that starts with the voice inside the visitor’s head.  That negative feeling becomes your Brand.  Your reputation suddenly is dirt.  Don’t be dirt.  No one wants that.

So, do it right. That’s the message.

There’s a whole lot that goes into sites being well-done, easy to use, engaging, focused on meeting needs, and taking action.  In fact, there are whole fields of study, like usability, marketing, branding, engagement, authority-building, relationship creation, voice, etc.

And don’t forget the professional practices, standards of all that pesky the technology.  (And a special shout-out to making it all accessible.)

I Dare You…

To read something really helpful on the whole professional website thang, read Jim Yu’s 5 Pillars of a Successful Modern Web Design.

And what about marketing and writing content?  Try Skip Besthoff’s Improve Your Website Content’s Quality: 5 Ways to Drive High Performance.

TO BE CONTINUED.

clip_image001[4]Diane writes two columns for Freelance-Zone: (1)Fiction-Zone: Leaps in Fiction Mastery and (2) Marketing-Zone:Marketing Yourself and Your Writing.

Website Myth #4: If readers can’t find you….

by Diane Holmes, (a) Chief Alchemist of Pitch University, (b) lover of learning, and (c) writer of fiction, non-fiction, and the occasional manifesto.

So far…

#1 Websites promote you! Smash.

#2 It’s the only way to find you! Smash.

#3  You’ll be open 24/7!  Smash

Here’s another myth that uses fear to make sure writers, specifically book writers, get that website.

MYTH:  If readers can’t find you, you won’t sell your book!

Really?  Is that because you’re the only one with directions to the bookstore?Last Bookstore

Your website is not the last bookstore on the planet.

Seriously.

In fact, I’m pretty sure your website is not a bookstore at all.

Let’s imagine a reader wants something to read.  She might go to the library, borrow a book from a friend, stop by a physical bookstore, browse an e-store, or stop by a review site.

But she’s not thinking, “Wow, I’ll search Google to see if I can find a random author website, where I can find out if the author has a book for sale that happens to be something I like and want to read.”

TRUTH:  Here’s how you REALLY won’t sell your book.  If you don’t have your book in any of the places readers actually go to shop. 

What about writers who sell only from their website?

Yeah.  Okay.  In that case, you have to have a website.  You win!

But all you other book authors, a site isn’t your answer to selling. Nope.  Then what is a website?

A website is your answer to “give me more.”

And this is a very powerful thing!  (Power is so much better than fear.  Repeat that a few times.  Kinda makes you want to say, “Hell Yes!” doesn’t it?)

Dear book authors, if a reader takes the time to look for your site, that’s an invitation to WOW her.  Dazzle her.  Pow.  Delight. Entertain.  Blow her mind.   And other good words.

You’ve just been handed the keys to the kingdom, baby.  Your reader’s mind has an OPEN sign. She’s willing to listen , create a relationship, and be influenced.  You have what marketers call permission, and this is a very valuable thing.

Up until now, she’s not been interested in hearing more.  But then she clicked onto your site and said, “You can tell me about your writing now.”

So just to be clear, before now, any selling you did to her was basically a cold call, pushing your message on her whether she wanted it or not.

But now?

You’re in a conversation with her.  She’s curious.  And you are the thing she’s curious about.  Your writing too.  You’re the center of her e-universe.

Woo her with your authentic self, your fabulously bound words, your ability to do that thing that you do so well.  She’s the fan you’ve been wanting.  You know all this because she just told you by showing up.

Click.

Yeah.  I can see you blush from here.  A fan.  You have a real live fan.

Good for you.

Now give her more.

CONTINUED.

clip_image001[4]Diane writes two columns for Freelance-Zone: (1)Fiction-Zone: Leaps in Fiction Mastery and (2) Marketing-Zone:Marketing Yourself and Your Writing.

Website Myth #3: Open 24/7

by Diane Holmes, (a) Chief Alchemist of Pitch University, (b) lover of learning, and (c) writer of fiction, non-fiction, and the occasional manifesto.

too much time on internet

Why do you need a website?

We’re looking at the top 10 myths that writers buy into.  The exciting hype of website ownership.  The fear of what will happen if you don’t have one.

There are real benefits to having a website, of course.  They’re hidden behind the myths.  Let’s expose them together, by wielding our mighty Thor-sized, myth-smashing hammers!

So far…

#1 Websites promote you!  Smash. 

(Websites are passive by nature.  Any customer-influencing will require  effective, marketing-savvy content.)

#2 It’s the only way to find you!  Smash.

(Turns out there are other ways to find you.  Go figure.)

And next on our list: Website are open 24/7!  I’ll make sales 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  More customers!  More sales!  I’ll be rich!

Nope.  A myth.  If that’s your reason to get a website, then, my friend, you don’t need a website.

–> Myth:  You’ll be open 24/7!

Reason #3 You Don’t Need a Website: More Time Doesn’t Equal More Shopping

Here’s where reality is much different than your perception of reality.

Adrian Ott, Author of The 24 Hour Customer: New Rules for Winning in a Time-Starved, Always-Connected Economy (Harper Business, 2010), has done research smashing this myth.

From Adrian’s article at Fast Company, “When I speak with many business executives, there is a common belief that 24/7 commerce has increased the amount of time that customers devote to purchasing goods and services. The reasoning goes that the ability to shop in slippers at midnight creates endless possibilities for promotions and sales.”

This is what this website myth is selling.  However…

“The World is Competing for Less Than 3% of Waking Hours.”

Hey….  that’s not 24/7….

“The latest government research on Americans reveal that adult consumers on average spend a paltry 28.8 minutes a day in the act of buying–that’s less than 3 percent of waking hours! This activity includes researching and browsing products and services, weekly grocery shopping, and e-commerce in addition to the purchasing transaction itself.

“There are simply too many choices competing for too little time–often leaving us feeling overwhelmed by it all.”

So, more websites has not equaled more shopping.  Instead it’s equaled mind-boggling competition for a very narrow window of time.

Darn.

What you’re really competing with is NOT other products or services.  It’s information overload. That’s your competition.

To gain some insight into what IS working, read Adrian’s article, 5 TRIGGERS THAT MAKE YOUR PRODUCT ADDICTING.

But back to websites.

If people are spending less time buying (and researching what to buy), why should you have a website?

#1  When well written, a website is a way to engage your customer (with quality and value) and build a relationship (human connection).  So, it’s not just about buying.

#2  If you’re competing for time, then you can make your website into something your customer thinks is time well spent.

#3  You can create real and true reasons that coming back to your site is worthwhile.  And by definition, fans are those people who seek you out again and again.  You have an opportunity to create fans.

#4  You can make it easy for customers to get research they trust and shopping information that matters, so they can get on with their day.

#5  You can participate in creating value.  Value can mean different things, but it usually comes down to outstanding usefulness, amazing problem solving, or ingenious fun.

You’ll notice something important here.  The original premise was to sell things 24/7.  That’s about you.

The real reason to have a website is to create something your customer will want.

It’s about them.

And they don’t actually want to shop 24/7.  They’re doing the same (or even less shopping) despite 24/7.  They’re having to make decisions and filter information from thousands and thousands of options/websites.

Don’t add to the noise.

Add to the benefits.

TO BE CONTINUED…

clip_image001[4]Diane writes two columns for Freelance-Zone: (1)Fiction-Zone: Leaps in Fiction Mastery and (2) Marketing-Zone:Marketing Yourself and Your Writing.

Part 2 – Why Writers Don’t Need A Website

by Diane Holmes, (a) Chief Alchemist of Pitch University, (b) lover of learning, and (c) writer of fiction, non-fiction, and the occasional manifesto.

This is the second of 10 Reasons Writers Don’t Need A Website, poking little holes of honesty into the reasons writers are urged to “go get a website.”

Heck, I’ll probably even tell you the real reasons you should have one, the reasons that really matter.

you_are_here

Reason #2. There really are other ways to find you.

There’s a scare tactic that says, “If you don’t have a website, no one can find you!”  Even fiction writers are told this.

Let’s turn this around.  Is it impossible for those writers who don’t have a website to be found?  Totally impossible?

What about…

  • Reviews of Their Writing
  • Guest Articles
  • Interviews
  • Services and Professional Directories
  • Amazon Author Pages
  • Social Media (Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, etc.)
  • Yelp and Other Review Sites
  • Yellow Pages, Google Search and Google Business, and Other Online Directories
  • Freelance Writing Bureaus
  • Societies, Organizations, and Associations
  • Publisher Sites

TRUTH FOR FREELANCE WRITERS AND EDITORS:

If you offer writing services, YES, you need to be listed correctly online in the key lookup directories.  And YES, a website is a good idea, but if you have bad reviews on review sites, your website may not matter.  (They’ll never click on it.) 

Plus you have many ways to get the word out if you don’t have a site.

TRUTH FOR BOOK WRITERS:

If your book isn’t available where they’re looking, such as a bookstore, that’s a problem.  That’s where they hope to find you, first of all.  And if they search on your name or title, they should find you at any number of online retailers.

SO WHAT’S THE REAL REASON YOU NEED A WEBSITE?

Because many of the other places where they can find you give very little information.  It’s like a 10 second pitch.

If you have your own website…

  1. You can be generous with the information you provide.

  2. You can speak directly to unasked questions and create an atmosphere of trust.
  3. You have time (spent reading multiple pages) to develop a sense of relationship between you and your website reader.
  4. You have the opportunity to surprise and delight your website visitors with non-fragmented information (unlike much of social media)  that you’ve designed especially for her or him.  It could be writing excerpts and samples, free guides, contests, or anything under the sun.

That’s a lot more than just “finding you.” 

I’d love to see writers get websites because of they will wield the mighty website power, not because they feel threatened and motivated by fear.  I’m officially opposed to subliminal blackmail sales techniques.

Long live the sword of website greatness!

TO BE CONTINUED

clip_image001[4]Diane writes two columns for Freelance-Zone: (1) Fiction-Zone: Leaps in Fiction Mastery and (2) Marketing-Zone: Marketing Yourself and Your Writing.

10 Reasons Writers Don’t Need A Website

by Diane Holmes, (a) Chief Alchemist of Pitch University, (b) lover of learning, and (c) writer of fiction, non-fiction, and the occasional manifesto.

website-building

Why I Have An Opinion About This

So, I’m starting a business where I (a writer) create websites for other writers.

(See, gone for months, yet we pick up exactly where we left off, talking marketing and writing.  That’s how you know we’re BFFs.)

But back to my new biz, Website Happiness.

The gist:  Super awesome sites for writers, no geek speak allowed,  just leading writers through bite-sized, easy peasy steps that accidentally help them with marketing and branding, while costing next to nothing.  Yeah, my slogan is kinda long, but “Just Do It” was taken.

So as I get ready to help some beta clients this weekend, this is a good time to tell you exactly why you don’t need a website.

Reason #1. Websites don’t really promote you (no matter what anyone else says).

Truth:  Websites sit there passively waiting for a human to show up.

cowboy with lassoThey are not a promotion machine with arms and legs, acting as your personal promoter, taking active steps on your behalf.  Nope.  They do not “get out there.”  They do not lasso docile readers or clients, create a stampede to your site, nor generate word-of-mouth by their very existence.

And that’s what a lot of writers seem to think (or hope).

“If I have a website (quality?  who cares!), I won’t have to work.  It will do the marketing for me!  That’s just the genius of web pages.  And I has them.

Soon (mwahahaha), everyone will know about me and all my literary goodness.  Excitement will build because I have an URL.  Finally, I am famous.”

Oh, and I can tell people I have a platform.  Sweet!

What’s that, you say?  It’s not passive?  It really does go out there with the power of Google!

Ah, no.  Getting your site listed in Google searches is also passive.  Google waits for a search to be entered, an invitation, a click.  And even then, seeing lists of sites is not the same as promotion.

Truth

When a reader (or client ) shows up at your website door, if you have an effective website with effective content, yes, it’s possible to educate and influence that reader… if they’re a good fit for you, your writing, or your services.

Your website will passively wait for your reader to decide if this is the case.

And if you really do an amazing job, your reader might tell her friends.  In fact, if you’re amazing, she might tell complete strangers at the grocery store.

So you can see there’s a lot of stuff you have to do right first.  And your website visitor gets to make every decision, starting with deciding to find your site.

That said, if someone does decide to look for you online, and if you’re not there, then you pretty much have zero chance of educating or influencing them at that moment in time.

Just saying.

TO BE CONTINUED….

clip_image001[4]Diane writes two columns for Freelance-Zone: (1) Fiction-Zone: Leaps in Fiction Mastery and (2) Marketing-Zone: Marketing Yourself and Your Writing.

What You Can Learn About Freelancing From Vinyl Records

Josie and the Pussycatsby Joe Wallace

When I am not freelancing, I sell vinyl records on Etsy, Discogs.com, and on my vinyl blog Turntabling. Vinyl records is a passion of mine and also an additional revenue stream for me, helping me stay in business as a freelancer and remain generally self-employed.

Believe it or not, the two worlds have a LOT in common. The whole reason I turned to vinyl in the first place, years ago, was because of the freelancer’s need for diverse income sources. Clients come, clients go. Some pay on time, some never do.

So diversifying the income portfolio, as it were, is a must–you want to eat every day? Make sure you have three or more checks arriving at various times in the month. Save up a cushion to deflect the problems created by those late-payers. That’s the message the freelance life has consistently given me since I started in 2002.

But the most fascinating things I’ve learned about freelancing from vinyl records can really be summed up by that Josie and the Pussycats vinyl record you see here. Look at this thing! You probably laughed when you spotted it, right? But here’s a fascinating little piece of data–that record is, at the time of this writing, up for sale on Ebay (not by me) for TWO HUNDRED DOLLARS.

It’s sealed, very hard to find, and somebody might actually pay that $200 to get it. MAYBE NOT–but there’s actually a chance, because of that tricky combination of nostalgia, impulse buying, and the near-eternal appeal of vinyl records for some.

The lessons I take away from this for the freelance life? Pretty simple but very important:

1. Like the vinyl record, your services are worth what people are willing to pay for them. I have been paid $200 an hour or more for my work. I’ve given it away for free, I’ve bartered, I’ve cut people deals. But at the end of the day, you get paid because a client was willing to pay and you were willing to do the work. It can be counter-productive–at least for me–to view freelance work in terms of fixed, unchanging price tags.

2. There is a market for expensive services, and it’s harder to find. In the vinyl market, I have customers willing to pay large dollars for rare, near impossible-to-find records. But I have just as many who simply want good, decently priced vinyl they don’t have to scour the earth to purchase. Balancing the high-paying hard-to-find commodities with lower-priced volume income is key. When it comes to my writing work, some writing has much greater inherent value, and therefore costs more. Some is intended to keep Google’s attention focused properly through steady posting and dependable content. This lower-priced work is not the same research-intensive stuff as the high-priced material, not should there be an expectation that it be anything more than what it is.

3. Go where the market is. I’ve tried selling on Amazon, at fan conventions, on Etsy, eBay, Bonanza, and many other places. When one avenue isn’t working over time, I ditch it and move on to something else. If you’re pounding your head against the proverbial wall in one area of your freelance career, it may be time to look elsewhere for better results. This is a notion that has served me very well since 2002.

There’s more, there’s SO much more…but the last lesson I can impart from my experience selling and collecting vinyl records is knowing when you’re in danger of overstaying your welcome.

Joe Wallace sells vinyl records, writes about military issues and finance, and runs several blogs and social media concerns. Since 2002, he’s written for acres for magazines and the Internet. His credits include American Fitness, Indie Slate, HorrorHound Magazine, and is one of the many essayists featured in a forthcoming book about obscure and under-appreciated horror films. You can reach him by email at jwallace242 @ gmail.