Webinar Recap: Build Your Platform

Yesterday I listened to a webinar presented by Writer’s Digest titled “Build Your Author Platform Online: How to Build a Content-Rich Website that Builds a Massive Fan Base.” Author and copywriter Nick Usborne, in conjunction with American Writers and Artists Inc., hosted the hour-long webinar. I learned a wealth (pun intended!) of great information and wanted to pass it along.

The first glaring point Usborne made is that in the age of sharing, a traditional, static website is not enough. Due to the rapid and massive growth of the web, the competitiveness of SEO and the proliferation of social media, a site that does not interact will not attract many visitors. We must interact.

Build It, and Build It Now. One way to ensure your website gets a sliver of attention is to build a site with hundreds of pages and build a strong community of returning readers. Having a blog on your site is a good way to do this. Make sure your readers have a way to interact, via comments on the blog and/or social media, which will keep them coming back. With a large community of like-minded folks assembled, the author can drive sales for their books, e-books, widgets or what have you. A goal of 2,500 visitors a day seemed overwhelming until Usborne clarified that it took him a number of years to reach that mark.

Should an unpublished writer start building their website now or wait until they have something to promote? The answer: Do it now!

Get social. Be sure to link your Facebook, Google+, YouTube, Twitter and other social media accounts into your site. One blog post can be promoted through many mediums, further driving traffic.

Keep an eye on quality. Visitors should come to view the author, especially non-fiction writers, as an expert. For fiction writers, the mystery novelist, for example, could share information gleaned from his or her research; say, on crime scene investigation. The romance novelist could write about relationships. Brainstorm!

Chicken or the Egg. The best way to learn about your topic is to write more about your topic. The more you write, the more followers you gain, the more feedback you receive and the more material you will have for your first (or second or twelfth) book.

Monetize. Sell books and e-books through your site. Consider generating additional revenue through Google AdSense, through banner ads and Amazon’s affiliate program.

Consider the Benefits. An author with a solid platform will have a greater chance of getting noticed by publishers, agents, editors and the media. A website that generates income will help offset the “feast or famine” scenario that is common in traditional publishing (e.g., Advance, no money. A few royalties, no money.) With regular blog posts, the potential to create and sell e-books and create additional revenue streams, you can take control of your writing. We are entrepreneurs, ultimately, so we must think like one.

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