How often have you gone to a website, or a blog because you were promised something for free? Such as a free book, a free article, a top ten listing, free training course materials, videos, mediations, … the list goes on. I don’t do that. I have never asked for an email address. I do give you the reader the option to stay updated.
When you give someone your email address you are giving them permission into your life anytime they feel like it. Your email probably goes to your smartphone, and you are attached to the internet and your computer or tablet almost non-stop. Chances are that person that asked for your email in return for something free secretly wants you to pay them even more money. Usually it is something like “Go to my weekend seminar” or “subscribe to my class”. Ultimately it is usually that they want to make money off of you. Now this is not always the case. However if you do your own research you will find the “experts” telling you to build an email list and that is the way to do it.
So onto the topic of today’s article. Infomercials. You either love them or you hate them. I sort of like watching the Shark vacuum on television. I don’t like reading an entire book to find out I wasted my time and money to learn I have to go buy the seminar. I won’t name any names, but I think we all know someone who has used this tactic before. It seems to work for them. Maybe some people are just so awesome and their fans love them so much, they would LOVE to be in that person’s energy/workshop.
Keep in mind that this usually only happens in the non-fiction market and typically in the self-help arena. Let me also say that many people use this book arena in lieu of a formal education. That is fine when the author is credible. Did you know that the majority of self-help authors use their own personal experience for their book, neglecting many other sources. Most colleges require a master’s degree in that subject field with thousands documented work experience hours to teach a student. There are no requirements to sit at a computer and start typing.
I earned my master’s degree in business administration in human resources. It took me several years to complete and gave me a very good foundation for business. I chose human resources as my emphasis as I already had experience in that arena. I also taught at Westwood College for 9 years. I left teaching formal education and focused working with CEO’s and small business owners.
Thousands of my followers/fans are former students who have reconnected with me. Although many don’t know me, many feel like they know me because they have spent hundreds of hours reading my blogs. It’s true. Many have spent time in my classroom, and all of them have had to interview with me before graduation. People tell me all the time how much they enjoy reading my writing. My personal blog, which you can access on the menu, is another fun reading afternoon adventure. It is much more of a motivational website. I like that one because it is easy on the eyes visually with all the graphics.
Another thing I am annoyed with by some websites is the constant overkill on advertising. Don’t you like how my website doesn’t do that? I actually have been contacted by advertisers who would LOVE to be using my blank, white space on the sides of my blogs. As you can see, I have declined to annoy my readers. Seriously, it’s annoying. How often do you REALLY click on the thing that is blinking or flashing at you on the side of the site? Like almost never. Trust me. I have designed hundreds of sites and banner/side advertising only is brand awareness. Your click-through rate is almost non-existent. Don’t do it on your website.
So if you don’t advertise, trick people for email addresses, or use pop up windows, how do you get people to buy your product? There are several ways. One, let them get to know you. Use your writing in your consistent writing schedule to share with your readers. Two, be likeable. Three, be trustworthy. While those things may sound simple, they are not simple. If if was so simple then everyone would do it.
Trust, for me, is something that is earned. It is a privilege, not a right. Your readers will learn to trust you when you give them reasons. If you are a fiction writer, did your book have a happy ending? Was it so satisfying someone would be willing to recommend it? If you are a non-fiction writer, did you teach someone something that would be of benefit or value? Was it something that they would not have learned searching the internet on their own? Do you bring something to the table that no one else has? Your personality, or unique perspective might be something you bring to the table. A well-known television personality is Ellen Degeneres. Sure she can act, but it is her dynamic fun personality that she is known for by most people.
Many times you can definitely get a “feel” for the author’s writing style. There are a lot of my fans who read my writing and tell me that it “sounds” like a friend that they know. Nope, the work is always original, it’s always mine. Sure the angels interject their two cents. Pennies from heaven? Did you know that angels usually are always working in pairs? If your writing style is conversational and your personality deems it, you can also throw in some humor into your writing style. This can sometimes be challenging if your personality is not well-known. Wanda Sykes making a statement may have a different meaning or tone coming from you. You may think you are being funny, but you may indirectly offend someone.
Writers rule the world. Every movie was once a book. Our laws were written by writers. Our favorite children’s story was written by one person, and read by millions. Writers. Give thanks if you are one of them.
Blogger Advice – More Website Jewels
Hello my blogging friends! Chances are you like to read blogs and you might even fancy writing one or two yourself. Personally I have several blogs and all of them are for different reasons. One thing that I learned a long time ago, is most people can only focus on one concept at a time. Hence the reason large sites have categories. The layout of your website/blog can make or break your readers experience.
This blog’s specific purpose is to educate, inform, and even entertain the reader. Most of the readers of this blog have been following me for years or are fans from Facebook. Those 3 things, educate – inform – entertain, are the key building blocks in developing your own base of readers.
If you are just starting your blog or you are rebranding yourself, what do you want your blog to accomplish? When someone is done reading one of your clever, crafty articles, what experience or feeling are they left with at that moment? Was your blog too short? Blogs are never too long. Trust me on that one. Write with passion and write from your heart. Always read your own work and spell check.
I use WordPress 4.11 and you should too. I get a lot of people wanting to know what theme I use. The theme I use is not for the average user and most will find it very difficult and frustrating. I say this because my site needs CSS access to modify the code. I use a child theme, which probably means nothing to you. I use very little plugins and most of my site is static. If you want a wow me, dazzle super cool theme, then I will recommend you head over to ThemeForest.net, which has thousands of really cool themes. If you are a blogger, go for a magazine/writers theme. In addition to cool themes you can find any plugin you could possibly imagine.
If you were to use the same theme as me, it would not look anything like my site. Sorry, that’s why I like this theme. I can customize it for any company, person, purpose, event or product. AaronMstephens.com, Angel.Academy, SuzanneGrandchamp.com, and many, many more use the same theme. If you want to see a few sites that I have done with different themes, my personal blog, AaronsAfterthoughts.com uses a cool magazine type of theme. My business website, OpusDeorum.com also uses a complex theme. Many of my clients will buy a theme and try to configure it themselves, which is a very long process if you do not know what you are doing.
If you are a writer, and blogging is your thing, then you should configure your site a lot like a magazine or news site. Your blog, the writing part, may or may not be a driving force in your website. Your witty thoughts are being captured by Google, Bing and MSN, and answered in a Jeopardy like format. Reverse your answers to a possible question. If you are not a writer, you can hire writers. Although, most of your fans would rather hear your thoughts, ideas and imagination.
Being a good writer and being a great writer takes practice, repetition, and convey some sort of a message. If you are someone who just rambles and doesn’t have a lot to say, you won’t hold the attention of your readers. Most people don’t like to be overwhelmed with a lot of data. This is one of the reasons I have my blog display little bits of information at a time. I highly recommend that you read, re-read your work before you hit publish. Did you personally learn something from your own writing? If the answer is no, then maybe go back to the drawing board until the answer is yes.
Keep in mind that if you are using a free WordPress site you cannot use these themes, plugins or anything they sell as you do not have that functionality. You just cant have a cool site with these themes. Bummer.
Once you have your website or blog set up, all you really have to do is focus on your writing. I personally like this blog because it is easy to read, it has big black fonts and scrolls easily on my tablet or phone. It’s not busy at all, and in fact is very black and white.
Before you launch your site, play around with different themes after you have some content. You should always have your home page (landing), about, products/services, blog and contact methods. You may not want to give out your email or phone number. If it is a real lead, they will call you directly, so you may want to get a Google Voice number to list on your site. Create your pages, a few postings, your menu and configure your logo. Your branding should also include your professionally lit photograph suitable for 4 print color. Good luck with branding/creating your website!
A Note on Comments
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More Blogs & Articles
Hello friends and welcome to another edition of Aaron’s highly informative and extremely entertaining blogs. One of the things I pride myself is the fact the no one writes like me. I’m not scheduled, repetitive, and certainly not boring. I am always looking for new blogs/writers and many times I find myself let down.
I am a member of a lot of different Facebook groups so I am exposed to a lot of authors. Naturally I am curious what other authors are doing and go check out their website(s), Facebook Business page, if they have one, and what they rank on Amazon for their book. Lately I have seen quite a few authors tooting their horn at what a great social media person they are, and you should register for their class/workshop, and of course, purchase their book. If you give them an email address they might give you something free. Personally I don’t ever feel that whatever they are giving is worth signing up for another mailing list.
Seriously, I get so much email another newsletter just is not going to do it for me. But wait! You are thinking, “Aaron, you have a newsletter sign up on your website.” Nope, I don’t. Have you ever gotten an email directly FROM me? Nope. Do I ever send out mass emails on my own? No. If you subscribe to my site, I don’t know it. WordPress automatically sends out a notification that a new blog was created. I never promised anyone anything, other than stealing you away from what you really should be doing … work. However, you may argue that reading this article IS work as it will help you in your own endeavors. How? I am getting there.
I honestly do not even know how many people are signed up for email notifications or RSS, but I do know it is in the thousands. So I never ask anyone to sign up or promise them anything. Chances are by the time you have lost a half an hour or so of time, you can make up you own mind if you want to read more. An RSS is really super simple to set up. What makes it cool is people will still be notified of your update/article without actually going to your site, opening up email, or getting a notification on your smartphone. It just silently scrolls along the bottom of your screen. Very sneaky marketing. If your blog is interesting, people will look forward to seeing updates. If you slam them with “Buy my product/services” they will quickly get rid of you. Sorry, but that is the way it is.
If you are visiting my site for the first time, you will find there is a lot to read. I like to write. If you are returning for a second or third time you will notice that I keep on writing, just like Dory from Finding Nemo. Just keep writing. Just keep writing. I tell that to writers all the time. Who cares if it isn’t good the first draft, just keep writing. We can fix those things later. The other day I wrote a really long blog. The longer the blog, the better the SEO. It got a lot of exposure and people really liked it. Sweet. I’m glad I can be so entertaining. Seriously, I personally get annoyed reading a blog that is like ten seconds long. Almost all of my writing is pretty lengthy. Since I “usually” write quite early in the morning, many people have already started making it a habit of sitting down with their morning coffee and reading my blog. I think I am a little more entertaining than the same old Facebook newsfeed. Well, that is what a reader told me this week.
One of the really cool things I like about having a large fan base, is the constant stream of comments, messages and tweets I receive. There aren’t a lot of writers you can contact and say “Hey will you write about _____ just for me?” I would like to write Stephen King and say, “Oooooo…write a Colorado marijuana horror story just for me! Even a short story, please????” Yeah, that certainly won’t happen anytime soon. I’m not writing short stories, but I am addressing a lot of topics that people find interesting. Some people are even using my articles in their research papers for school. Yes really. Because they tell me. Anytime I write about WordPress I get a lot of hits on the site. Why? Because millions of people are using it and millions of people don’t know how to use it. They fiddle their way through it and barely make use of it. It’s like cooking. Everyone can cook something. Not everyone is a chef.
So today I want to direct your attention to social media. Why? Because everyone loves talking and reading about it. Mostly people who don’t know what it is, or feel like they are lost in the crowd. Everyone has moved on but you. You are now figuring out how this how Facebook thing works and you hear that people are moving on to other things. Like what? Well, that is why you are here on this site. So I can share that with you. Social Media is this giant elephant in the room. Some people like to brand themselves as experts, write books and charge thousands of dollars just to talk. John Maxwell, Darren Hardy are two that quickly come to mind. The thing I find most interesting, is these “experts” are all old. Sorry, they are. They didn’t grow up with a smartphone, they grew up with something called a “rotary dial”. Older people also use Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+. The younger generation, we use things like Instagram, Pinterest, SnapChat and StumbleUpon.
I am not going to go into a lot of detail of how to use these outlets, someone has already written about them. For a lot of readers, they are thinking “Okay I know that one, … and that one, but what are those other ones?” I have several people in mind right now. You know who you are. I didn’t know about SnapChat until my friends from one of my Facebook groups told me to start using it with my fans. Of course I asked a dozen questions, but after seeing how it worked I could see a lot of value in it.
I have been struggling with how to reach MY younger reading audience. They aren’t on Facebook. Why? “My parents are on Facebook. They cyber-stalk me.” How freaking funny is that? Well, that is what the kids are saying. “My mom is a total ****** and reads all my text messages and makes me give her my lock code.” SnapChat is a 1-10 second video or message that deletes after viewed. So I signed up for a SnapChat account and then I put a picture of the logo on my Facebook page. I didn’t say what it was, and it did not take you off of Facebook’s site. This is important when you want to have larger exposure. Sure enough, my fans all around the world knew what that app logo was and thousands quickly added me to their friend list. Quite a few older “friends” asked me what it was. I didn’t want to let everyone in on the secret just yet, so I just said it was a way for me to connect with my fans.
As a writer it is critical to connect with your audience. Your audience could span across several demographics. For instance, I seriously doubt there are a lot of kids under the age of 12 that read my blog. Why? The information is not relevant or interesting to them. In the United States a lot of children found out about my book through their parents. Why? Because I wasn’t able to connect with kids. I have several audiences, and perhaps in another article I will go into greater depth. International kids are a different story. I don’t know why.
One way you can connect with your readers is by your writing style. For the most part, I write in a very casual conversational style, just as if I were talking with you. Many of my personal friends say they can actually hear my voice as they read my blogs. Some writers talk above their audience reading level (and lose them) and I just find that frustrating. You should always write at a sixth grade reading level. Why? Most average adults only read at a sixth grade reading level.
The key word I use is CONNECT. Once you have that connection with your readers they are more likely to share, and recommend you and your blog. The “willing to recommend” is very key in getting a viral marketing plan for your book/blog. When you write something, in the back of your mind you should be thinking “WHY would anyone want to read this article? Or tell someone else to go read it?”
So to answer my own question; “This blog introduced me to some new marketing data, social media insights and made me start thinking about whom might want to read my own writing.”
Get your GEEK on
Many people think they can create a website, go live and just sit back and wait for customers or sales to start. Very rarely does that actually happen. Some websites are static, meaning they never change and it is always the same content. Other sites are dynamic and they are constantly changing with new fresh original content. When a website has something new created and added to a website it is viewed new content and is more likely to be picked up by search engines.
It is a proven fact that sites that are updated on a daily basis are going to come up first in search results. Webmasters can submit a site map to Google and Bing which is basically like going to a library and giving them the outline of a book (your site). What is does is help organize your content so the librarian can give users the most current up to date information. Those who submit site maps go to the front of the line. Others will have to wait as something called a “spider” crawls through every single line of code. Every time you write a new article/blog using correct SEO, it is like you just took your book and threw it on top of all the rest, so it always ranks higher.
Your website should also include some sort of S.E.O. (search engine optimization). Site maps are only part of the plan. If you use WordPress there is something called a “plug-in”, which is specialized software that is written for your WordPress database. Every website I create I incorporate this so my sites always rank at the top of Google, MSN, and Bing. Did you know that Bing actually stands for Because It’s Not Google. Seriously. Amazingly people still use Internet Explorer, but Chrome, Safari and Firefox still rate as the number 1 browsing experience.
If you have customers you have a website. Your website is YOUR platform and you are in control of it. You are not restricted who sees your content. Set up easy subscriptions and RSS for your customers. Many of the social platforms change the rules or tell you what you can or can’t say on their platform. Keep your site new and fresh by writing free interesting articles that your readers will find value. It is your chief marketing objective to always be promoting your website and product or service.
If your website address is too long to remember, shorten it down with an easier URL and then have your webmaster create a permanent redirect link. With the dozens of new domain extensions it is possible for everyone to have an easy to remember domain. Your name is always the preferred first choice.
This article is an introduction of what is to come from the new book Platform MBA. As I dive deeper in the book, I will really get geeky and explain in kid terms how to make it work easily for you. Remember, my first published work is a children’s book. It really helps moving forward talking to grown ups. Would I talk down to a 5 year old as I explained something? No. And I won’t do it to you either. Everyone needs a teacher. Some need a good teacher.
Don’t make the mistake of marketing your website before it is ready. Just like your Facebook business page, your website will get one opportunity to impress users. As a rule of thumb I suggest having at least 30 minutes of worthy content. Have lots of articles, blogs and things to look at on your site. You might have a photo gallery, videos, poetry, the possibilities are endless. Some sites that are really popular may also sell advertising. I tend to shy away from that strategy as I really am not interested taking my readers off my website to go buy some other company’s product. That sure does make sense/cents.
You can easily include a mailing list, such as MailChimp or Constant Contact, both have a WordPress plugin. If you write cool newsletters hinting at even cooler articles you may get a lot of subscribers. Some people might just bookmark your site or just like your Facebook page. If someone really likes you, it is possible they will click “GET NOTIFICATIONS” to always be notified when they log into Facebook. I have a lot of readers who do want to be notified if I post an article, blog or entertaining writing.
New Author Website
New Author Website
In this day and age it is impossible to be an author without having a place to direct your readers. For a lot of authors that may start off with a personal Facebook page, then move to a Facebook Fan page, and then at some point you also create an author website. If you are writing a fiction book, then you will also need a book website. Depending on how successful your fiction characters are, at some point you will also have Facebook fan pages for your characters.
I have created dozens of websites for specific purposes. I have had my business website for selling websites for over 20 years, I created a book site to actively promote the book before launch, and now I have created an author website, specifically related just to me. I do have a personal blog that I have had for years, and it still gets hundreds to thousands of hits every day. That is a good reading site to immerse yourself in my thoughts, ideas and inspirations.
The site you are sitting on right now is the new author site, www.AaronMstephens.com. Just like any business I had to create a logo for my name, brand myself, share information of who I am, where I came from, what I like to do, where I am going, and where you can find my books and signing events.
I am a writer. I have been writing my whole life. The book writing, editing, advertising, marketing and now distribution are all set into place. It has been a never ending challenge learning everything that I needed to know. I have been so busy that I haven’t been able to write anything other than my short little 140 characters on Twitter. @aaronmstephens if you are a Twitter user. I find less commitment to a short random thought.
So I created this site really just for my fans, and for media. It will be a place you can go to find out what events I am doing, things related to books and publishing. It will automatically post to my Facebook Author page, which now has over 42,000 fans. The cool thing with my two Facebook pages, is they are totally different markets and audiences. The author page has mostly guys who are my fans, and the book/angel page is mostly women. Sure there are both, but Facebook tells me all the demographics of the who and the where. There is a little bit of overlap, but not much.
I have designed a lot of websites, and I think that this is one of the coolest ones. I wanted to make it fun. I also needed a place to send people if they wanted to pre-order the book. Even though I wrote a “religious” kids book, I’d really say I wrote a magical “fantasy” kids book. You can call it whatever you like, and after you read it, I think you will agree that it’s not very religious at all. You may notice I use some really cool photos in my websites and marketing. To me, each photo elicits a certain feeling or emotion when you gaze into it momentarily. The main website background of this mysterious little tree that bears a tiny little door with a heart on it. What does the heart represent? Is it love? Who lives there? Is the light on to welcome someone home? So many questions that are left unanswered.
There is just six weeks or so before the book launches, and that really gives me a lot of time for my readers to get to know me more. I have requests almost daily from fans asking me to post more. Facebook is really limited in what it can do for the user, and so this blog will provide a cool fun place for readers.
I don’t know about you, but I get frustrated when I go click on an article and it’s this really wimpy one paragraph or two that really didn’t say anything more than the catchy title. So I will be sure that if I post something it will be worth your time, or at least won’t be one of those trick you blogs and there is nothing to read.
When I originally contacted my church they told me they were full, and then I said I could do it during the day and they told me it was going to be $950 USD! The Tatttered Cover is a very large bookstore in Denver with 3 stores. It has a very strong reputation in Denver and one of the reasons I would like to have my book launch there. The I have sent 3 emails now with no response, so if they don’t want to host me I know Barnes and Noble will OR the Boulder Bookstore will also do it. Boulder is where Rick Riordan is having his book launch next week. As soon as I have it locked down I will update it on this website and also on the Facebook fan page. I plan on writing a lot more for you guys! If you happen to make it all the way to the end of this blog I have a small gift for you. You can go to the official book site: http://angel.academy and there you can read the first chapter of the book. The password is “godloveme”. No quotes.