If you’re an author, you probably have a website.
And if it’s like the typical author website, it’s what I call Author Platform 1.0.
In other words, it’s old-school, with 20 pages of content or less. Or to put it another way, it’s a brochure for your books.
And if you’re not sure what I mean by the word “platform”, it’s the word publishers use when asking you if you have an audience…a large group of people you can reach out to when it comes time to sell your books.
Back when I had my first book published in 2002, by McGraw-Hill, they were very keen to ask about my platform. They wanted to know I had an audience ready and waiting for publication day.
And back then it worked fine to create a ten-page author brochure online…Author Platform 1.0.
But it doesn’t work anymore. For two reasons.
Reason #1: Because the web is too busy and noisy.
The web in 2002 and the web today are two very different places. If you knew even a little bit about the search engines back in 2002, you stood a very good chance of getting your skinny author website in front of a lot of people.
But that isn’t true today.
Today there are billions of new pages, posts and social media updates being posted every day. The web – the social web in particular – has become a screaming, overcrowded, messy and noisy place.
Your skinny little website will be lost in the noise.
I don’t care how good you are at SEO. With a 10 or 20-page website, there is no way you’re going to get much in the way of organic search engine traffic.
To succeed today, you need a much, much bigger website that is truly social.
Reason #2: Because everyone is an author, and nobody knows you.
Again, back in 2002, being a published or soon-to-be-published author gave you a certain credibility.
Everyone knew it was hard to get past the gatekeepers. If you were signed up by a major publisher, it meant you were already one of the chosen few, and presumably worth reading.
Today anyone can self-publish a book. Anyone can be an author. And anyone who is prepared to bend the truth a little can call themselves a bestselling author.
That instant credibility is gone.
And that raises the question…why should I buy your book? I don’t know you. I have no way of knowing whether you’ll deliver the goods.
This lack of instant credibility is a problem that cannot be met with a 10-page author brochure. I have aunts and grandchildren who could sign up for an instant author website service and create a good looking site in a couple of days.
This is why every aspiring author needs to build their online presence around a very different approach – Author Platform 2.0.
With Author Platform 2.0 you give before you ask.
With Author Platform 2.0 you have a site with a lot more pages, and you are constantly writing to your fan base. Not just when you have a novel to pitch. But all the time. Week after week. Year after year.
This isn’t a new idea. Smart authors have been doing it for a long time. It’s just that most authors don’t.
As an example, if you have read the sci-fi and fantasy writing of Cory Doctorow, you have probably also read much of his non-fiction writing at his site Craphound.com, and at BoingBing.net, and elsewhere.
He is constantly giving to his readers. And when he occasionally publishes a new novel, he is never short of buyers. Of course he isn’t…because he has built an audience of people who know, trust and like him.
All fiction writers should take the same approach. Build your platform first. Build your community first. And then pitch your novels.
The same goes for non-fiction authors.
Don’t just write a book and then think, “Dangit, I guess I should create a quick website for this.”
Here is an example of what I could do myself, as a non-fiction writer.
As many people know, in addition to my web writing and copywriting work, I’m also a coffee nut. And for over 7 years now I have been writing a site about gourmet coffee, CoffeeDetective.com.
I get thousands of visitors a day coming to the site. I have a list of fans who have signed up for my newsletter.
In other words, I have an audience of people who know me, trust me and like me as an expert on coffee.
So if I decided to write a book about making gourmet coffee…I would be in a perfect position to attract a ton of early buyers.
As another example, I know someone who writes a website about raising rabbits. She’s a rabbit nut.
She knew she liked writing, but didn’t consider herself an author until her readers started asking for more detailed information. So now she sells ebooks from her site. Her audience asked for them. Now she’s an author.
Best of all, she’s an author with a built-in audience, because of her website.
The best part about the Author Platform 2.0 approach is that is also generates passive income.
Whether you write fiction or non-fiction, if you have a website with dozens and then hundreds of pages – as you add more and more content over time – that website can start earning its own way, and more.
On my coffee site I place ads and affiliate links on pretty much every page.
And since I began the site in 2007 it has earned me over $200,000 in passive income through those ads and links.
That’s more than I have ever earned with any of my books!
In other words, your author website can earn you more than your books do. It becomes a money-making website in its own right.
This is great news for authors, because it gets past the feast and famine aspect of being a writer. Your website will earn you money 365 days a year, day and night. Even when you’re on vacation…or working hard on your next book.
How to write your own money-making website, whether you are an author or a writer planning to become an author.
A few years ago, after experiencing success with my own website about coffee, I sat down and wrote a program to help other people do the same.
Since then, over 1,000 writers have used the program to create their own websites on a very diverse range of topics…from archeology, to roof-top gardening, gluten-free baking, yoga for seniors, finance and dozens of other topics.
Many of those people have then gone on to write and sell ebooks from their sites…and have become authors.
They began with an interest or passion, became practiced writers on that topic while writing their websites, and then discovered they were authors-in-waiting.
And, of course, their websites earn them passive income, just like mine does.
Although I didn’t originally have authors in mind when I developed the program, it now occurs to me that the model I created is also the perfect framework for Author Platform 2.0.
If you are interested in learning about my program, you can find out more here… How to Write Your Own Money-Making Websites.
About the author: Nick Usborne is an online writer, copywriter, author and coach. Read more…
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