Open for Business? Don’t Make This Mistake
A friend told me about a bakery she thought had the best bread. Then, she also saw that they were selling New Haven style pizza. But, they didn’t have any set hours posted, and it was serendipitous if you happened upon the bakery when it was open. Don’t make this mistake!
Sometimes an A-frame sandwich board appears on the sidewalk. As I drive by I can see it. I have gone past it several times. I am interested in trying out their bread, and the sign says they have New Haven-style pizza.
I saw the sign today and decided I would overcome my fear that they were only teasing me once again with the promise of being open for business. Traffic was light, so I pulled into the parking lot. I parked my car and walked up to the entrance. ￼￼
The time of my visit to the shop was 10:40 a.m. Based on their two signs, the store should have been open. It was closed, as it had been on each of my previous visits to this bakery.
I’d like to do business with them if only I could enter the store and find them open. I’ve had little success even with the newly posted hours of operation. My friend told me that finding them open was a bit random. I may give this business and another chance, but, maybe not. I don’t seem to be able to get there when they are “OPEN FOR BUSINESS.”
Perhaps the law scarcity is at work. I think there is a lack of awareness about serving people and being open and available for them to buy what they have to sell. I am not happy. I was drawn to their bakery by the sandwich board twice. Both times I was disappointed to find the business wasn’t open! Don’t make this mistake when you self-publish.
As an Author, Are You Open For Business?
If you’re wondering what this has to do with you as an author, I’m glad I piqued your curiosity. When you are self-publishing, you need to be open for business. What does that mean?
Here are 12 Things you need to do to be prepared and Open for Business:
- Register your name or the name of your publishing company, your online home. It is your domain name, your URL. URL stands for Uniform Resource Locator. It is the unique address of a web page. Consider registering your name as your primary domain which will allow you to gain recognition as an author and it gives you flexibility as you develop your author platform.
- Set up a business bank account. Track all of your expenses for writing, publishing and promoting your work. Here is a step-by-step guide to setting up a book publishing company.
- Set up your WordPress site using WordPress.org. The software is free and easy to use. If you aren’t comfortable with technology, many qualified WordPress experts can help you. With WordPress, you can be up and be running in less than an hour. In most cases, you will be able to add new content yourself without needing to hire a consultant.
- Pick a theme for your website. There are many free WordPress themes available. There are many professional themes available from a few dollars to around $100. Take a look at the sites and themes offered by Studio Press, WP engine, and Theme Forest. There are themes specifically made for authors. All you need to do is search for a theme that matches your style and your intentions.
- Pick an email service provider. Your personal email is for sending out and receiving email one message at a time. A service provider allows you to send out a message to a large number of addresses at a time. You want to build an email list and stay in touch with your audience. Building your list is crucial if you want to sell lots of books! You need an email service provider to send out email messages that are will be delivered. Constant Contact, AWeber, Mail Chimp, GetResponse are among the top email service providers for authors and small businesses. Infusionsoft and Salesforce have more features and can do more than manage your email list, however, they are pricey and probably not what you need when you are just starting out. If you want to read more, look at these are articles that compare and review these email service providers. Some services offer a free trial so you can see if what they offer is a match for what you need and your level of technical skill. Remember, you can always hire an expert to set up and run your email service and campaigns.
- Create email opt-in forms for your blog. Every time someone comes to visit your website you want to give them a reason to give you their email. Make it easy, make visible, make it irresistible. Your lead magnet is the content you offer in exchange for your visitor giving you their email address. All of the services listed above will allow you to create a form you can put on your website where visitors can give you permission to send them emails by giving you their email address. Your opt-in is the gateway to growing your email list. Your email list is gold. It doesn’t matter if you’re starting from zero or if you already have an email list with thousands of names. Building an engaged email list will pay off when you publish your book and when you publish your second and third books. You may be planning to offer to coach or provide consulting services related to your book, develop courses, webinars, or sell products and services made by others. When you have an engaged email list, you have the opportunity to give away great content and get to know your audience so that you offer what they want. It gives you a way to develop trust and get feedback.
- Your Lead Magnet is a Free Giveaway. It doesn’t have to be fancy. It doesn’t have to be big. It can be a list of resources, a list of tips, a collection of articles you authored, and it could be a video, a recording, something that is valuable to your audience. Don’t spend a lot of time creating your giveaway. You can change it later after you have gotten feedback from your audience that tells you more precisely what they want or if they want something else. Think about what you know that other people don’t know and share that information as your lead magnet. Give yourself 24 hours or less to create your free giveaway to attract the kind of readers you want.
- Start writing for your blog. Before you publish your blog, right 5 to 10 articles that establish who you are and reveal what people will find on your website. These foundation articles will probably be between 1000 and 2000 words long. They establish your point of view. Don’t be afraid to be controversial. The point of creating these foundation articles is to show how you think, how you write, and your message, your passion, and inspiration and why you write. Remember, you want people to read, follow, and trust you. These articles are like conversations you would have if you were dating your audience. Be authentic, be yourself, and write with intention as you picture who you are writing for and why. When you have your 5 to 10 foundation articles written, edited, and proofed for spelling and grammar, it is time to publish them on your blog. The best foundation articles are timeless also known as evergreen content. If you’re not sure what to write, take a look at authors and thought leaders in your genre. Study what is working for them. It’s okay to learn from others. Modeling your site on a website you enjoy will help you get started. Here are some author blogs that may inspire you:
- Set up an auto-responder sequence for new subscribers to your email list. Send them a series of emails spaced 3-days apart. Welcome them to your community (your email list). Send them emails with more great content, like a link to one of your foundation articles. This series of emails is known as an auto-responder sequence. Emails go out to your list of subscribers after a particular event occurs or time has elapsed. In this case, you are following up with subscribers who have asked for your lead magnet. You are establishing how you will stay in touch and what they can expect from you.
- Look for places where there is already traffic, like the blogs of those who are leaders in your field of interest. If you are new to blogging, it’s likely that you don’t have many people who would be looking for your website, yet. A proven way to gain followers is to publish valuable and exciting content as a guest blogger on a well-read site. Pick a site that has a similar audience to the one you want to build. Follow that blog and begin by reading the type of content that is published there. Contribute comments that add value to the conversation. Contact the blog owner by email and let them know how much you appreciate their blog. Let them know you would be interested in providing a guest post and why you think it would be of interest to their readers. Ask if that would be of interest and thank them again for inspiring you. Follow up until you get either a yes or no about providing a guest post. Some blogs have guest posting guidelines and policies posted. Do this with 5 to 10 of your favorite blogs. Guest posting great content with an “author box” that includes your website address can help you grow your audience quickly.
- Include a link to your blog on any social channels where you have a public profile and always include a link back to your blog when you publish on other websites.
- Each time you add new information to your blog, include a link to your blog post in status updates on your social channels. Don’t make yourself crazy. You can be very successful using one or two social channels persistently. It isn’t necessary to be on all of the social channels. Pick the ones where you audience is most active. If you aren’t sure which ones are best for you, observe the types of conversations that are taking place and who is participating. Join a group and be respectful and generous. People gravitate to those who are helpful. None of us what to be sold. Focus on building trust.
- Include a link to your website on printed materials, like business cards, posters, postcards, bookmarks. Make it easy for people to find you.
- Social channels where you are likely to find your audience:
• iTunes (Podcasts)
- Include a digital media kit on your website. Include professional photographs of you for download by news outlets and event planners. Speaking is a way to promote your expertise and will help sell more books.
Joan Stewart, aka “The Publicity Hound” offers expert tips for setting up your online media kit, https://publicityhound.com/blog/author-media-kit-include-8-essential-items.
A good example to emulate once you have published your book, http://www.thebookdesigner.com/companion/media-kit/. It includes:
• An image of the book cover
• Press Release
• Author photo
• Author Bio
• Sample interview with Joel Friedlander
• Sample chapter from the book, A Self-Publishers Companion
• Plus a link to a download of everything in the entire media kit
• The book information (publisher, ISBN’s, ASIN for Kindle), about the author, testimonials and purchase information
Ready, Set, Open for Business
As you can see, there is a lot to do before you are ready to open up your publishing business and launch your author website. The good news, you don’t have to do it alone, and you don’t have to do it all in one day.
I recommend you start by taking some time where you are undisturbed and write down all of your ideas on a sheet of paper or use mind mapping software for your brain dump. Just let it all out.
- Review all of your thoughts and ideas and organize them.
- Prioritize your goals.
- Create a step-by-step action place of what you will do and what you need to accomplish your goals.
- Work your plan.
- Make adjustments along the way.
- Get help if you need it.
- Open a business bank account.
- Write 5-10 foundation articles.
- Get your domain name.
- Set-up WordPress.
- Post your foundation articles.
- Create a lead magnet.
- Sign up for an email service provider.
- Create an auto-responder series to deliver your lead magnet and follow up with subscribers to your email list.
- Add an opt-in form to your website.
- Launch your website.
- Post updates on social channels that link back to your website.
- Publish guest posts on other blog sites with traffic.
- Keep writing on a regular basis.
- Stay in touch with your audience.
- Ask people what they want and give it to them.
Make a plan, set a goal, set a date and get started.
Writing your foundation articles will probably take the most time. Setting up your email opt-in forms and choosing and using an email service provider is critical, and will also take a bit of time. Once it is set up, your autoresponder series will work for you every hour of every day and help you to grow your email list.
You can get help with any or all of the steps listed
Even some of the most successful people with large followings didn’t get it right the first time. Jeff Goins will tell you all the things he did wrong with his first blog. He learned from his mistakes, and now he helps other people avoid the potholes and pitfalls he encountered on the way to building his following.
My advice to you is get ready to open your virtual doors. Announce that you are open using email, social channels, and traditional media channels. Let people know how to stay in touch and when they can reach you. You will probably change things once you get started and get feedback from your audience. With the freedom to improve and adjust built into WordPress, you can get started now and keep improving as you learn.
Don’t make the same mistake as this bakery. They may have a good product, but I haven’t been able to experience it yet. They may never win me over as a customer because I have been disappointed so many times. This situation could turn out to be a very costly mistake when you multiply my experience by all of the other people who have been eager to buy but couldn’t find the right time to connect with the bakery. The bakery has been very effective at putting up barriers to my becoming a customer. I wonder if they know they have lost business because of their behavior? I can’t tell them because so far, they are never open when I expect them to be!
Marketing is a conversation
Get Ready and Open for Business. Let’s talk about how to get people talking about you!