From Writers in the Storm:
The best author websites are often the most simple. You don’t need flashy fonts or expensive designs.
Overcomplicating your website with these pricey add-ons can often lead to the opposite of what you’re expecting: fewer sales.
Here are eight common mistakes authors make on their websites and how to avoid them to get better sales on your book.
Yes, you want to sell books, but is that all?
Speaking events, media attention, online courses you’ve created, an upcoming second book, are all things you might wish to promote on a website.
Consider the toothpaste aisle at your local grocery store. Lots of options, lots of different tubes of toothpaste and you know what? It’s overwhelming.
This is decision paralysis, and it can cost you sales.
If you’ve written non-fiction that’s tethered to you or your business, then your primary goal for the homepage likely won’t be selling your book. The goal is probably to get people to use your company, sign up for your consulting, or book you for speaking.
If your book is fiction, then yes you want to have your book on the homepage, but selling your book from the homepage isn’t the top priority either.
Honestly, when was the last time you bought a book off an author website? Probably not recently unless you personally knew the author or are an extremely avid fan. For this reason, I’m going to suggest having a mailing list sign up front and center on your website.
You’ll convert more consumers into fans, followers, and newsletter subscribers and yes, this will also help convert buyers.
I’ve evaluated hundreds of sites and in almost 90% of the cases the reason a site isn’t converting a visitor to a customer is because of the copy.
How do you know if your copy isn’t working? Well, let’s look at some of the biggest issues.
Too much copy: Try to keep your copy between 250 to 100 words, or less if possible.. Make your pages, and your paragraphs, easily digestible and skimmable.
Unfocused copy: Cut right to it and tell your visitors what you have to offer. Be up front about it. Don’t waste precious webpage space on a full paragraph about your dog (maybe unless your book is about your dog). This is your first impression, and those matter.
Requiring the consumer to scroll: Consumers need a really good reason to scroll and even then, it’s pretty iffy. Maybe you have a big banner at the top of your website, and all the books you’ve written scroll along that banner – it’s so pretty, right? Well, sure it is, but now you’re asking potential readers to scroll to get to the good stuff. Sadly, most won’t.
Notice how your eye scans the page on popular retail sites like Amazon
If you’re like 99.9% of consumers, you scan websites in a Z fashion. This means that your eye starts in the upper left-hand quadrant (so where your book cover is) then scans the book title and finally lands on the price, before the eye wanders down the page.
So what does this mean for your website?
Well, consider what’s in your upper left-hand quadrant, what’s across the top, and what’s on the right side. If there are no calls to action and nothing incentivizing your consumer to stay longer, learn more or sign up for something that benefits them in some way, then you’ve wasted a very valuable opportunity.
Your last online purchase was probably made on your phone, right?
Google has even updated its SEO triggers to include mobile optimization. This essentially means if you don’t have a mobile version of your website, you likely won’t come up in search.
Keep in mind that even if you don’t care about being found on Google, non-mobile websites are much harder to read and navigate on a small screen. While it’s important to appease Google, it’s also important to make sure your consumer isn’t sent to something they can’t read or navigate through.
So I always pull up author websites on my phone when I’m doing evaluations, and I encourage you to do the same.
Ideally, you should have only 4-5 choices in your main navigation, and then drop downs under each if you really have a lot to offer people.
Author websites that give consumers too many options at the jump drive away sales. Visitors don’t want options, they want answers.
If you want them to spend time on your site, make your navigation easy, clear, and prioritize their time in smart ways. Don’t give irrelevant options that get them off track or drive them away entirely.
This goes back to decision paralysis. Don’t just promote everything equally and let your buyer choose, tell your buyer what they need.
Link to the rest at Writers in the Storm