Sunday, May 31, 2015

Recent Interview at FirstSiteGuide.com

This is a recent interview about blogging and optimizing your web-presence via social-media sites. Interviewed by the good folk at firstsiteguide.com.

I was born and raised in New Zealand and I am the author of the novel ‘Blood Related.’ I operate a small freelance marketing and design business when I’m not writing my books. I mainly write horror and thriller fiction mostly, but I have also ventured into literary fiction, a bit of sci-fi, Young Adult and, more recently, kids stories.
William Cook Interview - Author Pic
Please tell us something about yourself. Is blogging your profession or just a hobby?
As a writer, Blogging is an integral part of my author platform. What started out as a hobby nearly ten years ago, has now grown into an essential part of my marketing strategy as my career as an author has progressed.


When did you get an idea to launch your own blog and how important is it for you be online?
With the release of my first novel, Blood Related, I began blogging seriously. It is critical for indie authors to market their own books as it is for mainstream authors also. Most publishers offer limited marketing, especially social-media advertising and promotion, so authors need to learn how to market their books online or they’ll have a limited chance of success with their book sales. A blog can be networked with social media platforms very easily with automated widgets and sharing options that are built into most of the blogging platforms. I use WordPress, Blogger and Tumblr for my blogs. All are networked with each other and all are linked to my various social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, etc) so that every time I post a new article on my (main) blog/s an automated post is fired out to all my SM networks. It is very important for me, as a writer and publicist, to be online and to respond quickly to my readers comments and to market trends that may impact book sales and site visits. The more available I am, the more interaction I have with my readers and potential readers, and the more book sales I generate.
Did you have someone help you make the website or did you do it by yourself?
Nope. Taught myself to build my blogs and sites. It has taken over ten years of constant refinement, honing, and experimentation to get to where I am currently but it has been relatively straight-forward. Help is readily available through most of these platforms via their forums and YouTube channels which offer easy-to-follow tutorials and trouble-shooting guides. My various blogs have different features but essentially have a uniformity that extends my platform reach exponentially. I promote my websites and blogs with each other and have a couple of mirror-sites that replicate the content of particular blogs to effectively extend my reach and enhance SEO via search engines etc.
William Cook Interview - Corpus Delicti Book Frontpage
The right domain name is important. How long did it take you to come up with the domain name for your blog?
Not long. For an author it is a no-brainer really. The domain name should either direct traffic via your own name or the title of the book. My main website is http://williamcookwriter.com – fairly self-explanatory really. Another of my sites’ domain name is http://3cagency.co.nz and, you guessed it, reflects the name of my business.
What kind of Theme do you use on your blog and what are the “must have” plugins for a blog?
I prefer a simple, slightly minimalist theme, although my main site is quite busy and houses a vast amount of information, pages and posts. I prefer widgets to plug-ins as I have found that some plug-ins interfere with my readers experience if they don’t have the same plug-ins and some can also create a portal for malware etc. Some plugins have caused sites to crash and have created compatibility issues with browsers and anti-virus/adware software. I do have specific and essential ones for social-media sharing but I try to keep them to a minimum to maximize my sites’ compatibility with viewers browsers and online capabilities. The main ones to have for a blog would be social media plugins, SEO plugins, cache plugins, related posts plugins, and pinging plugins. If the right combination is used, your site visibility will be improved and also rankings via search engines. My rule of thumb is, if it’s not going to increase visitors to my site and maximize my site’s potential, don’t use it.
What CMS (Content Management System) do you use on your blog? How hard is it to navigate within your CMS (making a new post, inserting images, moderating comments, etc.)?
I use the CMSs that are supplied with the various blog/website platforms I use. Most of them are fairly simple and have easy-to-sue dashboards that make managing my site/blog content a breeze. I do most of the formatting for my posts/articles via Microsoft Office before uploading to the site. For downloads etc I use Dropbox which allows links etc. My email newsletter is supplied by Mailchimp which easily integrates with most of the blogging and website platforms. All In all, fairly easy to use with regular tweaks. Like everything, the more practice and usage, the more proficient one becomes at utilizing these tools.
 William Cook Interview - Moment of Freedom Book Frontpage
How much time do you spend blogging?
I make an effort to blog at least one-two times per month on each blog I manage. Usually, I will try to promote others in my network as well as my own things. A small blog post followed by a larger more information-heavy post once a month seems to work well and gives each post time to be read by most of the blog followers etc before it becomes archived. I do updates, edits, and comment moderation etc most days however, and probably average between 5-10 hours a week on maintaining my blogs.
How do you promote your blog? Do you use social media channels to attract more visitors to your blog?
Yes. Linkedin is proving quite an effective way of promoting my blogs, as is Google+, Facebook (of course), Twitter and Pinterest. Quite often I’ll have a giveaway in the form of a free book that I will promote across all my social media newtworks which usually generates a lot of interest and site traffic. Recently, I have been doing a series of interviews called Secrets of Best-Selling Self-Published Authors which has proved incredibly popular and has resulted in a big surge of site visits. The content and the promotion all feed into one another, i.e. if you haven’t got good content, it doesn’t matter how much you promote the blog, you will not get the same amount of new subscribers and repeat visitors. Quality content = more subscribers/visitors. Make it fresh, stay on trend, and remember to write well and use quality visuals to compliment your posts.
Is there a way to monetize (make money) through a blog?
Sure, but it depends on what you’re selling (i.e. if you have a product) and/or if your content and site-visit numbers support offering advertising or affiliate sales. Because I have a number of books for sale at any given moment, I use the Amazon Associates affiliate program which basically earns me a small slice of revenue each time someone clicks through on the supplied link and buys a product from the Amazon website. I have turned down offers to advertise other people’s/company’s products on my sites for two reasons, one – their product/s did not compliment my own and, two – I don’t want the followers of my blog to have to put up with scrolling through advertisements. I think it makes a website look tacky, especially if all you see are automated ads for dating sites etc. Nothing worse than reading an article and having it interrupted with ads. But that’s just my opinion, I make money from my blog, but indirectly through the sale of the books that I promote within the various articles/posts and in static sidebar adverts that are clearly listed and don’t interfere with the reading of the articles/content. Many blogs I visit have advertising and it’s not long before it gets tiring and downright offensive if you have to navigate between posts with ads for dubious dating sites and ‘Buy! Buy! Buy!’ in-your-face pop-ups etc.
 William Cook Interview - Thanks for Visiting Message
Would you encourage other people to make their own blogs?
Of course. If you have something to say and good things to share, blogging is the perfect platform to make your online presence felt. As I suggested above: make it fresh, stay on trend, and remember to write well and use quality visuals to compliment your posts. Above all, have fun and interact with your blogging community/network as it grows. There are thousands of blogs and bloggers out there who love to connect with readers and other bloggers. Develop a network, interact, post quality content that other people will be interested in reading and before long you’ll have steady traffic if you make regular posts. The possibilities are endless.

Photos ©: William Cook

firstsiteguide.com, blogging, SEO, Web Content, Social Media, Social Media Marketing, Marketing, #GrowthHacks, William Cook, 3cagency

How to Set Up Your International Amazon Author Central Pages

Setting Up Your International Amazon Author Central Pages 
By William Cook

If you’re an author and you publish with Amazon, chances are you have an author page. Right? If not, you really should if you want to sell books and get readers interested in you as an author. If you already do have an author page on either Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.Com (U.S.) did you know that you could also have an author page in France, Germany, and Japan? What author doesn’t want to sell more books, especially to an international audience? After all, even if all your titles are in English, it is still the third-most-common native language in the world so it makes sense to have an international presence on the international Amazon sites. 

Many authors who have an author page usually only have either a U.K. or U.S. presence. Many authors neglect to make sure that they have both a U.K. and a U.S. page, let alone a page on one of the three international sites (see below). Obviously, having an author page written in the native language of each respective Amazon site can help to establish an international presence as an author. The following information will help you create your Amazon author page on the sites that are available for you as an Amazon author.

International Amazon Sites

Amazon is currently represented in the following countries:

 
Despite the above Amazon sites, many of them do not currently offer Author Central, but there seems to be a move to offer this service across all Amazon sites. If you can’t find an Author Central site for a certain country it is just a matter of time and patience. Netherlands, for example, has recently launched their Amazon site and Author Central will hopefully follow shortly.

International Amazon Author Central Sites

Here are the links to the sites currently available:


UK – https://authorcentral.amazon.co.uk/gp/landing?

Germany – https://authorcentral.amazon.de/gp/landing?

France – https://authorcentral.amazon.fr/gp/landing?

Japan – https://authorcentral.amazon.co.jp/gp/landing?


Understanding International Amazon Author Central Sites*


1.     Open your Amazon.com Author Central page so you can compare the layout and prompts (these seem to be the same across all platforms).

2.     The best option is to use Google Translate while you create your page unless you are able to get someone to translate your bio details beforehand in the desired language. Google translate proved effective when I did mine, especially in regard to reading inline text on each site. However, as stated above, most of it can be done if you compare it to your .com author page, i.e. by association.  

3.    Cut and paste your bio into Google translate and then copy translated text to the appropriate section of your Author bio and enter details. Upload photo and select your books from the biblio search engine just as you did on your main author page when you first set it up.

*This is not a foolproof method by any means but will help you get a feel for the different sites and, if you’re patient and refer back to your main author page, should help. Also, most of the sites will allow you to sign in with the same email and password you use via your Amazon.com account, but some will require you to set up a new Amazon account with them, i.e. If your regular log-on doesn’t work just create a new one.

Things to watch out for
Most of the international author pages won’t allow you the same features as the main site. For example, your blog feed can not be integrated but they all offer Twitter feed options and will usually update this automatically if you include a twitter link in your bio. Double check that your twitter feed is live to ensure maximum exposure – once again you will have to compare with your main author page to determine the layout links etc.  I always include my website and twitter address in the body of my bio details so that, even if the option isn’t available to synchronize your social media platforms via the author central platform, at least it will be present in your bio to allow readers to connect with you. If you can’t find a utility or feature that you have on the main site (i.e. authorcentral.amazon.com) then it probably isn’t available so don’t worry, just fill out everything you can and go from there.


The following video from John Weisenberger should be of some visual help:
 
 
Have you already set up your author page on international Amazon sites? Do you have any information or tips that I haven’t outlined? Please leave a comment, I’d love to hear from you. Best of luck.




My international Amazon Author Pages:

Amazon U.S.



#Amazon, Amazon, Amazon.de, Amazon.fr, Amazon.jp, Author Central, How to set-up your Amazon Author Page, International Author Central, William Cook