I have some bad news for first-time authors.
Nobody cares about your book.
Nobody cares about your newsletter.
Nobody comes to your site looking to subscribe to your blog posts—nobody.
Oh, people will come.
They come looking for an answer to a question.
They are trying to solve a problem.
They are looking for information they can trust.
Maybe they want you to entertain them.
Sometimes the searcher is in a tough place. That’s what motivates a lot of people to take action. It could be frustration, not being able to find an answer you desperately need. Or it could be a physical pain.
Years ago I got a pretty nasty case of poison oak. (For those on the east coast of the U.S., it’s very similar to poison ivy.) I was on a walk through some woods with my son. At a certain point in order to continue on the trail, we had to get up and over the trunk of a large tree that had fallen across the trail.
I didn’t notice the poison oak growing there, and hoisted myself up, straddling the trunk to get myself over to the other side. I’ll let you imagine just how uncomfortable this became when, later that night, an angry red rash developed which, sure enough, soon turned into lots of leaking, itchy pustules. Ugh.
Like anyone else, I started searching online for something that would give me more relief than I was getting from Caladryl, and I wanted it right now. That was the only thing I could think about.
Sure enough, I found someone online with a small site selling a “cure” that—he claimed—was the only thing that could solve my problem. It was a very expensive little jar of cream, about $65 as I recall.
Did I care about the price? Nope. All I wanted to know was, did he ship Fedex? I wanted it now.
But here’s what’s intesting for anyone with a site based on expertise and authority. He didn’t call his site “Interesting information on poisonous plants”, or “Avoiding poisonous plants in riparian woodlands.” No, of course not.
He called it something like “Get rid of poison oak itching and discomfort fast, guaranteed!” And he had plenty of content on the site in the form of articles that explained all the benefits to poison oak sufferers of his magic cream.
That’s what I was interested in, and the seller knew exactly what people who actually had poison oak were looking for.
By the same token, it’s absolutely urgent for you to understand why people might be looking for you and for your information (and by extension, your book).
(And isn’t that the essence of marketing?)
Those people, and their interest in your solutions, your stories, and your help, are the key to making sure enough people care about your book when you publish it.
Do you want to sell books?
Do you want to engage the right readers?
You’ll need traffic, people, eyeballs, interest, attention.
5 Kinds of Traffic
Starting out, it can be hard to figure out where the people are and how they will ever find your site, or your book landing page, or a sales page, or a place where they can learn more about you and your book.
To think more strategically about this, it’s helpful to take a higher-level look at 5 kinds of traffic and how it travels.
- Organic/Search—Google and other search engines (there are still other search engines, right?) are in the business of providing answers. How well do you provide answers to questions that you know from experience will be asked over and over again?
- Direct—People will type your URL into their browser if they see it in an advertisement, in a book, on a handout at an event. Or they might have already bookmarked your site in their browser. All the traffic coming from these sources is direct traffic.
- Referral—When someone clicks a link on a different site that leads to your site, they have been referred. These links can be crucial to your reputation within your field, because each link from someone is a recommendation for your authority on the subject at hand.
- Social—There’s so much traffic from sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest we now track this flow separately, since it relies solely on links on these sites. Keep in mind this can be either free or paid traffic, since it can include traffic from links within ads you’ve paid for. Traffic from these sites will depend on the size of the audience you’ve built there and their level of engagement with what you’re doing.
- Paid—There are many ways to drive traffic through paid ads, whether from ads on Amazon, Facebook, or other sites, or from banner ads or other site-specific links. You can also get traffic from sponsorships, giveaways, contests, and other promotions.
From looking at this list it’s obvious that all that traffic should be directed to either one of two places:
- A page where people can learn more about and buy your book
- A page where they can sign up to be on your email list
Thinking in advance about how you’re going to market your books will lead you to exploit as many of these traffic sources as you can. Many authors grow their readerships—and their email lists—dramatically during a book launch, and you can too.
Check out these other resources on building the community that will help support your publishing projects for years to come, and let me know what kind of traffic strategies have worked for you?
More on Traffic for Your Site
- The Holy Trinity of Abundant Blog Traffic
- Author Blogging 101: 11 Sources of Organic Traffic
- Author Blogging 101: Where Are the Readers?
- Author Blogging 101: Linking for Traffic
Photo: Wikimedia Commons