Web Marketing for Writers

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Cover image of Web Marketing for Writers

Last weekend I spoke at the monthly roundtable of the Pittsburgh Writing Project. My topic was Web Marketing for Writers — a subject close to my heart, both as a writer and as one who has helped many writers establish and maintain an online presence.

You can download the Powerpoint file here:  Web Marketing for Writers (PPT)

Or if you prefer a PDF: Web Marketing for Writers Presentation (PDF file)

(You’re free to use or adapt this presentation, but please attribute the content to me and Big Big Design, and link back to bigbigdesign.com.)

We had a fine discussion, with several members of the group offering tips from their own experience.

Tip for presenters: You will benefit greatly by having someone in the audience corroborate what you say and offer examples from a different and complementary perspective. In this talk, my unexpected collaborator was Paul Kelly, publisher at St. Lynn’s Press.

Paul’s perspective (I’m paraphrasing): Every writer who wants to be published must have a website — it’s required for credibility and for creating and building your marketing platform. As a publisher, he loves to see that a writer has developed an audience, and the web makes that possible. Show that you’ve got 5,000 or more web visitors a month, interested in what you have to say, and you’re much more likely to be offered a publishing contract.

Client-site launch: SherrieFlick.com

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Sherrie Flick is a writer and a co-founder of the wonderful Gist Street Reading Series. Her first novel, Reconsidering Happiness, will be published this year. In preparation for marketing that book, she needed a website — one that would showcase her published works and promote her other endeavors.

We felt a blog would be a good addition to the site. It would show her friendly and down-to-earth personality and style, and it would help the site rank better in search engines. But Sherrie wasn’t sure blogging would be right for her. She likes to focus her writing energies on her work, and the idea of placing her personal life online made her uncomfortable.

So instead of a standard-issue blog, we designed a template that’s like the mini-blog format used by Vox and Tumblr. Each entry is a simple photo with caption or a single sentence, so there’s no requirement to write a multiparagraph post. Unlike a miniblog though, we left in the tools for commenting, and we set up a style for a long post in case she ever does want to write a full post.

And the site and blog are all built in WordPress, so she can create new posts and manage her site within a single place.

Client site launch: One-Woman Show

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Screenshot of One-Woman Show

I’ve known Susan Courtad for several years, ever since she enrolled in Fat Plum‘s Book Boot Camps to get feedback and guidance on the novel she’d been working on. She’s a smart and funny writer (and a fabulous person), so when she started blogging last year I wasn’t surprised to find she’s a smart and funny blogger too.

This year, as she wrapped up work on that novel and prepared to query agents and find a publisher, she decided to move her blog from the free WordPress hosting to her own website, where she could have greater control of the content. She asked us to create a site that would fit her writing and her personal style, as well as the theme of her novel.

To give the site a distinctive and unique look, we called on the talented illustrator Rachel Arnold Sager. Rachel took the juggling concept (a major theme of Susan’s novel, which she’d reinforced on the blog) plus a couple of recent photos of Susan, and created a sassy, sexy, fun character who’s doing her best to keep everything under control and (mostly) succeeding.

The new site — One-Woman Show — is also flexible and resilient, so Susan can add new pages and features as needed — such as when her novel is published and ready for sale!