Who Wants Some Free Advertising?

I struggled mightily with what to name this article. I thought about “How to get the most out of a free Google AdWords trial” but that seemed a little boring. “Experiments of a AdWords Cheapskate” was closer to the mark but I ended up going with “Who Wants Some Free Advertising?” because that’s exactly what this article is about.

In a post I wrote a few weeks ago I talked about AdWords, mentioned some pitfalls and said that we hadn’t used it previously, but had just signed up for a free $80 credit to test. I’ve now played with AdWords for a while and identified two strategies that may help an indie author bring visitors to their site.

If you’ve been following my posts, you’ve probably signed up for an AdWords account so you can perform some free and easy keywords analysis. If you haven’t used AdWords for placing ads yet, you should be eligible for a free trial credit. I googled “AdWords” and the top advertisement was from Google and had a link for $75 in free credit. It gave me a code to use when I logged into my AdWords account.  When I applied the code, my credit balance changed to $80. I absolutely love the fact that I never had to give them any credit card information, so there’s no chance of exceeding the budget I pick for my ads.

When you first start, you create a “campaign”. You pick the region(s) you want your ad displayed in, what you’re daily maximum budget is, what by default you’re willing to pay per click, your targeted demographics, what search terms you want your ads displayed for and then you create your ad. I made demographics bold there because you really shouldn’t just gloss over that option. Advertisers a decade ago would have done anything for the type of targeting that we can now do easily on the net. I’ve read some of Lizzy’s books and loved them, but I’m not the target audience. I set our ads up to show for females only.

I made a text ad which stated that we had Free Romance eBooks for your Kindle, Nook, iPad, eReader or Kobo. The ad sat with a status of “under review” for 72 hours and was then declined. When I called to find out why I was told I couldn’t use Kindle or iPad in my ad. That’s lesson one for this. If you’re going to be targeting ads for a specific day (i.e. book launch) then get your ads in ahead of time and get them approved.

I went after females and the keywords “free romance eBooks” and “free romance novels”. Google politely suggested that I pay up to $0.65 a click.  I agreed to their terms and set my daily budget to $10. Google showed my ad 2,700 times and sent me 21 clicks at an average $0.49 a click. $10.33 gone and 21 visitors to show for it. I’m glad it was their money and not mine 🙂 Google left me an alert suggesting that my daily budget was causing me to miss out on a lot of impressions and that I should raise it. No thanks.

For the next two days, I lowered the amount I was willing to pay to $0.25 a click. In those two days Google showed my ad 4,500 times, and I got 88 clicks for my $20.75. $0.24 a visitor is a lot better then $0.49 a visitor, but I wasn’t done yet. I channeled my inner tightwad and told Google I would only pay $0.14 a click. That day Google showed my ad 2,840 times and gave my 59 clicks for $8.21. I was actually happy with $0.14 per visitor but I had to see how far I could push it.

Lowering my bid to $0.12 a click dropped it to 1,927 impressions and 31 visitors at a cost of $3.70. I was surprised I had gotten down this far and was still getting shown. I had to try $0.05 a click, right?? I did $0.05 a click for two days and got 1,029 impressions and 15 clicks for $0.54 total cost. $0.12 to $0.05 was a big drop in traffic.

I knew I wouldn’t get much but I had to try $0.01. To my amazement I got 114 impressions but no clicks. I can’t imagine what sites Google has me at the bottom of with my generous offer to give them $0.01 of their own money back.

I spoke to the Google AdWords representative on the phone and he told me there was no time limit on using the credits once they were applied to your account.  By all means, go grab them now if you already haven’t. How you should use them is up to you but two strategies seem to stand out.

1: If you have a book launch, signing, or other big event you want to draw people into, this could be a free easy way. If I had set my daily budget to $40 and my per click to $0.25, then I probably would of gotten about 250 visitors in that two day period. If that sounds appealing to you, then go for it.

2: If you don’t want to draw a lot of people at once but rather over time at an inexpensive cost, then try the “trickle” method. If my $0.05 numbers hold out over a long period of time then I will pull in ~15 people a day over the course of almost 4 months, for a total of 1600.

If you use the free credits Google offers, you’re getting free, no risk advertising for your site. Remember that these figures are for the keywords I chose, and that the cost for keywords can very greatly depending on their popularity. $0.25 may get you great placement for these words, but no visibility on more popular terms.

If you do take advantage of the Google AdWords credits, please post back here and let me know what keywords you picked, what they were costing you and your results!

How to do SEO Competitive Analysis for Free

SEO firms charge a lot of money to do competitive analysis for your keyword phrases, we’re going to talk about how you can do a lot of this yourself for free. In our post and video a few weeks ago we talked about using Google keywords to find out how often the keywords you’re interested in are searched in Google. So if you’ve watched that then you’ve probably already brainstormed a list of keywords and taken a few minutes to type them into Google keywords tool to see how much search traffic each of the terms get. This step alone puts you well above most website owners when it comes to knowing which terms to optimize your website for.

Once you’ve got your terms and how much traffic they get, the next step is to find out how much competition there is for each of those terms. If you know how much volume to expect for each of the terms AND how hard it will be to get a good ranking for each of the terms you can make informed decisions about how to optimize your site. This will give you an advantage over almost all of the other website owners out there as most don’t do any form of competitive analysis at all.

If you’ve been reading my articles you know that if you’re trying to optimize a page for a term you really need to use that term in the title of that web page. Not only can you use this to optimize you’re own page, but you can use it to gauge the competition! How? By using a tiny trick in Google.

As I write this if I type “read free romance novels” into Google I see that there are over 4.5 million results for that term. That doesn’t help me much as I don’t want to know how many results there are, I want to know how many people are optimizing for that term. They are going to be my competition. So if I go back to Google and type in “allintitle: read free romance novels” I see there are 408 results. What did I just do? By using the allintitle: switch in Google I’m telling Google to only show me pages where the term “read free romance novels” is in the title of my page. With this info for each of my terms I can now figure out where to focus my efforts to get the best results. Is this everything that a SEO firm performing competitive analysis would do? Probably not, but it’s quick, easy, free and not many people do it. Below is a YouTube video I just made where I demonstrate this trick and talk about how to use it. As always, please feel free to post any questions or comments.

How to Create Effective Landing Pages

In posts earlier this month we talked about how to pick good keywords for your site and using landing pages to help you get “long tail” traffic from search engines. Today I’m going to write about how to optimize your landing page for the keywords you choose.

In order to demonstrate the concept I just created a page a few minutes ago to target people looking for “free online romance reads“. This isn’t a popular term with only 140 searches each month in the U.S. according to Google but I picked it because our site isn’t currently ranked in the top 100 for it so it will be a perfect test case.

If you haven’t already, click on the page and check it out. The first thing to look at is the URL itself. I’ve got the keyword phrase “free online romance reads” in the name. That’s an important piece. You should also notice I use the term in the title of the page “Free Online Romance Reads by Lizzy Ford”, the main heading or “h1” tag on the page is also my keyword phrase. None of these are 100% must haves but they all help.

Now for the text itself. The first sentence has the phrase in it, but then I only get a chance to sneak it in one more time in the text. Is that enough? I think so because the page is short. A good general rule of thumb on longer articles is to have your keywords be about 5% of your total content. My page is 318 words long and 8 them are keywords for a total of about 2.5%. Should I sneak the phrase in another time? Nah, it’s fine. I think a third use of would appear unnatural and I’ve already used it in the page name, page title and header.

It really can be a fine line sometimes between using your keyword enough to get a good ranking in Google, and using it too much and getting penalized for “spamming” your keywords. Did I pull it off? We’ll find out shortly. As I said earlier our site currently isn’t ranked in the top 100 results of Google for that term. The term isn’t very popular so if we want to rank for it and are willing to put in the effort we should be able to. If in a week or two we’re still not ranked for “Free Online Romance Reads” then it’s back to the drawing board. If I wake up in two day’s and we’re on the front page of Google for them, then mission accomplished and you got a front row seat for the creation of a landing page that is pulling traffic from Google to our site.

More SEO Tips for your Author Website or Blog

We’ve been doing quite a few posts about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) lately. SEO isn’t hard the same way calculus is hard, but it can be very time consuming and is constantly changing.

You can ignore it all together, but know you probably won’t get a lot of traffic from Google. You can pay someone to do it for you. Most of the providers you find cheap aren’t very good and the good ones are rarely cheap. The going rate for a firm to look at your site and make recommendations is often $750 to $1000+. That’s for a one time recommendation! To have them monitor and make ongoing recommendations or to actually implement to recommended changes would likely make you faint.

The option most of us will choose is to do it ourselves. The odds are you’re not a web developer and you don’t have 20 hours a week to devout to SEO, so you need focus on things that are easy and things that give a big return. We’re going to look at Julia Crane’s site again for some recommendations that go from really easy, to really painful. Thanks again to Julia for letting us use her as our SEO guinea pig!! Her Alexa ranking has already gone from around 13 million to under 6 million. Go Julia Go!

The first recommendation is an easy one: change up those page titles. The title on Julia’s main page is “Julia Crane, Young Adult Author” is PERFECT. The title should ideally contain the terms you’re hoping people will use to find you, and her title has her name and what she is. What could be optimized is the fact that her site currently uses the same title on every page. Ask yourself what you think will draw people to the page and try to incorporate that phrase into the title. Most search engines display 60 characters to try to keep that in mind.

The next suggestion is just as easy. Add a link page!!!! Since day one the biggest component to Google’s algorithm is how many quality links your site has to it. By adding a link page, you can start the oldest and most revered SEO practice of them all, link building. Our next SEO related article will talk more about link building but basically you want to go to other websites in your genre and offer to put their link on your site if they put your link on theirs. If lots of popular sites in the eBook industry link to your site, Google will assign your site a lot of authority and you will rise in their results pages.

The last idea for this article is a painful one. This is less a suggestion for her and more of a warning for those of you getting started. Don’t split up your efforts!! Let me explain what I mean.

The more quality content you post to your site, the more people Google will send to your site. The main reason this happens is Google thinks you’re a good site if you’re constantly producing good content. The secondary reason is that the more content you have on your site, the more phrases there are for people to hit on while searching. Our site is getting over 100 visitors from Google each day. What’s sending them here? EVERYTHING. So far today our site has gotten 98 visits from Google, on 59 different terms! They’re mostly variations on Lizzy Ford and her book names but the more you say, the more people will find you. This doesn’t mean you just post whatever, it has to be original and of high quality. That takes a lot of time to do.

If you have a website and a SEPARATE blog, you’re hurting yourself in the long run. It isn’t a death blow and I’m sure there are sites who have overcome it but it does make for a tougher haul.

Every time you make a good post on your site, your authority with Google goes up. When you make a good post on your blog, it helps the blog but doesn’t really do much for a separate site. This is why WordPress and Joomla are so popular. They let you have your site while offering full blogging functionality. If your starting off should you do your blogging on your own site, YES!!! Should Julia toss the blog and merge the blog onto her site? I couldn’t make that recommendation. If she was running a WordPress site, I would recommend that she bite the bullet and merge but she’s running a pure HTML site and it’s really nice looking. The effort required to convert her site to WordPress wouldn’t be trivial.

As I said earlier, this does not mean that her site will never do well. It can and it will, she will just have to work twice as hard to keep producing content on both sites.

As always, feel free to post any questions or comments. If you’re interested in having a SEO evaluation post like this done on your site, please feel free to use the contact us form and let me know.

Building Your Web Presence for Authors: Don’t Let Google do your Talking

While hanging out with some friends last night one of them mentioned the name of a well established local business. I pulled out my iPhone and googled the business name and the city. What showed up as the site description? “Joomla! – the dynamic portal engine and content management system.” Wow. Whoever made their website didn’t bother to change that default description.

I clicked on the link to bring up the site. The site came up and I could see a beautiful border but nothing else. When I got home my suspicions were confirmed, the entire site was done with movies and pretty pictures and no actual text on the front page at all. So what this business has is a very fancy looking website that has no description in Google whatsoever and isn’t viewable from a large percentage of the mobile devices out there. Basically everything that a business could do wrong with it’s website was done wrong. I have no idea how much business they’ve lost as a result, I’m just happy I wasn’t involved with it.

This post isn’t just a rant though, it reminded me of a very simple concept I’ve been wanting to write about: while Google controls where your page will appear in it’s rankings, you have full control over your site’s description in those search results. Let’s take a look at indie author Julia Crane’s website again.

Google show’s her main page description as : “Julia Crane, Young Adult Author. Home Page About Julia Crane Books Blog Contact … Enter the magical world of Julia Crane, the author of the fantasy, …”

That is far, far, FAR better then the generic joomla description that the first site had. This description tells me she’s a young adult author and this is her site. Not too shabby. where did this description come from? From the text on her site. If you don’t tell Google what to say about your site, it grabs the first text off of the page and uses that. While that’s better then leaving it blank, it’s usually not ideal. The first part of her description includes “Home Page About Julia Crane Books blog Contact” beacuse that is what text is there.

Our websites description on Google reads:

“Home of best selling author Lizzy Ford. Lizzy writes young adult paranormal romance and has written such hits as Damian’s Oracle and Katie’s Hellion (The …”

Is that text anywhere on the page? Nope. I use a WordPress plugin called “All in one SEO” that let’s me set the title and description of each page, that way I can override the default “grab the first text” option with something which is hopefully more successful at luring people from Google to our site. Other blogs have similar plugins and if your site is just straight HTML like Julia’s, it’s an easy fix as well. The plugin adds the following code to the head section of my HTML:

<meta name="description" content="Home of best selling author Lizzy Ford. Lizzy writes young adult paranormal romance and has written such hits as Damian's Oracle and Katie's Hellion (The Rhyn Trilogy). This site includes links to free ebook downloads for the Kindle, e-reader, ipad and nook as well as interviews, articles about e publishing and a mailing list you can join for great Lizzy Ford freebies." />

<meta name=”keywords” content=”e-publishing, writers, ebooks, lizzy ford, damian\’s oracle, katie\’s hellion, rhyn trilogy, free ebooks, kindle, nook, ereader, ipad, young adult, paranormal romance amazon” />

The first meta tag “description” obviously set’s my desired description for that page, which Google respects. The second meta tag”keywords” lets me inject a few phrases I think my site is about. Years ago keyword metatags were extremely important. They aren’t important any more but they don’t hurt anything so I still use them.

What’s really cool about working with Julia’s page is that all the hard work was done, and it was done extremely well. She has a beautiful site with a beautiful movie trailer on the front page. The SEO half of the equation really is the easier half, it can just be time consuming.

My first two recommendations SEO wise would be to write your own page descriptions, and to give Google a little more text to work with. Beautiful sites like hers don’t get the credit they deserve in Google’s rankings because Google doesn’t see the pretty pictures and the well done movie, it only see’s text and there’s hardly any of that on the site. Very easy problem to fix, and it doesn’t have to be fixed today. Give it some thought, look around at other sites for inspiration and write out what you would like to say to your fans.

Building Your Web Presence for Authors: Your Website is Too Small

No matter how many pages your website has, it’s too small. Ours has around 100 pages and it’s way too small. Sound Crazy? Let me explain.

As we discussed in yesterday’s post , you can really only optimize for one or two key words or phrases per page. This has been the best practice for a while but a late 2010 change in Google’s search algorithm made it a necessity. If you try to optimize for too many phrases per page, you’ve optimized for none of them.

This puts you in quite a bind. How do you choose? You don’t, you cheat. There is a phrase in statistics which smart internet marketers know well, it’s called the long tail.

SEO Long Tail Graph
On the left are the terms EVERYONE fights over because they are the most popular. Terms like “Kindle books” “eBooks” etc. Those are such popular terms that having a high ranking in them can be worth a ton of money and whenever money is there to be made, there is no shortage of competition. 80% of total eBook related searches will boil down to a few terms which are fiercely contested. Does that mean you shouldn’t waste your time going for them? NO! Absolutely go for them. An extremely small piece of a huge pie can still help you out.

The reason I showed you the graph though is so you can see that sweet, sweet long tail. The dumpster diving of the SEO world. As people tack on more words to their search queries, the results get more limited. 368,000 people type “eBooks” into Google each month. You know how many people type in “science fiction eBooks”? 480. There are literally thousands of terms out there like this. They are way too small to be noticed by the big boys on the block fighting for terms, which leaves them ripe for the likes of us to swoop in and capitalize.

You may be saying “So what, the numbers are so small who cares if you get them”. Once again, look how LONG the tail is. Let’s say you write science fiction books and you make a page on your site which is optimized for the term “science fiction eBooks”. Since you did a good job optimizing and there isn’t much competition, you make it to the middle of page one on Google results for that term. Let’s say each month that page brings in 20 visitors. That may not seem like a big deal, and by itself it isn’t. but remember, the tail is long and there are thousands of terms just like that one.

If every week you found a term, made a page and forgot about it, what would that get you in a year? Let’s be conservative and say each page brings in 5 new visitors a month. If you made 52 of them in a year, that’s 260 new visitors to your site each month from your efforts. Depending on how much traffic you currently get those numbers may excite you, or they may make you yawn. But now, in my best tv salesman voice, “WAIT! there’s more!!”. Think about what type of traffic those pages are going to bring in. You know what people who type in science fiction eBooks are looking for? Science fiction eBooks! If they go to Google and end up landing on the page you made (We call them landing pages for that very reason) and you’re offering them sci fi eBooks, there’s an extremely good chance their going to want your book. That is the goal right? You don’t want a ton of visitors, you want a ton of readers.

I made a page yesterday targeting people looking for free young adult romance novels. Did you see it? I’m sure you didn’t. It was a post just like this one, except I checked a tiny box at the bottom telling my site not to put it on the front page. If I post it to the front page every time I make one of these things, the site would look like a cluttered mess. Let me be 100% clear though, while you probably don’t want these landing pages to play prominent roles in your sites design and user experience, make sure that there is a way to get from your home page to them via links. Why? Because if you don’t care enough to link to your own page, neither will Google, if they even find it. Google has a rough time finding “orphaned” pages.

One caveat for the landing page/long tail strategy is one I can’t help you with, time. Is it worth your time to do this? Only you know. We have a pretty good division of labor here. Lizzy writes, and I worry about things like this. If you’re an author and a one person operation, you have to seriously weigh the results of anything you do other then writing itself. If you have no books to sale, none of this really matters.

Even if you’re not going to employ the strategies we’ve talked about here, they are worth keeping in the back of your head because they influence decisions about how you create your blog or your website.

Your SEO questions answered

Q: Is naming pages using keywords ok?

A: It’s not just ok, it’s darn near a necessity. Google gives weight to a lot of things and one of those things is the name of the page itself. Using your targeted keyword in the page name is worth around 3% of your total “score”. By “score” I mean a composite of all the factors that Google considers when deciding where to rank your page for a particular search term. Other easy ones to fulfill include the title of your page, and what big bold headers you use for your article (h1 tags for the techies). If you’re using WordPress, make sure you select the option where your posts are given the url using your post title rather then just a number.

http://www.guerrillawordfare.com/2011/08/kieras-moon/
Is better in search engines then:
http://www.guerrillawordfare.com/2011/08/593755/

Q: Should I stuff, stuff, stuff keywords or is there a limit? Some sites say yes, some say no.

A: They may have both been right when they were written 🙂 . Google did a big change to it’s algorithm (when they added Google instant), since this change you really only want a keyword or two as the focus for that page. That doesn’t mean you pick one keyword and use it once, it means you pick a keyword or two and create the page with that in mind.

If you spam the keywords too often on a page, then Google will basically write it off as spam and ignore it. So since you can only use the term a few times on the page, use it wisely! Use them in the name of the page, in the title, in the alt tags of a picture on the page, maybe bold one use in the middle of the text. This way your content is still written for the user, not the search engine but you’ve spread the term around nicely and in ways that Google gives some weight to.

Q: Does having multiple keywords in a phrase detract from their relevance?

A: I don’t think it matters since we’re only using a couple. I think spreading out ” Full length sci-fi / fantasy romance novel Kiera’s Moon is now available for free download for your Kindle, Nook, iPad, eReader or Kobo” in multiple bullets would of made it less pleasing for the reader. Above all else you want to sound natural or what visitors you do get probably won’t convert to regulars.

Q: Am I forced to use my target keywords in my title or can I use something catchy?

A: Hopefully both at the same time 🙂 . There are a lot of factors that go into how Google ranks a page for a search term, and having that term in the title is thought to be roughly 5-6% of that equation. That’s worth keeping in mind but if you have something catchy go for it!! At the end of the day, you want people to click on your page and a catchy title can do that, the only thing is, nobody will find it to click on if it’s buried on page 4 of the search results.

Building Your Web Presence for Authors: Finding the Best Keywords for Your Site

Every website and blog wants to attract more visitors from Google and the other search engines, that’s why SEO related topics are so popular. The most important part of making this happen is having good content. If you have good content, traffic will eventually flow to you. If you don’t have good content, what visitors you do get won’t stay long and definitely won’t return. With that out of the way, we’re going to talk about keywords.

Finding and using the right keywords are a critical step in helping you build your brand and your online presence. Keywords aren’t necessarily words, they can be phrases. “free Kindle eBooks” is a keyword. Entire books have been written on the algorithms Google uses to determine who gets to the top of their search results. As a fun bonus, by the time you’re done with a book, the algorithm has probably been tweaked. While countless factors go into determining the ranking, if you want to get people coming to your site looking for free eBooks for their kindle, it’s not a bad idea to use the phrase “free eBooks for your Kindle” once or twice on your site.

Many people on the internet are at one extreme or another on keywords. Many people ignore keywords all together, while just as many inject keywords every other sentence. If your site is about free eBooks by all means use the term “free eBooks” in your text. Where you start losing visitors is when you start using “free eBooks” in every sentence. Using a term too often makes your users feel like their reading a spam email. If you’re wondering “how much is too much?”, then you’re not alone. The accepted golden rule is this: You write for people, not for search engines. With that said, you should write for people with your key words in mind.

The first part of our page for Lizzy Ford novel “The Warlord’s Secret” uses this text:

The latest book from the author is Damian’s Oracle and Damian’s Assassin is here!

Full length fantasy romance novel “The Warlord’s Secret” is now available for free download for your Kindle, Nook, eReader or Kobo.

Is that the way you’re going to talk to a person you meet on the street? Probably not unless your job is reading movie trailers for commercials all day. But it doesn’t sound too bad, and it uses some keywords. Why did I word it that way? Because as I write this if you type in “free romance eBooks” in Google that page is on the bottom of page one. I wish it was at the top, but for right now I’m happy with page one.

Just as important as how to use keywords is what keywords to pick. As important of a step as this is, it’s usually skipped. Why? Because it’s easy to skip. We’ve all done it. The process most people use looks like this:

1: write
2: post
3: hope

If you’re an “advanced” web author you:

1: think about what terms people will search for
2: write making sure to use those key terms you think people will search for where appropriate
3: post
4: hope

While the “advanced” web author has it close, I would like to suggest a step one and a half. Take those keywords you brainstormed and put them to the test. Don’t guess what people are typing into Google, make Google tell you. If you’re afraid that it’s a complicated process full of spreadsheets and math, it doesn’t have to be. You can do it in a few minutes, for free, using Google keywords. I’ve made a short video on youtube demonstrating how easy it is to start with an idea or phrase, and see what people are actually searching for in Google.

Please feel free to ask any questions you might have, or just let me know what you think!

Building Your Web Presence for Authors: Should you have a Mailing List?

Yes!! Now let’s talk about the why, the how and the how much.

I’ve heard the same story numerous times. “I was at the top of page one in Google for the search term XXXXXX, getting 3,000 visitors a day and making $500 a day from ads. Then, Google changed the algorithm they use for search results and I plummeted from page one to page three. I was down to 100 visitors a day and $5 ad revenue.”

For an author you’re probably not counting on your ad revenue, but the concepts are the same. While you should do everything you can to maximize your rankings in search engines, you should also have alternate sources of traffic for your site that you control. Think to yourself, if I was kicked out of Google tomorrow, how would I get people to my site and/or let them know what I want them to know.

Our main alternate traffic source has always been our eBooks on sites which promote free eBooks. What we also decided we needed was a way to notify our fans when we had a new book coming out or some or noteworthy news, so we decided to start a mailing list.

The biggest email marketing firm on the block is AWeber.com. People who know what they’re talking about almost all said that it was the one to use. When I went to check it out I liked what it offered, but its cheapest plan (up to 500 subscribers) was $19 a month! That may not sound like much but I’m really, really cheap and don’t like to spend money if I don’t have to.

I checked out some of the other big names like contstantcontact.com but they wanted $15 a month. I looked through a lot of free options, found one that didn’t seem too bad and got it set up. I tested it on my own email first and it was horrible. The email I sent had more ads then any spam I’ve ever seen. I quickly uninstalled it. I had just about given up and resigned myself to pay for AWeber when I found mailchimp.com. MailChimp rocks! It offers several high end plans you have to pay for, but they have a free plan which is good up until 2,000 subscribers. AWeber’s pay plan is only good up to 500!

Aweber’s main claim to fame is that they make it easy to put a signup form on your site, and that they have nice email templates for you to use. MailChimp has both of those things as well! Setup was quick and easy and they have lots of template options for emails (note: They do offer premium templates for their pay plans, but I’ve never used them).

I have had zero problems with them and I couldn’t recommend them more.

We only have one mailing list but you could set up as many as you want. Each time we want to send a new email I log onto mail chimp, create a new campaign, give it a name, pick a template, type in my email and push send. There was a learning curve getting our emails to look like the wanted to look, but you only have to do that once and it will be well worth it.

Right now our mailing list has 200 subscribers and is growing daily. Every time we release a book, have a new cover designed etc. the information is instantly in the inboxes of 200 people who have came to our site and signed up.

If your sold on the idea of a mailing list but aren’t sure how to grow it there is a strategy that works time and time again: Give them something for free!

We started our mailing list at the end of March, and by the end of May we had about 40 subscribers. In June Lizzy did an interview on a blog where she said that she would be charging for her book “Damian’s Immortal” in December, but that anybody on her mailing list would get a free copy. We added 54 subscribers in June , over 70 in July and are on pace to add 80 this month.

You see this strategy all the time on the internet. Whenever you search how to do something, you will find plenty of sites which will offer you a “Free Report telling you the ten secrets you need to do to XXXXX”, all you have to do is give them your email. Email addresses to them are the lifeblood. If they go to sell their business, one of the first things a potential buyer is going to ask them is how big their customer base/mailing list is. As an author you’re not going to be selling your company but you are selling your books. Having the ability to get any message out to your core group of fans with the push of a button is an ability worth doing a little bit of work for.

Using Google Analytics

In an earlier post I talked about why you should use google analytics and how to set it up. I wanted to do a short overview of how I used it to check our numbers each day and I thought that a movie was a good medium of choice.

One thing I wish I would of mentioned is that everything in google analytics is clickable. If it shows 43 visits from shashwords.com, if you click on that it will break it out and show which pages on smashwords.com those 43 visits came from. Let me know what you think of the movie!!