How to Grow Your Author Website with Your Career
Perhaps you’ve heard the story of the Indian Sage who beat the King in chess, and requested merely one grain of rice on the first square, two on the second, four on the third, then eight, sixteen, thirty-two, and so on, only for the King to hand over his entire kingdom to repay the debt.
Such is the power of compound growth, and it applies to more than just rice. Your career is a chessboard, where the smallest of steps, persistently made, pays off with exponential returns.
It’s tempting to think, since you don’t have an hour to write today, you can be excused from writing for eight minutes. Or that writing your bio, setting up your mailing list, and organizing your publication history needs to be done in one long sitting. The fact is, that’s just an excuse to waste a quarter of an hour on YouTube. To “stay informed” about news you can neither control nor benefit from. To silence the greatest part of yourself from achieving the greatness you’re capable of.
True, in the digital age, creatives must balance multiple domains simultaneously, improving their craft, producing new work, growing their network, and building their platform all at once. Feeling overwhelmed leads many authors to play as the King, sacrificing one piece for another, gambling everything on the outcome of a single, short-sighted wager.
But those authors lose.
So remember the Sage and the chessboard, because the Sage is playing a very different game than the King. Remember the Sage, because remembering compound growth transforms each day into an opportunity to advance your career. Even the smallest of steps matters, so long as that step is taken in the right direction.
Don’t allow yourself to be overwhelmed by how much there is to do in the weeks, months, and years that make up a career. There’s a version of you in the future to tackle future challenges one by one.
Instead, focus on your one task today, complete that task, then move onto the next. By the time those weeks, and months, and years add up, you’ll have found yourself in the position of the Sage, while those around you have gone the way of the King.
So with those modest steps in mind, let’s turn our attention now to what comes next…
Use Your Website
In discussing SiteArcade with the author community, we discovered that for many authors, building a website so painful that by the time they were done, they didn’t actually use the website for anything.
Whether you host with us or another provider, we hope you fair differently. You gain a lot by having a website, but the real power comes from how you use it.
We recommend you refer back to my article about your website’s seven superpowers, and dive into each, in order. Here’s the list again, with the first step you might take in each:
- Make a Brand Promise: After branding your social media channels and your mailing list to match your spiffy new website, announce the new site everywhere and ask what your readers are looking forward to next.
- Grow Your Mailing List: Update the back of your books and your social media pinned posts to invite list sign-ups in exchange for a freebie. Configure the sign-up form to redirect them to your home page.
- Sell Your Books: Point your ads and promotions to your website’s book pages instead of Amazon, then make improvements until your site performs better than landing directly on Amazon ever could. (Remember the 500 other products each of your book pages link to!)
- Spread Important News: Update your website activity stream with unique content (like photos from an event), then instead of cross-posting it to other channels, link to it. This will encourage people to check-in on their own impulse in the future.
- Garner Media Attention: Delay your next release by a month, and in that month, send personalized queries to every single book blogger you think would be interested. Send warm thank you messages to everyone, regardless of their response.
- Connect with Industry Pros: Plan a mutually beneficial cross-promotion, then pitch multiple authors in your genre at the same stage of their career as you. Use a link to your website to communicate your credentials and professionalism.
- Build Your Community: Plan a live event on whichever platform houses your largest following, list the event on your home page, and promote it on all your other platforms. Repeat on a different platform the following month.
Grow Your Platform
Your journey to building a strong and sustaining career begins with your website, but the journey never ends. With that in mind, here’s some books we highly recommend for taking your career to the next level:
Damon Suede & Heidi Cullinan - Your A Game: Winning Promo for Genre Fiction
Damon and Heidi meticulously tackle every aspect of an author career, including strategies for your brand, network, production, and promotion. And they do so in the format of a choose-your-own adventure.
Tammi Labrecque - Newsletter Ninja: How to Become an Author Mailing List Expert
Tammi condensing everything you need to bootstrap a successful newsletter down to a 150 pages. If you don’t know where to start… now you do!
Seth Godin - Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable
Seth has written a dozen sharp, concise treatises on marketing for creatives in the digital age, all of which we highly recommend. But our top pick for authors is Purple Cow, which focuses on the core of a truly remarkable career: being your unique and wonderful self.
Stay Up to Date
The publishing landscape is constantly evolving, and we aim to make it as easy as possible for you to stay up-to-date.
Our newsletter offers weekly advice and a curated selection of publishing news, sans the trite, the hype, and the tribal politics you too often find on other channels.
We also encourage you to dig into our blog’s back catalog, as we aim for most of our content to remain timeless. We focus on developing your platform and your network as an author. Here are a few highlights:
- Growing a Writing Career by Skipping Shortcuts: The smart gardener plants a strong base of perennials so they don’t have to start from scratch every year. Do the work and keep your eye on the bigger picture. You want a career that will last a lifetime and more so you have to keep the garden around you in mind.
- 12 Myths About a Writing Career: Thousands of novels, films, and TV shows have depicted the life of a professional writer in a wide variety of ways, all of them linked by a single characteristic: Near-total inaccuracy. That’s because there have been centuries of myth-making around this business of wordsmithing.
- How to Make Money as an Author: In this series, author David Webb gives you advice (and a bit of tough love) about how to not only write a book you love, but making sure you’re building a profitable author career.
We built SiteArcade with a single unifying principle in mind:
Writing is the best part of your day, and we want you to do it more often.
Everything action we take, from the features we develop to the content we produce, is geared around this idea. We optimize for your writing time, and we aspire to make it easy for you to do the same.
So by all means, write!
Writing is a perpetual motion machine, the likes of which science has yet to discover. Somehow, writing just a little motivates you to write more. And it motivates you to complete all the other tasks your career requires as well, including building a website, growing a network, hosting events, promoting products, querying agents, running ads, and so on.
All of those small steps on the road to infinity.
So never lose sight of your writing. And when you find yourself in an immovable lump intent on giving up, set some words to paper. Any words. And soon enough, you’ll find that joy again. And the motivation to keep taking those minor, modest, miraculous steps, one, two, four, eight, and so on…