You need web traffic because it helps you to sell books online
Ebooks and books are normal retail items, which like any other retail product need people to notice them before they can buy.
If you imagine a small retail store selling Japanese teapots and cups, where would it be located? Usually, where there is a high level of passing traffic, such as on a high street or in a mall.
Now think about the thousands of people who walk past this little shop every day, and then about the few who actually walk in the door, and then about the percentage of those who enter, who buy something.
Perhaps only one in a thousand people even notice the teapots and cups, and then only a few of those will enter and make a purchase.
Yet the shop survives and sells enough to stay in business and make a profit. It does so because it had or has a clear marketing plan based on passing trade.
Now think about your ebook or book. Its shop is an Amazon, iBooks, Kobo and Barnes & Noble web page, but how much traffic are you attracting to notice your little bookstore?
Do you have a marketing plan to attract the volume of traffic you need to make enough sales?
The graphic below is an example of how to model a marketing plan for self-published books and ebooks by dividing the marketing process into four major elements.
Of the four elements, this one is by far the most important. Search engines and social media are the best means of attracting, building and continually growing Internet web traffic to your website, blog and then to your books.
I see a lot of self-published authors posting out ‘buy my book’ links on Twitter and Facebook, yet they only have a few hundred followers or Likes.
This is entirely self-defeating, as perhaps a few of those few hundred followers may have already bought the book, and will be fed up in no time at being asked over and over again.
For those who haven’t bought the book, they have no intention and will ignore all the messages, or worse, unfollow.
Social media should be used to continually build traffic, as for every thousand who follow you, only a very few will end up buying your book. Think about how many times people would walk past the Japanese tea store before they entered.
If the owner jumped out the door and screamed, ‘Buy my teapots!’ at everyone passing by, I don’t think the shop would sell many teapots.
Use Twitter, a Facebook Page, LinkedIn and any other social media platform to create and increase traffic to your website and blog first. Then, for every thousand you attract, there will be the few who will see your book links and end up buying your book.
The second important reason to increase traffic is to have the opportunity to monetize your blog via advertising, which will come in very useful for offsetting paid promotion costs.
Inform your readers
As with the lady screaming at the top of her voice about her teapots, having a website or blog that screams, ‘Buy my book,’ will not work well.
What is needed is quality content that is informative or entertaining and will be worth indexing by Search Engines, shared by your followers, and in the process of this, help again in building your traffic.
Of course, have book buy links in the sidebar, or in the footer of individual posts, but don’t make them the main focus. Quality content is far more valuable, as it will continue to attract thousands of people over a long period of time.
A buy link will never attract, be indexed or shared, so its value is extremely limited. But a well-written quality article will continually deliver unique visitors, or traffic, to notice your book buy links and help you in selling books.
This is the easiest part. When you self-publish on the major platforms and retailers, your book sales pages are prepared for you.
The only work you need to do is to ensure that you have a very well written book description and a wow book cover to attract book buyers.
Setting up an Amazon Author page with your bio, and adding all your blog, website and social media links to your Smashwords and Draft2Digital book links is also well worth the effort.
There are many options for both free and paid promotion and advertising. Here are a few ideas.
Free Book Promotion Sites:
There are thousands of these sites that make money from Amazon Associates affiliate income.
In other words, if someone buys your book from their site, or even downloads a free copy, the site owner gets a small commission or benefit from an Amazon cookie. This cookie will attract a commission for the book promoter is someone buys something else from Amazon within 24 hours.
Use them by all means, but note that they need a lot of books to make money, so your book will be just one of the thousands. Do a Google search and select maybe a handful of these sites to list your book.
Paid Book Promotion Sites
There are good, bad and better here. What you should get for your money is a lot of exposure and an increase in web traffic to your book buy page as well as your blog and website.
A good rule of thumb is to check a paid site’s Internet traffic by using Alexa, and checking if they have a Twitter account. Check if their Twitter followers are organic (real) or paid (fake). You can use Twitter Audit to do this.
If it has a huge following full of accounts with no profile image, cute women with strange usernames and no bios, they are probably robot followers, which have been paid for to increase the follower count. None of these are real people, so, of course, they cannot buy your book.
Look for a solid list or organic followers. To get value for your book promotion dollar, you need a lot of online exposure. Whizbuzz Books offers one year of book promotion to over half a million real social media accounts.
Google and Facebook offer pay-per-click advertising that can be used in a number of ways.
While it can become expensive, setting a modest budget for book advertising can produce sales results. While you may spend more on advertising than you make in sales, it is a good tool for increasing a book’s sales ranking or page view count on your blog.
The other side of the coin is that you can earn money on your blog from Google Adsense. So it is well worth considering this as a way of earning extra money to offset your book promotion costs.
If your Facebook Page has only a handful of Likes, it will be difficult to increase the number organically at the beginning.
People are attracted to popularity. For this reason, I believe buying Facebook likes from Facebook is very good value when your Page is new.
I wouldn’t recommend buying Likes from providers other than Facebook itself, though, as like with Twitter, fake followers and fake Likes tend to steadily disappear over time.
These were quite the thing a year or two back, but I am not sure how successful they are now. Depending on the package you choose, they can be quite expensive. Buyer beware.
As I mentioned earlier, followers can be bought but they are fake followers so have little or no value at all. However, if your Twitter account is new and you are struggling to get past the 5,000 limits, it may be worth spending a few dollars to help you get started.
But once you are over the 5,000 limits, attracting Twitter followers becomes much easier, so buying more followers is pointless.
None of what I have written above is set in concrete, but each element should be considered when preparing your marketing plan.
There are only two things that I would say are vitally important.
One is to never stop increasing, building and attracting Internet traffic, and the other is don’t spend more than an hour per day doing so.
I like to set time aside each day for the tasks I have. So traffic building for one hour after breakfast, blog writing for one hour during the afternoon and socialising on Twitter and Facebook for a half an hour in the evening.
The rest of my day is devoted to teaching, writing and living life.
So, what’s your plan?
More reading: Self-Publishing: Expectations vs Reality For New Authors