Mistakes Were Made & The HIGH Cost of Free
As digital age authors we have challenges and responsibilities unique to the time we are in. Namely, our job has become vastly more complex. This is why it is really important to get the right information from the get-go. If y’all hadn’t noticed, this blog is now on my author web site. FINALLY!
So happy y’all are here!
The site is a work in progress and will continue to evolve, but I want my journey to be a lesson because I love you and I want you all to be super successful.
It Started Out Harmless Enough
I am a Generation Xer through and through, in life and in regards to my profession. I didn’t “come of age” as a writer in the digital world. I decided to become an author in a world with typewriters and snail mail, where we went to libraries to research and the only way to connect with an agent was to drop several hundred bucks to go to a conference.
I had to struggle to find my way in a world I’d only believed was possible in science fiction, which was super fun namely because NO ONE knew what the hell they were doing. Back in 2006 we really had no good way of discerning solid advice from sheer BS.
Many of y’all know my story. I did NOT set out to become a social media guru. In fact the word guru makes me itch. It just kind of happened because I am a know-it-all and a meddler. I joke that my first social media book should have been called, I Did All the Dumb Sh%$ So You Don’t Have To.
I bitched so much about people doing it wrong (or teaching it wrong) that I finally just wrote my own book 😛 .
And then another….
Y’all can probably tell when I took over decisions on the cover, LOL.
Anyway, as I was saying…
If we want to sell books we must have a social media platform and brand. It is no longer a choice. But I will be blunt. You do NOT want to waste time by starting off wrong, and I will also tell you that there are still a ton of “experts” who have zero business teaching this stuff.
Seriously, I thought we would be past these yahoos teaching social media by about 2011 but they are still around so BEWARE. Just last year (2016) I went to a conference and there were five social media classes, which I was eager to take since I am always learning. I walked out of every single class so angry I couldn’t see straight.
In the blogging class, the instructor was teaching the very same stuff that landed me in a major mess, which we are about to talk about…
Kristen as a Cautionary Tale
I started blogging on a free WP site back in 2008. I went to a conference and listened to an “expert” who claimed the only difference between the paid and the free was the paid offered more options on fonts and backgrounds. Basically cosmetic stuff.
This expert also claimed that once you decided to upgrade to the paid site, it was easy to transition all your content over. Since I was starting out on a shoestring budget at the time? FREE was exactly in my price range.
Huge mistake. HUGE. HUGE!
By the time I was making enough money I could upgrade to having my own website, I had over 400 posts and easily 35,000 comments. I also had 20K+ followers. I couldn’t move ANY of that and I literally would have to start over. It took until last year for the technology to catch up and move all my posts and my comments and my followers to my website.
And even then? In this move I lost over 21,000 followers *clutches sucking chest wound*. I am still trying to figure out where they went. My best guess is that in the free version there is a WP “Follow” button that a paid site doesn’t have. This is so others on WP get your blog delivered in their feed and since I am no longer there?
Yeah. Just shoot me.
But there are still experts teaching writers that it is okay to start out on a free site.
NO, NO, NO, NO, NO!
If your plan is to eventually be a professional author who sells books, you have no business with FREE. You do not want FREE ANYTHING. Trust me.
The cost of free is far too high.
Just suck it up and get your own site.
Social Media for Authors
See I am not just a social media expert. I am a very unique expert. I don’t teach social media. I teach social media for authors. I don’t teach blogging. I teach blogging for AUTHORS.
There is a huge difference.
I have the task of training introverted neurotics with social anxiety who’d rather be drawing unicorns how to build a platform and brand.
I’m tasked with teaching my fellow weird kids how to be popular 😀 .
But beyond the whole social aspect, I want you guys to plan for success. This means the second you make a decision to do this writing thing for REAL, you need to start building a platform and brand. You do not want to try and pull a platform out of the ether a month before your book debuts.
Trust me, I have done that. Not fun. Though my first social media book later went on to be a best-seller, my first royalty check was enough to pay for dinner if no one super sized anything. Why?
No one knew me.
So seriously, invest $15 and get a copy of Rise of the Machines—Human Authors in a Digital World. I wrote the content to be evergreen, so even though it was published back in 2012 it is still all relevant. Start today and a little effort every day will pay off BIG later.
The next thing I want you to invest in is a web site with YOUR NAME in it. You can get clever like I did and put “author” or “writer” in it if you can’t specifically get your name as a domain. Invest in yourself and this is going to save you a ton of headaches down the road.
***Check out my friend Jay Donovan at Tech Surgeons. He has done all my hosting for years and he is amazing and gives my readers a special discount. I changed from GoDaddy to Jay after hackers took down my site and put up a laughing skull. I was not laughing. I was crying. And Jay fixed it and he is amazing.***
Mistakes Were Made…
I have an excuse. I started blogging back when there were no real experts. The only way TO learn was trial and error. But as my mom likes to say…
A wise man learns from the mistakes of others, whereas a fool has to learn from his own.
I was a fool so you don’t have to be.
There are a lot of reasons why you want a paid site beyond cosmetic differences, but I will just touch on the biggest of all.
On a free WP site (or even Blogger for that matter) you cannot conduct commerce. Sure, when I started blogging I didn’t have books or classes for sale, but eventually? I DID. But on a free site, you can’t have a book table widget. You can’t have a shopping cart RIGHT THERE.
Nope, you have to hyperlink and pray for the best.
But you don’t want to do that. That is called friction. It is an added layer between the initial point of contact and the actual sale. With every layer we increase the odds our reader will see something shiny before buying.
We DO NOT want any extra clicking if at all possible.
Why this friction stuff really buggered me is that my blog is (was) the popular draw and the primary driver of book and class sales, not my actual author website. But I couldn’t SELL anything on the blog, so I also had to have a website where I could sell stuff. And this made a serious mess. With both a website and a blog, I had two points of contact that were competing for SEO and as I mentioned it was just a major disaster so just please learn from me and start off correctly.
If you already oopsed, remedy it as quickly as possible. Just rip that digital Band-Aid off. You can talk to my web person Laird Sapir owner of Memphis McKay Designs. She can get you set up and moved over and she, too, offers discounts to my readers.
So thanks for following me to the new location and please do a gal a favor and subscribe. I will be your best friend…
And we will have fun in the coming weeks, namely because I am back learning which buttons to never ever touch. I will be adding new features, blah blah yada yada.
So what are your thoughts? Questions? Do you have a similar horror story?
Also, I am sorry you have to enter your information all over again to comment, but that is a ONE TIME deal. After you do it once, WP will recognize you as a regular *sings Cheers theme song*.
Also know I love suggestions! After almost 1,100 blog posts? I dig inspiration. So what would you like me to blog about?
I LOVE hearing from you! And REMEMBER TO SIGN UP TO HANG OUT AND LEARN FROM HOLLYWOOD PRODUCER JOEL EISENBERG! Details are below. This is EIGHT hours with one of the hottest producers in Hollywood teaching everything from craft to how to SELL what we write! Recordings are included with your purchase for FREE!
And to prove it and show my love, for the month of MARCH, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.
I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).
I will announce February’s winner next time!
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