Your website is the heart of your author platform, and your home page is the entry foyer. When guests arrive at your “home” you want them to know they’re in the right place, feel welcome, and have an immediate sense that they’ll easily find the good stuff they came for.
If you can accomplish that, then they’ll stick around for a while, get to know you, subscribe to your email list, and you’ll have the opportunity to start wooing them into becoming one of your loyal fans.
So how do you accomplish that? Make sure your home page does the following:
1) Let them know they’re in the right place.
Web visitors are notorious page-hoppers. If they aren’t immediately given a reason to stick around, they won’t.
But you also don’t want just anyone to stick around. You want people who can become readers, then fans, then loyal fans.
So you home page should put the essence of your author self on display: who you are, what you write. In business terms, your home page should clearly reflect your brand, through its voice, its tone, its worldview, its visuals.
And you want newcomers to know that you write well, so lots of testimonials help.
2) Make it easy for them to subscribe
Your email list is your most valuable marketing asset, and a primary job of your website (and indeed, all your outreach efforts) is to get people to subscribe to your list. You’ll want to make it:
- as enticing as possible. Best is to offer a nice sign-up bonus: a free short story, for example
- as easy as possible. Just a first name (so you can personalize your emails) and email address is sufficient. The longer the sign-up form, the less likely they are to complete it
3) Invite them to visit your blog
Since you’ll probably be posting more often than emailing, it would be great if they connect with your blog (and hopefully, subscribe to it as well through RSS or email notification) so that they’ll:
1. Be in contact more often
2. Be at the source for sharing your stull with their networks
The simplest way to do this on your home page is to put a “latest posts” or “most popular posts” widget in the right sidebar with a call to action in the header.
4) Make it easy for them to find the content they want
A clean crisp design that simply and visually highlights the different areas of the page is essential. Design your section headlines and your navigation bars with your readers’ needs in mind (which is probably not the same as how the site is organized in your mind!). For example, a “Books” page tells it like you see it, but something like “Books in series order” is probably closer to meeting a reader’s needs.
5) Make it easy for them to follow you on social media
Many of your readers will prefer to follow you on social media – so make it easy. Display a “Follow Bar” (which has clickable icons leading to your social media profiles) prominently near the top of your home page. Many authors make it a part of their banner, others put it at the top of the right-hand sidebar (or at the top of the left, if you have one). Tip: if possible, make these links “open in a new page or tab” so that your home page remains open and visible (and therefore easy to return to). You don’t want to kick them off your site before they’ve sampled all the good stuff!
Assignment – how is your home page doing?
Your home page is the first impression you’ll make on many potential tribe members – use these four elements as a guide to making sure it’s working hard for you.
Take a look at your home page – any thing stand out as missing? Then take a moment to share with your fellow authors (in the comments below) what it was and how you corrected it. Theory is good but your real life examples are money in the bank!