Sunday, August 7, 2016

Make Your Children’s Writing Website Focused (3 Must-Haves, 6 Tips)

By Karen Cioffi

Is your children's author site on the mark?

As we get caught up in our writing careers sometimes it’s easy to forget to remain focused.

That’s a no-no! It’s important to present a focused brand and site.

Okay, so what are three website must-haves and six tips?

The Must-Haves

1. Create a website using your own name.

As a writer, whether you’re co-writing with someone or not, you need your own website. And, your main (hub) site should have your name in it. This will be your central site linking off to your other related sites.

As an example, my children’s writing site is: Writing for Children with Karen Cioffi.

Now, with this title I have two essential elements covered: (1) my name, (2) the site’s keyword.

The visitor and search engines can quickly determine what the site is about. This is super important for website ranking and authority. While there are a number of other areas that need your keyword for website optimization, the title is one of the top ones.

Note: In this case, when I say “title,” I mean the URL also. Your URL is an optimization tool. It gives the search engines more information the site.

So, using my site above, the URL is http://karencioffiwritingforchildren.com

My site’s title and its URL both have the always-important keywords in them. This is focus.

2. Include the niche you write in as part of your URL and website title.

This was touched on in number one above. If you write in only one niche, say children’s historical fantasy, you should have that keyword in the title of your site, as well as in the domain name. Then you can have one site to list all your books. Just be sure to create separate pages for each book.

Tip: It’s really a much better idea to create a separate website for each book, in addition to your central author site. It allows you to create multiple must-have pages for each book. See number 4 in the tips below.

HOT TIP: If your title is too long, it’s better to use the niche keyword, say ‘children’s historical fantasy,’ and omit your name. Unless you’re Eric Carle, or Kevin Henkes, or James Patterson, you’re name has no search engine value.

3. If you are branding yourself as a children’s writer, keep your site specific to writing for children.

I originally had a problem with this. I ventured into a number of writing arenas including content writing and online marketing. Instead of keeping those areas separate, I brought them into my children’s writing site.
So, why is this a mistake? Well, because of dilution of expertise.

If you’re branding yourself as a children’s writer, the focus of your site must be children’s writing. If you promote yourself as ‘doing this, that, and the other thing,’ you’ll become known as the ‘jack of all trades and master of none,’ – dilution of expertise.

TIP: If you’re also involved in other writing arenas as I am, create a separate sites for promoting yourself as an expert in those areas. You wouldn’t want to have your steamy romance books listed on your children’s writing site.

Remember, whatever your site’s niche is, keep it focused on that niche.

6 TIPS for a Better Website/Blog

1. Always have an about page on each of your sites, include a short bio and photo.

2. Always have an opt-in box (for your mailing list) readily visible on your sites.

3. Always make sure your visitors can easily find how to contact you – a contact page is a good idea.

4. Have a page for reviews of your books, excerpts of your books, testimonials, illustrations, awards, etc. You can also link to interviews others have done about you and your books. (This is where a separate site for each book comes in handy.)

5. Offer a resources and/or tools page. The visitor will appreciate this and hopefully share your site with others and link back to it.

6. Get a book trailer or video on your site. Mix it up. People love visuals.

Using these tips will help you create a focused and reader/search engine optimized children’s writing website.

Karen Cioffi is an author-writer online platform instructor with WOW! Women on Writing. If you need to get your website up or you have one but it’s not bringing the results it should, check out:

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Friday, July 29, 2016

Some Facts Behind "My Name Is Jake"






     The following information was printed in the Cleveland County Life Styles, July 26, 2016:

...  she (Angela Steele) is wife and mother to four sons ranging in age from 6 to 14. It’s a close-knit family that enjoys working–and playing–together.


The youngest, Jake, has Down Syndrome, is autistic and was born with an AV canal heart valve defect. And while many families would find dealing with any one of these conditions challenging, Angie says “he’s nothing but a blessing.”

And therein lies another interesting story.

Angie was 35, and 14 weeks into her pregnancy, when she learned that her baby carried the genetic disorder. After getting over the initial shock, she and her husband, Todd, began to discuss how they would share the news with their young boys in a way they could understand it. Drawing on her journalistic background, Angie began researching the literature—and found nothing targeting children.

So, she wrote her own book and sent it out to over 200 publishers. Angie selected 4RV Publishing, based in Edmond, to sign with, and the publishing company contracted with illustrator Jessica McClure, who used photos of Jake to illustrate the book.

My Name Is Jake, which addresses the fundamentals of Down Syndrome and explains that while children may all be different in one way or another, their hearts remain the same, is available at angelagrahamsteele.com, Chris’ Express Drug in south Oklahoma City, the Washington Feed and Seed store, and on Amazon.

     A side note: My Name Is Jake  can also be found on the 4RV online bookstore.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Book Marketing and the Shotgun Social Media Strategy

By Karen Cioffi

Convince and Convert (Digital Marketing Advisors) had an interesting article by Jay Baer on how to create a more effective social media strategy.

Most marketers know that the majority of social media channels don’t send (share) your posts to everyone on your list or to your connections. So, if you post something to Facebook, the majority of your FB connections won’t see your post. We’re talking about at least 98% of your connections will never see that post. Pretty dismal, right?

And, the same holds true for most of the other channels, including Twitter.

This obviously affects your book marketing reach.

Baer explains that there’s something called ‘reliable reach’ and social media doesn’t make the cut.

“Reliable reach is the ability to send a message to a person who has asked to hear from you, and for that message to reach that person. Email has reliable reach. So does direct mail. And the telephone. And even fax. Social media does not have reliable reach, which is what makes it so challenging for marketers.” (1)

If you’re like me, you spend time and effort on working the social media channels. And, you’ve established connections on each channel who want to hear about your posts. BUT, the majority of those connections aren’t getting the opportunity to receive what you’re posting.

So, say you have 5,000 Twitter followers. This now becomes your “theoretical reach.” Your reliable reach is only 2% or less of that number which is about 100 followers.

The reason given for this lack of fulfilling the ‘promise’ social media channels give to their members of offering great marketing reach, is because of too much noise . . . too much information being posted and processed.

Sounds convincing, doesn’t it?

Well, if you want to cut through that noise, all you have to do is pay. If you pay Facebook, your posts will reach a lot more of your connections. Hmmmm.

But, what if you don’t want to pay or don’t have it in your marketing budget?

How do you compensate for this highly unreliable reach?

Baer recommends putting down your marketing ‘rifle’ for a marketing ‘shotgun.’

Let’s break it down:
The rifle approach according to Baer is based on producing great content, have a specific plan for each channel, and strive for a large following on the channels you’re working.

But, for the rifle approach to work, you need reliable reach. But, that’s not happening. So, your efforts won’t be fruitful.

The shotgun approach is based on using a large target.

The theory is if you send more posts in more places, you’ll reach more connections. It’s more important to actually reach your realistic number than your theoretical number.

The shotgun approach makes sense to me, as long as it’s not used abusively. People don’t want to be bombarded with your content or sales pitch for that matter. You’ll need to fine the “magic point” for the number of postings that enable you to reach more of your followers, but not so much that you put anyone off.

As with everything in life, moderation is best.

References:
(1) http://www.convinceandconvert.com/social-media-strategy/why-it-might-be-time-to-completely-change-your-social-media-strategy/
(2) http://www.hrmarketer.com/blog/label/theoretical-reach/

Karen Cioffi is an author, ghostwriter, and content marketing instructor.
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Sunday, June 5, 2016

5 Reasons Why You Should Use Content Curation as Part of Your Blogging Strategy

By Karen Cioffi

Content curation has been around for a while, but many bloggers, including book marketers, don’t realize the advantages or benefits it offers.

This form of marketing comes in various forms throughout the internet. Of those variations there is one common thread: content curation is related to article marketing, or more specifically to content marketing. You can think of it as one of the strategies under the content marketing umbrella, the same as content aggregation.

If you’re wondering whether content aggregation and content curation are the same, they’re not. A Forbes article by Susan Gunelius explains that the primary difference between the two is that content curation offers “the human element.”

What does this mean?

Well, content aggregation is simply finding and linking to hot topics, trends, and other news or information worthy content from your site. Some sites use all sorts of topics and others use content that is focused on their platform.

Content curation on the other hand offers more. While linking to the information source, those using this strategy add their own spin on the information, or enhance it with personal experience or additional information on the topic.

The information used for content curation is targeted and so is the audience it’s prepared for. As an example, if you have a health site on alternative medicine and alternative health options you would search for and use information/content on that topic or niche. You obviously wouldn’t use sports content on your site. It’s treated as any other niche marketing strategy – it must be focused to your platform or brand.

Content curation offers a broader view and understanding of a particular topic by providing your own input and that of the source content.

Now on to the five reasons you should use this blogging strategy.

5 Benefits to Content Curation that will Boost Your Blogging Efforts

1. Simply put and most importantly, it brings your readers more ‘bang’ for their stop at your site. Rather than offering a single view of a topic, or one site’s experience, you offer your reader the world and a broader information experience.

The reader will appreciate having more information to work with and this will motivate him to appreciate and trust you. That’s the beginning of a great relationship.

2. It’s a source of ideas for your blogging. Find current trends, hot topics, and new information in your niche. The content is already there, you simply add your spin on it in a paragraph or two and voila, you have new a new post.

3. It’s a time saver. Using tools like Google Alerts, you can quickly find relevant information to blog about. And, like ‘number two’ above, it’s ready made content you simply add to.

4. It can support or enhance your own blog posts, adding more value. Even if you write effective and engaging articles, the reader will find it helpful if you supplement it with additional information.

5. Linking to quality sites is an effective search engine strategy. When you link to a site that ranks high with Google, you’re noticed. It can help bring more traffic to your site and help convert visitors into subscribers. And, that’s what online marketing is all about, the ‘golden’ list.

Content curation will boost your blogging efforts. You don’t have to use it for every post, but you can switch it up a bit and offer your reader something extra.

So, why not give it a try and add it to your existing content marketing strategies.


Have you been blogging, but not successfully? Check out Karen’s e-class through WOW! Women on Writing, Blogging Made Easy. It’s 4 weeks of simple steps to blogging for results. Lots of hand-holding.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

A Family for Leona - reprint of blog post by Aidana WillowRaven

A Family for Leona ~ cover art and design for Beverly Stowe McClure (@beverlymcclure) and 4RV Publishing (@4RV)



I'm so excited to talk about today's book and cover. It was so much fun to do. A Family for Leona is a middle-grade historical fiction novel that all ages will love, even when they're crying. In true Beverly Stowe McClure style, this story runs the gamut of emotions while exploring an amazing story.
 
I met Beverly early in my career. I was still a new Art Director at 4RV Publishing and I fell in love with Beverly's book Just Breeze.
Since then, other 4RV books we teamed up on, Life on Hold and Star of the Team, have been Silver and Gold Winners in the Children's Literary Classics Awards (2013 and 2015, respectively).
Needless to say, I love working with Beverly and her characters. I can't wait to see what we are doing next. 
For A Family for Leona, I wanted a vintage look that also expressed apprehension, sadness, hope, and wonder. With any luck, some of that come across in the cover, enticing people to first read the blurb and second, grab a copy of their own. Myself? I already put my order in for a hardcover tomb.
Blurb for A Family for Leona ...
Ten-year-old Leona Chapter doesn’t understand why her papa left his six children at the Brooklyn Home for Homeless Children after their mother’s death in 1921. Each day she prays he’ll return and take his children home. God, however, isn’t listening. Her brothers and sisters are either adopted or run away, leaving only Leona and Baby Mildred in the orphanage. Leona promises she and Mildred will be together for always. A promise she cannot keep, for Leona, along with her friend Noah, who she defends from the bullies Hiram and Jehu, and several other orphans, are soon on a train headed to Texas, while her sister stays at the orphanage. Leona vows she’ll go back to Brooklyn, the first chance she gets.

Be sure to visit the 4RV Publishing website and bookstore (in the nonfiction section) for your discounted copy today. Also available on Amazon at a slightly higher retail price. (Bulk and wholesale orders must be made through 4RV directly.)

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Email Marketing and Your Opt-in Landing Page - It's All About Focus

By Karen Cioffi

Landing pages have specific purposes. One page might be for sales and another might be for your email opt-in box and copy. Whichever it is, a landing page is a specific page that is intended for a specific purpose and draws targeted traffic. The traffic is drawn to this page to take a particular action . . . to say YES to your offer or opt-in.

One of the most essential landing pages’ is your subscriber or email opt-in page, and it should be designed specifically to garner email addresses. 

The reason a separate opt-in page is crucial, as with any landing page, is to eliminate distraction.

While it’s a good idea to have a subscriber opt-in box on your website’s sidebar for stray visitors and those who find your blog through a search for a particular keyword, you need a separate page to lead your targeted traffic in from your inbound marketing strategies. These strategies include, blogging, submitting to article directories, guest posts, joint ventures, and video marketing. They are the strategies that need a resource box, bio, or tagline that will direct readers to a page designed to let the reader know why she should give you her valuable email address.

The Email Opt-in Page Gives the Details

It’s on this page that you can fully explain the benefits the reader will get if he opts in. He may get: relevant information, tips, tools, reviews, news, etc. You also have the space to list the title and description of the ebook you’re offering as an ethical bribe. Or, maybe the freebie is a one-on-one free consultation, or an instructional webinar, or and e-course. This opt-in landing page allows you to fully answer the reader’s WIIFM (what’s in it for me) question.

In addition to the WIIFM information, you can include what you’re qualifications are for offering this particular information, for claiming to be an authority in this niche.  

Lack of Distractions Works

Due to its focus and lack of distractions, your email opt-in landing page allows for a higher conversion rate. This means a higher percentage of visitors will follow your directions and say YES to the action you’re asking them to take.

Just remember that simple always works better in regard to websites and landing pages. You don’t want to make it feel or look busy, or give confusing or complicated steps for the visitor to take action.

To emphasize the ‘simple is better’ strategy, Google’s company philosophy is “Simplicity is powerful.”

While it’s in a writer’s nature to usually write more than is necessary and an individual’s nature to make things more complicated than necessary, follow Google’s lead and keep it simple. Keep your email opt-in page to the essentials, and learn how to write effective copy for it.

For an example of an email opt-in page, check out: http://thewritingworld.com


Karen Cioffi is an author, ghostwriter, and online marketing instructor. If you need to create a website or need to tweak an existing one, check out her e-class through WOW! Women on Writing:

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Saturday, April 30, 2016

Two New Books Added to 4RV Library

                                                      
     
     4RV Publishing announces the release of two new titles in May 2016: Joan's Elder Care Guide, a nonfiction book by Joan Y. Edwards, and Ghostly Visions, a Tweens & Teens Imprint by Penny Lockwood.

       Joan’s Elder Care Guide: Empowering You and Your Elder to
Survive
gives  caregivers ways to meet the physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and social needs of elders to promote healing, well-being, and survival. Based on the author’s research and fourteen years of experience caring for her mother, this book provides many resources to find the right place for elders to live, explains ways to improve communication to help find solutions to problems, and gives organization ideas for medical, financial, insurance, and legal documents. It offers ways for a caregiver to get time away from care giving responsibilities and contains information substitute caregivers must have to keep elders safe.      
     The book explains the signs of the end of life, ways to celebrate an elder’s life, and gives duties of an executor of an estate. It also includes ten useful charts to assist in assessing and recording an elder’s needs and capabilities.

     Ghostly Visions actually contains two novels for tweens and teens. Wendy Wiles attracts ghosts, first in Ghost for Rent, when her parents separate and she, her brother, and mother move into a haunted house. The mystery of who the ghosts are and why they "live" in the Wiles' home brings answers and a reunited family.
       In Ghost for Lunch, new neighbors and their restaurant bring new ghosts into Wendy's life, and she, her brother, and their new friend discover the two cases are connected.

     Both books are found on the 4RV Bookstore, as well as through physical bookstores and other online stores.