Sunday, December 4, 2016

Do You Still Need a Website as the Core of Your Online Platform?

By Karen Cioffi

A few years ago I wrote an article about the need for home business websites. I explained the reasons a website was an absolute must and gave a couple of statistics proving that need.

Since then, social media has exploded. It’s become more powerful than ever, and more and more people and businesses are using it as an integral part of their marketing strategy.

In fact, the social engines are now an essential element of brand visibility, website traffic, and building authority to all size businesses. It’s gotten to the point where some are questioning the need for a website.

Are websites for marketing really a thing of the past?

Here are three reasons for that question:

1. Some might reason that you can blog on venues like LinkedIn. You can also publish articles on EzineArticles and other article directories to generate visibility and authority.

2. If you’re selling a product or service, you can use social networks to do so by linking to your Amazon or other sales page.

3. Want to let people know about you and what you do? You can do that on your social network pages. You can even build your subscriber list through social media.

So, it’s not unreasonable for some to wonder about the necessity of a website.

But, if you decide to forgo the website or get rid of an existing one, think twice and even three times about it.

The benefits of a website

While the social media sites, like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn allow for just about everything you need to market you and your product/service, you’re at the mercy of these sites.

Pro internet marketer and entrepreneur Sandi Krakowski has over 1 million Likes on her Facebook page. And, she has over 1 million clients, which allows her to produce millions in revenue. She knows what she’s talking

In a recent email from Sandi, she said, “If you don't have a website, listen to me very carefully, you own NOTHING online. You're homeless. You have no real estate, you are under the control of someone else's property and when push comes to shove, you my friend are in a big pickle!”

Did you notice she said you don’t have control with social media sites?

Think of it as renting space in a building. Or, better yet, buying within a condominium development. You’re not in control. You’re at the mercy of their rules and regulations, their changes, their agendas, basically, their whims.

Want to change the exterior color of the building? Want to do major construction inside?

You’re at the mercy of the owner’s permission.

In other words, you’re not in control.

This is the same as using sites like Facebook and GooglePlus. You never know when or if changes will come that will render your social media page useless.

This is why you still need your own website.

If you use paid website hosting through sites like Bluehost, you own the site. It’s yours. You are in control of what you publish, how you publish, and so on. You can choose your own theme with the header dimensions and design you want. You can put ads and affiliate links on it with no problem. You can sell from it.

Along with this, people trust bloggers. This gives bloggers influence and authority. It’s good marketing to have that authority, that influence, go to your own site.

Bottom line, as an author / writer, you still absolutely need your own website!


Knowing what to do and ‘not do’ is an important aspect of online marketing. Karen Cioffi’s new CREATE YOUR WORDPRESS WEBSITE TODAY (no code, no technical stuff, no fuss ) e-class through WOW! Women on Writing shows you how to build your online foundation.
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Sunday, November 6, 2016

An Effective Book Marketing Strategy: Joint Ventures

By Karen Cioffi

There is a song, The Power of One, which conveys what one individual can accomplish and/or change. But, how much more effective is the power of two, or five, or ten, or a hundred, or more?

In a technical light, a joint venture (JV) is a partnership between two or more entities for a specific project and for a specified amount of time.

This is the concept behind joint ventures for book promotion, and they are very effective.

The idea is to hook up with other authors/writers and participate in JVs. What this means is an author has a new book coming out and wants to reach more than her individual mailing list and social networks, she joins forces with writer friends or acquaintances to promote the book for a ONE DAY Promotional Power-Packed Special.

Suppose it’s your new book; you contact one to several authors who might be willing to put your prewritten promo on their sites and social networks, and (THIS IS THE VERY IMPORTANT PART) are willing to provide a freebie or a significant discount on a product or service to any one who purchases your book on that day.

According to book marketing specialists Brain Judd and Daniel Hall, this has the potential to put your book on Amazon’s TOP HUNDRED list in one or more categories – just for one day’s promo.

Even participating in JVs has promotional benefits. I recently participated in a JV initiated by an author for her new book. For my participation I offered a FREE bonus gift. This increased my visibility. For a little effort and time, you can increase your visibility and possibly your subscriber list.

To have your participation be more effective, be sure to provide your links and offer your own products within your free or reduced price offering.  And, to create added value, you can allow the freebie to be shared, or portions of it reprinted with your tag/bio.

Another scenario for book promotion JVs, in fact a more popular one, is to be approached by publicists. This has happened to me several times and I usually participate for the visibility factor. The publicist will put out a wide reaching call for participants for his client. Obviously, the more on board the greater the promotional reach and punch. But, even on a small scale, this marketing strategy is a gem.

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:
   
Create Your WordPress Website Today
No code, no technical stuff, no fuss

This article is a reprint from 2012.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

New 4RV Releases in Time for Christmas

     So far five books have been released for Christmas sales. Two more are in the works and promotion will be given when they are ready.

     The book to the left, Joy and Mary Save Christmas, tells of two girls who help Santa when gifts disappear and electrical problems plague the North Pole. Wayne Harris-Wyrick's story is brought to life with Carrie Salazar's delightful illustrations.

     Willard the Dragon: Camp Dragon-Fire, by Suzanne Cardatos and illustrated by Luisa Gioffre-Suzuki, continues the adventures of Willard and his friends, this time at the camp that had trained dragons for over 100 years. The young dragons discover mysterious happenings and work to find the solution.

      Bethany Ramos wrote an enjoyable tale of a young boy who finds a soaking wet kitten on his front steps one day after school. Imagine the boy's surprise when every time he attempts to include his kitten in activities, people say the lion kitten can't. Nicole Morrow illustrated Lions Can't Eat Spaghetti.

      What's a boy to do when his dad is deployed to some far away land, leaving his son, wife, and home. Billy doesn't want to visit or do anything with his friends. when not in school, he mopes in his room, wondering if he will see his dad again. However, a neighbor and his mother give Billy and his friends a mystery to solve. Mike McNair, with illustrations by Matthew Hughes, create a story that appeals to all ages in Billy Beechum and the Hooticat's Secret.

 

           The fifth released book, Forty Winks by Nancy Allen and illustrated by Diane Brown, creates a magical world for children at bedtime. What child wouldn't like a book reading monster in his or her closet, one that enjoys adventure?


          All books can be found on the 4RV Bookstore, as well as through bookstores and online sources such as Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Book Marketing Blogging - 4 Elements to SEO Ready Content

By Karen Cioffi

There is much to know about properly formatted and SEO ready article content. While both elements are essential to effective content marketing, it’s the search engine optimization that will allow your articles to be picked up by the search engines and found by the online searchers.

It's important for writers and authors who use blogging to know how to use their content effectively. This will increase your visibility, expert status, readership, and ranking.

So, what are the elements needed to create SEO effective content?

1. Create ‘shareable’ and keyword optimized blog posts.

The ‘old’ SEO had you optimizing keywords that search engines would find, categorize, and index in order to place that content as results based on search queries.

Today, it’s all about providing quality content that readers will find valuable enough to share. You want readers to share that article or post with Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, StumbleUpon, Google Plus, and other social networks.

While you also need to provide keywords for the search engines to find, the key to article marketing now is to provide quality content, so it can go viral.

SEO is a kind of popularity contest. The more people like and share your content the greater value you (your site) has with Google and other search engines.

2. Include Your Bio

You’d think every writer would make sure they receive credit for their article content, but if you read some blogs, even those with multiple contributing authors, there are some with no byline. Even if it’s your own blog, at least end the post with your name.

For article directories, each service has its own resource box instructions. For guest blogging you don’t want your byline to be too long – make it short and effective. You can include your name with a couple of sentences letting the reader know why he should click on your link.

Your tag, bio, byline, is how you get credit for what you write.

3. Blog Post Marketing Tags

Including keywords or tags where allowed is essential to article marketing and its SEO effectiveness. Most hosting services and article directories provide specific areas at the bottom of the article for keywords or tags. Take advantage of this tool.

These tags should be relevant to the content and will allow the search engines to categorize and index your content. This in turn will allow your article to be found by people searching for your topic.

4. Link to More Content

This step is simple. In any article you publish on your own blog or submit for a guest post (if the host site allows it) link to other articles or a landing page on your site. You can do this within your content by hyperlinking a relevant word or phrase to a relevant article on your site.

You can also include a “Related Articles” section at the end of your article and list a couple of titles with hyperlinks to the actual articles on your site. Or, after a bit of information within the article add, “For more information on this check out” and add the link.

This allows you to get even more ‘juice’ out of your articles. You may not be able to do this with article directories, but for your blog posts, it will keep visitors on your own site longer and draw them further into your pages, and will bring visitors to your guest posts back to your site. Search engines like this marketing technique.

For those who aren’t sure how to hyperlink, you simply highlight the relevant word or phrase, click on the link option in your toolbar, put in the URL, and click okay. Simple.

There you have it, four blog post SEO ready tips to get your blog posts doing what they should be doing: getting read, getting shared, and bringing traffic to your site.

Karen Cioffi is a online marketing instructor for WOW! Women on Writing and Working Writers Club. Check out her classes on Blogging:

Become a Power-Blogger in Just 4 Weeks
Blogging Made Easy (a four-week class for beginners)

Friday, September 23, 2016

New Books in Time for Christmas - More Coming




      Two of the books coming out in time for Christmas sales are the children's book Lions Can't Each Spaghetti, written by Bethany Ramos and illustrated by Nicole Marrow, and Joy and Mary Save Christmas, written by Wayne Harris-Wyrick and illustrated by Carrie Salazar.

     Pre-orders can be made on the 4RV Online Bookstore.   The picture book and middle grade book titles appear on the content page where one can click on the authors' names, and Lions Can't Eat Spaghetti is on the 4RV Children's Corner page while Joy and Mary Save Christmas can be found on the 4RV Tweens and Teens page. On the imprint pages, click on the book title to go to the author's page to order.

     Lions Can't Eat Spaghetti is a fun hardcover book with quirky cute illustrations for ages 3 to 6.

     Christopher finds a kitten on his doorstep, which, to his surprise, grows up into a lion! Since Christopher already loves his pet, he tries to introduce him to his everyday life, much to the horror of his friends, family, and neighbors.

       Joy and Mary Save Christmas comes in both paperback and hardcover versions.  The story and illustrations combine to create a Christmas story for the whole family, but it is written to appeal to the tween aged reader.

      Christmas, a time of magic and gifts, comes to a halt when stolen presents and electrical problems hit the North Pole.
      What can Santa or his elves do? What can two girls do? Joy and Mary are the only oneswho can save Christmas.

      Both books can be found on other online stores as well as through brick and mortar bookstores. Either one or both would delight young readers for Christmas.

Coming soon, information about other books to be released in time for Christmas.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Writing to Get Published

By Karen Cioffi

All writers have one primary focus—to get published. What makes each of us different is our slant or perspective on the story we’re telling, and how we tell it.

It’s true that anyone can write, but writing to get published is another story. To accomplish this, there four steps you need to include in your writing.

1. Write an out-of-the-ballpark beginning

This is the crucial step that will determine whether the agent or editor keeps reading. Your beginning needs to grab the reader; it needs to lead the reader on without him having to think about it.  

Here are different slants on a possible beginning:

A. Jan saw blood dripping down the wall. She screamed.

This idea is a beginning that might entice a reader to read on, but the problem is it’s telling not showing. To add showing:

B. Blood dripped down the stark white wall, adding to the puddle already formed on the floor. Jane felt a quiver run down her spine. Reacting before thinking of the consequences, a blood curdling scream issued from the depths of her being.

C. Blood slowly dripped down the stark white wall. A quiver ran throughout Jane’s body. An urgent eruption welled up from the depths of her being and brought forth a blood curdling scream.  

D. Blood slowly dripped down the stark white wall, adding to the dark red puddle already formed on the floor. A quiver ran throughout Jane’s body creating an urgent eruption that welled up from the depths of her being—a blood curdling scream issued forth.  

Examples B, C and D do a much better job of showing rather than telling. While they can easily be taken apart and reworded for tightness, more description or less description, whatever the author deems necessary, for this article they serve their purpose.

And remember, using descriptive words and adverbs adds to the word count. So, analyze each word you use; be sure they enhance the story and move it along, not weigh it down. In today’s writing world publishers and agents want tight writing.

2. The body of your story

This area needs to fulfill the beginning’s promise. It needs to keep the reader interested in the characters and plot—this will ensure the reader keeps turning the pages. You also need to keep track of everything going on in the story and follow through. Readers don’t want to feel cheated or disappointed.

Some authors use character and event cards or sheets to keep track of each character’s qualities and the details to each event. This will guarantee continuity and help prevent loose ends.

3. Your ending

The ending must tie everything together and tie-up all loose ends. If you wrote a paragraph or chapter about John and Jane contemplating marriage then segue into something else, let the reader know how it ends up.

It’s also a plus if you can come up with a twist at the end, something the reader won’t expect.
But, keep in mind it’s essential that you leave the reader satisfied.

4. Submitting your work

You’ll never know if you’ve written the next best seller if you don’t submit your work. Research publishers and/or agents who work in the genre you write. Choose the ones that you think are the best fit and study their guidelines. Then, follow the guidelines and submit your work. Don’t let fear or uncertainty keep you from moving forward—nothing ventured, nothing gained.



Karen Cioffi is an award-winning author, working-ghostwriter, and content marketing instructor. Get weekly must-know writing and marketing information and more, right to your inbox. Join Karen Cioffi in The Writing World. (It’s all free - lots of freebies too!)