May 172016
 

Last week we talked to friends. Renewing old conversations and sharing recent news, we got some initial shares and reviews for our book.

Did love, help and support of my friends result in a massive traffic flow to our website. Has the book become viral because of this campaign?
No, it hasn’t. 🙂 The traffic has actually decreased (see the picture).

visits website second week

Nothing unexpected happened, however.
We no longer live in 2005. Without a strong online presence (understand 1000s of loyal followers), or a campaign that has a potential to get viral (very funny or breathtaking article, picture, or video), the messages posted on social media quickly disappear in a flow of new messages, and the traffic to our website disappears with them. So nothing unexpected.

 

New week, new experiments

We started another campaign on Friday- to follow up on the first week. I learned how to create animated gif images with Gimp, and I designed the following two banners:

banner4 banner5

On Sunday evening I uploaded them on a few websites I own. These websites are not designed to sell books, and honestly, they are quite unrelated to the subject of our story. (While everything in the world is interconnected, certain niches don’t click well with books, espionage, inspirational stories, Iran, etc.)

That’s the main reason why I placed the banners only in sidebar locations. Visitors who want to read the main content of our webpages won’t be distract by them.

Each visitor is unique.
Avid book reader, a woman who emigrated from Iran twenty years ago, or a guy who’d been imprisoned before. These people also browse the internet and land on all kind of websites- including our websites.
If they spot a keyword that has an important meaning in their life– if they feel the connection- they will click the banner.

That’s why banner campaigns with clear messages can, and will bring targeted traffic to our book page, doesn’t matter where they are placed. We just have to show the keywords (the message) to the visitors, so they can see the connection to their own life stories and click the banner.

 

Places to post

I know what you are thinking now: “Why are you telling me all of this? I don’t own any websites!”
Most of you don’t own (m)any websites, true. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t find a good place for your banners.

There are many places to consider:

Websites of your friends, colleagues, children. Websites of people who’d like to help you (for free, or for a glass of beer). Did you know that there are more than one billion websites on the internet? It seems that in average every tenth person owns a website (including infants and (un)lucky people who never heard of the world wide web 🙂). Surely someone you know runs a website, or a blog, or even many of them. Think about it for a while. . . .

Still don’t have a website? Create one! Everyone can create MANY websites for free, utilizing the power of 2.0 tools. Explaining this into detail would exceed the purpose of this article, but you can check the following link to learn more.

Disclaimer: You will need to learn about keyword research and driving traffic to your websites, and it’s not easy. But I know quite a few people who don’t own a single website (just use the space available on the internet for free) and manage to make a living from that (selling or recommending various products, including books). And I can’t see a reason why you could not become the next one!

Still don’t have a website? And don’t feel like creating one? Well, you can always try to purchase advertising slots.

Many active bloggers don’t even know they can make money from their websites. Or they know it, but they are banned from the major ad networks because they made some stupid mistakes in the past. . . . Therefore they often accept ridiculously low offers for advertising slots, since they do not have many other options of monetizing their traffic.

I remember 2009. Me and Mark, my friend from old times, coded and designed a simple iPhone application called Reflex, trying to jump on the train of successful app developers. (He was the coder, and the designer, I basically just invested money and managed the project 🙂)

The project ended up failing (badly), because the app sucked (badly) :). And we also knew little about online marketing back then…
But I learned a lot while trying to promote this simple iPhone game.

Searching on Google and contacting the owners of relevant websites, I managed to purchase a small banner slot on a review blog. Some sixteen years old kid ran that site. He was reviewing new games for iPhone. And somehow he got 30,000 page views a month.
The price for banner? $10 a month! Not a bad deal for a small spot on a relevant website with 30K page views. . . (For comparison, I sold similar banner slots on my websites for $150/month, and the clients were satisfied with the price.)

 

How to find these gems?
It’s about hard work and courage, as always…

  1. Enter relevant keywords to Google (relevant for your book niche)
  2. Browse the websites you’ll find, contact the owners, and make an offer for advertising slot
  3. Enter other relevant keywords to Google, and repeat the process.

Our ideal candidates? Normal guys like you or me, who run their personal blogs for years. You won’t find many ads on their websites.
Compliment them for a great job they do on the internet, show them that your product is relevant for the visitors of their website, and make an offer.
It’s a tedious work, and 95% of people won’t give this a method a try because of that. Good for us, the other 5%, who aren’t afraid to step out of our comfort zones.
To which group do you belong?

 

Test and experiment

We’ll try different formats, locations and messages for our banner campaign. I’ll regularly update you on the results.
But you should try to get your own campaign going. (Then you can also update me, and together we will design a perfect prototype of an “aspiring writer banner campaign” 🙂).

 

Side benefit

Banners also help you to build awareness of your brand. Even if people do not click them, they register the message, the colors, the cover of your book, …. (that’s why you should use the same motives and claims in all your campaigns).
Once they see your book cover for the fifth (or tenth) time (doesn’t matter where it happens), they’ll have this strange feeling, thinking, “I’ve already seen this book somewhere. . . .” And they’ll be intrigued to look inside.

You can design animated banners yourself, and you can even place them for free, or pay a little for an excellent location. It would be shame if you did not try this marketing technique.

 

“Business” cards

Let’s talk about the offline promotion. Yesterday I asked Milan, a great guy behind our book cover, to design a simple “business card”. Something that can travel with me without making my backpack too heavy. 🙂 He came up with the following layout:

"business card"Original and simple.

Printing such “cards” costs close to nothing ($30 for 300 cards here in Slovakia, quality paper, or you can even print them yourself at home). What will I do with them?

  • Give them to new friends I will meet on my travels.
  • Leave them in big libraries abroad, or in other places where our target audience goes.
  • Use them instead of small leaflets, or even give a few pieces to people who support the University of Solitude, so they can distribute them further.

People can buy millions of different titles on Amazon, but still, it’s special to meet a writer in person. At least that’s my experience.

Anytime I connect with someone on the road (whether hiking in the mountains, cooking in a hostel, or just chatting in a bus 🙂), I introduce myself. Sometimes as an entrepreneur, other times a traveler, and sometimes I say that I write books.
It depends on my mood and the connection we just made.

 

The “writer” introduction always arouses interest.

What do you write?
How many books have you published?
Where can I read your book?

 

A card Milan designed today will serve us pretty well in similar situations.
You can (and should) get yourself similar cards.

Whether the new connections actually come to your website (or even buy your book) depends mostly on the quality of relationship you managed to build with them.
If you managed to build a strong connection, they will come and check your work.

 

I follow six blogs (or flickr profiles) of artists and philosophers I met while traveling. And I recommended their work to quite a few people. I do it because we had a good connection, because I like them and support their work.
Why would they not do the same for me?

Marketing is simple. Life as well. (At least for us, lucky people, who have some money and can read.)
Treat the others the way you want to be treated. Build relationships, love, offer a helping hand. It will come back to you- sooner or later, in one way or another.

 

Summary

  • Design banners (ideally animated gifs, since they catch attention better than ordinary pictures)
  • Find relevant places on the internet (or create such places), and post your banners there.
  • Track the clicks if possible, experiment with different formats and colors. Try to find the best combination (the one that brings the target audience to your website or book page on Amazon).
  • Once you know what works for your campaign, do not hesitate to purchase some advertising slots. Consider this an investment, not an expense.

 

  • Design simple “business cards”, portraying your most important book, or message. The design should always include a link to your website/social profile.
  • Print the cards for free at home, or use a service of a professional printing company.
  • Carry a few cards with you always, and give them to your new connections instead of a real business card.

 

Questions and Answers

Q: What have you been doing all week long? You didn’t do that much for the book promotion.

A: You are right. I worked a lot on other projects, and also spent a few days formatting the insides of the book for paperback edition (not an easy job, still under Amazon review).
And I also spent many hours in nature. Spring time in Europe is just amazing! 🙂

Q: Outreach of your new banners?

A: Approximately 45,000 people visit the websites every month. We will see how many of them will navigate to the University of Solitude.

Q: How many copies have you sold so far?

A: I prefer to not look at the sales report, since I want to stick to the marketing plan regardless of immediate results. Considering the number of visitors we had in the past seven days, I do not think we made many sales (or even a few 🙂).
But we are just starting our long journey. Stay tuned to see how we try to succeed against all odds.

Please post a comment should you have any other questions. I’ll be back with another update soon.

Thank you, have a great week, do something good for the others, and enjoy life!
Matej

Written by Matej Valuch

Matej Valuch

Having succeeded in building residual income from the network of content-rich websites, Matej currently devotes nearly all his time to non-profit projects, mostly in the spheres of philosophy, start-up, and writing. Sharing real marketing studies and experiments with his audience, Matej tries to help other writers and marketers to succeed with their projects.

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