Jan 232017

Picture from Nepal, Renjo LaLong time has passed since I updated the blog for the last time. But don’t worry, they didn’t arrest me again, and I didn’t get run out of ideas either. 🙂

Honestly, I’ve done very little for the book marketing between 23rd November and 3rd January. I spent those weeks in Nepal, in the Himalayas. ‘Doing nothing’ and letting go, for a few weeks at least, is vitally important for someone who works intellectually, creatively, and even tries to write something unique and innovative.


New energy and inspiration

Turning off and living in a present moment allows you to absorb things and people around you (which eventually changes both you and your writing), plus it signifies an important mental break. It will give you new energy and inspiration…. at least that’s how it works for me.

Anyway, looking at it from broader perspective, ‘doing nothing’ (in terms of intellectual work, because you do a lot of other stuff while traveling as a backpacker) forms an important part of a larger working cycle. You need these periods of mental rest, otherwise you won’t be able to work the rest of the year.

But I’ve been back form the 4th, and worked on many things since—two of them concern the University of Solitude as well.


Writing new books- the best marketing for a writer. Or not?

I’ve read this opinion quite a few times, but obviously I can’t agree with that. Marketing and writing are two different things, and they always should be.

If you start mixing them together, you can easily end up writing books that will sell well, instead of writing books that express your opinions in a unique way, that share some amazing story in a special way, or possibly even change something in the lives of your readers.

In a worst possible scenario you’ll publish a new book every six months, just to ‘keep publishing regularly’. If you write only for money, feel free to follow that line. But if you have some purpose in your writing, then I suggest not mixing marketing and writing together. Ever!

It may happen that you’ve collected enough material and inspiration to write something worthy (and it may happen every six months), but most of the time it just doesn’t work that way. And any time pressure you apply on yourself will only lessen the quality of your artwork….


Outsider – a new book

I may publish a few books during my life, or possibly I will never publish a book again…. There are many good titles out there already (some dating back hundreds of years), and even if you read one book every week, you won’t manage to read all amazing works till you die. Sorry about that!

Being aware of this fact, I don’t have a slightest interest to write an average or ordinary book….

But there is one title I’ve been working on for some time, and hope to publish it in 2017. The book is called Outsider, and maps a journey of two refugees who flee from Syria to Spain. Philosophy combined with an interesting story, fiction combined with non-fiction—the book reflects a lot from my life, and what I’ve learned during all the journeys since returning from Iranian prison—the backpacking journeys around the world, but also the journeys directed to the depths of my own personality…..  

I try to devote at least two-three hours each day to Outsider. Having the first manuscript ready in Slovak language, (and deciding to publish it only in English), I am now translating and reworking the book–which is a lot of work. Anyway, I don’t write this book to promote the University of Solitude … I do it because I believe in the strong message of the book, and that reading Outsider will give people some food for thought, which can eventually result in positive changes in their lives, or even add a little to some changes in the world (which are needed as much as ever).

Maybe a new book will help promoting the first one I wrote, or build me a name as a writer, but it’s definitely not the reason for writing it.


Private blog network as a book marketing tool (part one)

Ranking high on Google belongs to my main marketing goals. I try to get to the top ten positions for keywords as “inspirational story”, “real life inspirational stories”, “books for prisoners”, “books about prison”, “true inspirational story”, “espionage stories”, and many other similar keywords people search for on a daily basis.

A tough task to achieve, especially with a book landing page :).

Actually many things have changed during the last two years, and after the latest updates of Google algorithm, ranking a new website became super tough.

SEO industry is slowly dying, many people opt for paid traffic instead (sponsored positions in Google and Bing search results). Why do they do so?


ROI is a deal breaker

Ranking a website requires lot of time and money nowadays, so people think it more efficient to opt for Google advertising program. On the top of that, results of SEO campaigns will always be uncertain (even if you hired the best SEO guru in the world).

You may actually apply the same link building strategy for two similar websites, and while one will rank on the top, the other one will never rise to the first page of Google search results….

On the contrary, paid advertising brings traffic from the first day, and there are no risks involved—you get what you pay for. So, why the hell am I trying to rank in the search engine in 2017, with a content-thin website, for keywords that aren’t even extremely relevant for the page???

Sometimes I ask myself the same question :). Anyway, if you manage to rank on the top of organic results, and do it with a solid strategy, you will enjoy a nice traffic flow for years to come, without spending additional resources….


Paid advertising vs. SEO

Quick example will show you why paid advertising ISN’T a good strategy for book marketing in particular, at least in the vast majority of cases…

Let’s say you write for profit—most of you probably do. After Amazon takes their share, how much have you left? If you sell books for $4 like I do, you’ll have $2.80 for each copy sold at best (as a member of KDP program, otherwise you’d have just $1.4…).

But let’s say you make as much as $5 from each title you sell. In that case you’ll need to invest $5 in average, or less, in advertising for each copy of the book you sell. If you manage to do that, you turn profit.

The suggested bid for my keywords (inspirational story etc.) is more than $1! I’ve been working with the Adwords system for years, and therefore know that the suggestion is always exaggerated, and I can reach the paid listing while bidding much less. 30 cents for a click will do the trick in this case.

So each visitor will cost me 30 cents. Working with an example of making $5 from each book I sell, in order to reach any profit I must turn at least one of every 16 visitors to a customer. That means achieving a conversion rate of 6.25%.

According to the statistics from Google itself, an average conversion rate on their customers’ Adwords accounts (and you can bet they purposely exaggerate these stats to motivate more people to advertise….) is 2.35%.  Nearly three times lower than what we need to turn profit!

And did I mention that most people make less than $3 from each copy of their book sold? In that case (considering the average cost per click 30 cents) you’ll need to achieve a whooping 10% conversion rate to turn even!Yes- to turn even, not to make any profit…. In fact, according to my experience, you’d be happy if you achieved 1.5% conversion rate with paid traffic, trying to sell books. So you’ll be advertising, and losing money all the way. That’s the case not only with books, but most products with little profit margin. Paid advertising just isn’t effective….


Note: If you are in a low competitive niche, and can get decent cost per click, let’s say five cents/click, I encourage you to try Adwords. But you should always monitor the results, because you can easily end up spending more than you are making—and that’s a bad marketing model. 🙂



Back to Private Blog Networks….

The entire SEO community is talking about private blog networks these months. The reason is simple—it’s the only strategy that works (most of the time) to rank websites in 2016/2017. So, what is a private blog network?

A Private Blog Network (PBN) is a network of authoritative websites used to build links to your money website(s) for the purpose of ranking higher in the Google search engine.

Said in other words, in building PBN you try to acquire old expired domains with a strong back link profile, and then build relevant content on them, promoting your website(s).

At this time I’m trying to purchase quality expired domains, relevant to my niche (finding such domain, even with all tools I have at my disposal, takes at least 2 hours—2 hours for finding one domain!).

I plan to build my blog network differently as most people do, and will write you more about my strategy (which I consider very safe) in the next blog post (including expenses and ROI calculations). Meanwhile, to learn the basics, I suggest you having a look at this post: http://lionzeal.com/pbn-guide/ , probably the best guide on building PBN.

Nevertheless stay tuned as I will talk about PBN’s of the future, and elaborate more on the costs of building a PBN, as well as how to calculate whether the strategy will be effective in your case or not.


A couple of numbers an pictures from the time I’ve been away

I had 562 visitors on my website while being away. If I got these by paid traffic, I'd pay around $200. But for my 560 visits, I paid nothing except of working on them before. This example alone should testify for ways of building residual organic or referral traffic. Obviously the current numbers are still pretty low, and I'll need at least ten times more to make something going. But we already made the first step....

527 visitors reached Universityofsolitude.com while I was trekking in Nepal. If I paid google for this traffic (using their Adwords program), I’d pay around $180. But for this traffic I paid nothing, except of some hard work done before. This example alone should testify for marketing models that focus on residual organic or referral traffic sources. Obviously the current numbers are still pretty low, and I’ll need at least ten times more visitors to make something serious going on here. But we already made the first step…. The direct traffic is mostly a traffic from YouTube–since YouTube uses https protocol it will report in Analytics as direct traffic.

Youtube stats for University of Solitude channel

During the last two months I managed to amass more than 600 views on my YouTube channel. Since the start of November I didn’t buy a single view (more on the strategy of buying views to rank videos in this article), so all these views are genuine. The videos promote the book, and as you could see from the previous picture, a decent number of people who watched them navigated to the website afterwards. But even here we are just in the beginning, and will need at least five times as much views per month to make the ball rolling. 

Report from Google webmaster tools

Report from Google Webmaster Tools. With a little work I’ve done for SEO already, we managed to appear in search results for some keywords, such as real life inspirational stories. The number of impressions is much higher in December than it was in November, but even here we are just starting :). We currently hold the position 29. (see a picture below), so I can just imagine how many more impressions and clicks we’ll get once we are in the top 10. (Position 29. results in some impressions, but just a very few clicks….) Private blog network should help us achieve top 10 position for this keyword as other related keywords.


Our current position for the keyword "real life inspirational stories", which reports 1,900 monthly searches on Google.

Our current position for keyword “real life inspirational stories”, which reports 1,900 monthly searches on Google.


That’s it for now friends. In the next post I’ll talk more about PBN. Meanwhile remember: whether there is an after life or not, we have just one life on this planet. Try to make the most of it, without taking advantage of the others. We’ll all have a good time once people live in harmony….


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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