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04/03/2013 10:14 am ET

Author Website Tips: The Importance Of A Call To Action

By Writer's Relief staff:

Writer’s Relief has a subsidiary company, Web Design Relief, in which we design websites for authors. So, in addition to the writing and targeting advice we’ve offered in our articles, we’ll be sharing tips on Web design, how to establish an online presence, how to best utilize social media, and more. To get the ball rolling, we’re starting with one of the most important features of an author website—one you’ll need to quickly grow repeat visitors. Keep reading to learn how to implement a strong call to action on your author website and build your author platform.

Call To Action: What It Is And How To Use It

A call to action is a clear statement, instructing your visitors what to do or how to reach a goal, whether it be trivial or important. With a strong call to action, you tell your visitors, “Do this,” as overtly as a giant, blinking demand or as subtly as the wording of a menu option.

A subtle call to action would be to label your published works page, “Read My Published Work,” instead of “Published Work.” The former is a call to action, and the latter is neutral information.

An overt call to action would be, “Enter the contest here!” and “Join the mailing list to receive weekly tips,” which say openly to the visitor, “You should do this.” By writing, “You can enter the contest here,” you imply, “if you feel like it,” which won’t give your visitors the same psychological push to follow through.

3 Ways Writers Can Use Calls To Action

As a writer, you need a call to action on your author website to attract repeat visitors and promote your online platform. And while you might not have any books for sale, and you might not have a mailing list yet, the following calls to action are good for any writer to consider implementing on his or her website.

Note: You don’t want to overwhelm visitors with too many calls to action right on the homepage. Based on your biggest priority, choose one of the following items for your homepage’s main call to action.

Social media pages. It’s important for any writer to promote himself or herself on social media. And while different social media pages lend themselves to writing more than others (Twitter and Facebook are very text-based while Pinterest is better suited for images), you should invest ample time in building your presence on multiple social media forms. If that’s your strength, you should direct your visitors to your well-followed Twitter feed or your haiku-a-day Facebook fan page.

Mailing lists. One of the best ways to build your repeat audience is to create a mailing list. A first-time visitor is more likely to come back to your website or social media pages if he/she is actively receiving new e-mails in his/her inbox from you, directing him/her to “Click here to read more.” But without a clear call to action to sign up for your mailing list, first-time visitors probably won’t be inclined to fill out the sign-up form—or, worse, they won’t even realize that you have a mailing list because it wasn’t clearly stated on the most heavily trafficked pages of your website.

Selling books or other products or services. If you’ve self-published or traditionally published any books, chapbooks, e-books, etc., or offer services like ghostwriting or proofreading, it’s important to funnel your visitors toward those items you have for sale. If they’re not interested in purchasing anything, they can still browse the rest of the site, and you’ve eliminated the chance that a happy visitor clicked out of the site before realizing that he/she could purchase your written work or services.

By using calls to action in a purposeful way, you’ll greatly increase your repeat visitors and active participators. And remember: You don’t need to be heavy-handed with your calls to action. There are very subtle language choices you can use to make strong calls to action. By giving one direct instruction instead of multiple options or wishy-washy offers, you can better build your online platform.

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