Q&A: When Will It All Hang Together?

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The #insidemymicrobiz experiment has generated a lot of good questions from readers, so I’ll be sharing these Q&As on Fridays. Got a question? Hit me up on Twitter or email me: [shanna] at [this domain].

Hi Shanna,

Ok, I don’t have just one thing that’s been bugging me lately. Well, maybe I do when you put it all together, but here are all the pieces first:

  1. How the heck do I redesign my website so that it’s reflective of who I am and how I add value? I know who I am and how I add value, but now I’m trying to figure out how to make my website convey that clearly and honestly.
  2. How do I also streamline that design so that it ultimately helps me to sell more books to those who really want to those who want to buy them? I’m thinking about things like business funnels.
  3. How do I do marketing without draining all my energy, and such that I eventually won’t have to do most of it (because my readers are doing it for me)?
  4. Basically, how do I make sure people know exactly how I stand out? I already know how to write great books, and getting them out there as ebooks and paperbacks is something I’m only going to get better at. But the actual selling part? That’s where I need to get things together.
  5. Also basically, how do I get my self-publishing business to the point where everything just hangs together really well?

I’ve done a lot of reading on business, self-publishing, and marketing over the past couple of years (my latest book reads on this are Launch by Jeff Walker, How the World Sees You by Sally Hogshead, and The Myth of Excellence by Fred D. Crawford), and I think what’s going on is that I’m finally ready to start designing a business that works, rather than just fumbling around in the dark and hoping I hit something.

I don’t know if I actually need any help with this… but it’s nice to be able to tell someone what’s all been going through my head constantly for the past while. And if you do have any help/advice on this, I’m all ears.

Thanks,
Thea

qa-when-will-it-all-hang-together

Hi Thea, sorry to take so long to get back to you. Keep in mind that I’m not an expert in any of these fields, but here’s my thoughts:

For all that people make it sound complicated, a lot of stuff about “streamlining,” “marketing”, and “making it easy for people to buy” is all common sense. By which I mean to say, when you finally hire someone to tell you what to do, you’ll probably think “Is that all?” Everything I’ve ever learned about marketing and UX design has basically been a confirmation or a clarification of things I dimly intuited.

It’s very hard for you to tell what you’re doing right because you’re small and not getting much traffic. So essentially, you have to build according to “best practices” and to do that, you have to know them. You’ve read enough books on this; what would you tell a friend who’s building a website for the first time? You know, less is more, make sure that every page has ONE purpose and ONE corresponding call to action. Pull out all the stops to keep them on the site and try really hard to get them on a mailing list. You know this, I promise.

[Tweet “When your biz is small, you have to build according to “best practices” until you get more data”]

Making sure that your website connotes your brand is a lot harder — you have to get outside your own paradigm. A couple of things you can do. Ask people for their impressions (people who haven’t seen the site before, preferably.) You might not be comfortable tweaking with that feedback, but it’s still data. The other thing you can do is look at other people’s sites. What impression do you get there, and what elements of the design give it? You may have to do this for a few dozen sites, but eventually you’ll get a sense for some themes. You’ll be able to use similar design elements to get your effect.

Abby’s writing about marketing (the #insidemymicrobiz series) are really good. The woman is a born marketer, at least of the kind of marketing people like you and me like to do. She tells you to do all these things (like Facebook engagement) in a way that actually makes them sound like something you would do. There are other people like this, but they are mostly not marketers. Find them. Stalk them obsessively. Understand their tao.

As to #5 — hahahahahahaha. That’s not really going to happen. I have another client who is a writer. With every launch, she gets a little better at marketing. She’s knows what she’s doing, with what she’s done before, and with every launch, she adds a few more techniques, and expands on what she’s doing. At no point does this “hang together” in the sense that it’s a well oiled machine. It’s always exhausting, nerve-wracking, and tediously detail-oriented. Because you always want a better reception than the last time, no matter how good the last time was. But don’t worry– if it gets to “well-oiled” status, you’re not trying anything new, and that’s no good. But, I think 5-7 launches in you’ll start to feel comfortable with what you can expect, which is about as good as you can ever get.

If you’ve read all those books, you know more than most people. What you lack is emotional distance. So instead of thinking about what YOU’re going to do, instead, create a plan that SOMEONE could do. Figure out all the things you’d tell someone to do. Really explain it to them– what they’re going to do, and why. Marshal your arguments. When you’re done, you’ll have a plan, and more importantly, you’ll have a sense that you know WHY you’re doing things.

Will you actually do all of that stuff? Probably not. But you’ll know why you should, and since you know the why, you’ll sit down and figure out how to serve the why without having to do something you hate or that doesn’t work with your brand.

But it’s never really going to feel like everything is under control, because so much of what we want to accomplish in our businesses isn’t under our control. We can only try to set up things so that what we want is likely, and then wait and see if that was enough.

Good luck,

Shanna

Thea van Diepen is a writer. You can see her titles at ExpectedAberrations.com

[ssbp]

2 thoughts on “Q&A: When Will It All Hang Together?”

  1. I love the approach that you took here – there’s no way that you could provide an actual complete answer to each of the questions.  They are each books, courses and life experience in and of themselves!  But you nailed it anyway.  Because the truth is – she already knows what to do.  She’s educated, well-read, and just needs to step outside of herself and trust.
    I took these very important points from your advice.
    -First, “best practices.”  Next, split testing and fine-tuning.
    -How would you advise someone else?  Get the emotional distance, and be that other person.
    -You’ll never have it under control.  An important realization for every business owner.
    All superb take-aways.  Thanks!

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