Category Archives for "Business Tools"

How to Create a Custom Google Map for Your Website

How to Create a Custom Google Map for Your Website

How to Create a Custom Google Map for Your Website

Need to learn how to create a custom google map for your website? Below are instructions for creating a custom Google map and how to embed the custom Google map on your website.

If your story is located in the real world (not on another planet or a fantasy world), your readers will likely enjoy seeing where many of the locations within the story are located on a map.

If you doubt that your readers will be interested in the real locations, then you haven’t see the number of visitors who regularly visit Green Gables on Prince Edward Island (because of Anne of Green Gables), 221b Baker Street (the home of Sherlock Holmes), or Matamata, New Zealand. Don’t know where Matamata is? Few people did until Lord of the Rings was filmed there. Now fans of the book and movie travel to New Zealand to visit the Shire in person. If you haven’t seen it before, click here to view the tours.

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Best WordPress Website Hosting Providers

Best WordPress Website Hosting Providers

There are numerous companies that WordPress website hosting, but you don’t want to find out until after you’ve spent the time to install and built your WordPress website that your WordPress website hosting provider is a lemon.

Below is a list of factors to consider when deciding where to host your WordPress website.

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Online learning WordPress course

WordPress Online Courses and Tutorials

WordPress Online Courses and Tutorials

WordPress is very user-friendly. You don’t need an IT degree to build a WordPress website and you could figure it all out on your own. But why put yourself through the trouble? You want to be writing stories, not spending a bunch of time building your website. That is why I highly recommend finding a good online course to show you the ins and outs of building a WordPress site. Someone else already went through the hard work of learning how to best use WordPress. Let them share their hard-won wisdom with you.

As an author, you might be tempted to turn to a book for help, but I highly recommend using an online course instead of a book. Why? As authors, we strive to show, not tell. But even the best writer is not going to be able to show how to use software with words better than a good teacher can do so by showing with video.

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Giveaway and Contest Tools

Giveaway and Contest Tools

Don’t break the law. Let your characters do that.

Before you set up any contest, you need to understand the laws related to giveaways and contests. Thankfully, I found a great article explaining the details to help protect you from any legal problems. I recommend you read the article, “But Everyone Else is Doing It: Why There are So Many Illegal Social Media Contests” written by Kerry Gorgone. In the article, she explains the differences between contests, sweepstakes, and lotteries. The first two are good. That last one, lotteries, should be avoided (even though MANY people, including authors, do them regularly online).

Once you’ve read the article, you may still be a little confused. Don’t worry. Kerry wrote a couple more articles on the subject on her own blog. Click this link to read more about the legal issues related to online giveaways.

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Tools to Create Opt-In Forms and Landing Pages

Tools to Create Opt-In Forms and Landing Pages

A large, active email list is a very powerful tool for selling your books (or any product). By growing your email list and sharing content your subscribers want to consume, you can announce your new book on the date it is published and have substantial sales (and reviews) within the first week your book is published. You can repeat this with all your books if you grow and nurture your email list.

To grow your email list, you need the ability to collect your readers’ email addresses. You’ll do this by adding an opt-in form to your website and link it to your email marketing service (click here to see recommended email marketing services). For those unfamiliar with the term, an opt-in form is a simply a form visitors can fill out to join your email list. The most basic opt-in form with have a text box for them to enter their email address and a submit button.

Adding an opt-in form to your website is rarely enough to grow your email list with any speed. Why? Because your readers don’t want their inbox flooded with email. Therefore, you need to give them a reason to subscribe to your email list. I cover the topic of lead magnets in Story Marketing: How to Have Fun Marketing Your Fiction Book. But once you’ve created your lead magnet, you need to offer it to your audience to encourage them to join your email list. That is where landing pages come in.

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Best Pop-Up Opt-In Tools

Best Pop-Up Opt-In Tools

As the name suggests, pop-ups are opt-in forms that appear to pop-up on top of the web page you’re currently viewing. You’ve probably been annoyed more than a few times by websites that keeping throwing these pop-ups over content you’re reading. You may have sworn you’d never do this to another human being. I felt that way, until I discovered there’s a smarter (and far less irritating) way to use pop-ups.

The reason that people use pop-ups on their websites is because they are very effective at increasing the number of people who opt into their email list. But is it really worth annoying a lot of your readers? I don’t think so. The good news is there’s now a third option. It doesn’t have to be irritating pop-ups or no pop-ups. Continue reading

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WordPress Page Builder Tools

WordPress Page Builder Tools

As an author, you want to be writing books, not code. To limit the time and frustration spent creating web pages, I highly recommend using a page builder tool to create your WordPress pages.

Page builder tools, like Visual Composer, provide you with easy drag and drop interfaces to create pages. Rather than write the html code to create columns, borders, buttons, countdown timers, progress bars, opt-in form, and more, you select one of those objects within the page builder software, customize the colors, sizes, and so on, and click a button to add it to your page. They allow you to rearrange on the web page the elements you’ve created. In addition, if you create a page, or a group of elements, that look great and you want to re-use part of them on other pages, you can save elements or full pages as templates and then re-use and modify them for other pages saving you even more time.

Below are four good page builder tools. You receive Cornerstone and Fusion Builder free when you by the WordPress theme they come packaged within.

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Best WordPress Themes

Best WordPress Themes

If your website were a car, I once heard someone say that WordPress is its engine. Then what is a WordPress theme? It’s the car’s paint job. The outer layer that makes the car look great.

I do okay with graphic design, but I know my limitations. That’s why I appreciate a good WordPress theme. It makes creating an attractive looking website MUCH easier.

Unfortunately, you could spend days looking through the hundreds, if not thousands, of different WordPress themes that are now available. None of us have them much time. Therefore, I’ve pulled together the best WordPress themes that I think will help make your life easier and your website better.

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Top WordPress Comments Tools

Top WordPress Comments Tools

In order to encourage your audience to become more involved in your community, you not only want to allow them to share their comments, you also need to provide them the ability to give feedback on other people’s comments. Commenting on existing comments is one option. But you will increase feedback and interaction if you make it easier by giving them the ability to vote on comments. I’ve pulled together a list of some of the best tools you can use to allow your readers to comment and vote on comments. A few of them tools even allow

A few of them tools even allow users to attach images and videos to their comments. This can be particularly helpful for various Story Marketing techniques. If you want to encourage your readers to dress up as one of the characters in your books and share the photo on your website, you’ll need to provide them with the ability to easily share the photo. Want to encourage your audience to create fan art, again, your website will need to be able to not only allow them to submit their images, but if you want other readers to choose the best images, you’ll need to a tool to allow them to vote on the images and easily tally up the results.

Below are some of the top WordPress comments tools that are available.

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webinar services

Best Affordable Webinar Services

The Best Affordable Webinar Services

A great way to connect with your readers is to invite them to join a webinar you are hosting. During the webinar, you can answer questions from readers, read a short piece from your book, and do any combination of Story Marketing techniques.

There are many well-known webinar tools available, but unfortunately, many of them require you to pay expensive monthly fees. As an author working to build your audience, you need to spend your money wisely. Therefore, I have researched and found some of the best, yet affordable webinar services available to you.

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