Yeah, It’s Vegas Baby!
Every author could use some extra resources. To celebrate the 2018 Golden Crown Literary Society Convention and get your winning streak started, I’ve got some freebies, or free to try services to fire up your WordPress website.
Let’s start with Optimization of your Graphics
Here are a few free site resources to help you optimize your pictures and media:
This is a great premium photo editor.
This suite is robust but not a free resource. Use the free trial period to get all your photo editing done.
PixLR is an advanced Vector Graphic Editing suite. If your using Vectors, this is a great alternative to Photoshop.
Next, it’s time for Compression
Compressing images, especially those full-size shots of your books covers, will reduce the time it takes for your site to load without reducing the quality of your images. For JPGs, use CompressJPG (https://compressjpeg.com) or CompressPNG (https://compresspng.com/) for Portable Network Graphics. This site is old-school but it’s free. They also have several conversion utilities and a version for compressing PDFs. If you’re giving away large Portable Document Files, use their SchrinkPDF (https://shrinkpdf.com/) utility to give your readers the choice to download a Zip file. A great free resource but watch out for all the ads. There everywhere.
Screenshots and Video Capture
Both Windows and Apple have resident screen capture tools. In Windows, it’s call Snipping Tool. If you are looking for added functionality consider upgrading to SnagIt from TechSmith. It comes with a free trial if you want to give it a test run. (https://www.techsmith.com/screen-capture.html)
For Video, Webcam, Audio, Online Meetings and just about anything else you can do with your computer, consider Screencastify. I use it to backup all my webcasts. It comes with a one-click Chrome plug-in and costs less per year than two tickets to a movie. (https://www.screencastify.com/)
ISBN Barcodes for your Books
Are you making your own book covers? If you’re using IngramSpark they will generate the code for you but not all distribution sources will. Here’s a great author resource that can generate just about any type of barcode on the planet. Again, this is an old-school website and loaded with adds. The service is free but does ask for a donation. Make sure your code works before sending books to print. Bar Code Generator (https://www.terryburton.co.uk/barcodewriter/generator/)
Apps you just Gotta Get
KIndleSpy, KDP Spy, KDspy. The name of this App doesn’t matter, it’s awesome and a must have for any author. Track your sales or your competitors, look deep into the listings for possible keywords and categories. Ever wonder how all that crap niche-marketed fake lesfic makes it so high up in the rankings? KindleSPY. It’s a small and unassuming tool with power. There’s no free version but it’s worth the small bucks. Other similar tools: KDPRocket (https://kdprocket.com/), and Kindle Samurai (http://kindlesamurai.net/). All three resources are worth taking a look at. [Disclosure Note: I’m an Affiliate for KDSpy. Yep, I like this App that much.]
Let’s not forget the WordPress Plug-Ins
Could a popup be polite? This crazy Canuck thinks so. Meet Nathalie Lussier, Queen of List Building and founder of PopupAlly Pro (https://ambitionally.com/aff/?p=a45515065&w=papro). You need to gather the contact details of your site visitors and you need to be GDPR compliance while you do so (not to mention not making your readers crazy and swamping them with offers, adds, and prompts to sign up). To do that, I suggest PopupAlley. It has both a free and paid version. Nathalie also has great support and learning videos including her amazing 30 Day List Building Challenge. [Disclosure Note: I’m an Affiliate for PopupAlley. Yep, I like this resource that much.]
There’s no arguing that you need Search Engine Optimization but what is it and how do you make it work without your head blow off? Relax baby, Yoast SEO to the rescue. I installed this on my personal site and within an hour received a full report from Google on my Mobile friendly links and usability. Yep, plug it in, answer a few questions and Bobby-Ann’s your uncle. It’s that simple. Download this from the WordPress Plug-In Menu. And Yes, they have both a free and paid version.
Here’s a long list of lots of resources and ideas to help get your site where you want it to me:
- Bluehost (https://www.bluehost.com/): I highly recommend Bluehost for people who are just getting started online with their first website. You can have a WordPress website up and running within 5 minutes of checkout, and you get a free domain name with registration. This hosting service is dependable, secure, and one of the best values on the web.
- Google Analytics (http://www.google.com/analytics): Having Google Analytics installed on your WordPress site means you’ll know who is coming to your website, how long they stay, where they came from, and whether they joined your list or not. This is priceless information!
- Meet Edgar (https://meetedgar.com): This super simple social media management platform allows you to schedule tweets and Facebook messages with just a few clicks. Just start adding content, like your past blog posts, some of your favorite quotes, a few questions to engage your fans… and you’re off the to the races! Then select how often you want to post to each of your accounts and watch your engagement soar. I found this a much easier resource to navigate than Hootesuite.
- CoSchedule (https://coschedule.com): This is another content calendar/social media management platform to schedule our blog posts and social shares across our various accounts. Since it comes with a WordPress plugin, blog posts will automatically show up in Coschedule and can be changed around with a simple drag-and-drop interface. It’s a great time saver and includes stats so you can see how your content continues to perform over time.
- MailChimp (https://mailchimp.com): This is a great service to get started with for free when your list is less than 2000 subscribers. But it does have some downfalls but is always improving. I use this resource for all my email list engagements and stick to PopupAlley for my opt-in forms.
- Asana (http://asana.com/): Oh, if I could write a song about one tool that has made my days more productive and fun to collaborate with my team, it would be all about Asana! Except people pay me not to sing! Even if your working alone and can’t quite get the hang of maintaining a writing schedule, this resource will change your life and it’s totally free.
- LastPass (https://lastpass.com/): In our hyper-connected world, there can be way too many passwords to remember… and each service you use online should have its own password. If one of the websites you log in to gets hacked, your other accounts might also be compromised. With LastPass, you’re able to keep all your passwords secure, come up with new ones for each service, and just have to remember the main password. I use this exclusively and across all my devices. this is a five-star resource you must have and yes there is a free version.
- Scrivener (http://www.literatureandlatte.com): I’ve been using this program since it first came out. I don’t use it for everything but when I’m plotting, this is the tool to have. With a lot of functionality under the hood, this inexpensive author resource is a must have
Need more or just want help? Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org