Count the Cost of Your Next Website

Guest Post and FREE WEBINAR by Laura Christianson

“How do I get started on social media?”

It’s a question literary agent, Karen Ball, gets asked a lot. In “Keys for Effective Social Media Use,” Karen states: “Have a quality website. That means a website that looks and acts professional. Which generally means don’t do it yourself unless you really and truly know what you’re doing on every front, including design, SEO, and other things about which yours truly knows very little.”

 Karen makes three excellent points: 

1. If you’re trying to build brand recognition on social media, START WITH A WEBSITE.

Social channels such as Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube serve as a REFERRAL SOURCE – in other words, the links you post on social drive people to your website and blog.

Social networks drive over 30% of traffic to websites [Shareaholic]. That was back in 2014, the latest date for which I could find statistics. I’m guessing that now, referrals from social networks drive closer to 50% of traffic to websites. 

2. Your website must look and act professional.

So many DIY website builders assume they can slap something together and that’s all they need. But let’s peek into Karen Ball’s world. She’s a literary agent. Which means that every pre-published author on the planet wants to be her friend, in hopes that she’ll notice them and agree to be their agent.

The first thing Karen’s going to do when she meets a prospective client is check out their website and social presence. Let’s say Karen’s prospective client writes women’s fiction. Karen may already represent several women’s fiction authors – some of them, best-selling authors.

She wants to know what makes this unknown author’s writing and marketing skills unique and attractive to a large audience. If the unknown author’s website is non-existent or unprofessional-looking and Karen already has other women’s fiction authors in her stable who have professional, attractive websites, I’m betting that Karen will opt to work with the authors who’ve already laid the groundwork for a professional writing career.

The publishing industry–similar to most industries–is ultra-competitive. If your website doesn’t stand out from the crowd (in a good way), chances are that you’ll be overlooked. 

3. Don’t build your website yourself unless you know what you’re doing.

“But… but… but… I can’t afford to hire someone to build my website. It’s too expensive!”

I’ve made that same excuse. More than once! I cobbled something together, and it looked like “the cat threw up on it” (one of my favorite Seth Godin quotes).

I discovered I was operating under what Michael Hyatt calls a “scarcity mindset.”

I needed to stop asking myself, “How much will it cost if I hire someone to build my website,” and start asking, “How much will it cost if I DON’T?”

Insider Submission Tips from Focus on the Family’s Sheila Seifert

An Inspire Ask an Expert Post

Focus on the Family’s director of parenting content, Sheila Seifert, wants to help writers prepare for submitting articles and increase their chances for being considered for publication in the various FOTF magazines. We asked Sheila the following questions:

1. What Focus on the Family magazine do you acquire for?

I acquire for Focus on the Family magazine and FocusOnTheFamily.com. We also create annual products that we may acquire or write in-house. Some of these special projects are our annual and summer adventure kit that releases in May, college guide that releases in August, and Advent calendar that releases in October. These themed downloads are usually free. They are directed at busy parents who want to spend quality time with their kids, even as they help their kids grow in the faith.

The Joys and Challenges of Writing for Children

Guest Post by Award-Winning Children’s Book Author Crystal Bowman

When people find out I’m a children’s author, their response often goes something like this: “Oh, how fun! I have always wanted to write a children’s book.”

Writing a children’s book seems to be something on their bucket list‒like zip lining in the rain forest or sky diving on their 50th birthday. Writing for children is fun, but fun does not mean easy.

I often get emails from writers who ask me to critique their work, but most of what I see is not ready to send to a publisher. I see great ideas, but not great writing. Why? Because the writers haven’t taken the time to learn how to write for children or for publication.

If you want to write for children, here are a few tips on how to get started.

How Is God Using the Inspire Anthologies?

Submission Opportunity for Inspire Members (Deadline: May 31, 2017)

As the Inspire Love anthology May 31, 2017 deadline approaches, some Inspire writers are sighing with relief because they submitted early.

Some are editing, editing, and editing to polish their project to perfection. We encourage those dedicated craft-masters to ask a friend for a final-read and submit today. We look forward to reading your work.

Others are still teetering on the fence of indecision, struggling to squeeze the task into their busy schedules, juggling other deadlines and family responsibilities, recovering from unexpected circumstances, battling fears and insecurities, or sparring procrastination.

Because most of us have been there, we empathize.

So, why bother contributing to the Inspire Christian Writers yearly anthologies?

Why invest the time and energy?

Why risk rejection?

Why share God’s love through the various genres of fiction and nonfiction?

The Ministry of Marketing

When I first surrendered my life to Christ, I jumped at every opportunity to share Him . . . until my worship leader announced tryouts. I’d enjoyed singing and acting, ever since childhood. So why wasn’t I clambering onto the stage to serve the Lord by using the talents He’d given me? After all, He’d used Christian music and movies to prepare my heart for His loving grace.

Despite my inner battle, I joined the team. I had fun, until guilt and anxiety overwhelmed me. Whenever I sang to Jesus, I felt His presence. But I felt uncomfortable and sometimes ashamed when I walked onto the stage and when people approached me after services and complimented my voice.

I sought wise counsel from my worship leader, who empathized with me. He explained the blessing of discovering our “sweet spot,” the area of service where our talents, skills, and abilities meet our passions.

His words reminded me of Eric Liddell’s famous quote:

“I believe God made me for a purpose, but He also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure.”

The Lord’s been teaching me how to embrace the joy of serving, but has also affirmed my real “sweet spot.” Writing.

I feel close to God when writing and am excited to share what He’s doing in and through my life. Still, the marketing side of writing can often be difficult.

It helps me to remember Jesus promised to be with His disciples and empower them to be confident, prepared, and bold in their sharing. The Lord’s own words motivate me to step onto any platform He provides for me to proclaim His name.

Submission Opportunity for Inspire Christian Writers!

Inspire Love Anthology – Deadline May 31, 2017

Membership in Inspire Christian Writers has many benefits, including the invitation to submit to our yearly anthology.

Our editors are currently inviting Inspire members to submit fiction or nonfiction love-themed stories, poems, devotions, or articles.

Through the submission process, we can practice following professional guidelines and waiting for editors to consider our work.

Why would anyone want to subject themselves to the waiting game or the possibility of rejection?