In our never-ending quest for the best sites by artists and writers, we present
Sean Platt, David Wright and Johnny B. Truant are self-published authors. They’re also incredible marketers.
The team of three does a weekly podcast called Self-Publishing Podcast, which is up to episode #110. They cover the life of an author from every angle. The loneliness, the marketing, the craft, the tools, the networking. It’s a packed product which enriches, enlightens and, yes, promotes like nuts.
And that’s what we love about their site, and, indeed, their digital identities as a whole. They’re getting their name out there by being helpful to their community and exploring ways to build a bridge between their Good Samaritan efforts and their fiction book sales. The two don’t necessarily mix well, but they’re always looking for new opportunities to make the link work.
Why do we think their site is worthy of studying?
Let’s break it down.
The header includes the brand Self-Publishing Podcast, which is a primary driver of search traffic (the site is #10 in Google for the term “self publishing”, as of this writing). From there, they keep it chummy by only using their first names. That’s a big part of their brand, as everything they do has an air of camaraderie. They want you to see them as buddies.
[Advice to Sean, Johnny and Dave if you’re reading this post, which is highly likely since my bet is a couple of you like to search for yourselves… daily 😉 Put your full names in the header image title for some extra search visibility. Yes, I understand this is debatable, but my experience is that it helps link a name to a brand.]
The all-important categories section displays the depth of their offerings.
The blog is a place for them to promote their podcast and to cement their ideas together. They use it as a place to flesh out some of the more complex projects they work on. For instance, their Kickstarter (to record the creation of a book from start to finish) required a lot of community hand-holding. A blog is a good place to communicate with your fans.
The podcast gets its own link, of course. They use the popular page to show off their fun side
The Self-Publishing Podcast
“4% On-Topic — GUARANTEED!!”
I do think they need to make the page a little more image-heavy. A simple list of podcasts doesn’t invite exploration.
The Books link in the header is the most complex. It drops down to show all the imprints of the three writers. I feel sorry for this link. It has a lot of work to do. They do a great job of sweeping all the fiction work into one header link, but my bet is they’ll find a better way to do this soon.
The Q&A Hangouts link is hardcore. This is the link that will make a casual browser realize, “Wow, these guys work hard on this site,” or, “These guys are really helpful.” It’s a fine line between offering too much for free and just the right amount. I think they’ve hit the sweet spot, since the Q&A “product” goes hand in hand with their very visible attempts to show off their toll-free number that they maintain for questions.
It’s also a great space to clarify and follow up on discussions they’ve had on the podcast.
Their About link is standard stuff, though I’m not clear on why they split the Contact link and their Social Media handles into two pages. If they made it one page and changed the title of the link to Contact, it would probably be a better experience.
The Tools link is gold. A list of helpful products for writers, marketers, and small publishers is a must on a site that sets out to be useful to its community. The fact that they dot the page with some affiliate links is good business, too. If you love a product there’s nothing wrong with touting it and making some pocket change in the process!
The Elegant theme they use is nothing spectacular. But, again, you don’t always want spectacular. Most of the time, going for simple and to-the-point is the best method to get the word out clearly.
As far as the big plusses of the site. This is how I call it:
1) They rely on partners to amplify their message. Grouping up with fellow storytellers is a wonderful asset. And a good life lesson. Sure, there are possibilities that friendships and partnerships will fall apart, but so what? Have fun while you’re having fun, and worry later.
2) They innovate, in the truest sense of the word. Because they work as a team on making stories and getting the word out, they always have a treasure trove (and a mess of) ideas that spot weaknesses in the self publishing experience. When they spot these weaknesses they sometimes do something about it. Their Kickstarter called “Fiction Unboxed” not only tracked a book being plotted, written and edited to perfection — it also opened the story’s world up to the community!
3) They use text, word, image and video. That’s future-proofing!
The Self-Publish Podcast site is a deep experience that educates and engages. The soft upsell to selling their own work is always in flux, so visit them often to see how they’re maneuvering that dangerous boundary between art and commerce.
What do you think of their site? What ideas can you apply to your site and you own online identity?