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Category Archives: Getting Noticed Series

A series of posts to help you get noticed as a new author.

Getting Noticed – Part 5

If you haven’t ascertained by now, being an author is a lot of work.  It is not something magical that happens over night and you become an instant success.  Granted, there are a few that have found that magic, but they are so few and far between that we need to focus on reality.  I’m going to assume you are reading this now because you want to be a career author, not someone that is in this just as a hobby.  Most authors have to have another job to pay the bills to supplement what their writing does not cover.  But if you look at any business, it takes time and investment and that is what you are doing now.  You are investing your time to get your name out there.  I don’t care what anyone says, time is more valuable than money.  You can find a twenty dollar bill on the ground but you can never truly find time.  It is here now so take advantage of it the best you can.

Most importantly, don’t waste the time of your potential fans.  Always remember that for every page view you receive, on whatever site it is, they are investing their time in you.

So how do you make the best of your time while putting yourself out there in every avenue possible?  It takes organizing and planning and this is when your website works for you.  Remember how I talked about the importance of the design of your website and choosing colors that best represent you?  Well let’s think about how much time you spend on every social media site out there.  How much time have you taken trying to personalize each one of those sites to make yourself stand out and look interesting?

Well this is when “Branding Yourself” comes into play.  Every product out there has a specific look and a logo that makes it stand out and memorable.  Some companies go so far as to create unique colors that have to be an exact match to fit their brand. Anything that carries their logo must match their specifications.  Well it may sound a little obsessive or over the top for what we are dealing with, but it really does serve a purpose that will save you a tremendous amount of time in the long run and make you stand out above the crowd.

Just imagine how easy it would be if you already had a signature background picture, font colors, banner, and basic information that you can simply apply to everything you a member of.  When you apply them to every profile page you are branding yourself with those colors and images.  When people see your profile they associate those things to you.  Those colors and images represent you just as much as the profile picture of yourself.

I can’t tell you how many hours I have spent trying to make every profile on every site stand out only to realize that I’ve been wasting time branding myself differently all over the place.  It sort of makes you look like you have Multiple Personality Disorder.  It confuses people.  They want to get to know you but they have a hard time getting to know which site best represents you.

So I’m going to leave this post by giving you some homework.  Take some time and find the look that best represents what you want to relay to your fans then take that look and apply it to everything you possibly can. Before you know, you will have a professional brand that is going to set you apart from everyone else and people are going to remember you.

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Posted by on October 2, 2012 in Getting Noticed Series

 

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Getting Noticed – Part 4

On Part Three of this series I talked about various ways of gaining followers on Twitter and the value they hold for you as a writer.  I ended the post with something I’m sure many of you considered a little ridiculous, but amazingly enough, it is something that is extremely important.

Your attitude towards your writing and interaction with others can make or break you.

When I first started researching all the various avenues in publishing, I quickly discovered that I had a horrible attitude that threatened to defeat me before I even began this journey.  I possessed an elitist attitude I never knew existed.  That has been an extremely hard pill for me to swallow.  I never thought of myself as better than anyone else, but when it came to my books, that was a whole different story.  You always hear people say to let your work speak for itself.  Well that’s fine, if people know about and are reading your books.  But you have to get to that point first.  In the meantime there is a lot of work you have to do just to get your books noticed and if you aren’t careful, you could easily destroy that chance.  Most of these need to be done before you even think about putting you books on the market.  You need to establish a foundation in which to launch your work.  Without a foundation you can quickly find yourself in quicksand getting lost in all other books fighting for that very same spot you desperately need to find success.

  1. Samples of your book need to be available – when I first read this suggestion from other authors I thought “no way!”.  The first thing that came to mind was that someone was going to steal my story and publish their own version of it before I had a chance to publish it.  We all hear the horror stories.  But the truth of the matter is, if you are virtually unknown then you have to put your work out there for other people to get to know you.  That is why literary agents and publishers love to hear about your writing experience and where you have previously been published.  You cannot afford to treat your work as if it is a treasure that only the chosen can touch.  Think of yourself as a door-to-door salesman.  You have to prove your product is what you say it is and the only way to do that as an author is to allow people to sample your work.
  2. Make your network as large as you possibly can before you publish – At this point, it doesn’t matter who is in your network, it’s about getting your name out there and making the title of your book a topic of discussion.  Think of the Kardashians.  Not a single person out there knows why they are celebrities but everyone that has a television has heard their names.  Just because of that faux celebrity status ride they are on, they have the golden ticket to do just about anything they want and be successful just because everyone wants a piece of the pie they are feeding from.  It’s disgusting but that’s how this world works.  You want to be known, you want the title of your book to be talked about so much that people can’t wait to read it just to satisfy their curiosity.  Then once your book is published, that’s when your book is able to speak for itself.
  3. Create a description of your book that is so enticing that people have to know more –  this is perhaps one of the most difficult things I have come across.  I can write hundreds of thousands of words to tell a single story but I could not find a way to adequately describe my story in a few sentences.  It took months of talking to others about my book to get to the point where I could pin it down to that all important hook paragraph.  You have to prove that your story is original and not like every other book in your genre. Then you have to get the word out to as many people as you possibly can.  You have to create a buzz and keep it sizzling, releasing an aroma so delicious that when your book is published you already have people hungry for your book.  Don’t be discouraged if your network consists of mainly other authors because frankly, we are readers before we are writers.  Your’re fellow writers could very easily become your greatest fans.  My twitter account works in two ways for me, it helps me get the word out about my book and it helps me find other great books to read.  I can assure you, I’m not the only one.
  4. Give your introduction time to marinate and radiate –  Don’t expect instant success the moment you introduce something new.  It takes time to get people interested enough where they will invest their time in anything.  In fact, most people are so tired of all the crap out there that they will wait for someone else to be the guinea pig.  That is why it is so important for people to write reviews of your book.  If you can have reviews already written before you publish your book then you have exactly what you need to prove to people that your book is worth reading.  Find a few people that you can trust to be honest, allow them to read your book, and then ask them to put their thoughts on whatever site you are selling it on.  If you can do that, then you have accomplished one of the most difficult tasks every author faces.  I have read in several places that it takes about six months to get a book noticed and moving.  You don’t have to wait for the book to be on the market before that time period begins.

Don’t make the same mistakes I did.  I was in such a rush just to say that I had my book available that I skipped a lot of these steps.  Now I have to backtrack and try to make up for all that lost opportunities that I did not take advantage of.  Timing is everything and you have to test the water before you jump head first.  If you do all of this before you publish your book then you have the time necessary to change whatever isn’t working so when you do launch your book, you can relax and enjoy the ride.

 
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Posted by on September 25, 2012 in Getting Noticed Series

 

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Getting Noticed – Part 3

If you have been following this series of posts then you have noticed that the main focus has been on designing your website.  Even though the topic is not nearly close to being thoroughly discussed, I would like to leave it and move forward to social marketing.  In this post I will be focusing namely on Twitter because it has proven to be the most valuable to my marketing efforts.  Now, a word of caution, I am by far no expert in this field and like you, I am struggling to make my name known in the slush pile known as the ebook world.  But there are few things I have picked up on that I have not read elsewhere that I believe are extremely beneficial to getting your name noticed.

I joined twitter, over three years ago, then left it with nothing more than a crappy image with no followers and not a single clue as to why I joined in the first place.  I had nothing to say to anyone.  I didn’t have anyone to say anything to.  Then that all changed when I wrote my book and found a desperate need to find out what in the world I should do with it now.  When I made the decision to self publish my book I knew I was facing an uphill battle, but pushed my shoulders back and trudged forward.  I now had something to share and even more to learn.  I started off by looking and following all the big names only to realize that I wasn’t learning anything that way.  They weren’t following me back so it wasn’t as if we were communicating in any way.  So I started clicking on recommendations that popped up on my twitter home page.  Soon I began connecting with other indie authors and it was great because now I at least had people following me back, but they were doing the same thing I was.  They were trying to sell their books, it wasn’t necessarily the fan base I desperately needed.

 Instead, as I soon learned, it offered something just as valuable.  It is a constant outpouring of experience, encouragement, and once again, a learning process of what not to do and what you must do in order to have a presence that people take notice of.

There isn’t a day that goes by that I do not open my email account and find it filled with notices of new followers and mentions of me from Twitter.  To hear myself say that now seems ridiculous.  Only a few months ago I was a nobody barely treading water but now people are actually mentioning me without my begging and pleading.  Not that I have done that, frankly my pride is too thick to begin begging to be noticed.  The last thing I want to do is become the annoying follower that people would rather unfollow then listen to my incessant begging.

Within just a very short time period I have gained an impressive following, which I now consider more of an impressive backing of support, from well over a thousand followers.  It all began with my taking the reins and showing interest in others by following them first.  But first you must find the people to follow and there are a few very easy ways I have discovered to do just this.

  1. Profile Details – Before you even begin following people you must take the steps of offering them a reason to follow you back.  You are given very little room to sell yourself so you must take advantage of every resource Twitter gives you.  Whatever you do, do not leave the description of yourself empty.  Tell people who you are.  If you are an author tell them that in the very first sentence.  Without this very important detail you are not giving anyone a reason to follow you. Then follow with the details of your genre and the extremely important link to your website.  You would be amazed how many people will click on that link just to learn more about you before they click that follow button.  Then add another important link that gives them an alternative way of learning more about you.  It can be your blog or Facebook page.  Both of which you want to have more followers of as well.  Use the resources to work for you.  Then make sure you add an image of yourself.  Now you will not meet another person that hates having their picture taken more than me.  But suck it up.  People want to know the real you and know that you are not just another spammer.  But remember, your picture can work for you or against you.  Don’t post a low quality picture that sheds a horrible light on you.  It isn’t about your looks so much as it is about showing others that you care enough to put quality into what you do.  Do not use a picture you take of yourself from your webcam.  I don’t care if you are the most beautiful person in the world, you will look horrible because the quality is horrible.  Whatever picture you use, make sure it represents you now, not twenty years ago when you think you looked better.  People will catch on and it will make you appear deceiving.  Take care of what picture you choose and make sure it represents you for what you want to relay to others.
  2. Take advantage of the recommended people to follow – there are several ways to do this and I will leave it up to you to discover so as not to bore you with all the details.  If you do not know where to find these, then you need to spend a little more time familiarizing yourself with twitter.  I will point out one way that I have found to be the most useful for me.  Anytime I receive an email stating that someone new is following me that I am not yet following and it is someone that I want to follow, I click on the link from the email and it sends me directly to their page.  When I click follow, it then offers up two other recommendations of people to follow from their list of followers.  This gives you an open door into their network.  After all, that is what Twitter is all about – connecting and forming networks of people you share a common interest with.
  3. Lists – For the longest time I ignored the “List” feature on twitter.  Once I began to venture into learning just what they were, I realized that most people don’t use the feature either.  But the ones that do, give you a resource that opens you up to a wealth of people that would take you months to connect with if you even manage to reach them.  A list on twitter is a group of followers that a person categorizes to make their communicating with specific people easier.  It’s something that seems simple but to those that are looking for specific types of people to connect with it is an exclusive directory into your network.  Now there are two types of lists, the ones that are public and ones that are private.  When you create a list that is public, you are telling your other followers that these people are the ones they should follow.  Therefore you are not only organizing, you are doing a service by making your followers important to you and allowing them the valuable opportunity to join other networks.  When you click on the List feature you can view the lists others have included you in.  You can view them and connect to others that are in that list with you.  But it doesn’t stop there.  You can gain access to other public lists a person has that you are not a part of by subscribing to the list giving you access to view it.  Take some time to take advantage of this valuable resource.  Give your followers a place of honor on your profile and network yourself from other lists.  Before you know it, you will find your network growing tremendously.  Now every time I receive a new follower of importance that I feel would benefit from my list inclusion, I add them.  It takes very little time and before you know it you have a well organized profile that gives you a wealth of resources to work with.
  4. Selling your product – We have all heard and have been discouraged by the constant influx of people tweeting only advertisements for their products.  First you must remember that this was the purpose of joining all the networks in the first place.  So suck it up and take it with a grain of salt.  These people are only trying to make a living.  But there are ways of advertising and there are ways that will make you nothing more than an irritating spammer.  You may have first joined twitter to get the word out about your product but now that you have a network filled with real people, it’s time to establish relationships with them.  If you treat people with respect then you will be respected and not just another member of a list.  When you see someone advertise their product, help them out by retweeting it so people in your network can see it.  People will in turn retweet your adverts.  When people send you a message, regardless if it is an automatic responder message or not, reply to it and make them aware that you are glad to meet them.  Take it even further and mention something about their current project to show that you have taken a genuine interest in knowing them.  You would be amazed how something so simple can be so encouraging to those of us fighting to make ourselves known in this world.  It’s not about pride its about making others aware that their hard word is being noticed.  Post links to advertise your product daily but space it out to where you are showing there is more about you that makes others want to know more about you.  Every time you respond to someone that mentions you, it shows and people take notice that you are a real person and not some robot tweeting scheduled tweets.  Take advantage of hashtags so that your advertisement can be viewed by people outside your network but don’t make every word a hashtag because it looks horrible and gives a sense of desperation and once again, carelessness.

This is only the beginning of all the resources available through Twitter alone. But if you follow these few simple steps you will create a great foundation that will get you noticed by more networks than you every dreamed of before.  Always remember the golden rule “Treat others as you want to be treated”. Remain positive and cheerful in everything that you tweet.  As stupid as it sounds, use the old trick that has been used by phone operators for years; answer the phone with a smile and your voice will relay your attitude.  Smile when you post and your words will relay your attitude.  Believe it or not, a smile is contagious even when you cannot see the person on the receiving end.  Words are powerful, use them wisely.

 
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Posted by on September 24, 2012 in Getting Noticed Series

 

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Getting Noticed – Part 2

Alright, so we established in the previous post the importance of having a website.  Your website is your foundation, the place where everything from this point on will branch out to.  Before you jump and start linking to everything you are involved in and start flooding your website with links that direct your visitors away from your site, stop and consider this; you just put all that work into building a great website, do you really want to push people away from it now?

Integration is the Key

There is a ton of useful tools available to add to your site to make it more dynamic and user friendly.  Your visitors love to have various ways of staying in contact with you.  For every site that you dedicate time and effort on you should have something integrated on your site to show what you are doing.  This gives you presence and shows that you care about communicating to your visitors even if you are not speaking directly to them.  You are including them in your special circles.  Yes, it sounds a lot like the irritating clicks from high school, but just remember how irritating it was to be rejected from those clicks and make darn sure you are not making your fans feel the same way.

But this brings us to a very important point when it comes to your online presence.  When was the last time you googled yourself?  I did this just the other day and discovered several social websites that I had signed up for several years ago and abandoned, completely forgetting about them. Yet there they were, like beacons on the search results page glaring at me like my cat when I’m a little too late on his feeding schedule.  Now you can quickly go to those sites and cancel your membership but remember that they will remain on your search results for a period of time until Google runs its next scan of your web involvement.  It could be days or it could be weeks.  You just never know.  But in the meantime, could you take advantage of those sites using them as a sort of business card directing visitors to your website?  You don’t want to push people away from your site but you darn well want to direct them to it in any way you possibly can.  Take advantage of those little forgotten sites.  You don’t have to spend hours on them like you do on your favorite social sites but if you keep them updated on the major changes that happen in your career, they will work for you.  Forget about them and leave them looking abandoned like an unkempt front yard and it makes you look careless.  Set apart a day each week or even one day a month to check all of these sites and update them as necessary then leave them to do the work for you.  All you have to do is create a bookmark file and keep a bookmark of each of these sites and they will be waiting for you making you look even better.

Now back to integrating useful dynamics to your website. When you add what they call “Widgets” to your site you must always keep in mind that these widgets can work for you or they can work against you and destroy all of the hard work you put forth in designing your website.  There is nothing worse than going to a website that is so filled with mismatched boxes that they overpower the real content and purpose of the site.  You don’t want your website to turn into a portal to all your social media.  You want it to be the other way around.  You want to use social media to encourage people to learn more about you, and that is the one place you have control of, your website.

Always remember that being subtle can speak louder than shouting at your visitor with blaring advertisements about your other sites.  Facebook and Twitter are the two most popular widgets to share on your site.  But frankly I hate Facebook widgets.  They are ugly and virtually impossible to match your site.  Most people like to share the pictures of their followers to show that people like them.  But I think it is gaudy and intrusive to the people that care enough to like your Facebook page.  They didn’t like your page to become an advertisement for you.  Twitter widgets can be great, but what if you have a follower that loves to say things that you don’t necessarily want to have posted on your website?  You have very little control over this.  Just imagine the damage a disgruntled follower could do to you,  It happens and you don’t want to set yourself up to fail.

When adding anything to your site, make sure it is a visual as well as functional asset otherwise forget about it.  There is always going to be a point where you are going to have to sacrifice a little, but there are programs out there that allow you to have all of the functionality of giving your visitors a chance to share your information to all of the popular social sites without sacrificing everything.  There is a program called “Social Follow” that gives you all of this functionality crammed packed into a tiny little script that you cut and paste onto your site.  There are others out there as well, take the time to check them out and you will be amazed how powerful and unintrusive they can be.  If you must use large widgets that don’t integrate well into your site, then make a space specifically designed for them.  The new Twitter widget works great in your “Contact” section giving your visitors the ability to contact you through Twitter.  I would not suggest putting your Facebook timeline on your site.  If people want to read your Facebook timeline then let them go to your Facebook page.  Don’t be lazy and expect these widgets to give you content.  They only take people away from your site.

Before I finish this post, I want to caution you on one more thing.  If you have a strong social media presence then make sure that what you post and what you respond to is something that you want to share with your fans.  Don’t destroy yourself by mixing your personal life with your business.  Don’t involve family conversations or anything of a personal nature that has no business being involved in your professional life.  Do not rant and rave and whine about things.  For God sakes, keep your personal feelings about politics to yourself.  I had a lady follow me just the other day and left me a personal message on Twitter.  She immediately insulted me because I had listed the genre of my book as Paranormal Romance Fiction.  She was so very kind to point out to me that my inclusion of the word “fiction” was redundant but then continued preaching to me about how the upcoming election is not fiction and how her particular candidate of choice was going to sock it the other. Well after my blood cooled off I corrected my mistake by removing the word “Fiction” in hopes that it would not encourage anyone else to share their political views with me.  Chances are, you aren’t going to like what I have to say.  I can be sweet as sugar but if you push me enough I will show you how strongly I can emphasize that capital “B” when that itch flares up.  The point of the matter is, this is all about you being a professional and selling your product to the world.  You don’t want to alienate people because you might share conflicting beliefs in something that has nothing to do with your product.  I can’t tell you how much of a turn off it is when celebrities use their fame to push an agenda they have no business being involved in.  It destroys careers.  Let the politicians do their jobs and keep your personal opinions to yourself.  The only exception to that is if politics and even religion are the focus of your work.  If that is the case then be man or woman enough to admit it up front and don’t insult people because they may share a different view than you do.  When you are confronted with these trolls, do as I did, cool off, unfollow or block them if you have to, and if you do respond, make sure you are responding in a way that makes you the respectable person that everyone can appreciate.

 
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Posted by on September 22, 2012 in Getting Noticed Series

 

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Getting Noticed Part 1

If you are a new author then you know how important “word of mouth” advertising is.  Well in this day and age, it isn’t just verbal words that are important, you have to have a strong web presence as well.  People are spending more time on their computers and smart phones than they are actually conversing with each other.  This gives anyone that is interested in you the ability to learn as much as they can without having to actually ask you any questions.  So, if you want people to know about you, you have to make yourself available.

Website – I cannot stress how important it is to have a website.  Not just any website, but a website that is pleasing to the eyes.  Think of your website as a portal into your life.  I know that may sound intrusive but take a moment and consider everything your eyes take in the moment you visit a website.  Ask yourself these questions:

  1. Does my website look appealing or does it look like something that was simply thrown together by an amateur?  If your website looks like something that was created in the 90’s when the web was just starting then you have some major work to do. You need to understand that the appearance of your website is just as important as the cover of your book.
  2. Do you have far too much information on the front page?  You need to draw your visitors in and if someone has to scroll down to get to the meat of your website then you are going to lose visitors instantly.  Too much information is an instant overload to someone that is first visiting your site.  They simply want to know if your website is something that they would be interested in and if you have anything to offer them.  Allow your other pages to offer the finer details but use your homepage as a teaser to let the visitors know what all you have to offer.  Keep most of the content within the range of a single page view that requires no scrolling.
  3. Do you have pictures?  I can’t tell you how boring it is to visit a site that has no pictures.  I love to read but I don’t want to go to a website and spend hours trying to find what I’m looking for.  You must always remember the old saying, “A picture can speak a thousand words”.  Take advantage of the stories pictures can tell in a single glance.
  4. Does it look like a cookie cutter of every other website out there?  Dare to be different.  You want to be singled out, not blend in with everyone else.  Choose a color template that best represents you.  That may sound crazy, but it’s true.  People are coming to your site to know more about you so allow them to enter your realm just as you allow them to enter the realm of your story when they read your book.  Another note, I know there are some amazing websites out there with dynamic content using Flash, but a word of caution, Flash takes a long time to load and that pushes people away.  Not everyone lives where they have access to the super fast internet.  Be considerate to all your visitors.  Also remember that a lot of people will be viewing your site on a phone and I’ve heard a rumor that some phones are discontinuing the use of flash.  Just because something looks amazing doesn’t mean it’s functionally appropriate for what you need.
  5. Do you have an actual website or is it just a blog? I know this sounds harsh and I understand the effort you put forth into your blog, but when people search for a website they expect a website, not a blog.  Too many people know that anyone can have a blog and it makes you appear cheap and possibly even lazy.  If you can manage to put together a manuscript, especially an ebook, then you have what it takes to create a website.  There are tons of free web hosts that offer free templates that can be easily personalized and remove that cookie cutter trap. (Weebly is a great place to try)
  6. Do you have your own Domain Name? Don’t freak out, it’s really not that complicated and or even expensive.  Think of a domain name like a physical address.  If someone is looking to find out where you live so they can visit you then they need to be able to find your actual address.  If you are using a web address that is only a sub-domain (ex. whoever.weebly.com) then it is akin to that person being stuck trying to find out where you live with only a P.O. Box number to direct them.  Don’t let your fan’s get lost, direct them by giving them your real name to guide them straight to your site.  But be aware, there are thousands of ways to buy a domain name, but most of them charge far too much.  You don’t have to buy a domain name from the site that is hosting your website.  Shop for the best price.  (Go Daddy is a great place price wise and customer service wise.)
  7. Does your content read like it is copied straight from Wikipedia?  We are all fans of something, what do you look for when you visit a site of some author or band that you love?  One of my biggest pet peeves is going to a site that offers nothing more than what can be found in a million other places all over the net.  Personally, I don’t even understand why they took the time and effort to cut and paste the same old crap most people already know.  People come to your site to learn about you, they want the exclusivity that can’t be found anywhere else.  They want to hear from you, not some other person that is doing your promotional work for you.  They’ve read your books now they want to know more about you.  This doesn’t mean you have to tell them every detail of your life, but they want to understand who you are as a person.  Your website is a great place to promote your work, but always remember that the website is about YOU.  There is nothing better than to discover the real person behind the one you are a fan of.  As pretentious as this may sound, as an author you are setting yourself out to be a sort of public figure and you want to be relatable.  Make your fans feel like they are your friends.
  8. Have you made too many changes to your website?  The easiest way I can describe how aggravating this is to your visitors is to remind you of the fuss that generated when facebook changed to the timeline design.  People are still complaining about it to this day.  Think about what it is like to go shopping at a store you have been going to for years and they suddenly changed everything and you can’t find anything.  Don’t do that to your visitors.  If you do make changes, make sure you make an announcement describing the changes to help your visitors find what they are looking for.  Don’t assume your visitors can just figure it out because most likely they will just give up and move on.

Take some time out and do some of your own research.  Visit the sites of the people that you love.  Note everything down that irritates you and what piques your interest.  Note the fine details of what colors are pleasing to you and what colors are difficult to read.  This is extremely important and will be something that will carry on with you throughout your career.  There are a lot of other things I can add to this list about content and user friendly add-ons but if your website doesn’t look good then none of that matters.  Let’s help each other out here.  What have you found that works the best at drawing in visitors to your website?

 
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Posted by on September 21, 2012 in Getting Noticed Series

 

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