31 Day Author Platform Challenge Day 25: Try new SEO

Oh no, SEO?
SEO isn’t as scary as you think!

Over 5.5 BILLION searches are processed a day just by Google alone. We need to find ways for our sites (and books) to get noticed! The answer is SEO.

I let you skate for a few days with easy tasks. Not now. Have a seat.

Today, Day 25, we’re going back to your website and looking into “SEO,” or “search engine optimization.” That’s a fancy way of saying “making sure your website has the right words for search engines to notice, so it pops up early in search results.”

A good overview that explains how search engines work and what they look for (along with tips specific to WordPress but likely work on other sites) is here. Take a minute to give it a look.

Wouldn’t it be great if someone typed in “children’s book author” and your name popped up in the top three results? or five? or ten? One way, of course, is to have a website that has a million hits, which means you have a best-selling title (or six). But there are ways to pad your website to up the chances a little bit.

The bad news is, I can’t tell you exactly what to do because we all have different sites and different focuses and reasons and audiences. But there are general guidelines the experts say to bear in mind.

letters on the wooden blocks
“SEO” Photo by Oleksandr P on Pexels.com
  • Images and videos are better than simple text. It not only makes people stay at your website longer, it can up your name on image and video search queries. Add more images to your pages, and more video.
  • Caption your images! And be sure to include an “alt text” description of each image.
  • Pick a scalable template or see if your web host will optimize your site for mobile devices. Scalable means your website dimensions will automatically adjust for the screen size of a phone, tablet, laptop, or desktop. When someone looks at your website on their phone, for example, your top banner won’t take up their entire screen; they will get to see your website almost like they were looking at it on a larger screen. It might seem like something obvious but not all template or designs do this.
  • Keep your website up to date. You know that regularly adding new content keeps readers coming back for more. Did you know it also improves SEO? New content shows search engines that your website is active and relevant. That means you have to keep going back to your website to edit, update, or add. The search-ranking autobots want to know that your site is “alive” — as in, there is a person tending to it regularly. The more active the bot senses your site is, the higher it will appear in the standings. It does’t want to look stupid by recommending a site that hasn’t been updated in five years. (If it had feelings, that is)
  • Add internal links and make sure they’re current. That means you want to link back to your own website as much as you can. (You may have noticed in this Challenge how often I point out things like “We covered looking your best in taking headshots on Day 7” — I often link back to my own posts, which helps prove my own content is valid and important.)
  • Use keywords repeatedly, such as in headers and in summaries (I have heard this doesn’t work as well as it used to though). At a minimum, repeat the words used in your post’s title.
  • Simplify language and URLs if you can, so search engines know how to find you and the content you are talking about.

The best advice I can give you is to go back to your website host and check their FAQ for SEO. They are bound to offer specific steps you can take. Wish I had a plug-and-play answer for you (and myself)!

[Oh, and have you followed 10 new people yet?]

31 Day Author Platform Challenge Day 24: “TIL” video

“TIL” = Today I Learned

image from TIL facebook page

You know something others don’t. Maybe it’s a hack on scrambling eggs, a cool Instagram trick, or fixing a leak. Perhaps you just learned it from someone else’s video. Irrelevant.

Today, Day 24 of the 31 Day Author Platform Challenge, you are going to share that learning. Via video! (You need to get more comfortable in video. It’s the future!) And “TIL” is all the rage right now, so let’s hop on board.

You don’t have to be on camera in your TIL vid if you don’t want. I’m not in mine!

My recent key learning is a time saver that lets you type in a few letters and have your pc fill in the rest. It’s called a “macro.” It’s hugely helpful for long words and phrases you use over and over.

Impress your friends (or at least your kids) by creating a custom macro!

What this video shows is how to make the macro by going to your Mac, clicking the Apple logo very top left, then clicking System Settings, scrolling down to Keyboard towards bottom left column, then clicking Keyboard Shortcuts Text replacements and adding in what you want to replace… Sure, I could have just written it out, but isn’t it so much easier in video?

Now, with the macro, anytime I type letters “apc” in a row it automatically types ’31-Day Author Platform Challenge’ for me. Try it for yourself creating any shortcut you want–your home address, email address, whatever you find tedious. Impress your kids by telling them you “created a macro”!

If you don’t know how to record your computer screen (I didn’t until this video!) I can help you there too. This link from PC Mag has step-by-step instructions for both Mac and pc.

Create your own TIL with literally anything. Maybe it’s that you learned where your keys are hiding. Or how to calm yourself when you can’t find them. Or how to call a locksmith at midnight.

Refreshers on creating great video content are on Day 16 and Day 19. For today, I have specific advice:

  • Write a script or outline first. Don’t wing it.
  • Rehearse what you are going to say based on what you wrote. It’s OK to ad lib, as long as you know where yo are headed. Think it through in your head.
  • Practice out loud at least three times until you feel you are ready. (Remember today’s “don’t wing it” rule?)
  • Only THEN should you hit RECORD. But don’t record more than three takes. Save all of them.

Why stop at three takes? Acting advice says more than three takes on vids like these will frustrate you and make you tense, and therefore make you–and the video–come across stale. That’s why you practice BEFORE hitting record.

Have some fun with it!

Tag #31DayAuthorPlatformChallenge so we can see it!

[Aaaand..have you followed 10 new people yet?]

31 Day Author Platform Challenge Day 23: Offer Thanks

<NUDGE NUDGE Have you followed 10 new people yet?>

**Don’t make a jpg like this! Use real, clickable hashtags**

Let’s take advantage of the national day of thanks-giving. Our task today is about uplifting others in a Thank You post. It will feel so good! And will take mere minutes.

If you haven’t been a part of the #writerslift movement on Twitter/#, now is your time to join the party.

Think about critique partners, for example. Find the right ones and they are worth their weight in gold, amiright? These gems of fellow writers, whom you trust to read your work-in-progress, provide constructive feedback and help you improve your craft. They can act as a sounding board for ideas, catch typos and plot holes, and offer fresh perspectives on your writing. They are not only helpful, but supportive and committed. Aren’t they worthy of celebrating? Let’s give them a shout out of gratitude today.

If you don’t have CPs at the moment, think about people who have helped you in any way this week or month or year. There are plenty of people that are helpful! You don’t have to know them personally. Maybe their mentor texts or inspiring feeds got you through a rough patch. These fellow creatives you’ve never met would love to know you appreciate them. Why not reach out and and connect by tagging them with a short flattering post?

Today, Day 23, we are showing fellow authors some (virtual) love.

We’ll do that by giving them a shout-out across all your social media outlets using the hashtag #writerslift. This task is another example of how an automation tool is handy. You only have to post once if you use a scheduler, and it’ll go out to all your outlets at once.

Publicly acknowledging people not only shows gratitude, but boosts their profiles and helps to establish them as respected members of the writing community. You know they’d do it for you! In fact, they probably already have. It’s a part of supporting each other. Rising tides lift all boats, right?

Make it pretty with a Canva-type app, or make it a simple text post. Your call. While of course it’s honestly the thought that counts, this is one rare time I suggest a regular post vs creating a graphic. Why? As you can see in the .png I created above, there is no way to tag my CPs in the image, so I have to tag them each all over again in the post–and I have to add the #writerslift tag to the post anyway. WHY DO I MAKE THINGS SO HARD FOR MYSELF lol. Just make a simple post for this.

Some tips for creating feel-good #writerslift shout-outs:

  1. Be specific: Details, baby! Use full names and highlight what they’ve done to help you. Did they catch a major plot hole? Publish a PB that inspires you to be a better writer? Support you when no one else thought you could do it? Give credit where credit is due.
  2. Be generous: Don’t be shy. Offering praise to someone who has helped you means A LOT to them, esp if you’re not the touchy-feely type. It can help strengthen the CP bond. Knowing it had an impact on you can help encourage them to be helpful to others again in the future. And it will warm your own heart at the same time!
  3. Be authentic: Don’t write a generic post just for the sake of giving a shout-out. A list of names is great, but it’s virtual lip service. Write with sincerity and share genuine appreciation. If you can’t be specific to any one piece of feedback for whatever reason, it’s okay to thank them for their support over the years or months. The important thing is you are sharing gratitude.

You DON’T have to go big or go home

The kidlit industry is FULL of kind-hearted, helpful people like you. Shout-outs like this keeps that supportive feeling alive. Simply saying thanks to one person can make you both feel good! (No need to gift them, a simple THANKS is all that’s needed.)

One great example of an AMAZING week-long show of author love in May, created and run by fellow PB author @SylviaiChen. It’s a (free) weeklong co-celebratory event with prizes that is everything our Day 23 is about: uplifting and recognizing our fellow writers and illustrators! What an effective and thoughtful way to give mass shout-outs! This goes above and beyond any shout-out Tweet I would have thought up. Don’t worry, I don’t expect level that from you! She probably worked on that for months. You can take 11 mins 🙂

Recap: Send (several) posts thanking your crit partners and anyone who has helped make you a better writer, and use the #writerslift hashtag. Be specific with the appreciation if you can, and don’t tag too many people in one post.

Share the love!

PS I am thankful for you, cheering me on and helping keep me accountable this month!

31 Day Author Platform Challenge Day 22: Let Me In

Getting Personal

Today we’re getting personal.

The author platform task is: Create a short-ish blog or FB post sharing a personal story.

There are tons of experts that say getting personal makes you more likable and draws readers/followers in. (They also caution against sharing too much.) You’ve been spending all this time with your readers and followers, let’s allow them in a little more. Lots of ways to do that without posting your grocery list. Share insight into why you are a writer (is it in your heart?), what makes you want to write (thinking about the reader?), what makes your day as an author (fan mail!), or even what you hate about being an author (“oh you write children’s books, how cute”).

Maybe it’s a mom moment you’d like to share, frustrating or fun, like:

In that one, I had the chance to tack on another tweet and ask moms if they felt my pain, but didn’t think of it at the time. Look for chances to ask followers why they in turn do in that scenario. Ask them to reply. Engage with them (every one of them) when they do.

Use this task as an opp to break out of the mold and do something different today. At a minimum, use the tweet to add additional commentary as you post the link to the blog you just wrote.

It doesn’t have to be book related! Shed some insight into who you are so people feel like they now you (there’s plenty of stuff you can recycle from your bio page, right?). Add to your brand.


  • A story about your kids or your own childhood
  • A funny anecdote (like when I wore my pants and yes shirt inside out)
  • A thought-provoking observation (“Have you noticed…”)
  • A personal goal you’re working towards (like wordcount, finish an outline, get the dishes done by noon)
  • A challenge that you’re facing (like getting the dishes done by noon)
  • A milestone reached (getting the dishes done by noon)
  • A lesson learned (there are days not all dishes can be done by noon)
  • A small thing you’re grateful for, like someone else doing the dishes, or cold pizza for breakfast (maybe that’s just me)

Recap: Share a personal story. End with request to hear followers’ stories. Converse with them (all) when they reply.

[Oh, and before I forget, have you followed 10 new people yet?]

31-Day Author Platform Challenge Day 21: Mutual Support

[Before we start patting each other’s back, have you followed 10 new people yet?]

Today’s author platform task is multi-tiered. First, you need to post the results of your poll. It can probably be automated with Buffer or whatever tool you use, but consider going back one by one to personalize each post. This engagement is the interactive part I tend to forget or gloss over. It’s an ideal time to start or continue a conversation! Take advantage of it. Ask people what they think of results, if they are surprised, if there was an option you should have included but didn’t, etc. Keep this engagement ball a-rolling.

I realize this will take some time, so when you’re done, today’s official task will be an easy one.

Day 21 is celebrating or sharing a friend’s success WHILE being a resource for your followers. Double duty!

Let’s get friendly. Time to celebrate others while also helping others. You can:

  • Share a friend’s website or book launch information with details on why your readers need to know about it
  • Recommend a fave website or resource you use regularly with why it’s great/useful
  • Offer a link with details explaining why something is helpful to you as a writer/parent/whatever fits in your brand
  • Offer detail on a helpful site or resource they might not have heard of yet, or a part of a familiar site they might not know exists

This is different than the #writerslift we did last week; although it might lift up a fellow author, it’s more a sharing of information vs a shout-out. It’s timely (compared to saying “thanks” which can happen any time), and newsworthy (it’s something you are reporting about).

Feel free to send several tweets that celebrate a bunch of people’s work – but keep it to one person per tweet unless it’s something they did together. No sense clogging up feeds with group tags.

For example: recently I found a free template for a book proposal, created and offered by a lit agency. Sure, it was a template for them so their submissions were less sucky, but hey, free resource. I made a post and included the link along with a shout-out of appreciation to the agent and the house (tagging them both), and that tweet got a pretty high number of likes and RTs—including the agent herself as well as the agency.

Will that agent want to take me on? No, she doesn’t even rep kidlit, it’s not why I did it. The point was to help others. It’s good karma to boot. I got a bunch of honest interactions and appreciations from it. Goodness comes from well-intended posts.

What I didn’t do at the time was share the post across all my social media. Lesson learned (and one reason I created this challenge!). I hope to cross-promote every tweet, or most, from now on. That’s another plug for automation service!

Anyway, I love seeing posts from authors supporting authors, don’t you? Some authors are really good at this! It projects such a positive image.

Recap: Today, uplift someone by sharing a resource and thanking the person that offers it. Or highlight a friend’s small business, service, etc. Consider creating the post on a Canva-like site to make it pretty. Post it on all your media.

Ensure the timing is good. Don’t post it right after or right before another big post like I did at the time, or it’ll get lost. Had I waited on that book proposal post, until after the dust settled on the other popular tweet, it probably would have doubled the amount of likes.

31 Day Author Platform Challenge Day 20: What Do YOU Think?

[Ahem. Don’t forget to follow 10 new people. Do it quick.]

Let’s take a poll!

For Day 20, we’re taking a brainstorm and creation break while keeping our engagement going.

We’re taking an online poll.

person holding a contract
Photo by Jopwell on Pexels.com

It can be on anything you want (as long as it’s not offensive or controversial to the point it will cause you to lose followers).

The online poll doesn’t have to connect directly to your work but pick a question that is in character with your personality and brand. If you want to use the poll results for your own data, make sure you ask the right questions the right way. Give a deadline for when votes need to be in. I gave mine two days to allow for lag time in RTs.

Actually, what better source can I find to guide you on “how to poll” you than this post from Survey Monkey? Pls give it a quick scan.

Polls aren’t the kind of a post you can automate across platforms. That might work out for the best, as you probably would speak to each audience a little differently anyway. Buffer won’t even let me create a poll, at least not that I can figure out. So let’s assume we have to go to each platform separately.

Different outlets:

  • Twitter makes polls easy. They let you offer a max of four answers and you decide how long the poll is up/live.
  • For Facebook, the only place you can create a poll is in a GROUP page. You can’t use the poll format in a profile or a fan page. In this case, you still want an excuse to reach out there so there’s a work around! Share the results of your poll. Talk about what you think it means, ask followers what their opinions are, etc.
  • LinkedIn offers a how-to on doing a poll there; it’s put in the same place as your regular posts in your account/profile.
  • Instagram lets you create a poll in your STORIES but not feed. Here’s a how-to guide. There are a TON of free templates you can use in addition to the one Insta provides.
  • If you have a YouTube channel, obv this wouldn’t work. How might you engage in a poll there? Figure out how to turn your poll idea into a short video, asking people on the street, maybe make a quick vid talking about your expectations or sharing the results of your poll?

Remember when I followed up on asking how your RT&Win went? This follow-up is gonna be public. The day following the close of the poll you have to commit to showing final results and/or offering an assessment or insight into them. (And no, that won’t be your task for tomorrow or the day after its finished, it will be in addition to it!)

Get polling!