It's been quiet on my blog here lately because I've been heads-down going up a bunch of learning curves. I've dedicated 2017 to moving up a big level in marketing, and it's been a larger task than I expected. (That always happens, and I'm always surprised.)
Psychologically, I'm an analyst, and I am attracted to and comforted by a deep knowledge of the tools and systems I use. This usually means I have a pretty good idea of what I don't know. The flipside of that is that it makes me anxious to fill in the gaps.
I wanted to keep the effort this year focused on marketing initiatives but that has a way of spreading.
Here's what I've managed so far… (you can expect specific articles on some of these in the Just for Writers section).
This stuff is like catnip to me. I love to figure out how it works, but it takes time…
Google Analytics and link sources
On the principle that you can't improve what you don't measure, I've experimented with and set some standards for wrapping links to reference articles from my sites that I post elsewhere in UTM codes masked by PrettyLinks. In other words, I pinned down how to use Google Analytics to track particular articles depending on whether the clicks came from the website, Facebook, various groups I participate in, etc., without the links themselves looking ugly.
Background website improvements
All three of my publishing-related sites (see below) are now SSL-enabled (they use https:// instead of http://).
I'm tracking all my sites in ManageWP.
All the sites have stepped up a level for SEO improvements (Yoast) and I keep an eye on Google's latest demands for mobile compatibility.
All the sites now have structured data for the basic entities (organization, person, etc.), and the new reader-oriented site has structured data for the book entities. This should result in better “knowledge cards” and other enhanced displays for Google Search results.
I create all my own book images, even the full covers (based on background art & illustrated text from my partner artists). I found the simple flat 2D images boring for some uses, and didn't like my amateur versions of 3D, and I also knew I would want more sophisticated versions of the images for Facebook advertising, so I worked with a freelancer to create four separate Photoshop automation “engines” to supply sophisticated output based on flat image inputs.
One engine supplies basic 3D images, from two directions.
Another engine creates a display of all formats for each book page on the site.
A third engine creates book bundle images, useful for Amazon AMS or Facebook ads, or for newsletters.
The fourth engine creates a casual book stack for Facebook ads.
This sort of Photoshop automation is completely beyond my limited amateur use of Photoshop, but I can use the template provided by my freelancer well enough to produce the images, and the results look nice and professional.