Children's authors, critique partners, and friends (Bonnie Clark and Shanda McCloskey) talk about how to structure and organize the school visit section of your author website in order to book more visits!
A note from Ben (web developer and producer of this podcast) on websites:
You don’t have to hire anyone to build you a website nowadays, but if do it yourself, you need to think about the structure of the site. It’s pretty easy to get a WordPress or SquareSpace or other site up and running quickly, but you really need to think through the structure of pages in general. Don’t make people think too hard about what information is where. Don’t try to be avant-garde or unique with regard to menus, navigation, and layout. Make sure the wording is clear and succinct throughout the site, especially on the author visit page. Like, put all your information out there, but try not to repeat yourself, and don’t ramble. As for SEO, make sure to title the pages with what you want to come up as in a Google search (example, mention your town or area somewhere if you want to appear in searches for author visits in that area). Most modern systems like WordPress come with themes that are already mobile friendly, but be sure to test it out and try a few different themes to get the look you’re going for. Worst case-scenario, if you break something, WordPress developers are pretty easy to come by on sites like Upwork, and there’s probably one in your area if you search for it specifically.
Now, let's talk about the school visit section of your site...
Bonnie, what’s your philosophy on this subject?
Easy to read/ follow
Everything you need to know about me/ my presentations
Author visits in action (me & students)
Should get a good “vibe”and snapshot of my personality
Testimonials (new this year!)
Accessible contact information for further questions
Shanda: I believe that a good author-visit web page does 3 jobs:
Calls to action
My author visit page is first a place to show that I welcome visit opportunities AND I have experience speaking to kids. I show this through my words, photos, and testimonials. This is the gaining trust part.
Once the school sees evidence that I can provide an engaging program, then they will start looking for more detailed information. This is the inform part. There are links to my IN-PERSON visit packet pdf and my VIRTUAL visit packet pdf. These pdfs list my presentation menu, pricing, book sale info, and tips for a great visit.
I update these pdfs every summer before the new school year begins. Sometimes I might remove a presentation that I’m not crazy about anymore, add a new presentation to the menu, or adjust my pricing.
*Notes on pricing: I choose to have a price that I show plainly. It’s the same for all schools and it’s all-inclusive with travel expenses as well. I do this because I got burned before. A school had a per night hotel price cap that was outdated. So I lost hundreds of dollars by letting them “pay for my travel”. I just did a little research and built that into my price. It’s served me well so far. And schools like it because they know exactly how much my visit will cost with one simple price. I saw author Stacy MacUnulty do this on her author visit webpage. And it made so much sense to me. She actually uses a booking service now, but when she booked all her own visits like I do, she used this method. A simple, all-inclusive price for various distances- Local, Semi-local, and Beyond. I do the same.
My author visit page also has an availability calendar. It’s a little fancy and I may have seen one other author use one, so it’s definitely NOT a must-have, but I love it.. It’s useless though if you don’t keep it up, but so awesome that schools can see immediately if a date they have in mind is clear for me or not. My husband (Ben) made this possible. I wouldn’t have done it on my own but it’s linked to a Google calendar that I solely use for this purpose by blocking off dates that are unavailable (like my kids spring break and dr appt etc.) and adding school visits as they are booked.
Last, you need a call to action! Something that tells the school if you like what you see, do THIS to start the process. I have a contact form with the words “Let’s Plan A Visit” above it. One of the fields in my form is “how did you hear about me?” This is so interesting. I’ve learned that most schools find me through personal recommendations and plain ol Google searches.
Conclusion - Your website is a key tool to getting more school visits! If you simply and clearly put most of your info right there on your website, it’ll cut out a bunch of time-wasting back and forth emails for both parties. Just put the info schools will need to know on your website and that alone will make it that much easier to get bookings. A school who is looking at a few authors at once may choose the author that makes the process easiest to access. It’s a no brainer. Everyone is busy. Especially educators. So try to avoid sounding cryptic and secretive on your school visit webpage. You don’t want your vibe to be … I really don’t have a school visit plan or pricing in place but I’ll throw something together if you want me bad enough to jump through my hoops.
No matter what I ‘m shopping for, if the price is hidden then that tells me - it’s probably overpriced and will be work because I’m going to need to haggle or something.
“If you want to make school visits a larger part of your work and income, your author-visit webpage should sing that song!” -Shanda
That wraps up our 18th episode!
Quote: (Bonnie) “Be the energy you want to attract.” - Buddha
Let your website, social media, posts etc. reflect what you want to attract.
Kid book review by Beni.
Resources and books mentioned in this episode (with affiliate links that help support this podcast):
Where to find us:
This podcast is sponsored by AuthorVisitCentral.com and produced by Ben McCloskey of EngineIndustries.com. And if you enjoyed this episode, we would surely appreciate it if you would rate and review us and please share with others who might like it too! And if our podcast is helpful to you, please consider making a one-time or reoccurring donation to help keep us going!
If you have comments or even ideas for future topics to cover on an episode let us know on the contact form at AuthorVisitPodcast.com. With your help, kids can record a book review there too and it might get used as the Kid Book Review on one of our future episodes! There’s even a printable book review template there to help guide you if needed.
Thanks for listening!