Do you know why I like Bob Martin? It's because he gives away vast amounts of information and support for free. I believe that is why he has been so successful. I have, many times, emailed him with questions and received quick responses that get me back on track.
I have been fortunate to work with Bob Martin on a number of projects. Some of my better websites are solely his design. I like what he does, so I go back to him again and again. Over the years, we have become friends and, I admit, support each other in a myriad of ways. One way is to let you know about him here. Bob also publishes books (in addition to all sorts of other things; check out the bio below). He is certainly a kindred spirit. I encourage you to take his advice below to heart.
1. Why is it important to have your own website for selling your books?
Let me change up a little bit here, Tom. Instead of why I think it is important to have your own website for selling books, I want to talk about why it is important to have your own website. Selling books is such a small niche. I have many websites (around 50) of my own. Only one of them is for selling books. Some of my other sites are for selling other types of products. Some of my sites are for providing information to people for free, and are supported by advertising revenue. Some sites are only for my pleasure, and don't make any money at all. So, there are many reasons to have a website, not just for selling books! :-)
However, for the purpose of this interview, I will concentrate on why it is important to have a website for the purposes of earning money. Why is that important? Really, we are in a new century, and I believe that we are entering into a new type of economy. To be honest, I saw this coming back in the late 90's, although it has progressed more quickly than I thought it would. Look at the job situation these days where there are so many people unemployed or underemployed. I believe we are entering a time when far fewer of us will be employed in the traditional sense, and more of us will be more self employed, and primarily using the Internet to make our living. We may be selling books, doing consulting over the net, selling physical products or any number of other money making methods, primarily through the Internet. Because of this, we will need to have a website, or multiple websites to facilitate that type of scenario. I personally believe that we all have something that we can contribute to others, and through our particular type of expertise we will be able to make money in a far less traditional way where fewer of us will have what we think of as "jobs" today. Getting into this type of mindset now, it is still early enough to be ahead of the curve and position yourself ahead of the masses of people who will figure this out over time.
2. What is the best way to set up your own website?
These days, it is far easier to set up your own website. Even if you choose to hire somebody else to set it up for you, you will still need to be able to keep the website updated with fresh information, maybe make some visual changes to the site from time to time and such, so even if you don't "set it up" you will need to be able to do some maintenance type things on the site yourself. Fortunately, today it is much easier to be able to do those things yourself than it was a decade ago. Today, there are a lot of "content management" types of software that make setting up a website quite simple. These days, if you know how to use a program like Microsoft Word, you can also work on your website, adding fresh content and keeping things up to date.
I like to use WordPress software to make my websites. I feel that WordPress makes it easy to do, to the point where I can concentrate my efforts on providing information to my readers instead of focusing my time and efforts on making my website look good. After all, the reader is what it is all about, and having loyal readers on your site is how you will be able to leverage your site into making money for you. Of course there are other software packages that will do this for you as well, but WordPress is my choice, and is currently the most popular website building software in the world.
The process of setting up a website consists of a few steps:
1. You will need to purchase a domain name (www.yourname.com). The domain name will cost you roughly $10 per year to register and keep for your exclusive use.
2. You will need "hosting". Basically this means that you will rent space on a web server through a hosting company. There are literally thousands of hosting companies. A popular one that I have used extensively is Hostgator.com. You can rent a hosting account for $5 to $10 per month for a normal website. If your site becomes super popular you will end up spending more so that you can have a more powerful server that can handle the added needs that come with a more popular site.
3. You will need to build the site (yourself, or hire somebody to do it). I prefer to do this using WordPress, as I said, but there are lots of ways you can do it.
3. Should you hire someone to create your website or should you try to do it yourself? What are the advantages and disadvantages of each?
For a beginner, it is probably best to hire somebody. As you gain more and more experience doing these kinds of things, venture out a bit and give it a try yourself! I learned everything I know just by doing it and learning from my mistakes!
I would say that one of the biggest advantages of hiring a professional to do your website is that it will be exactly that... professional! In particular, if you are selling products and you have a website that looks more amateurish, people will be reluctant to buy anything from you. They will consider two things.. firstly, are you really legitimate? If they send money for a product or service, will they really get what they are paying for, or are you just there to get their money? Secondly, if you are legitimate, what is the quality of what you are selling. If you have a website that looks like it was done by an amateur, how good is the information in a book that you wrote? Another important consideration is that by hiring a professional to build a nice site for you, you can spend your time concentrating on the things you do best, creating quality items for customers and such.
The biggest disadvantage? I suppose that I kind of covered that when I talked about the advantages! It is a two way street and the advantages and disadvantages kind of go hand in hand.
4. Is it possible to create an inexpensive ("cheap") website that still does what you want it to do?
Of course, it depends on what you consider "inexpensive" to be. But, generally, yes, it is possible to do an effective website on a budget. So, inexpensive.. how much is that? $5? $50? $500? Really, you could create a website on any of those budgets, of course the more you spend the better. You won't be able to hire a professional for $5 or probably even $50, but for $500 you could get a nice website, without a doubt!
Now, if you are making a commercial site where you are doing e-commerce, selling things and such, then you will need to spend more to build the site. But, still, for $500 or so you can have a great site that can make you real money. The way I look at it $500 is cheap. Think about 20 years ago where if you wanted to sell stuff to make a living you needed a "real" store, so you had to either buy a building or rent a place, that was much more expensive. Today, with just a website you can make a nice living. These days, I make 100% of my income online, and I make a lot more money now than I ever did when I had a "real" job. It's an amazing world we live in!
5. Anything else you would like to share?
Really, I would just like to encourage anybody to get a website up! Now is the time to get into the game, and if you wait much longer you will run the risk of being left behind. We are in a new economy that works much differently than your Dad's economy. We are already earning a living in much different ways than our fathers did, and the future holds more changes. I started earning money online in the early 1990s, and the changes I have seen in that time amaze me. It is easier to make a living online now than it has ever been. Now is the time to join the revolution and be part of the new economy! Don't let fear keep you away, the best thing you can do is jump in, you will learn much more easily than you imagine!
Bob Martin is an Internet Entrepreneur. He is an American who has lived in the Philippines since May of 2000. Bob has been earning a living on the Internet for more than 20 years already, and enjoys helping others do that as well. Bob writes books and sells them online, he also designs and builds websites for clients. If you are interested in contacting Bob for a website, or for any other reason, visit his personal website: http://MindanaoBob.com and send him a message through the contact form.