Archive - May 2016

Using Facebook’s conversion pixel to track your mailing list signups
How to make your blurbs look 1000% more awesome on Amazon
How to publish a book (and promote it!) for under $500

Using Facebook’s conversion pixel to track your mailing list signups

If you’re getting people to sign up for your mailing list by advertising on Facebook and you’re not using a conversion pixel, you are absolutely missing out on some absolutely fucking incredible data.

It’s all good and fine to know what ads of yours get the most clicks, and the cheapest clicks, and are the most cost-effective.

But what if I told you that could you get all that info about people who actually signed up for your newsletter?

That’s right – using conversion pixels you can separate the wheat – the people who click your ad and sign up for your newsletter – from the chaff – the people who click the link and cost you money, but then go “ehhh nah” and don’t sign up.

Sounds awesome, right? That’s because it is. So let’s get right into things.

First of all, what is a conversion pixel?

Basically it’s a piece of code that you put on a certain page of your website. When a person goes to that page, the pixel “fires”, and counts a conversion. So what we’re going to do is create a page that everyone who signs up for your newsletter is redirected to when they click “subscribe”. We’re going to put a pixel on that page.

That way, whenever someone subscribes to your newsletter, they will be directed to this thank you page, and the pixel on that page will “fire”, which will register a conversion. Facebook then knows that that ad registered a successful conversion.

This gives you access to so much data.

You can see exactly which ads are getting the conversions.

You can see what age groups are converting best.

You can see whether you’re getting more signups from people using their desktop, their cell phones or Instagram.

This means you can start eliminating both the ads and the groups of people who are seeing your ad but not signing up, making your overall cost to convert cheaper.

Look at this example below. This is from a brand new campaign and I don’t have a lot of data for it yet so it’s not quite statistically relevant, but it still can give you an idea of just how much of a difference a different picture can have on ad results:

Right now, one of the images is costing me over $3.50 per conversion, while the other is at $0.65. If this holds up over around 100 conversions, I’m going to be killing that bottom ad, and keeping the top one for sure!

Without the conversion pixel I would know which ad generated more clicks, but this way I know how many people are actually signing up, which is much more valuable information.

And you can get the same information for your demographics, too:

The 35-44 year old age group is signing up (the blue line) in a much higher proportion to the reach (the green line) than any other age group. You can’t see the number in this screenshot, but while the average cost per signup right now is $0.98, for women in the 35-44 age range it’s actually only $0.68.

Again, this is data that I only have because I’m using a pixel to track actual signups, and not just clicks to my page.

Now that I’ve shown you why you need to be using conversion tracking with your email campaigns on Facebook, let’s look at the how.

Step 1: Create a thank-you page on your website and add the pixel

If you don’t have a website set up already, click here for my handy guide on how to do it quickly, without breaking the bank.

Now the first thing you need to do is create your thank you page. In your WordPress admin dashboard, go to Pages -> Add New.

I usually title mine “Signup Confirmation” and add a simple sentence of text along the lines of “Thank you for signing up to [author name] newsletter! You are now subscribed.”

Great! Now we just need to add your pixel code.

Go to your Facebook Ads Manager. Now, under tools, select “pixels”, the third option down.

Now if you’ve never used a pixel before, you’ll get a window pop up that will have an option to create a pixel.

Click that. Now, choose a name for your pixel. It doesn’t really matter what you choose, I just used my author name. As far as I’m aware no one can see what your pixel name is, but I’m not 100% sure on this.

Click “Create Pixel”

Then, you’ll have the option to “Install Pixel Now”. Click that. A bunch of code will pop up, that looks something like this:

Copy all of this code. Paste it into an empty Notepad file.

Now, go back to your WordPress admin dashboard on your website. On the menu bar on the left, go to Appearance -> Editor. On the right hand side is a list of files. Click on the Theme Header (header.php) file.


Now go back to your first Notepad file, the one with your Facebook pixel code. Highlight all the code and copy it once more.

In the header.php file, scroll down until you see <head>

IMMEDIATELY AFTER the <head> code, press enter to get to a new line, and paste the pixel code. Press enter again for another empty line after the code.

Then, click “update file”.

Go to your site’s homepage to make sure nothing looks screwed up. If it does, copy all of headerbackup.php (this is why you backed it up!!) and replace everything in the header.php screen on your dashboard with it. Update again and everything should be back to normal. Then, try the pixel code again.

Now, let’s make sure the pixel we installed is working.

Go to the thank you page you just created. Then, click here (or go back to Tools -> Pixels in your Facebook ads manager). Your pixel should show as active.

If it’s not working, there’s a Chrome extension you can install by clicking here.  When you’ve installed the extension you’ll see this picture show up in the top right corner of your browser, next to the URL bar: 

Go back to your thank you page, and click that little </> image in the top corner. You should see something like this pop up:

If the pixel failed to load, the box will give you hints as to why that might be.

You can also look at this page for help:

Once you have your pixel loaded and working, it’s time for step 2!

Step 2: Change your mailing list form thank you page

Now, these instructions are for anyone using MailerLite, because MailerLite is awesome and I will always recommend them to anyone.

Go to your account, and select “webforms” at the top of the page.

If you don’t already have a form for your site that you want to use, click on “Add New Webform” in the top right. If you do have a webform that you want to use already, then simply click on that form to open it.

If you’re creating a new form, fill out the next box, making sure it looks something like this:

Then click “Save and continue”

Select a subscriber group (or “list”) and click Save and Continue again.

If you already have your form and simply clicked on it, you can keep reading again from here.

The first thing you want to do is turn off double optins:

I never, ever run my campaigns with double optin turned on. It’s just not necessary these days, and makes you more likely to lose subscribers.

Now, design your form however you want. BUT you need to make sure that the thank you URL at the bottom of the “details” screen is changed to the thank you page you made in step one:

Once you’ve created your form and saved it, make sure to record the Form Landing Page URL given to you by MailChimp:

Copy/paste that URL into an empty Notepad file (my favorite temporary storage solution, have you noticed that yet?)

Step 3: Register a custom conversion with our thank you page

Now, we need to set it up so that Facebook knows that whenever someone hits the thank-you page specifically, to register a conversion.

In your Facebook ads manager, go to Tools -> Custom Conversion (fourth option down)

Click the “Create Custom Conversion” button.

Fill out the form.

In this example, my thank you page might be:

So I’ve made sure that only the thank you page will generate a custom conversion.

Then click “next” and give your pixel a name, then click “create”.

You’ll get a little box that tells you the custom conversion was created sucessfully. When you close the box, the manager will refresh and your new pixel will appear. The box on the far right, that says “status” will be red, saying “no activity yet”.

Go back to your thank you page and refresh the page. Then go back to your pixel page, and refresh that. It should turn green and say “Active” now.

Step 4: Make your ads!

Finally, a normal step!

Go to create a new campaign. But instead of choosing “clicks to your website”, click on “increase conversions on your website”

Paste your landing page URL into the box that comes up, then the pixel you created will automatically pop up as well.

Your screen should look something like this.

Then, press continue, and make your ad sets and adverts as normal!

Note: sometimes the continue screen blanks out like it is in the photo above, sometimes it doesn’t. If it does blank out for you, press the ‘x’ on the right of the conversion pixel (the bottom option) and then click that box and re-select the pixel. That seems to fix the glitch.

A second note: I always make sure that Facebook charges me per clicks to my website:

The default is to be charged per conversion, but in my experience Facebook is AWFUL at telling who’s going to convert. I’ve found that you end up paying a lot less by changing the optimization to link clicks to your site. Obviously you should test this yourself, since you might find your results completely different from mine, but it’s something to keep in mind for sure.

And so now you’re done! Your results will now be listed as conversions, or sign ups to your mailing list, instead of clicks. You’re now able to track your actual mailing list signups instead of just clicks, giving you much, much more valuable data!

Now if only there was a way to place a conversion pixel on Amazon’s site…

Stay tuned as I plan on doing a whole series of posts on everything to do with mailing lists, from how to create one, to how to set up an email address without using Gmail, and more! But that’s it for now…


How to make your blurbs look 1000% more awesome on Amazon

So you’ve read my guide on writing blurbs that sell, and you’ve got a killer blurb at the ready. Your cover’s on point, your book is ready, and you’re about to rock the self-publishing world with your new release.

Now I’m going to show you a trick to take your blurbs to the next level.

When you just publish your book normally, your blurbs tend to look something like this:

And sure, this is fine. It’s acceptable in most cases. But there’s a super easy way to make your blurbs stand out even more. And remember – the more your blurbs stand out, the easier they are to read, the more likely you are to get your readers to click that buy button.

Do you find it easier to read the blurb as it’s shown above, or easier to read this one?

Yeah, that second one not only looks a lot better, but it’s easier to read.

And all I did was use some simple HTML. And what’s even better: Amazon supply a list of the HTML they allow you to use in blurbs. Click here to look at the full list of available HTML tags you can use in your blurbs.

To close the tag, you just put the same thing as the opening tag, but with a slash mark added to it.

So to bold something, you start it off with <b>Then you write what you want in bold here.</b> And then everything from here on in will no longer be bold, because you closed the bold tag with the </b> mark.

How to preview your blurb to make sure you did it right

If you’re not used to using HTML tags you might be a bit nervous about adding them straight into your blurbs and then hitting publish without being able to preview properly.

Well, not to worry! You can use this tool to create your blurbs with all the formatting, then just copy/paste the code into the description slot when creating your book.

I don’t know who it is who made that tool, but I don’t think it’s a stretch to call them a true American hero. Even if they aren’t American.

There’s only one thing to note with the tool: if you use the header options (<h1> <h2>…) they show up as being orange text in the preview. This is how they used to appear in blurbs, and then about a year ago or so (it might have been longer… I’m so old!) Amazon changed their code, so now it appears as bolded text, but still in black in the descriptions.

Now go out there and make your blurbs gorgeous! Don’t forget to look at how bestsellers in your genre use the different formatting options and try to keep yours in line with that… after all, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Happy blurbing!

How to publish a book (and promote it!) for under $500

I’ve seen way, way too many self-published authors spend thousands of dollars getting their books ready for publication. That’s just not necessary. Especially when, for most of those people, they’re never going to get that money back.

So if you’re one of those people spending over $500 every time you’re launching a book, and not getting any results from it, this is absolutely the blog post for you.

Basically, there are three main things you should be spending your money on as a new author.

#1. Editing

If your book isn’t well edited, well, you can expect some bad reviews. Every author should be paying for editing, especially given how cheap it is.

How much to pay?

For copy editing, which includes basic proofreading for spelling/grammatical mistakes, as well as watching out for plot issues, sentence structure, and a few other basics, you can usually expect to pay in the $200-$250 range for a 50,000 word novel (I look for a provider generally charging in the $5 per 1000 words range). I wouldn’t bother paying for line editing. Copy editing is fine.

You’ll notice that we’re spending a good chunk of our budget on editing. Well, editing is pretty important. You don’t want to skimp out on something that might end up giving you bad reviews if you’ve made too many mistakes.

If you’re looking for a good editor, try forums like kboards, where editors are listed. The most popular editors are usually booked up pretty early, but they’re popular for a reason. You generally want to stick with those. Whoever you go with, make sure they have good references, whether they be in the form of forum posts, or if you have to ask for them. If you become a member of smaller communities, oftentimes service providers there will offer special discounts to members of those boards.

I don’t recommend it, but if you absolutely, positively MUST self-edit, well I have one piece of advice for you: step away from the book for at least 48 hours. Give your brain some time to forget about what you’ve done for a little while. If you finish your book and immediately go to self-edit, you will miss major mistakes.

#2. Cover

Your cover is the #1 thing that’s going to make people click on your books when they show up in their search results. I’ve seen wayyyyyy too many authors ask me why their book isn’t selling, and then showing me covers that look like this:


Sure, this is an extreme example, but this is the cover of your book we’re talking about. No one’s going to click on that cover I posted above. They’re just not. It looks terrible. And unless you genuinely have years and years of experience with Photoshop, and you’ve spent hours upon hours studying your genre and what the covers look like, chances are a cover artist is going to do MUCH better work for you than you could do yourself.

This isn’t the time to get all insulted about not being a professional cover artist. You’re NOT a professional cover artist. At least, most of you reading this aren’t. Some of you might be. But if you’re not, then buy a cover. At least for your first couple of books.

How much should I pay for a cover?

You can get decent pre-made covers in the $40-$60 range. For custom covers, which I only recommend if you really, really can’t find anything pre-made that fits your book, you’d be looking more in the $60-$80 range.

Again, go to KBoards, or smaller writer’s forums related to your niche. You’ll find great cover artists there. And if you take your time and look around, you’ll find a deal. I’ve seen amazing pre-mades selling for $35 before. Start looking for covers while you’re still writing your book, or even before you’ve started writing it but after you’ve come up with the plot. If you’re not in a hurry to buy something, just being able to have a quick browse here and there can help you find great premades at excellent prices.

#3. Marketing

So now we have around $200 left from our initial budget. We’re going to spend that money on marketing.

Now honestly, depending on what genre you write in, where the best place to spend your money is is going to vary. What I would do, however, is focus on mailing lists. Honestly, I don’t recommend Facebook ads when you’re trying to really squeeze as much as you can out of every dollar. The Facebook ads market has become super saturated after a few courses have come out telling authors about how good they are, and I would personally spend the money on mailing lists like ENT, BookSends, that sort of thing.

I would spend most of the money on one big promotion (in the $70-$100 range) and then the rest of the money on smaller promotions on surrounding days. This is where you really need to find a forum with writers in your genre: they will be able to tell you what sites are worth the money, and which ones aren’t. I can tell you that in romance I’ve had good results with ENT, BookSends, My Romance Reads, The Naughty List, Shameless Book Deals and ExciteSteam.

This of course doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use free sources of marketing – submitting your books to Facebook pages, making sure you have a bunch of reviews, promoting to your mailing list, etc – but paid marketing, when done well, can go a long way towards making sure your book is seen, and it doesn’t need to cost a whole lot.

Watch for my upcoming post with more free promotion methods to get as many eyeballs as possible on your books without having to break the bank. As you can see, we just launched a book fully for under $500. There’s no reason to spend more than that, at least not when you’re starting out. You haven’t skimped on anything, and this way you’re getting your feet wet in the publishing world in a way that makes you more likely to make your money back and then some.

Copyright © 2016. The Writer's Blueprint.