Do you check with Alexa before parting with your money?

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The other day, an author friend asked my opinion about a site where she wanted to submit her book for a review. As I’d heard of the site before, I said it would be a good idea. Later on, she contacted me again and said that for submitting her book, they expected her to pay $10 as to display the cover along with the review. That’s when I got warning bells. Why did they tell her the review itself was free, but they needed payment to display the cover that’s bound to go with it? Why not depend on their Amazon affiliate links for revenue if the review itself is free or just ask for a donation? It sounded weird and so the warning bells kept ringing. You see, I don’t abide to many rules in general but there’s one among very few that I find absolutely non-negotiable: “Don’t part with your money unless you’re absolutely sure it’s worth every penny.”

So, what I did, is ask my friend if it had occurred to her to check out the popularity of the site before paying them. Turned out, she didn’t know what I was talking about. And then it hit me. How many indie authors don’t know this incredibly handy tip I had to share?

Believe it or not, there are so many sites out there requesting fees that don’t correspond to their popularity, their skills, knowledge, and certainly not their readership.

Now, I don’t think I’ve met an indie author yet with money to spare. I don’t know if you have, but the above incident gave me an idea for this post anyway. I mean, who wouldn’t want to have a tip or two on the subject of savvy promotion? So here’s what I have to say, and hope you’ll find it useful!

The first thing you should always do before paying anything for online advertising (as I advised my friend also in this case!) is to check the site’s popularity on the all-singing, all-dancing site called Alexa.

Alexa is an Amazon company and the big guns to turn to if you want to know how popular a site is. It’s as easy as 1-2-3 to check the rank of any given site and Alexa lets you check as many as you want without charge. Obviously, the more popular sites rank with smaller numbers. For example, Google is #1 these days, Facebook is #2 but the humble blog you’re reading right now is #1,076,202.

To give you an idea of how poor a choice the not-to-be-mentioned site was, I’ll say it ranks on Alexa at #1,136,544. So, my friend was asked to pay $10 to be featured on a site that has an even lower popularity than this very blog that’s run by one person (yours truly!) who’s been blogging for less than a year. Speaks volumes for the other site’s professionalism, right? So there you go; save yourself some dough (if not embarrassment) and count on Alexa. Go on; try it here.

You’ll find it’s a BIG eye-opener!

When I first used Alexa to do my bit of ‘spying’, I had quite a shock. Sites that I thought were quite popular ranked amazingly low, even lower than my blog! There was one site in particular that I’d invested hours in, corresponding back and forth for months and submitting articles for publication. Its Alexa rank is over 15 million! How silly did I feel then? Well, you can imagine I’m sure.

On the flipside, by using Alexa you’ll get a lot of pleasant surprises. I know I did when I found out that Fabulosity Reads ranks at 98,173 globally. Wendy Ewurum doesn’t call herself blogger Ninja for nothing, nor is it a surprise now, even more so, that she’s the best blog tour organizer out there. I’m even prouder now to host her tours on this blog.

David Njoku’s Indie Author Land is also another well-known site that ranks very high globally: 434,116. His US rank is much greater: 139,904. I think this incredible number reflects David’s amazing marketing skills and generous spirit of solidarity.

In case this is of use to you, this site is my #1 favorite site to advertise my free promos on. Also, it’s a great place to get an interview as David is said to give authors a lot of Twitter love if you know what I mean! Get your interview here.

If you’re willing to pay for a subscription, Alexa will become your new best friend. For a monthly fee, you’ll get to find out how many people hit your site, how long they stay there, which pages they browse and lots more, depending on the level of your subscription. The stats are very comprehensive so check the site for all details.

To get an idea of the type of information an Alexa subscriber can get, check out this post by Jackie Weger. Incidentally, you may want to keep an eye on Jackie and eNovel Authors At Work. There’s a lot of information and promotion opportunities there if you join the group. As for Jackie herself, other than being a very experienced author, she’s a remarkable lady who takes no crap and writes about it. Plus, she holds a snake gun and is not afraid to use it. You’ll get a wealth of info and a lot of chuckles if you follow her posts.

Back to those sites that may try to double cross you… now you know to use Alexa as to discover the magnitude of their audacity. But if still in doubt, don’t hesitate to contact the site that interests you. Ask them bluntly any outstanding questions if you’ve read their pricing info but certain points remain conveniently unsaid. For example, prestigious sites like Bookbub (the best site in this galaxy and the next for advertising promos) will list their ad prices but will also tell you what their readership is in thousands for every genre, plus they’ll give you an estimation of how many downloads you’re likely to get for the money you’ll spend. Check out this link to see what I mean.

Bookbub is fully transparent with its pricing information and that’s what you want to look for. Be suspicious; be very suspicious with sites that don’t tell you what their readership is and even more so, with the ones who will hesitate to tell you even when you ask. Oddly, they are the ones who might even charge more money!

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Before I go, I will give you another last, great tip. If you’re looking for a good site to promote you, this is it. Well, chances are you already know this one as it’s so widely known but even if there’s one indie author left who isn’t aware, it’s worth repeating: For book promotion, there’s no better value for money than what you’ll get on AskDavid.

AskDavid is well-known for its amazing Alexa rank: 46,554 !

This means high and guaranteed visibility. The other good thing is that it’s highly affordable. A mere $15 will allow you to promote all your books on the site for a year. Check out all the details here.

It goes without saying that this post, just like any other of mine that contains tips, is simply information I’ve gathered and feel that I should share for other people’s benefit. I assure you I’m not on commission with any site, nor do I receive any fees for the advice I give you. I only hope to help fellow authors fare safely on the perilous waters of cyberspace and only knowledge can ascertain that! So, I hope this helps my fellow indies…

If you have any relevant tips, then do post a comment and let us all benefit!

IMPORTANT UPDATE:

Many thanks to David (@DavidTFTU), who has added a very useful link on his comment below. The post it points to offers a totally different viewpoint that contradicts the theory of my own post, but is well worth taking into account. I believe the truth always lies somewhere in between so all arguments should be considered. The post in question suggests among other things, that the Alexa rank is not reliable because it’s based solely on the activity of people who use the Alexa toolbar. You can read the whole post here or seek the link in David’s comment below.

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24 responses to “Do you check with Alexa before parting with your money?

  1. Thank you so much for this post! I certainly didn’t know about Alexa, and always wondered which sites would provide me the best value for my small promotional budget. Fantastic – thanks very much. I hope you don’t mind if I reblog…

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  2. Hey, Effrosyni! I saw you on Kindle Ninja today. You were flirting to beat the band. Mystery will get you every time. So funny. You really wrote a great post today. This is fabulous. You are so much nicer than I am. I just thought I’d let you know that one does not have to be a member of
    eNovel Authors at Work to take advantage of all the info we post on our pages. It’s there for all and it’s free. We have a Useful Links page listing promo sites. I check them all. I talk with owners. If the site doesn’t follow through or something is hinky–I post that too, and why. The articles are interesting, but there are some gems in the comments. Here is a tip. When the members come off of a book promotion, most usually post the results in the comments on their author pages, so the author pages are worth glance, too. Noting the results of promos lets you know if your own efforts are on target, which helps to plan marketing strategies. I love Alexa, and it told me this stunning bit of news. Since the first of August 2,468 unique visitors came to eNovel directly FROM Amazon–which means readers ticked the link in my AZ bio. I preach putting SOE links in our indie author bios on Amazon–but too few authors take the time. I you don’t mind sharing–your followers can read two articles that might convince them here:http://bit.ly/1rxT8pi.
    By the way, eNovel’s Alexa rank in the USA is 43,516. Global Rank is 144,173. Come visit. We like you!
    JackieWeger

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    • Hiya Jackie, Always a pleasure to hear from you. Thank you again for another set of humbling comments on my blog. Yes, I know the info on eNovel Authors at Work is open to anybody, but wanted to mention that so much more is offered when you actually join – something I’d also love to do if I ever manage my time better as to work towards fitting all your requirements. Read Gaughran’s book so at least one is ticked – LOL. Thanks for your comments about the Kindle Ninja chat. I did see your comment on his site. He’s such a great guy, it was the best interview ever, so much fun. Anyway, you keep mentioning the ‘AZ bio’ but is that AZ as in A to Z in the alphabet? Or AZ as in Amazon? Are you just refering to your Amazon bio? I can’t find anything called AZ bio anywhere. Sorry, if I sound thick – I am getting ready for my annual holiday to my beloved Corfu and I am totally distracted – haha. Thanks again for your feedback honey!

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  3. I do check Alexa before I consider promos on sites and blogs but it’s still vague sometimes. The thing is, you don’t know the ratio of writers and authors vs “readers” from Alexa and I think that’s important. I want to pitch my novels to readers who are looking to buy books more than an audience of authors and writers. My own blog (short stories) has an Alexa of 243,000 US ranking and 1.4 million Global ranking, which is not terrific but not horrible either. Most of my followers are fiction readers but I’m not sure of the visitors. I was told to look for a US ranking that is under 99,000 for Alexa. Ask David has a great ranking but is his audience more authors or readers?

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    • Hi Paula! Congrats on your great Alexa ranking, first of all. I see what you mean, but the way I see it, authors are readers too and at that, avid ones. So does it matter if a site you look to advertize on has more subscribers who are authors rather than readers? We authors are all readers at the end of the day – we all love books. When I go on an ad site, I always wind up looking at the books on display and I presume you do too. So although I can see what you mean, because I regard authors as perspective buyers too, I don’t make this distinction. On the matter of Ask David – I don’t have the answer to your question. However, I heard from various reputable sources that when it comes to promotion, they deliver results. So I am guessing it is a great choice, regardless of the percentage of readers compared to authors. I hope you gain some kind of insight from my different perspective although of course, I don’t expect you to see things my way. Thank you so much for stopping by and for adding a comment! Wish you success with your writing 🙂

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  4. I was following my Alexa ranking quite closely for a while until I read this article. I don’t know if I agree with everything that is stated there but the article itself and some very thoughtful comments have made me reconsider placing too much value on Alexa especially if people can manipulate their Alexa ranking by installing the Alexa tool bar and visiting their own site repeatedly over a short period of time (even a few days!) http://waystoavoidscamsonline.com/how-does-alexa-track-traffic-do-they-really-have-a-grasp-of-your-traffic

    My own site http://thoughtsfromtheuniverse.com went from approximately 19,000,000 ranking to 1,452,000 in 2 months. Yes I steadily add articles and content – nearly every day but I also have the Alexa tool bar. So it’s hard for me to tell whether the amazing ranking change in 2 months was me using the toolbar or just getting the site content updated frequently. I’d love others opinions on this too!

    Thanks,

    David

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    • Hi David, I sincerely apologize for not replying sooner but I’ve been on holiday plus your comments wound up in the spam section for some reason. You offer a valuable insight and I feel it’s worth investigating further! I am certainly not an expert and I wouldn’t know but I WILL look into it! I don’t even know how to get an Alexa toolbar… Thank you again for taking the time to comment!

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      • No apology necessary Effrosyni 🙂 There is so much information out there and the timing seemed appropriate to comment as i had just read that article before seeing yours and I always pay attention to “coincidence(s)” and wanted to share that article with you.

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  5. Possibly the most valuable thing I’ve read on the ‘Net in years, Effrosyni — and the tip came from a fellow Greek (Katerina Papadimitriou).

    You Greeks didn’t get the name “Fathers (and mothers) of Western Civilization” for nothing!

    I thank you.

    Russell

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    • Hello Russell- wow, what a compliment – thank you so much! Sorry I didn’t reply sooner but I’ve been away and off line for just over a week. Wish you all the best dear and thank you for taking the time to comment 🙂

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  6. I had quite an education this morning! Thank you Fross for a very useful post! Definitely coming back to this!
    Have a great day!

    Like

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