A simple tip for making deeper relationships, growing your fanbase, and selling more stuff

Zopim. There, I said it. Rather than making you wait till the very end of the post to reveal the powerful secret promised in the headline, I’ve given it to you in the beginning.

What is it, you ask?

Zopim is a chat-software you can install on your blog or website, and then link up with your regular chat like MSN or GoogleTalk.

How it works, and why it works

If you’re an artist or an author, you’ve probably set up your website to share news about your books or writings.

What’s your primary goal? To get more fans or readers who will share your content.

What you may not know is that it’s surprisingly difficult to turn browsers into fans through your website.

Unless you have free writing samples, like free short stories or excepts (which you absolutely should have), or free desktop backgrounds or other shareable graphics, and they’re magnetic and moving and powerful to the extent that they force a person to like and share you, or incredible art pieces that are so beautiful/shocking/innovative that people need to tell their friends, the vast majority of visitors to your site will read a little bit and leave. That’s it.

Why? Because you’re trying to force them into a relationship with your work.

It could happen, and it does sometimes.

But people make relationships with people, not things. They don’t feel a need to help out, or share, a thing.

If you can connect with them as a person, even just a tiny bit, that new relationship can go to work for you.

How to make personal relationships with your blog

First thing’s first: of course you should have an amazing “About” page, that is well written, benefit-laden, and personable. You should be friendly and say “contact me, I’m friendly!”

Like I mentioned before, you should give away free stuff (have a section on your site that says “free stuff” – guaranteed everybody will click it, a lot of people will view it, and those who like it will now feel a tiny bit indebted because they got something for free… so they’ll probably pay you back by sharing.)

I don’t have a Free Stuff section on Creativindie yet – not because it isn’t a good idea. I definitely plan to add something like that once I build up my content (maybe by the time you’re reading this, it’ll be up there).

You should have a newsletter and send out emails every once in a while, with special news and more free stuff. That helps build relationships. You want to turn one-time visitors into people who know who you are and actually give a damn.

Here’s a secret: once you connect with people, even if they don’t like you that much, even if they don’t really like your work that much, they’ll still feel that connection and want to help you out.

Think of the co-worker or classmate that you don’t like much but still know; say he needs to borrow $5. Now think of a stranger asking for $5 on the street. Who you gonna lend to?

Getting personal with online chatting

Recently I noticed some sites with the little “online chat” icon. I’ll admit, that little button is tempting. Even if I’m just browsing or looking for a solution, I feel like it’s easier to just ask a real person a question rather than look for the answer myself. And after I’ve chatted for a few minutes, a connection is made. I’m much more likely to remember that site and do business there than with some other site. I’ve bonded.

I’m experimenting with the same thing on my bookcovers site: basically since I’m online all day anyway, now when someone is looking around my site, the little chatbox will pop up and say “I’m online if you want to chat.”

If someone responds, it’ll go straight to my GTalk instant messenger. It’s super easy.

(It even tells me what page they’re browsing. Super sneaky – but it gives me very clear insight on how people get around my site).


You might think this would only work for a business, but I disagree.

Put it on your artist website. Say “Hey there, welcome to my site. I’m online – let me know if you have any questions.” Most people probably won’t respond. But some will. People like to feel noticed and listened to. People like to chat. This is an easy way to get to know a few of the strangers that are looking around your website. Don’t you think that’s interesting?

You could ask how they found you, or what they were searching for, or what kind of stuff they like to read, or if there are things they like/dislike about your website. It’s a great way to understand and improve your online presence. Ask them to keep in touch by subscribing to your list.

Chances are, you’ll have just made a true fan – and that’s worth much more than just about any other kind of marketing or promotion.

See if you can make one every day.


About Derek Murphy

I help authors and artists turn their passions into full-time businesses, make a bigger impact, and blaze a luminous trail of creative independence. Right now I'm in Taiwan finishing a PHD in Literature, writing several books, and managing a handful of online businesses. Find me

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