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Authors: Stop Using Linktree! Why It Could Hurt Your Author Business (& The Safer Alternative)

Last week we noticed something on Instagram that made us think. An Indie writer had been agonizing over their Linktree link being blocked on their social media author business account. If you're an Indie writer, you know how devastating that can be. Your social media accounts are your lifeline to your readers and your book sales. Without it, you can't do what you need to do in order to promote your stories. Terrifying right?

Despite the risks, so many authors use Linktree as the central focal point to guide readers to their other ventures. What seems like a convenient loophole around Instagram's one link only rule, could quickly turn into a nightmare scenario.

So Why Does This Happen?

To understand the issue, we have to go back a few years- to July of 2018 to be exact. During this month a MASS freak-out occurred because Instagram decided to block ALL Linktree links in every bio that used it. That sounds crazy, and yet it happened. They did it without warning, without reason, and it took a long time to fix it.

It stands to reason that the hundreds of Indie authors who used the 3rd party app for their author businesses were negatively affected. Because of Instagram's one link rule, when they disabled the links in authors' bios, they halted all incoming traffic to author websites. An error page would appear marking the links as spam. It prevented authors from changing their links as well, which led to a lot of frustrated Tweets on Twitter.

Image Credit: Melissa Judson's article: Why You Should Stop Using Linktree Links in Your Instagram Bio (and what to do instead) from LinkedIn. Accessed: 6/28/21.

What once was a creative alternative quickly became an uncontrollable nuisance that caused copious amounts of swearing, sweating, and complaint requests.

What is Linktree Anyways?

For those of you who are unfamiliar, Linktree is a popular 3rd party app that is designed to create a menu page where you can link multiple websites in one place. It's terribly convenient for social media, where you can then share the single parent link created through the app. When your readers view it, they can then pick and choose what specifically they are looking for. It sounds like a dream-come-true right? Many authors think so...until they get blocked.

Once you're blocked, it's ridiculously hard to get unblocked. And with little-to-know explanation from Instagram about why you're blocked, if you don't know what the issue is or how to fix it, it can mean hours spent tearing your hair out trying to figure it out. In the meantime, you'll be losing out on new readers and potential book sales. You've only got one chance to gain a new email subscriber- an error link isn't one of them.

Why Linktree Is Not The Answer:

In a nutshell, there's some pretty important reasons why Linktree isn't the answer to your prayers and may be more of a liability than a reliable tool.

Lack Of Control: As we've already mentioned, you have no control over whether or not a social media site will block you for using it. When it's not within your power to prevent disaster from striking and your livelihood is on the line, it makes for risky business.

Places All Your Eggs In One Basket: Many authors use Linktree rather than direct links. This means that virtually you're putting all your ventures in one place. This is an upside in many ways, but when things don't work out it leaves you with few other options to keep you afloat while you get it fixed.

Convenience Over Reliability: Linktree itself has been known to be somewhat unreliable. There have been many times where links will stop working or will lead to an error page without any notification to the user.

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You Have To Pay For It: Another downside is that Linktree's services aren't entirely free. Like many "link in bio" services, you have a free option with limited services and then the rest comes at a price. Why pay for something that may someday not work?

Disrupts Your Branding: When you use Linktree, their branding invades yours. On the free version, you have limited design options (meaning the chances of it matching what you need is low) and the Linktree logo is a non-negotiable element that appears on the bottom of the page. Linktree also appears in your URL, another way they advertise their app through you.

Hurts Your SEO: Something else to consider is that when someone clicks on your Linktree link, they may never get past that initial menu page. Meaning that all the traffic that you could be directly funneling to your website, providing you with valuable SEO and pixel data for Ads, is instead being led to the gatekeeper and perhaps never going where it's intended to at all. It also hurts your page ranking on Google. Every time someone clicks your Linktree link, you're not boosting your own website's ranking, you're boosting theirs.

Can Take Traffic Away From Your Website: It can take traffic away from your website in one simple, but significant way: your audience isn't aware of your website's URL and can't use it to return later. When they click your initial Linktree link, what they will remember is that you used Linktree, not what your website name or URL is. Thus it repels repeat traffic rather than encourages it.

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Less Personalization: There's very little personalization that you can do to your Linktree. You can't use photos, or include a bio at the bottom of the page. When your goal is to connect with your readers, this can be detrimental. They need to be able to get a sense of your personality to want to go and check out what your book is about. By denying them that, you run the risk of potential readers turning away in pursuit of someone more relatable.

Linktree Is Your First Impression: If you want to stand out in a crowd, it stands to reason that you shouldn't do what everyone else is doing. The same goes for using Linktree. When the first impression a reader gets is a generic menu page that they've seen numerous authors use before, is it really the best way to make an impact? We vote no.

No Analystics: With no easy or free options for viewing analytic data, how can you even be sure it's working? We raise this question because it's just not possible to know for sure. You won't be able to tell if your links are doing their job, nor will you be able to collect the data you need in order to fine-tune your Ads.

The Smarter Alternative

We've talked about the problem, now let's discuss the solution. It's actually simpler than you would expect.

Create Your Own Landing Page!

Regardless of whether you've made your own website, or hired a professional the solution is to create your own landing page. By doing so you'll have the same type of functionality without the hassle of not being in full control. Another upside is that you can design it however you like, it'll only help boost your traffic and SEO, and your first impression will be exactly what you intended.

When you think about it, it just makes sense. By spending an afternoon or two designing your own personal landing page, you save yourself all the hassles that Linktree, and apps like it, bring. Sure, it may take a little time to create but that's half the fun! And once you have it up and running, it will be safe, professional, and reliable. What more could you ask for?

The biggest reason why you should opt for this solution is purely because it shows that you're going the extra mile. In a world where standing out makes a huge difference between your success as an author and being invisible, why wouldn't you take the extra time to stand out? A personalized landing page is a breath of fresh air in a crowd of generic landing pages. It will make you memorable, approachable, and will keep you on the forefront of your reader's radar.

Don't believe me? Check out this example from Melissa Judson's website:

Not confident in your design or tech skills? That's okay! A quick Google search will turn up loads of website designers who would be happy to create one for you. Need to narrow it down further? Freelancer websites such as Fiverr and UpWork can help you find the right professional for your price range.

Whether you're currently using Linktree or a single link to your website, you should consider building a personal landing page.

Affiliate Links Disclaimer: When you visit and click on a link, it may be an affiliate link. This means that I will be paid a small percentage of money for the service, software, program, or product I am recommending. I only recommend what I use personally, with integrity and authenticity being of utmost importance. Thanks for visiting!

I do not take credit for the photos used in this article aside from the graphic chart and cover. The two others are borrowed from Melissa Judson's website: Accessed 6/28/21.

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