Over the last two posts we have looked at your author platform and your author brand. A key component of both is your author website. This post will give an overview of an author website and over the next few posts we will drill down on individual elements.
Why do I need a website?
You need a home on the Internet where you own the site and the content. It is somewhere permanent to serve as a hub for all the links to your books, reviews, events, and products. It is the key location for readers, reviewers, publishers, and agents to find you. This is where you build arguably the most important marketing tool an author has—the email list.
Social media has many advantages in terms of building your platform, but the social media sites own the content put on them, they can change the rules at any time and content can disappear. And these sites could go under without notice. On the other hand, you have full control over the longevity and security of your own website and can back it up at any time.
Setting up Your Website
Your first step is to set up web hosting. This requires buying a domain name. There is an article in the resources below that gives a good comparison of a number of different hosting sites.
For most, writing is a long-term career and it’s best to keep that in mind when setting up your domain when you are on your first book. Rather than setting it up around the book title, buy the URL for your author name or if the actual name is taken, try your author name followed by the word author or a modified version thereof.
Once you have your domain name, you will need to pick a website builder. Many of them are drag and drop with dozens of built in design themes to choose from. A discussion of ten of these website builders is in the resources below.
Once you have your domain name and your website builder, your initial setup can be very straightforward and it can take as little as 30 minutes.
Pro Tip: Start with a simple, clean and easily readable site. This is not the time to get tied in knots about design. Your author brand development is going to be a bit fluid in your early days and most of these sites are so user friendly you can tinker with design later while the content stays unchanged.
On Thursday we will look at the "must-haves" on an author’s website.
Best website trends: Naturally these change over time but there are some good core ideas here.
Best website hosting: Webhosting Cat has done a solid review.
Best website builders: There are a number of easy to use, drag and drop website builders that won’t break the bank. There are some ‘pro-user’ options as well. This article covers some of the same and has some new options.