Written by Michelle Gill
So you have been told that you need a website. In the writer's world today it is a necessity. Publishers require it and generally leave it up to the author themselves. I am a website designer who has self-published authors and traditional published authors as clients and both type of publishers require the author to have a website with a blog to attract followers. I personally know of occasions in which a traditional publisher has watched an unpublished author increase their following on-line and then offered them a book deal.
Your website is your hub for all information about you. It is your home base on the internet. All your social media should point the follower back to your website. It is a place where someone can get to know you, buy your book, read your blog, and sign up to get updates on your latest projects. It is also a place to gain information about your followers.
The first step is to choose your niche. Be focused. What are you about? What is your writing focus? What is your mission or purpose? Who is your audience? Once you have your focus then choose the title. If you plan to branch out and write in various genres or on multiple subjects, your title may just be your name. If you are trying to create name recognition as an author, your name is the way to the public. If there is a specific audience and one main subject matter, then you need a catchy title or hook. This will also become your domain or website address.
The second step is to choose and purchase your domain. Research to make sure that there is not another person with your name and decide how you will stand out if there is. Research who else is going after that niche. While you are researching check out someone who does what you want to do well and take notes. Once you choose your domain, purchase it. I use GoDaddy for all my domains. The reason I buy my domain from GoDaddy, a company separate from my platform, is that I want to be able to easily move my domain should I choose to change platforms.
The third step is to choose your website platform. It is best to choose from a company that provides both hosting and the "drag and drop" platform design. Most popular companies now provide both.
"How do I choose?"
Wordpress is very popular but you must update plugins and security manually on a regular basis. It takes quite a bit of time to learn how to use it. I personally do not recommend it because of the updating issues.
Wix is my favorite because it is more for the artist in website creation. I can do much more with Wix. But since part of my business is to teach my client how to blog inside the platform and make updates on their own, I tend to go with an easier platform. Weebly is a very easy to use "drag and drop" system. Both produce a current and attractive website. With Weebly you do not have to make adjustments to the mobile version like you do with Wix.
A couple other platforms that are quite nice are Duda and Squarespace. There are more and more coming out every week.
Once you choose your platform and create an account you need to upgrade and pay for whatever their starter program is. Generally the lowest level is sufficient for an author site. This averages around $100 per year. You will then connect your domain to your platform.
All website platforms provide tutorials and videos that will answer any questions tyou have. I encourage you to watch some videos and read a few of the articles that they provide before you get started. Study the experts. Take time to learn. Be focused, creative, generous, and have fun!
In future articles for the Roanoke Valley Christian Writers I will be providing information on subscribers/followers, social media, and blogging. If you have any questions feel free to contact me.
Michelle Gill is a website designer, barista, trail walker sometimes runner, disc golfer's wife, Jesus lover, book collector, mama, writer, and old house explorer. For more information go to her website at www.michelleranaigill.com