Welcome back to my series Basic Marketing for Authors. In the last blog post of this series, Creating Your Brand, I mentioned there are many uses for your brand including social media, promotion material, and websites.
Today we are focusing on websites. A scary, but necessary part of your platform and career-long marketing. (Who am I kidding? It’s all scary!) Okay, you have your brand. How do you use that to create a website?
Step two: Buy a domain.
What is a domain? It is an easy to remember name that hides the technical IP address for web pages, and the easiest way for people to find you is by using your name. For example: halligomez.com. I am fortunate to have a unique name that was available (that’s the first time I’ve ever said that!) If your name is unavailable, try a similar variation such as gkbyrnebooks.com.
Step three: Decide on which company will host your site.
What is hosting? It is the business of housing, serving, and maintaining files for websites. You rent space on a host computer which assigns an address for files to your domain so anyone can find your website on the Internet.
There are many choices and most have similar features, so it may require a little research to find which products and services best suit you. Keep in mind some products are free and some cost money.
Step four: Choose a template and theme.
What are templates and themes? A template is the layout of your website, or where you put pictures and words (think of it as walls and furniture in a house). A theme is the design of your template/website, the specific colors, pictures, fonts, and words you choose (or paint and decorations).
Before choosing the template and theme, you must decide what your website will be used for. Marketing your books with cover reveals? A calendar of events? Blogging? All three?
All templates and themes have customization options, some offer basic changes while others allow you to be more creative. There are many companies, each offering a dizzying number of templates, so take your time and find the one right for you.
Step five: You have your template and theme, you’ve incorporated your brand, now you have to decide what to put on your website. This is a list for published and unpublished authors, although not everything will apply to both.
- Your bio including a professional headshot (Ugh! Painful.)
- Links to your social media profiles
- A contact form for readers to subscribe to your website and for you to collect emails to send notifications of those very important announcements like your publication date(s).
- Book cover images and brief descriptions of your book(s)
- Reviews of your book(s)
- Links to major online retailers selling your book(s)
- Contact information for agent or publicist
Obviously you want your website to be a place for readers to find your books, but until you have some to offer, or before your next one is published, what can you do to engage readers? A few suggestions are promotions, giveaways, writing tips, daily/weekly/monthly inspirational quotes, games, and blog posts.
Which brings us to the question I hear the most when writers are creating a website: to blog or not to blog?
The answer has been consistent throughout the industry. If you are going to blog, you need a new post at least once a month. Once a week is even better, but a lot of writers have other jobs, families, and necessary activities such as breathing and showering (not necessarily in that order). Keeping up with a weekly blog is difficult.
No matter what format you chose for your website, it is important to remember who your audience is and will be. Before you have published books, your audience may be other writers and agents (I’ve heard some agents look for your online presence, including a website, and others do not.) When you have book(s) published, your audience will include readers, parents, teachers, and librarians.
I love to check out writer websites! Please comment and provide a link to yours.
HALLI GOMEZ teaches martial arts and writes for children and young adults because those voices flow through her brain. She enjoys family, outdoors, reading, and is addicted to superhero movies. You can find her on Twitter.