Creating Your Website

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 one: take a deep breath. 

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 This is a list for published and unpublished authors, although not everything will apply to both.

  1. Your bio including a professional headshot (Ugh! Painful.)
  2. Links to your social media profiles
  3. 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).
  4. Book cover images and brief descriptions of your book(s)
  5. Reviews of your book(s)
  6. Links to major online retailers selling your book(s)
  7. 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.

10 thoughts on “Creating Your Website

  1. Hi Halli, nice post! I absolutely agree on investing in a domain: it’s cheap, and looks good! The first thing I ever got – long before I started blogging – was a domain. I first used it on a Tumblr blog (an option for blog-shy people who just want some sort of web presence!), until I began writing longer pieces and decided to move to a WordPress blog. I like how easy WordPress is to use, and even though their .com platform is a little limited (can’t use plugins, only widgets from their limited list, and I’d love a better archive system!), I like being part of the wider WordPress community. You can do a lot with a free blog, you just have to learn to work it. I’m at http://www.jspinkmills.com.

    ps. I’m not at all tech-savvy, but a quick Google search will teach anyone all they need to know about anything!

    1. I’m glad you like the post. I checked out your website and it’s great. Congrats on the book release! It looks awesome.

  2. Bought a domain name through GoDaddy but haven’t done a thing with it yet. Maybe I’ll work on it while my book is out on submission. Saving this for when I get “around to it.” thanks. For now, my blog will have to do as my online presence.

  3. I’ve been mulling over whether it’s worth continuing to devote time to posting about recently published nonfiction picture books on my website. I do the reading anyway, but I’m discovering what so many authors warned me about–promoting a book sucks away writing time. I’m mulling over your thoughts about how important regular posting is.

    1. I would look at the kind and amount of traffic you get promoting the nonfiction picture books. For me, that would be a good indicator. I do agree that regular posting is time-consuming. That is why I chose to only post on The Winged Pen. I enjoy the community of writers here.

  4. Thanks for the website suggestions! I like how yours is designed to appeal to kids. I too was lucky enough to have a unique name, and you can find mine at ariadnelukas.com. I use WordPress, and it wasn’t too hard to set up. I struggled with a few things, but eventually figured them out, between online and live chat help resources. I’ve written a few blogs, and I have lots of ideas for new additions to the site, but just need to carve out the time!

  5. Fantastic. I think you put your finger on it. Your website is a place for readers. That’s what I would like my professional website to look like 🙂 Thanks for the info.

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