Here are five things not to do with your author website.
This is a must read if you don’t yet have a website because these tips will save you a lot of heartache in the future.
If you already have a website read with caution.
Website Mistake #1 – Focusing on Design Over Content
If you want someone to visit your website, it must be the most interesting thing on the Internet – for that person at that time.
Your website design is like the frame around a picture. Many authors spend more time on the wrapping paper than they do on the present. The design makes little difference regarding how successful your site is. You may disagree but Michael Hyatt, the CEO of Thomas Nelson, is with me on this.
Website Mistake #2 – Focusing on the Author over the Reader
Yes, yes, you’re a big famous author. But people still don’t care about you. They care about themselves. Think that is selfish? Take the plank out of your own eye before you can point the finger. If you offer something of value, your readers will want to come back. Photos of your kids will not bring them back.
If you focus on your readers they will love you.
If the goal of your website is to stroke your own ego, then it will never succeed.
Website Mistake #3 – Hiring Your Brother-in-Law
Many authors get a friend or relative to build their website. In all of the consultations I have done at writers conferences, I have yet to meet an author who is happy with this arrangement. Why? Because your friend offered to do a one time favor for you when what you really need is ongoing support. The exception to this rule is when the web guy is also the husband. I have seen that work.
The story is usually the same: Your brother-in-law has some fancy website software and promises to keep it up to date. The problem is, your brother in law has no idea how often you want to update the website. Since it’s a free project, it becomes a low priority and the author spends years frustrated about her “free” website. This puts a strain on the relationship. Often the cost of a free website is a relationship.
With most free web guys, updating your website becomes as important as cleaning the garage. It will get done next week. Promise.
Website Mistake #4 – Building it Yourself
Some authors spend hundreds of dollars to buy Dreamweaver and build their website themselves. The problem is most authors have no idea about how to build a website. They don’t know about search engine optimization or how to integrate a blog.
The result? They have a Blogspot blog and an ugly site.
Building your own site does allow you to update it yourself but there is a better way.
Website Mistake #5 – Out of date
If you can’t edit your website it will always be out of date – unless you have a budget to hire someone to update it for you. But is it really worth $60 to make a minor update? Begging your brother in law to update your site for free is an exercise in frustration. If you pay someone to build you a site, make sure you get a site you can easily update yourself.
Hire a company to build you a WordPress website. Wordpress is also easy to search engine optimize and can look very sharp. You can also get WordPress custom designed for between $1500-$7000. You can get bids from hundreds of WordPress developers on elance.com. My company, Author Media, also builds WordPress websites for authors.
If you are on a tight budget I recommend AuthorWebsites.com. It costs $30 a month and comes with templates built specifically for authors.
What do you think?
- Do you agree?
- Are you happy with your website? Why or why not?
- What do you look for in an author website?
I so agree with you about WordPress. I love it–and it’s awesome knowing I can make the updates whenever I want to.
So far I have done it myself–it’s all I can afford right now. But I’ll keep you in mind when I get to the point where I need a designer to build it bigger and better.
i have also gone with wordpress. I run it myself for financial reasons. There are plenty tutorials on the internet to help you customize free templets and the wordpresss software is easy to use and make up dates with. My site has only been up for a few days but I'd love for someone to visit it and leave me feedback. I had absolute zero website building experience when i started. TheSarahAndersonIdentity.com
My recent post Welcome to my site!
I tried going to your site several times and only found vague search results for your name, but no website to visit. I clicked on the link as well as copied and pasted and typed “The Sarah Anderson Identity” into the search box. You may want to double check the link you gave us.
I have a slight issue with #4. I know some HTML and have been making websites since eighth grade. So I designed and coded my own author website. I have been told by others that it looks really good; it just needs more content. I am willing to fix what needs work. So I wish you wouldn't dismiss such an idea so easily. While it's true that I don't know how to integrate a blog into my site and am still learning about SEO, that is why I visit sites like this to get help with those things.
I don't mean to sound unprofessional; I just have a slight issue with your view on this. Thank you for writing this article, though.
My recent post Chapter 12 continuing, readings, no more GoodReads or MySpace, site improvements
Perfect! I hired a web designer and they built a wordpress website for me. I am completly pleased with my new site. It's good to know that I made a good decsion on my website. Thanks!
My recent post DuGood Christian Fellowship – Part II
Holy God, who has a thousand dollars to spend on a website??? Maybe some of you people do, but for freaking sakes, A THOUSAND DOLLARs?
I highly recommend http://www.wix.com. It’s a flash-based website building site, and very simple and intuitive to use. I’m an author and I absolutely love it – it’s simple enough to user myself without splashing out on pro web design or having to try and master WordPress (don’t ya just love those constant updates you have to do, without which the site breaks? 😉
Why I won’t be going with WordPress for blog or website:
I realize I’m in a very small minority here, but I live in the boondocks in south GA where real internet is not available. I live with 4G internet, not telephone, from Verizon. Real internet truly is not available, not from Dish Network, DirecTv, or any of the other providers who promise to provide internet anywhere in the country. I was promised, but no one delivered. (Afgans in caves have better internet than I do – another story.) Not your problem, but mine. I love where I live, so moving is not an option. HOWEVER, many times, I want to read several blogs or websites which takes a lot of time daily. In order to do so, I print them and read later after turning off my internet access. In order to print anything available on WordPress, I have to highlight what I want to print, unless I want to print everything, including all the comments, then press print. Only the first page prints, then I have to go back, highlight the remaining section again and print again – sometimes I have to do this two or three times to get all the info I want to print. Frustrating and time consuming. I won’t be using WordPress when I set up a Website or blog on the off chance that anyone would ever want to print anything I should ever post – wouldn’t want anyone to deal with what I deal with.