When I was asked to speak at the California Writer’s Club/Sacramento last year about how I’d built my website and decided on my platform and marketing strategy, my first thought was: Hold it! You’re talking to a technological greenhorn here—Miss trial and error, Miss whoops that didn’t work out too well, Miss if you don’t at first succeed, try, try again.
In other words, I’m hardly qualified.
But then I thought: Maybe that’s the point.
It’s no secret that many writers take on website building and marketing strategy because they must, not because they have a talent for it or even remotely want to. So there was a strong possibility that many of the writers attending the CWC meeting would be favorable to hearing how an amateur managed to accomplish a task that at first seemed overwhelming.
Unfortunately, with about forty-five minutes to share all the information that took me months to unravel and adapt to my needs, I’d only have time to present the bare bones version of website and platform building, enough to possibly get my audience pumped up to try it at home, but, by its very nature, also likely to elicit more questions than answers..
So, I put together a series of short, step-by-step posts reiterating and augmenting what I would share in my talk.
When members of the VFA steering committee suggested that I publish my “Website Building” series at the Visionary Fiction Alliance, I once again worried about my amateur status. However, I agreed to give it a try and continue or discontinue the posts depending on the response of our readers.
The “Website Building” series will consist of short, step-by-step posts, presented on the third Monday of each month. And by short, I mean short—just long enough for a newcomer to website and platform building to absorb and adapt to their needs in one sitting without becoming frustrated.
Why Build an Author Website?
As an author, you need to build a foundation for your marketing plan—a central online presence. Yes, even if you’re J.K. Rowling.
Consider your author website a place where visitors from all over the world can visit you twenty-four seven. You’re always at home, your windows and doors are wide open, your house is tidy, and the furniture is crisp and new and perfectly arranged in welcome. Visitors can inquire about your writing, where you’ll be signing or speaking, and when your next book will come out. You can provide them with your social media links and links to where your books are selling, plus share videos, reviews, and a bit of your history.
Ready to give it a try?
If so, then let’s get started.
Building an Author Website, Step One
Before we get into the nitty-gritty of creating your own website, I encourage you to take time to check the websites of some of your favorite authors to reinforce in your mind the importance of providing a hub where your readers can find you and communicate with you via your contact information.
Here are some of my favorites:
For each author website you visit, note the following:
- The name typed into the address bar to direct viewers to the site.
- The name of the website.
- The placement of the author’s name.
- Website subtitles.
- Links to social media
- The website’s page links and where are they located.
- The contact form.
- The header image.
- The placement of the mail list signup, otherwise known as “opt-in form.”
- The author’s photo.
Okay, so that’s it for step one. See what I mean by short, absorbable posts?
Go ahead and take a breather. You deserve it.
Next month, we’ll move on to some important questions to ask yourself before you start building the hub of your marketing plan.
For those who feel up to it, you can advance to Build Your Own Author Website: Step Two–Key Decisions, though my advice is to take it slowly. Mistakes are part of the learning experience, but they tend to compound when you’re in a hurry.
In the mean time, to make your job (and mine) easier, pick up WordPress for Dummies, a book that served as my guide while building my own website.