Build Your Own Author Website – Step Two

Building Your Own Author WebsiteIf you’re still with me after Build Your Own Author WebsiteStep One, I assume you agree that, as an author, you need a marketing hub open twenty-four seven as the foundation for your marketing platform.

With an author website as your base, you can incorporate all the strategies available to you as an Internet marketer, such as social media, blogging, and video.

At this point you could hire a website developer to do the job for you, as I initially did—only to regret it later.

For one thing, it was difficult for me to explain to a professional web designer exactly what I wanted as far as the design and inner workings of my site were concerned. I thought she would miraculously come up with something so awesome and suited to my needs that I’d be blown away. After all, she was the expert, right?

Wrong. As I soon discovered, a website developer cannot read your mind. The site my designer came up with was as generic and lack-luster as the instructions I gave her. I had no clue as to what I wanted and needed. Many of the images and ideas for my website didn’t come until later as I familiarized myself with the web-building process.

Another reason you may prefer to build your own website is that by hiring a professional to do the deed for you, you won’t learn all of your website’s inner workings. Each time you get stuck or want to make a change, you’ll have to ask for, wait for—and pay for—outside help. I, for one, tweak my website almost weekly as I discover new ways to make my site “snap, crackle, and pop.” I cringe at the thought of how much it would cost in time and money if I had to contact a website developer each time something new and exciting popped into my head.

In the process of building your own author website, you’ll learn the ropes gradually and discover ways to add the bells and whistles as your ability and understanding increase. Think of it as putting together a basic wardrobe and then accessorizing it later to make it uniquely your own.

An exception to my do-it-yourself advice is for authors willing and able to spend the money to hand this time-consuming, and often frustrating, task over to a professional. Maybe you want to concentrate all your efforts on your writing or you simply know your limits when it comes to technology. Or maybe you know of a website designer you trust due to a word-of-mouth recommendation. Then go for it and skip the rest of my posts, or read them as a way to understand all the work that’s being done for you and how to proceed from there.

Author Website Key Decisions

Let’s move on to the important next step that, if thought out carefully, will save you major headaches down the road.

You’ll need to decide:

  • If you prefer a simple blog or a website as a Complete Management System (CMS).
  • What website-building platform to use.
  • If you want to sign up with a hosted or self-hosting service.

I’ll take you through the decisions one at a time.

Blog or CMS

Your first impulse may be to start a simple blog instead of building a website with a complete management system. I don’t blame you. Starting small often works to your advantage.

No use in getting in over your head, right?

A simple blog is fast and ridiculously easy to set up and you’re probably anxious to get started. However, I advise you against it.

For one thing, if your blog becomes a success (Which is what you’re aiming for, right?), you’ll outgrow it just about the time you’re really going to need it. Plus, in time, you may not want to blog three times a week or even weekly. Instead, you may want your blog to serve as a site with static pages, a place to highlight your books and offer links to your social media sites, press kit, and awesome reviews rather than keep up a constant conversation with your fans. In other words, you may want an author website that serves as a complete management system.

I know of what I speak. In April 2010, I started a blog with a blogging service called Blogger. I worked hard. I worked diligently. Google search engines loved me. Last time I checked, 293,478 visitors have stopped by for a view. But—and this is a big BUT—when I upgraded to a complete management system, I had to give up this blog and all the followers I had acquired.

Not an ideal situation.

Website-building Platform

I won’t offer you a choice here.

As far as I am concerned, WordPress is the best website-building platform available to you as an author. It’s easy to set up. It’s powerful. And it’s free. You don’t need to know code. WordPress software does all the technological mumbo-jumbo for you.

CNN uses it. The US Post Office uses it. As does the White House. Believe me, it’s the only way to go.

With WordPress, you get your very own Administration panel, and then the really fun stuff begins.

Hosted or Self-Hosted

Again, you can take the easy route by starting a hosted blog at WordPress.com. Or you can take a route that’s a bit more complicated by self-hosting with WordPress.org, a move that will reward you ten-fold later.

I originally chose to go with a hosted blog at WordPress.com, only to move to WordPress.org later. Yep, I blew it again. I learn things the hard way, but you don’t need to.

Don’t let fear of the unknown or lack of confidence cause you to shortchange yourself, SELF HOSTING with WORDPRESS.ORG is the way to go.

If you’d like a second opinion, there’s an excellent article here comparing self-hosted WordPress.org to hosted WordPress.com.

I’ll go into further detail about self-hosting with WordPress.org in later posts. For now, you might want to do some research on your own. There are many helpful articles available on the Internet about self-hosted author websites.

After you’ve made the three key decisions I listed above and have done your research, you’ll be ready for next month’s Building Your Own Website post, where you’ll learn about purchasing and registering your domain name.

If I’m progressing too slowly for you, or if, gasp, I’m confusing you, pick up WordPress for Dummies, 51AElGE5jLL._SL110_a book I relied on to get me through what sometimes seemed like a confusing and scary jungle.

Other books that were a great help for me were WordPress to Go and WordPress Websites Step-by-Step.

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About Margaret Duarte

Although warned by agents and publishers that labeling her work Visionary Fiction was the “kiss of death,” Margaret Duarte refused to concede. “In a world riddled with fear, misunderstanding, and lost hope,” she says, “I believe there are people prepared to transcend the boundaries of their five senses and open to new thoughts and ideas. The audience is ready for fiction that heals, empowers, and bridges differences.” Margaret joined forces with other visionary fiction writers to create the Visionary Fiction Alliance, a website dedicated to bringing visionary fiction into the mainstream and providing visionary fiction writers with a place to call home. In December 2015, Margaret launched BETWEEN WILL AND SURRENDER, book one of her "Enter the Between" visionary fiction series. Through her novels, which synthesize heart and mind, science and spirituality, Margaret encourages readers to activate their gifts, retire their excuses, and stand in their own authority. Margaret is a former middle school teacher and lives on a California dairy farm with her family and a herd of "happy cows," a constant reminder that the greenest pastures are closest to home.
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6 Responses to Build Your Own Author Website – Step Two

  1. vicsmith0123 says:

    Good tutorial, Margaret. I too had a vendor build my site to my specs. They did it in WordPress. While they did a good job in rendering what I asked, they customized parts of the site in such a way that I could not easily make changes as I went along. They did this contrary to my explicit request and I let them slide. As time went by, this has proved to be such a difficulty that I am sorry I went that route and am now reconsidering redoing myself with a standard template. Same lesson learned the same hard way. I'll bet your series will save some headaches.

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    • I hope so, Vic. If one starts slow and takes it one step at a time, building one's own website is doable. After all, I did it, and, as my family will attest, I was a technological greenhorn when I started. Being in control of one's own website is a must in the long run. We make so many changes as we go along, and no one has our best interests in mind as much as we do. I'm sharing what I learned on the way to save others the headaches I had when taking all the wrong turns.

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  2. libredux says:

    Thanks for this informative post Margaret. I've always designed my own sites and agree with much of what you've said here. I also self-host my WordPress site and find it to be the best blogging tool to use.

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  3. Margaret, I really appreciate the decisiveness of the opinions and advice you provide. You break everything down into easy to understand and apply pieces. Years ago, I had hired someone to build my website. It was so complicated that when my husband took over – he's a technically savvy man – he even had problems upgrading it. Now we are moving over to WordPress. As you said, this was something I should have done from the beginning!

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    • You can build your own website, Jodine, knowing just the basics and then add more complicated applications when you need them. WordPress makes it easy. Plus, It's so freeing to be in full control of your own site. After all, you are the owner and should know its inner workings. Once you get the hang of it and take care if the basics , the real fun begins. Adding all the bells and whistles. Good luck, and feel free to send any questions my way.

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