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Get Started With Your Own Website or Blog

Categories: Blogging, Blogging for Writers, Build a Platform & Start Blogging, Conferences/Events, Digitization & New Technology, Freelance Writer, Article Writing, General, Marketing & Self-Promotion.

If you’re serious about your career as an author, you need a website. And the sooner you get one going, the better.

Why?

The most important reason: There’s a learning curve. You don’t want to be scrambling to put together a site when your book releases, or when you have an agent’s interest, or when someone asks why you don’t have a site.

You also learn a tremendous amount about how the online world works, and what works for YOU especially in finding your audience online. (I learn something new every week!)

This is a topic I’m passionate about, so you can find a range of past blog posts at NO RULES covering multiple angles of site development and strategy. Here are some of my favorites.

Should You Hire Someone to Design Your Website?
A controversial post where I recommend that a writer in the early stages of their online presence NOT invest in a designer.

5 Things That Make Me Stop Reading Websites/Blogs
The advice here is evergreen and will always apply.

How Writers Can Start Blogging in a Meaningful Way
I offer 4 tips on approaches any writer can take.

What Should Fiction Writers Blog About?
Often when I give blogging advice, the novelists all complain, “But that’s great for nonfiction writers. What about us?” This is my answer for them.

Managing Multiple Identities Online—Avoid
Tackling another big question I get frequently, about pen names and/or managing different audiences/relationships under the same site.

Probably the big question for any unpublished writer, with nothing to market & promote: What are the must-haves for my site? What should I put on it? What purpose does it serve? Here are 4 things to get you started:

  1. About/bio page. Impress and charm people with your writing skills here. It’s an opportunity to show off.
  2. Hub for ALL online activity. Wherever you’re active online, whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, GoodReads, etc, your homepage should be the central hub where people can see EVERYTHING you’re active in, and connect with you wherever they want.
  3. Newsletter sign-up. I’ve covered this here and here.
  4. Content. This might take the form of a blog. Or it could be a podcast or video blog or something else entirely. If you’re not sure what your “content” looks like, check this post for ideas.

Other questions I frequently hear:

  • How do you make sure your website looks professional to people in the publishing industry?
  • How do you know whether to gear it toward agents, publishers, or readers?
  • What are the best (or easiest!) tools to use?
  • Who should I hire to help me? Can I do it on my own?

If you read every post on the topic at NO RULES, you’ll get a good idea what all the answers are. Or, if you want a full, interactive course on the subject, then all these questions and more will be answered in a live class I’m teaching tomorrow: “The 5 Essential Components of a Strong Author Website.”

The webinar is happening at 1 p.m. EST, and lasts 75 minutes. Keep in mind that you do not have to make the live webinar to get the event. You can see the recorded webinar online and communicate questions to me afterward. Sign up here!

What you’ll learn

  • If you don’t have a site: How to get started easily, efficiently, and for very little cost
  • If you do have a site: What elements you need to evaluate and possibly revise on a monthly, quarterly, biannual, and annual basis
  • When you should hire a professional designer or site developer, and how much you can expect to spend
  • The secrets of a strong “about” (or bio) page
  • What kind of information to make available for your books—or what to say if you’re unpublished
  • How and when to integrate social media onto your site
  • How and when to include an e-mail newsletter sign up
  • How and when to integrate a blog onto your site
  • What website plug-ins or features are most effective and helpful
  • How to start using Google Analytics, a critical tool for helping you understand how people find and use your site

Hope to see you there! More info and sign up here.

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3 Responses to Get Started With Your Own Website or Blog

  1. Terry says:

    The first thing I would do if designing a website is make sure that all of my links worked. Just an idea!

  2. Jane, you have touched on some important elements of having an online presence that I think many people overlook when creating a web presence. No doubt, your webinar will be a valuable resource that will propel authors past the learning curve that exists for us all.

    I especially like your comment about your web site being a hub for your online activity. I did a post for the Bookbuzzr blog called Creating A Marketing Hub that dealt with this point specifically.

    Anyway, it looks like you’re going to have a have a treasure trove of info in the webinar.

  3. Hi Jane!
    I went for a hired design team right away, but I already had my first book out, so maybe I’m excused. At any rate, I liked the pro-look of some well-known writers’ websites and had some ideas on how mine should look. The design people took those ideas and made them reality, adding lots of ideas themselves (e.g. the streaming quotes in my website’s banner inform people as well as add class).
    The thing I feared most was the blog. Jeniffer Thompson, the CEO of Monkey C Media, encouraged me to write one, thinking of the continually changing content. What I never expected was that I would have lots of fun writing a free-wheeling op-ed column about many current events as well as my take on the business of writing, reviews, and short stories. Often the blog post is my only fix of the day that attends to my obsessive-compulsive desire to write (add to that the many times I respond to other blogs, of course). It keeps my muse constantly at my side.
    I reread your advice to fiction writers (I’m one of those fiction writers who complains a lot, I guess). I would add that an author website is an ideal place to post current events (next stops on a book tour, book signings, short story publications, etc–works for nonfiction too, I suppose). I’ve neglected that aspect and hope to rectify my error on a future website update.
    Bottom line: there is a great deal of info for writers on the web. In WD this month, for example, one of the 100 websites is authortechtips.com, which has tips for stuff related to designing a website on your own. There’s also the venerable WordPress guidelines which I also refer to since my website is based on WordPrss. With the new tips and tools now available, today I just might do it on my own!
    r/Steve

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