Your author platform is a centralised location that allows you to share information and connect with your readers. It should be your website as you own and control it, unlike your social media pages. There are minimal start-up costs:
- Domain name
- Web hosting
I use GoDaddy for both and have done for many years. I live in Australia and love that they charge in AUD and have an Australian number to call for support. Other people use and recommend Blue Host.
Creating a website can seem overwhelming or expensive, especially if you outsource it.
I recommend using a WordPress.org website. It’s the most commonly used website creation platform, with a drop and drag model that’s easy to operate. If you can use Microsoft Word, you’ll have no problem with a WordPress website.
As it’s open source software, no one owns the code that runs it, so you don’t have to pay thousands of dollars to a developer to create one from scratch. You can even make changes or add content yourself. Most programmers and website developers can work with a WordPress.org website, so there’s lots of help if you need it.
There are two different types WP websites. The first is a free, basic version from wordpress.com. This has very limited functionality and would really only be useful for a one page website that just has your contact details. A WordPress branded domain name (unless you set up a redirection) and ads also come with this option. I suggest avoiding this one for that reason. The limitations will frustrate you.
The second option is the one I’ve mentioned already, wordpress.org. This is what many businesses and authors use. Using one of the hundreds, possibly thousands, of themes available, you can create a unique and customised website fairly simply. You can do it yourself, by following one of the tutorials available, or outsource it.
Some Things to Consider
When you’re planning your website, here are some things to think about, regardless of which option you choose.
Research sites you like the look of. Check what features they have, layout, colour scheme, etc. Some will tell you what theme they use (check the footer down the bottom), or you can contact them and ask. Make a list of common elements, such as pages and plugins. What do you like/don’t like about each one? Start a storyboard to keep all this information in one place that you can refer to when you’re creating your website.
Brand – this is the look and feel of your website. Think of it this as a person. How would you describe the qualities & characteristics – colours, feel, layout, emotions evoked, etc? What impression do you want to create? It should align with your business, books, or personality.
Themes – this the template for your website. It can be overwhelming to decide which one is right for you. Free themes have more limitations than paid (or premium) ones, but you can change/upgrade any time. Most paid themes come with video tutorials about how to use the different functions & features.
Narrow your choices down by doing keyword search e.g. “wordpress writer theme,” “wordpress author theme” or “Best author website themes”. Choose one that will allow you to add elements in as you grow, e.g. e-commerce functionality to sell books, e-books, course, etc.
Website – start small with the basic pages – home, contact us, about, a blog, and maybe a product/service page. Use what you have. If you don’t have a professional headshot or testimonials, leave them out. Don’t have any products or services? Focus on providing valuable content (through your blog) and creating a positive experience for you audience. Add the other things in as they come.
Remember, the people you admire and are modelling have probably been doing this for a while. Their current websites aren’t a reflection of how/where they started. Don’t compare yourself to them because you’re not at that level yet…but you’ll get there.
Don’t wait until you get all the elements of your website together because you’ll never get started, or worse, might even use it as an excuse not to bother at all. This is doing yourself and your readers a great disservice.
Begin with your home page, the first page people see when they visit your site. You can use your blog as your home page to get started. You’re a writer after all, so should have no trouble creating content.
Ensure you include:
- Links to your social media if you have them, so people can find out more about you and connect with you. This will help to minimise lost traffic and means you can post about your freebie on your social media when it’s in place. Your social media interaction may also help to clarify what free giveaway your audience wants.
- A nice, professional looking photo (the best current one you have). You can always ask a friend or family member to take one.
Next, you’ll want to add an opt-in where you give your audience something of value so they join your mailing list. This is how you communicate with and build your tribe. It’s an important thing to have, but you want a basic website in place first that you are happy with before you drive traffic to it. If you add a social media feed to your website, as well as links, this can help build trust and credibility and increase your visibility.
It’s more important to get started and be comfortable with a manageable website you’re proud of before you spend time and money growing it.
If you want more information, I have a few other website related posts that might help:
Cheers to your writing success!