How to Develop an Author Website and Blog

Thursday, June 23, 2016

by Carla King (@CarlaKing), founder of Author Friendly
In this wired-in era, you practically don’t exist if you don’t have a website. Your author website is the center of all activity for promoting your writing. Done right, it provides the foundation for success in marketing and promoting your books. For authors, your best brand is your name, so make your author name your domain name.

Why a Blog Isn’t Enough

WordPress is today’s most popular platform for delivering websites with integrated blogs. If you’ve already starting blogging with a free platform like Blogger, Typepad, or WordPress.com – their free offering – consider the “self-hosted” WordPress website and blog instead. Why? Because you have complete control over your website and blog. Any site you use that is hosted by someone other than you could shut down without notice.

I like GoDaddy’s “managed web hosting” that offers a diverse choice of WordPress themes (which are templates or “looks” for your site) and a domain name for less than $7/month. They, like other professional hosting solutions, keep your site secure with anti-spam and hacking programs and daily backups.

You can learn to set up your website yourself, or find a professional to help you create a beautiful, branded website and blog for surprisingly low rates. Spend the money! Your author website is “you central” and should funnel readers to whatever is most important now…your new book, a special offer, social media, and most importantly, your e-mail newsletter signup form.

What Should an Author Website Include?

Provide easy links to like and share your pages, and to friend and follow you on your social media sites. Place your e-mail newsletter signup form in the upper right hand side of the page – people are used to looking for it there – and consider offering a freebie (ethical bribe) to entice them.

  • Home page. A professional, easy-to-navigate home page will help readers find information about you and your books. This page is your big marketing opportunity. Make announcements and lead people directly to your books and email signup.
  • About page. Surprisingly, the About page is the most popular page on most websites. People like to meet people. Think of your About page as your virtual handshake; it’s a chance to show your face and tell readers who you are. Make sure to include a high-resolution author photo and book covers, along with a bio and description that the media can use.
  • Books page. Your books page should provide information about your books, obviously, but there are other ways you can optimize this page. Be sure to link each title to its own individual book page, and include the book title in the URL, page title, image description, and in the content on that page. Try including a widget from Scribd, Aer.io, Pronoun, or another service that allows readers to preview your books. This fantastic “free taste” allows them to share on social media and can lead to a purchase.
  • Contact page. A contact page offers an easy way for readers and the media to get in touch with you. If you’re worried about privacy, a simple contact form offers anyone the ability to send you a message without disclosing your personal contact information.
  • Media page. Give bloggers, reviewers, and other media easy access to the materials they need such as a high-resolution author photo, author bios in various lengths, links to previous media, and sample interview questions.

Social for Your Website

The more interconnected your website and social media presence are, the better. There are a few best practices that can help you optimize social for your website. First, link all of your social media profiles back to your website where readers can sign up for your e-mail newsletter. Also, use social media platforms to promote content from your blog and website to boost traffic.

Don’t make the mistake of waiting until your book is finished to establish a website, blog, e-mail newsletter, and social media presence. These are the tools that will help drive visibility, word-of-mouth recommendations, and book sales.


Download Carla's Marketing Guide

Carla King

Carla King is an adventure travel author and technology journalist who has been self-publishing since 1994. She is the founder of Misadventures Media, a small press specializing in adventure travel books, and Author Friendly, a service that provides affordable publication planning, coaching, formatting, editing, design, and social media setup for independent authors. Her Self-Publishing Boot Camp educational series of books and workshops have helped authors make good publishing decisions since 2010. Find out more at AuthorFriendly.com.