Guest Blogger: Thomas Umstattd, Jr., CEO Author Media
Here are five things NOT to do with your author website.
This is a must-read if you don’t yet have a website because these tips will save you a lot of heartache in the future. If you already have a website, read with caution.
If you want someone to visit your website, it must be the most interesting thing on the Internet – for that person at that time.
Your website design is like the frame around a picture. Many authors spend more time on the frame than they do on the picture. The design makes little difference in how successful your site is. (Many of your posts will be read in a reader or in email anyway.) Although you may be emotionally tied to the “look” of your site, it doesn’t matter all that much to your reader. Incidentally, most blog gurus on the web agree with this.
It doesn’t matter if you’re virtually unknown or a mega famous author. People still don’t care about you — they care about themselves. If you offer something of value, your readers will want to come back. Photos of your kids every once in awhile won’t send your readers screaming, but won’t do anything to bring them back either. If the goal of your website is to stroke your own ego (or simply sell your books), it will never succeed. If you focus on your readers, they’ll love you.
Many authors get a friend or relative to build their website. In all of the consultations I have done at writers conferences, I have yet to meet an author who is happy with this arrangement. The exception to this rule is when the web guy is also the spouse. I have seen that work.
The story is usually the same: Your brother-in-law has some fancy website software and promises to keep it up to date. The problem is, your brother in law has no idea how often you want to update the website. Since it’s a free project, it becomes a low priority and the author spends years frustrated about her “free” website. If you’re not handling your website yourself and you’re not paying someone to handle it, there’s little chance of it getting done right.
Some authors spend hundreds of dollars to buy Frontpage or Dreamweaver and build their website themselves. The problem is most authors have no idea about how to build a website. They don’t know about search engine optimization or how to integrate a blog.
The result? They have a Blogspot blog and an unattractive site.
If you can’t edit your website it will always be out of date – unless you have a budget to hire someone to update it for you. But is it really worth $60 to make a minor update? Begging your brother in law to update your site for free is an exercise in frustration. If you pay someone to build you a site, make sure you get a site you can easily update yourself.
Hire a company to build you a WordPress website. A template-driven WordPress site usually costs less than $1000 and will look professional and be easy for you to update. WordPress is also easy to search-engine optimize and can look very sharp. You can also get WordPress custom-designed for as low as $1500.. You can get bids from hundreds of WordPress developers on elance.com. My company, Author Media, also builds WordPress websites for authors.
If you’re on a tight budget, I recommend AuthorWebsites.com. The set-up fee is $250, and there is a range of hosting packages ranging from $10 to $70 per month. It comes with templates built specifically for authors.
What do you think? Do you agree?
Are you happy with your website? Why or why not?
What do you look for in an author website?