While social media seems to be where everyone is gathering online, your author website is still important for your writing career. Social media is like the car you drive around in to invite people to join you on the journey. Your website is your online home where potential people or customers can stop by to get to know you and become invested in your community. That means your website can become a valuable cyberspace real estate that can grow in value over time. Your web domain is your property. Social media platforms or algorithms can steal or conceal your audience from you.
In today’s post, I’m reviewing the four things literary agents look for when visiting your website. Whether you are querying agents or looking to find a new agent, this post offers a checklist to ensure that your website conveys your brand, professionalism, and passion for your work as a writer.
Updated Design or Graphics
When was the last time your website logos, photos, or graphics were updated? If it’s been more than three years, then you should consider a partial or complete update.
A fresh-looking website sends the message that you have regular visitors and want to create an attractive experience that draws them to stop by regularly. If you refresh you website, use this as an opportunity to invite social media followers over to your site and invite them to subscribe to your newsletter.
NEXT STEPS: Review your website and look for outdated pages. Take them down or update them. If you have resources that are more than a few years old, consider updating the graphics to freshen up the resources. Canva is a great resource for projects like that!
Last week, I read a post from an author sharing candidly about her hesitancy to sit for new headshots due to sensitivity around aging, post-Covid weight gain and generally, just not feeling good about herself. So many of us can relate! However, recent headshots are still an important part of an updated website.
While subtle, headshots create a thread of trust because followers or potential followers connect to the image that they see on your website. However, if headshots on our website and social media photos looks dramatically different, readers notice.
NEXT STEP: If you’ve dreaded updating your headshot, you aren’t alone. Be compassionate toward yourself as you process through the reasons. If you recognize that new headshots are warranted, go through the process with a friend so that you can support each other. Perhaps a fresh haircut, updated color or hiring a stylist may give you a confidence boost. Give yourself permission to invest in you so that you can better connect with others. One final tip: The week before your photoshoot, practice smiling at yourself for ten seconds in the mirror each day so that you feel more confident and relaxed in front of the camera.
A relevant lead magnet/opt-in communicates to a literary agent that you have a plan for growing your audience. Opt-ins are the path to help authors build value in their online presence by building an email list that the author owns. You don’t own your Instagram followers or Facebook group, Meta does. The larger your email list, the more valuable it is for reaching your audience with your content and improving your opportunities to land an attractive publishing contract.
NEXT STEP: Check out the websites of three authors who write to an audience similar to yours. What type of opt-in/lead magnet offers do they use? Don’t copy their concepts, but rather look at their opt-in offers to see how they inspire you to develop or update your lead magnets.
As an agent, when I stop by a prospective client’s website, I want to see how often a person engages with their audience. There’s no expectation for posting a new blog every day or even weekly, but I will ask questions if more than two months go by without an update, whether it’s a blog post or podcast episode.
If no new content exists, and no indication of a personal/family crisis, then I’m left wondering if the author has abandoned their website because no one is visiting it. If no one is visiting it, then I’ll have questions about how they are building their audience. These questions might be answered by someone saying, “Oh, I spend all of my time on YouTube. I have 85,000 subs over there.” That’s great! But, even with a raging social media channel, some love should still land on your website, even if it’s only to invite people to join the mailing list and your social space.
NEXT STEPS: Post at least twice a month. New content is preferable, but if WordPress allows you to re-publish old content as new, pick your best articles/posts.
JOIN THE CONVERSATION: Which website updates are on your to-do list over the next three month? What website updates have you done lately? Feel free to share your website in your comments, too!
Come, check out my website!
Come, for the straight dope!
Come, deep in despair’s dark night,
and find a cause for hope.
You won’t see a headshot
( just Google Genghis Khan).
Cool graphics are what I am not,
but if you will read on,
you’ll find that God’s the answer
to any question that you pose
(‘specially dealing with cancer),
and you’ll see that Heaven knows
that the way best call for writing
is to find a path to keep on fighting.
I’m Mongolian, and do resemble renderings of Genghis Khan (except he probably didn’t wear a ballcap).
Another wonderfully informative post for those of us still on the climbing side of the learning curve. Thank you!
Kristen Joy Wilks
Great advice, Barb!
Hmmm … my photo is four years old. Argh! I get the pain of considering a new one, blah! I did take a lot of care with my lead magnet and am considering writing a new one. I try to post a blog every Saturday, so that is something. Good things to think on though, Barb. Thank you! Oh, my latest blog is about that miraculous off-grid electrician that the Lord pulled out of the woodwork! Plus, charming photos of our ancient generator and battery system, ha! Please feel free to come say hi.
Carol R Nicolet Loewen
Thank you Barb. Great insights on what agents look for, and how to update a site. I appreciate your input.
Jean E Jones
Thanks for this clear, actionable advice. My email list stopped growing when I removed password protection from my videos to help churches during the pandemic. I followed your suggestion for lead magnets and found some good options. I noticed a couple months ago that some authors are replacing blog posts with monthly newsletters. The last 2 months I sent a newsletter instead of blog post announcements. With the second, I surveyed readers, and everyone who replied preferred the newsletter over just blog posts. I have some older blog posts that could be updated, so thanks for that suggestion too. I placed the URL for this page in my To Do list for website updates. Very helpful!
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Excellent information on what agents look for and how to update a website. I appreciate your thoughts.