Blogger: Michelle Ule
Sitting in for Wendy Lawton busy preparing for a writer’s conference.
Let’s talk about author websites today.
While you can get plenty of advice and tutorials from many spots, I want to talk about my experience with an author website.
I hope this will give you some insight into what it means–from both a personal and business point of view.
Who owns a website?
You need to own your own website. Period.
As many advisors point out, your website is your personal corner of the Internet. If you own it, no one can take it away from you.
You have total control–for good or ill.
I started with a free WordPress website in 2011 and ran it for about a year. After that, I wanted more functionality and paid for my own (I began with WordPress.com and transitioned to WordPress.org).
It’s a business expense–whether you are published or not.
What is a website?
A website is your calling card, your business card, to the world.
You present your credentials, demonstrate your writing ability, and show your face to the world on your website.
It provides a place for people to find you–whether deliberately or by accident–and findability is one of the most challenging aspects of publishing.
What to put on it?
No matter where you are in the publishing life, write a good biography.
You can set up a media kit anytime–and you might as well do it while you have time. Here’s an example of mine.
On your website you can list your author credentials. (Talk about professional or educational experiences which make you worth knowing, for example).
Write a blog.
Post some photos.
Play and experiment.
When should you set up your website?
If you desire to be a professional writer, set up your website now.
When I set up mine in 2011, the “going” advice was to consistently and frequently write blog posts.
The blog’s goal was to build up traction and attract attention.
I set a schedule to blog twice a week to build up those numbers.
As of the day I’m writing, I’ve published 654 blog posts on Tuesdays and Fridays for more than six years.
(If you count my posts for Books & Such reaching back to 2009, I’ve written more than 800).
That’s a lot of blog “backlist,” which at this point feels like I’ve blogged about everything.
That means, however, that I have a long list of tweets to post through Hootsuite and I often recirculate those old posts.
(Don’t get me started on SEO–find a professional blog post to explain!)
Why write blog posts for your website?
As noted above, to establish credibility and to prove you can write.
Depending on your subject matter, you also can use a blog to build readership and, in my current case, encourage interest in your forthcoming book.
I’ve written so many blog posts about Biddy and Oswald Chambers now, they have their own page on my website!
I’ve met a lot of valuable people through my blog posts–including long lost cousins, researchers with important tips and simply friends.
I love writing my blog.
How to maintain your website?
There’s the rub.
Having a website, particularly with a regular blog posting schedule, is a lot like having another child.
I’m constantly thinking about what to blog about next.
No matter where I am, I carry my phone to take photos for potential blog posts.
My husband has given up expectations I’ll always be “present,” because I’m always looking for things to write about. (A problem. Sometimes I give up the phone to him).
A year into managing my blog, I threw in the towel and hired my daughter-in-law Alisha Ule as my webmistress.
(Note: she’s a creative woman with a degree in electrical engineering. She understands all this. I did, however, buy her a copy of WordPress for Dummies.)
A webmaster/mistress is a business expense.
She’s also a lifesaver.
You don’t know what’s going to happen with your career. As I began to publish, I needed more and more assistance with my website. Alisha handles it all with skill and aplomb.
Owning, running and maintaining a website is part of being an author in 2017 publishing.
Whether you’ve got books out with your name or not, business pretty much requires it.
And if you’re not willing to keep it up-to-date, perhaps you should be counting the costs of what is required to publish today.
I’m happy with my website and writing my blog–but I was a journalist long before I wrote fiction. Writing for joy and keeping a deadline were part of my life.
Count the costs., but try writing a blog–you may be surprised at what you learn about reading, writing, and meeting people through words.
What is an author website and why do you need one? Click to Tweet
Count the publishing costs: own your website. Click to Tweet
5 Ws and an H on author websites. Click to Tweet