Welcome to February’s AuthorTech. January was a crazy month with two books to edit, but I’m back and am trying to make sure I get one blog post a month. Please feel free to shoot me articles you’d like to see or questions. This month we are diving into the wonderful world of website creation and hosting. Let’s get started.
The Dreaded Website!
You’ve writing or have written your novel when you realize that you need all the “stuff” that goes along with being an author. You sign-up for social media accounts, set-up an email address etc. Then comes the website. For most authors this is the most challenging of the marketing pieces. How do you set-up a website? How much should it cost? Do I have to hire someone to write it?
There are so many choices out there now that you don’t need to be a tech wizard to handle your own website creation. This is by no means a complete list of options as new ones crop up monthly but it will give you an idea on how to create and design your author website.
The first thing you need to do is decide what your site address should be. My website is patrickdugan.net. Why not .com? Unfortunately, someone already owned the site address and I’m not interested in buying it for an astronomical price. So I decided that .net worked for what I wanted to do.
All of the major players will allow you to register your domain name through them. There is a yearly renewal fee so keep that in mind. If you don’t renew your address, anyone can purchase it and you’re pretty much out of luck.
So you’ve decided to use the worldsgreatestauthornamedbeauregard.com as your site address. Please don’t. You want an easily remembered and easy to type address. Say you decide on JaneRockAuthor.com and it’s available! You buy the rights and maybe decide to take the .net, .space etc. versions as well to make sure no one squats on them. You’re done, right?
Tip: purchase your URL through the site you are hosting with. It cuts down on the number of steps and the delays of transferring between providers.
Hosting Your Website
You’ve purchased the URL for your site, but you don’t have a site to put on it. Maybe you took HTML in high school, or maybe HTML wasn’t around when you were in high school. No worries there a lots of easy options to get you started.
All-In-One Sites: Wix.Com/GoDaddy.com/etc.
These sites allow a novice to build and host their website by employing a template. Below is one of the Wix.com templates. You sign-up for a monthly plan, select a template and customize it to fit your needs. The page layout tools are fairly user-friendly and there are tutorials and online help if you get stuck.
You can create blog pages, book pages or anything else. Some of them integrate into you EMS system (see this blog for more info on EMS), some offer google analytics or eCommerce options. For most authors, you want to be able to post book updates, convention schedules and maybe blog. All of them do these things fairly well. Really, it comes down to price and features so review a couple of places and do the free trial to see how easy/hard you feel it is to create a site.
Customizable Sites: SquareSpace.com/WordPress.com/etc.
As with the all-in-one sites, you register your domain, pick a plan and you are ready to design your site. These providers are a bit different in that if you have some web coding skills (i.e. HTML/CSS) you can truly customize your site. They still offer a number of templates to choose from and they are customizable with no coding required. If, however, you have the skills, SquareSpace makes it easy to drop in your custom code to truly create a website that is unique to you.
Web Developer Required:
If you are a web designer or developer, you might want to register a domain and host it yourself or on a hosting site. I went this route back when I started my site since Wix and SquareSpace weren’t around. (I’m old, don’t judge). This requires a working knowledge of HTML at a bare minimum. This can be a much cheaper solution but you will invest more time into building and maintaining your site.
For patrickdugan.net, I used Bootstrap to create the main page and WordPress.org (not com, they are completely different). to host my blogs. My day job is developing websites so it isn’t difficult to do, but it is much more time consuming. Want to change your whole look and feel of your Wix site? Pick a new template, change the pieces you want to and you’re done. Not as easy when you are building it from scratch. It is worse if you are hosting your own server because of the continual need to update the server to avoid being hacked. In the near future, I will be switching over to one of the above-mentioned platforms simply because of the amount of time required to build out new pieces on my site.
In summing up, all of the options above will give you a nice looking website that you can display your books on, talk about writing or whatever else you’d like to do. It comes down to the cost verses the features you feel you need to have to make your site come to life.
Thanks for reading AuthorTech. I’ll be back in March with another new post.
Until next time!