Choosing between an Author Website or Blog
This post is the sixty-third post in a series about writing a novel. You can check out the list of past topics at the end of this post.
My last two post have been covered author bios and your Amazon Author page. These allow readers to know more about you the author. Another way to connect with your readers is to have a website or a blog. Really into today’s tech savvy world, it is surprising when a company – or in this case an author – doesn’t have some sort of web presence.
So, which should you have – a blog or a website? (And before anyone says anything – yes, a blog is technically a website. The difference is that a blog is typically update more often than a traditional static website.)
Blog is short for web log and is a frequently updated website consisting of blog posts arranged in reverse chronological order. When readers come to your site, they see your most recent post first.
Positives: Blogs are typically updated regularly (daily or weekly – it is up to you) which give readers a reason to return. Blogs also provide an opportunity for interaction between authors and readers through comments on posts.
Setting up a blog is easy. You don’t need any computer or programming expertise. You will simply use blogging software such as Blogger or WordPress. If you are on a tight budget, a blog can be established for free.
Negatives: You need to update it regularly (or lose readership of your blog) which can take time away from your writing. You will also need a topic to write about unless you plan to just update readers about your exciting life as an author, which is not something I recommend unless you have a very exciting life or can make it extremely interesting.
A website is a static group of pages containing text, images and videos accessed from the same domain name.
Positives: Easy if you want to put up information that won’t require updating on a regular basis.
Negatives: Unless you have the knowledge, you may have to hire someone to maintain and update your website. You will have to pay for your domain name as well as a site to host your webpage.
Website offer only one-way communication. While you can inform your readers, they cannot comment which means no reader/author interaction.
Website with a blog
The lines between a blog and a website are blurring. You can easily design a website that incorporates a blog. I designed a WordPress-based site for my husband’s law firm that has a static front page as well as three other static pages. It also includes a blog regarding recent court decisions. His website was done through WordPress.org verses WordPress.com where I have my blog. (The difference is .com is hosted on WordPress’s website and includes WordPress in the address while when using WordPress.org you need your own domain name and web hosting site.)
WordPress.org actually offers a comprehensive content management system that allows people to build sites with their software even if they don’t want a blog. Quite a few companies or groups have done their website through WordPress – The Rolling Stones, Carleton University, BBC America, and Best Buy Mobile – to name a few. The benefit of using WordPress is you can publish content such as text, audio and video and have it done in minutes. If you had a traditional static website, it could take hours to build a page and hours to update which can cost you time (or money) each time.
Here are some tips for those of you who choose to set up an author website.Don’t put a blog on your website if you are never (or rarely) going to update it. If you want to blog about something other than the books that you have written or are working on, you might consider setting up a separate blog. Make it easy to buy your book. Readers should not have to hunt around your website to find out what books you have written or how to purchase them. If you don’t have a shopping cart/purchase program on your site, be sure to provide direct buy links to your books at other internet retailers. Make sure to name the site after your author name and not your book or series. This way you can focus on a site that incorporates all your books in one location. Make sure you incorporate social media buttons (widgets) so readers can find you on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, Goodreads and any other group you are involved in. Make sure you have a place for readers to submit questions or comments. You do after all want to connect with your readers. Do not use too many images – simple is better. A lot of images will increase load time. But then again you don’t want to go overboard with text. You want to find a balance. Make sure you update your site! And this means not just with your information and latest book but to occasionally change the layout or design colors/style.
Your main goal with an author website is to provide information to not just fans but potential readers. Make it exciting, interesting and some place that will want to visit again.
#45 – Pricing your e-book
#50 – Marketing your E-book