Creating Fabulous, Free Author Websites
As an author, one of the hardest things (after actually writing a book) is marketing it. I shudder even uttering the word because as any new author would know, it is a hard slog and at times, it can feel like a ball and chain around your ankle that you just can’t ignore.
We’re authors, what on earth do we know about marketing? Yet, we are expected – whether we are traditionally or self-published, to get right on that hamster wheel and get our work out there. I was published by one of the big guys, Harper Collins Australia, but that certainly didn’t mean that I could sit back and wait for the dollars to roll in. (Trust me, I’m still waiting!) I had to do the work, and it was much more than I ever imagined.
I've been very lucky, in that I have worked in this area for a long time, managing the social media platforms of a large department as well as teaching social media and web content to marriage celebrants all over Australia, but even then I found it a daunting task and for most it's simply overwhelming.
All published authors are finding more and more that they have to be proactive and work hard to get their work in front of potential readers/buyers. So, where do we start when trying to launch ourselves as some sort of brand and get our name out there? With a website and social media of course.
People seem to think that because you are published (self or traditionally) that you must have plenty of money – trust me that is not the case. The reality is that most authors are struggling and most are holding down other jobs to support themselves. Forking out for websites and paid advertising is actually beyond most of us.
The biggest question is, how can we get ourselves out there? How can we market ourselves and create an online presence, without it breaking the bank?
The best place to start is with a simple, free website and Facebook page. For this post, we'll start with creating a website. (Stay tuned for A separate Facebook post)
Sometimes people can get confused with Websites and Blogs
First of all, the most important thing to say is that a blog IS a website. There is often much confusion around this, but essentially it is just a dynamic form of website. What dynamic means is that it is a website where the content is continually changing and being updated with new posts instead of staying the same all the time.
A traditional website, on the other hand, is generally static, that is it stays the same and each time a person visits your site they see the same information. A blog will have different information or posts each time (within reason) a person visits your site.
If you’re not sure which one you would prefer to use, it’s best to set up a website with a blog page attached, that way you get the best of both worlds and there’s less pressure for regular blog posts.
So, what’s the first thing to do?
1. Find a platform that is free, looks amazing, is easy to use (even for the novice), and can be updated regularly without any fuss.
My pick of the bunch would be Wix. I have a couple of free sites with Wix and setting them up was easier than I ever imagined. Using simple drag and drop fields and text boxes that can be typed into or copied from Word, it means that even someone with very limited experience can get started.
Here’s a link to the site to sign up: http://www.wix.com/
The great thing about Wix is that it offers templates to choose from, built-in free stock images and as soon as you’re done, just hit publish.
Below is an example of the homepage of my Wix Website.
2. Once you’ve created an account, hop over to Youtube and watch a couple of videos on setting up a Wix site. Maybe type in ‘How to set up a Wix website’ and then watch a couple to get the idea.
3. Jump back onto Wix and start having a play around with your pages. Add in some pictures and some text and move it around until you like what you see. You can add extra pages and content and change colours easily using the left side panel. You can also add in your social media plugins (there are other great Youtube videos for that)
4. It’s a good idea to check out the websites of some other authors and see what pages they have. This will give you a good idea of what you need for your site and what kind of look and feel you want.
5. Take some time setting everything up before you hit publish. Finish all your pages and make sure you’ve got a contact page so people know how to find you. Once you’re all set, hit the Publish button!
Handy hints: It will take some time for your page to start appearing in searches. Many new sites are published every day and it can take months before you’re appearing on Google's radar. There are lots of ways to help that happen and you can get your site ranked better by doing some research into SEO (Search Engine Optimisation).
Good luck and I look forward to seeing your new author sites!
* If you live in Adelaide and still feel overwhelmed by the idea of setting up a website and social media platforms, I can provide a one on one session in your own home/office to get you up and running as well as show you how to grow your platforms and get comfortable with your online presence. Details can be found here: