Before you read on, I am going to say right now that I believe authors do need a website. I know there will be much huffing and puffing at this statement, in some quarters, but it really is a no brainer in my opinion.
This is why I think authors should have a website
Imagine Facebook is an orchard. You have some very special heritage apple trees that you need some space to plant and develop. Facebook is a great orchard with a big wall around it. Lots of people get to walk through the orchard and it’s likely you will sell many apples when they are ready. All goes well. You fertilise, prune, water, and tend. You even run a few sheep through the orchard to keep down the grass. One day Facebook announces that they are going to charge for each apple that’s grown and also restrict the number of people who can see your apples. You are devastated!
Do not plant your apples in someone else’s orchard!
I know that sounds like a crazy anecdote but that is exactly what happened years back when Facebook cut off organic traffic from millions of Facebook page owners. It’s now ‘pay to play’. That’s fine, as Facebook needs to finance its business model and it is very successful. However, for many, the effort, resources, and time had been wasted and all their collateral was lodged with that specific platform. The moral is: ‘Do not plant your apples in someone else’s orchard!’
Decide on an author website then build it
Therefore, if you have your own website and continue to pay for hosting and a domain name you will always have control of the shop window for your books. An author website really can be a very important tool for authors. However, by the same token, if you set one up and ignore it then it can do your reputation some harm.
There may still be some resistance to setting up your own author website
Many excuses for not having an author website sound like this:
- I am an author not a webmaster
- I cannot afford to set up an author website
- It’s all too intimidating and time consuming
- I want to spend my time writing books not blogs
- I’d rather spend my money on marketing my books
All of these things are valid if you choose to see them that way. However, what you do by building and maintaining a website is take control and also drive traffic to your book pages. People become interested in you, your brand, what you write, and so on. They get to know your name. They may even subscribe to your website. Therefore, you build your email list and have an audience to whom you can directly market your next title and your back catalogue.
How does organic traffic work for authors?
On your author website, you can focus on information that other readers and writers are searching for. Whether you sell bathroom taps or cheese the same principle applies. You have an opportunity to write. Use blogging as a writing practice. An author website gives you a chance to build your brand. Alert your readers or potential audience to what you believe in. Let them start to understand your brand and style. Give them useful information to build your status as a professional author. If you write the kinds of helpful articles that make a difference to people, they will come, and often they will share your work.
Your blog might attract many more potential readers when it’s attractive, well maintained, beautifully designed, and useful. If you can attract people organically towards your profile and book title that would be a result wouldn’t it?
Remember if you write evergreen content that is always useful it will always appear in search.
Think about the issues and problems you might face like, losing confidence or facing writers’ block or 10 ways to market my new book. We are always searching for answers to those kinds of questions. If people keep landing on your page, then search engines will see what you write is useful. They will keep serving up your pages more visibly. That means you generate more traffic and so on. What you might have written three years ago may still be driving traffic to your author site. So, isn’t that worth spending time on?
Publishers keep an eye on your audience
Investment in books is always a risk. Therefore, publishers like to take a more calculated approach. Imagine that I wrote a book on creative ways with shoe boxes. It was so amazing that it shifted 100K copies (yes, I like to dream!) I am so amazed that I decided to see whether I can get it published by a mainstream publisher. In my fantasy world, they give me a marvellous book deal. But in reality, how might that happen? As a business model the publisher can see I can shift books. They also see that I have a massive fan base. People are sharing my work and my website is getting a ton of traffic. The hard work around building an audience has been done. Why wouldn’t they be interested? Mind you if I’d already sold 100K I’d want to sell more myself. Who wants to profit share in that traditional model anyhow?
Guest Post opportunities can be lucrative too
When your site starts to build traffic then a guest post from you will bring your readers with it. You can share your readers with another website’s loyal following. That way your exposure could potentially be enormous. Other people may even offer you articles. If they fit your brand, then you will be receiving content for free. Some even pay for the privilege. We discuss guest posting further in another article.
Is an author website expensive?
A website can be as economical or expensive as you choose. There are a few do it yourself options and many straightforward web building solutions to choose from. Squarespace and Wix are interesting options. My money is always on WordPress as a quick theme change can work wonders for a new feel or revamp. However, you can use 123 reg as another option. It really is your choice. Yet, having a team behind you to help you extract the most link juice from an author website is a great option. You can design a basic idea on a scrap of paper, photograph it, and send it to a team. They can quickly interpret your ideas and suggest some themes for your site. If you are planning on earning your living through your creativity then it’s worth making that investment early on in your author journey.
If you would like to discuss an author website, then do book a time to have a chat. We don’t bite and have masses of tips we can share with you.
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