The first steps in building your author platform are understanding what, when, and why and choosing the pen name you want to use. Once those steps are completed, you can take action. My suggestion is to begin by setting up your “home base” on the web: your author website.
Your author website will be the center of your activity online. It will be the place to which you direct your readers (“funnel” them) from other sites. In the game of internet tag, it is the place you want your readers to end up: home base. It is a place entirely devoted to you and your work.
Most authors go one of two routes with their author website.
Route One: Free Blog/Website
There are several host websites that allow you to create your own website entirely for free. These include WordPress, Blogger, and Wix, among others. With these websites, you use the provider’s hosting, design options (often called “templates”), and a domain name that ends in their domain name (ie: katemcolby.wordpress.com). NOTE: You can pay to have a custom domain name.
- Entirely free
- Low maintenance
- Easy to create and design
- Easy to connect to others (via features like the WordPress Reader and searchable tags)
- Simple statistics provided (not as thorough or accurate as Google Analytics)
- Highly limited customization
- Website is technically “owned” by another company
- Host company may have regulations about content (profanity, selling products/services)
- May look less professional than a custom website with custom domain name
Authors who should consider Route One: beginning authors, authors on a tight budget, authors who intend to blog regularly, authors who may not want to be full-time writers
My humble opinion: I chose to go the free route for the beginning of my indie author career. I did not want to invest money in my author website until I was closer to publishing. Likewise, I am not a technical wizard, and I like having an easy website with a strong social component to help me connect with other bloggers.
- How to set up a free WordPress.com blog
- How to start a free blog on Blogger
- How to set up a Wix website
Route Two: Your Own Website
For a website to be entirely your own, you must pay for the hosting, buy a custom domain name, and either install a design template (free or purchased – WordPress.org themes are the most popular) or pay a designer to create a custom design for you. Depending on the services you select, having your own website may be inexpensive, or it could cost quite a bit. However, it will never be free.
- Full customization
- Ownership of your home base
- No restrictions on content and/or selling your products/services
- Shows professionalism
- Can install Google Analytics (or another tracking service) to see exactly how many views you receive, from where your traffic comes, and other statistics
- Costs money
- Can be high-maintenance
- Requires more technical knowledge
- An “island” – not connected to others via a social network, must rely on search engine optimization (SEO) and organic traffic to generate views
Authors who should consider Route Two: authors with some technical knowledge, authors without strict financial limitations, authors who intend to be full-time writers, authors who are in writing/publishing for “the long haul”
My humble opinion: When I publish my first novel, I will be switching to a self-hosted site with a custom domain name and a free WordPress.org theme. I’m doing this, because I want to own my content, write any content I wish, and sell my products directly from my site. To me, it is an investment and a tool that I intend to keep my entire career.
- How to Launch a Self-Hosted WordPress Blog in 20 Minutes or Less via Michael Hyatt
- How to Create an Amazing Author Website: Free Video Course via The Rocking Self-Publishing Podcast
To view the rest of my author platform series, click here.
What kind of author website do you have? If you use a free website, do you intend to keep it or change to self-hosted later? What else would you like to know about author websites?