Building Your Author Platform: Setting Up Your Home Base

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.

Pros

  • 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)

Cons

  • 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.

Resources:

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.

Pros

  • 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

Cons

  • 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.

Resources:


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?

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Kate M. Colby is an author of science fiction, fantasy, and nonfiction. When she is not writing or working, Kate enjoys playing video games, antiquing, and wine tasting. She lives in the United States with her husband and furry children.

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Posted in Author Business & Publishing, Writing & Publishing Articles
23 comments on “Building Your Author Platform: Setting Up Your Home Base
  1. Jonas Lee says:

    I go the WP route, I tried to branch out into Blogspot and others, but it become redundant. WP pushes my content out everywhere, so it was basically a Coke or Pepsi decision. Once book sales cover their expense, I’d love to have my own site.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I’m on WordPress for now. I have a pretty common name, so I’m wanting to get an agent and decide on a pen name before investing in domain names, hosting,etc.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That sounds like a smart plan. I always advise going with the free (or cheapest) options until you have all your ducks in a row. Good luck with your quest for an agent and thanks for sharing!

      Like

  3. Reblogged this on Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog and commented:
    And THIS is just the START Boys and Girls 😀

    Like

  4. […] Building Your Author Platform: Setting Up Your Home Base. […]

    Like

  5. A.R. Files says:

    I have a free blog here on WordPress.com. Yeah, it bothers me that I can’t get more creative with my blog design, but for now, it gets the job done. I can connect with other bloggers and connect my blog to my Twitter, so everyone’s in the know!

    I would, however, like to have my own personal website once I become published. I think it looks more professional that way.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Reblogged this on Kentucky Mountain Girl News and commented:
    KMGN: Useful.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I have just started out so have gone for a free site. My step son is a computer whizz so he sorted out the format including my very nifty banner. Not sure if I will go for a paid for site yet , I could get my step son to do it for me but then he might sabotage it next time I tell him off 😉 . Has anyone gone for WordPress premium is it worth it?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Personally, I don’t think WordPress premium is worth it. My husband looked into it for his site, but the only real benefits seem to be added storage for photos and videos. But that’s just our opinions.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Ben Y. Faroe says:

    Great post, Kate! Very clear and helpful. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. […] you’ve set up your author website. Now what in the world do you put on it? First and foremost, know that it is your website. Your […]

    Like

  10. […] author platforms are mostly online. The core components of a virtual author platform are: an author website, a blog, an email newsletter, and social media accounts as well as all the content featured in […]

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  11. […] author website and social media accounts are important aspects of your author platform. However, one tool that […]

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  12. Reblogged this on sherriemiranda1 and commented:
    Great advice for me & probably for others too! 😉 ❤

    Like

  13. […] For more information on how to set up your own author website, see Building Your Author Platform: Setting Up Your Home Base. […]

    Like

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