Making a writer’s website

ScreengrabEvery writer knows that they also need to be their own PR and marketing guru. In the digital age and starts and ends with having a website.

I’m still learning this one, but here’s what I can share with you so far:

  • Use WordPress. They haven’t paid me to say that. It’s relatively easy to set up, though not as easy as many claim to use. If you’re a technophobe, use wordpress.com, if not, use wordpress.org – the latter is more flexible but you need a host
  • Hosting – for ease, find one that features “WordPress one-click install”. Many do. I also think you should find a host in your timezone, so if you need help you can get it when you need it. For reference, I use tsohost.co.uk. For £5 a month I can have up to 6 websites
  • Making the website. WordPress comes with a default appearance but you can change it. They’re called Themes. You can buy one or there are free, and you can change colours, layouts, and countless other things. In other words, you don’t need to use a designer. This site uses a free theme called Hueman, and I’ve tweaked it so it looks like this. That said, a designer will always give you something a bit special – so if you can afford one, get one!
  • A website for authors. This is where I’m learning. I need to do more research on this one. What’s the best way to showcase your work? At the moment I’m simply using a WordPress blog post to print stories. It’s possible to offer as downloads too – PDF files, something called ePub, also Mobi files. It’s confusing, because all the readers out there (Kindle, iBooks etc) have different formats. There are WordPress plugins – extra bits of code to add functionality – that claim to make websites “writer friendly”. One I’m keeping an eye on is aesopstoryengine.com. The concern I have with that is there is a heavy emphasis on multimedia. But I’m a writer, not a photographer, videographer too! That said, what an opportunity we have to create multimedia stories…
  • Promoting a website. So far I’m hooked up to Facebook and Twitter (which I don’t use enough – fail). I’ve got Google Analytics installed which means I can see visitors coming to this website (and crucially what pages they’re on and how long they’re on there – are they reading to the end?). I haven’t got an email newsletter going, but that’s a next step
  • Making money. That’s for another day. I don’t write short stories to make money. I write because I want to, and the reward is that one other person somewhere connects with a story in some way. That isn’t meant to sound self-righteous. That’s just how it is. All that said, yes, I’d like to make some pocket money even if it buys me time to write more

I’d love to know what fellow writers have done with their websites – what works or what doesn’t. Or if you have questions about my experience, just ask.

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