If you’re reading this post, it’s probably safe to assume you’re getting ready to launch your author website. So let me start by saying, “Congratulations!” You’re taking a big step forward in building your digital brand and presence!
No matter what layout or design you choose for your website, here are three things you’ll want to keep in mind:
1. Building a brand takes time
Building a brand doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time and consistent energy, so be thoughtful in what you publish.
Search algorithms are constantly trying to improve results for users—they want to be sure they’re pointing users to the best possible content. Your website will be ranked based on it’s authority and relevancy (among other factors).
How can you improve your site’s authority? One way is to have other sites of authority link back to your content. And the best way to get others to link to your content is to have content worth sharing in the first place.
Stop to consider: What are you the expert in? What can you offer readers that others cannot? Then write and produce blogs or content of that nature for your website.
2. Don’t wait until you have a book deal to build your website
Often times, I see authors cramming all of their marketing and digital brand development into that period between their book deal and publication date—all while simultaneously trying to complete final revisions and working on their next novel.
If at all possible, begin building your digital brand as early in your professional writing career as possible. I recommend starting your website when you’re starting to querying agents.
If you already have a book deal and are just now starting your website—don’t panic. It’s never too late to start building your digital presence. My advice here is simply don’t procrastinate.
3. Don’t skimp on buying a domain name
Gone is the day of paying an arm and a leg for a developer to build a website for you. Nowadays, there are a lot of free or affordable platforms that the everyday writer and business owner can use to design, customize, and maintain their websites (Squarespace and WordPress, to name a two).
Let’s face it, writers don’t make a ton of money. We can’t afford to spend more than necessary on business expenses. The one thing don’t want to skimp on, though, is your domain name.
Your domain name is the web address that individuals will type into their browser to find your website (for example my domain name is sacassell.com). Search bots are crawling the web, indexing pages and content—looking for keywords users might be using in their search queries. Having a domain name that’s tied directly to your brand as an author, will help your website appear in search results related to you, your books and your writing.
When you use the free domains offered by these sites (i.e. yourname.squarespace.com or yourname.wordpress.com), you’re actually helping wordpress and squarespace improve their search rankings, not your own.
Both WordPress and Squarespace offer affordable, annual custom domains. If you have an annual plan through Squarespace, your plan actually includes one custom domain for a year. Then, you’ll pay a small (currently $20) annual fee to Squarespace for the continued use of your my custom domain name.