The next few weeks for Writer Wednesday, we are going to talk about author websites as part of building an author platform. We’ll be covering a lot of practical details on how to create an attractive and effective author website, but before we get into the question of how to build an author website, let’s first discuss if you need one and why.
While for some authors building an author website is the most logical thing in the world, others wonder why they should bother. With all the social media they’re active on, why would anyone visit their author website? Especially if you are not blogging regularly, what’s the point of even having a website? These are all good questions that deserve a careful consideration.
People Search for Your Site
Let’s start with listing a few reasons why you need an author website. First of all, Google is still the primary way people discover information about something or someone. But Google isn’t always efficient in pulling up links to social media, especially if your social media profiles are private, under a different name, or your settings are off, somehow. If you have an active author website and you’ve set your keywords up well, that will be the first search result when folks google your name.
Websites Offer the Best First Impression
Besides, social media don’t offer the best first impression and overview we want as authors, now do they? A collection of my tweets won’t necessarily tell you much about me, other than maybe what I’m interested in (politics, humor, anything related to LGBTQ issues, books), what I had for breakfast (just kidding, I rarely post food pics online), some promotion about my books, and that’s it. It doesn’t show who I am or what readers would want to know about me at a first glance. The bio on my website does.
An important reason to have an author website, then, is because it helps readers to find the necessary information about you. On most websites the about page is the second-most visited page (the most popular one is obviously the homepage), so this is a perfect opportunity to show readers who you are.
An Author Website is Your Platform
Aside from the fact that readers may Google you, searching for information about you or your books, there are more reasons why having an author website is important. We have all been confronted with the limitations of social media, for instance when it comes to censorship. I’m sure by now, many of us will have been Facebook-jailed at one point, including me. If I ever end up losing my Facebook account, I would be in deep trouble if Facebook was my only marketing tool.
Moreover, social media are constantly changing what we can and can’t do. Take Facebook pages, for instance. A few years ago, these were the single most effective tool for companies, organizations, brands, and individuals to engage in marketing through Facebook. Ever since Facebook changed its algorithm, Facebook pages have become less and less visible, sometimes reducing the reach of an un-boosted post to only double digits, even for pages with thousands of likes.
This is just one example of a change in social media that is outside of authors control but that affects us immensely. There have been more, and there will be more. The single most important reason to have your own author website, therefore, is that it’s your platform. Unless you violate the law or specific rules from your Internet provider, this is your space, and no one can close it down. You own it, and you can do with it whatever the hell you want. That sounds a little maverick, but it’s super important to have this space that is all but untouchable.
But in order for your website to fulfill that function, readers will need to know how to find it. If Facebook shuts down your profile, or it decides to close reader groups, and you haven’t built up a regular audience for your website yet, it will be too late. That’s why you need to start now with drawing people to your website, so if your social media accounts close, they will know where to find you.
It’s an Extra Platform
Even if social media will still be your primary author platform, having an author website will offer you another platform. Not all readers are on social media, Facebook especially, so if your whole marketing strategy is focused on that, you lose out on reaching readers who will never go there. In that sense, an author website is a broadening of your marketing strategy and can be effective in reaching a new group of readers who haven’t heard from you.
Websites Facilitate Direct Sales
Personally, I have more reasons, Amazon’s growing censorship being one of them. Again, if Amazon ever changes their policies, making it impossible for us to sell our books there, for instance because of tightening rules on content, I will need an established space where I can directly sell my own books. Call it a safety precaution.
Okay, I hope by now you’re convinced of the need for your own author website. Next week, we’ll go into the nitty-gritty of building your own website. No worries, I promise I will make it super easy for you. In the meantime, hit me up with any questions you may have about this topic so I can make sure I’ll answer them.