I read a good article this morning by Jane Friedman entitled Building an Author Website on WordPress: How to Start Smart. I thought I’d better add my two cents. She’s advertising a course which may be good, but I really have no idea about that.
Oldstyle Websites are expensive
A traditional static site starts at about two grand. But, a fully interactive, responsive site with e-commerce can easily start at $50,000 US and go much higher than that. Obviously, this is much more than most of us need as authors—maybe.
It really depends upon how far along you are on your development path
Author sites can get really complex, surprisingly quickly.
- You start out with a book, then two, then more.
- You make some presentations or give webinars.
- Now you need materials for the tables in back.
- So, you add pens, t-shirts, flash drives, and other promotional items.
- You start a newsletter.
- You begin giving away items to entice people to subscribe to your newsletter.
- And the list goes on.
What happens to your Website?
More than likely by now, it’s a mess—or you’ve given up on it. This is where Jane’s article comes into the picture. It’s built on a couple of basic foundational issues.
First, your home page needs to change continually. If you have a static page like I do, it still needs to change several times a year.
Second, you need to be giving your readers regular updates, new information, special sales, and so on.
Both of these things are done very well by a blog. And here I agree with Jane: you really can’t beat WordPress—for all the reasons she gives.
As she shares, you can easily get your feet wet with the free WordPress.com blogs. They’re easy and you can become familiar with the way WordPress works.
But you really need WordPress.org and your own domain
All these free options make your site really suspicious. How can you be professional with a gmail, yahoo, rocketmail, or hotmail account? Simple: you cannot.
The same is true of a blog that is a sub-domain of wordpress.com or any of the multitudinous free blog sites. Your Website/blog must convince your readers that you are a pro and that this is a serious part of your life—even your career.
All of the freebies are massive, and there is no place there for personal support. You need an Internet Service Provider (ISP) for help and guidance. I am still using a superior ISP I began using in Albuquerque in the late 1990s. Over the years, they have saved me many times. In fact, they are the only software/hardware support I have used on all these years. Apple and Adobe do not need this type of service, in my experience. But the Web, with its coding issues, does for me. Every time I have run into difficulty online, Southwest Cyberport has answered my questions and met my needs as part of my normal monthly fee. I get online access now, in Minnesota, with Charter cable. But my ISP is SWCP. That will be true when I move to New York, also.
You need to find an ISP you trust. WordPress.org will normally be a free part of your fee. Yes, you can go cheaper—but you will eventually regret it, often in a very painful experience.
I find this to be too much effort to do myself. I use Gumroad, Zazzle, and the normal online, on-demand publishing distributors for the books: Amazon, iTunes, Kobo, Nook, Smashwords, Draft2Digital, and all the rest. That’ll probably be all you ever need—unless you’re the next Tom Clancy.