5 Steps to Create a Profitable Writer’s WebsitePosted by Susan Carter
In last week’s post, I was adamant that all writers—who want to be taken seriously—should have a website. I’m not talking about free author listing sites or blogs that come with goofy (and lengthy) URLs and are riddled with pop-up ads and other page items you cannot control. These will lose you a potential client or editor faster than a flashing sign on your forehead that says, “Amateur.” I am talking about having a REAL site with your own domain and hosting service that will cost you, gee, about $10.00US to buy a domain name for a year, and $6.00-$10.00US for ongoing hosting services. If that’s too much money to invest in your writing career, then you are simply not very serious about becoming a professional. Are there exceptions to that rule? I suppose there are, but I can’t think of any at the moment.
If you are an author and have a book to promote, you need a website to showcase both your book and you. If you are a freelance writer, you need to show-and-tell your talents for prospective clients. If you are a poet, a fiction writer, a ghostwriter, a proofreader, a script writer… whatever kind of writer you are… you need to have a website to show off your talents to buyers, editors, publishers, producers, and whomever else might be in a position to buy your products or hire your services. Since I am the one insisting that you have a website, and several of you emailed me this past week asking for additional information, I have broken down the process for creating a writer’s website into 5 easy steps:
Step One: Buy a domain name.
Choose a domain name that either uses your name, reflects what you do, or identifies the audience you want coming to visit your site. For example, I choose to use www.writerprofits.com for this website because this blog is not about me; it’s about the audience I want coming to visit the site… you… writers looking to profit from your writing. I also have a services site at www.authorsanonymous.com. For this site, I choose to use a domain name that reflects what I do (primarily ghostwriting books). You can also choose a domain name that focuses on a topic you specialize in. For example, if I wrote extensively on gardening, or building toy airplanes, I would choose a domain name that related to my specialized topic, like gardengrower.com, toyplanebuilder.com. As you think of possible domain names, it is often helpful to go to a registry, like www.GoDaddy.com and enter the name you want into the search box to see if it is available. If it is already taken, look for variations of the same idea. Once you find an available domain name that you like, buy it! It will cost you about $10.00 US.
NOTE: You can buy a domain name and “park” it with the registering company until you are ready to use it. You do not need to first have your website structure in place.
Step Two: Sign up with a hosting service.
Hosting services abound—the trick is to find one that has safety measures in place to avoid outages and crashes and won’t hit you with charges for ‘extras’ over and above your monthly fee. Over the years, I’ve had my websites hosted with a couple of different companies. The first one was hugely expensive so I switched. I loved that company until it merged with another company—when the two companies merged, support services took a nosedive and I carefully researched hosting companies again. I’ve been with my current hosting company, www.hostmonster.com, more than two years and have zero complaints. And, at about $6.00 per month, I have no qualms about costs either. Feel free to ask friends or colleagues the name of their hosting services to do a price/service comparison.
NOTE: A good hosting company does not have to be expensive; it just needs to be reliable.
Step Three: Install WordPress.
If you want to hire a designer and have that person build your website, by all means, spend the extra money and go for it. You can also search online for open source programs that allow you build your website using a WYSIWYG interface—What You See Is What You Get—in other words, no coding knowledge required! But if you are like me and look for the easiest option available, then install WordPress, pick a simple template from the thousands (free) available, and start building your website on your own. Many hosting companies have one-click installation of WordPress (also free) right from the control panel (Host Monster does.)
NOTE: The fastest way to get up and running is to find and install a simple template. You can always change it later to add more features once you are comfortable working with the program.
Step Four: Create 3-5 pages or start a blog.
Many people think that WordPress is just for blogging. False! Compare my two websites. I used the same template for both, but the www.writerprofits.com website has a few static pages along with a blog. My www.authorsanonymous.com website has all static pages. Simply choose “page” instead of “post” to write your content, and your pages will be static (shown as independent tabs).
Decide on the type of site you would like to have and then begin building your pages (or posts). At a minimum, create an About Me page, a Contact page, and a Home page that addresses the audience you want to attract. Other pages to consider are Samples and Services. And, if you decide to start a blog, remember that it is imperative to update it regularly so it is fresh and current.
NOTE: Use WordPress “widgets” to put client/customer/reader testimonials in the sidebars. Testimonials are every writer’s secret weapon to establishing credibility.
Step Five: Publish and promote.
When you are happy with your website, publish it (another one-click button in WordPress), and promote it. Put your domain URL on business cards, use it in your email signature, and announce it to friends, family, colleagues and membership organizations that you belong to.
When you keep your website simple and inviting to your target audience, profits will follow.
NOTE: If you’re a techno-phobe and need simple, step-by-step directions on how to install and use WordPress to build a great website—in less than a day—then click here to check out this easy guide that shows you how to do it. You’ll also learn how to maximize your site’s online visibility using WordPress plug-ins.