So you’ve started self-publishing and are wondering if you should get a website and if so, what you should include on it to help get you sales.

But you don’t have loads of money or the tech savviness to know what to include.

Honestly don’t worry…

We were the same.

When we first started writing, we just had social media accounts, such as twitter, facebook and instagram.

Being completely honest, I really didn’t want to have to bother with a website. It felt too complicated and unnecessary.

Should an author have a website?

Short answer. YES

If you are self-publishing or planning to start your own self-publishing business, then having a website is kind of like a home page for people to find you.

Like I said, we started off (and still have) social media accounts, but at any time, they could shut down and even though yes, our website company could go bust, it’s more of safe place that you can control with what you put out into the world.

Also, unlike social media where you have to keep uploading 2-3 times a week if not daily, your website required less effort. (Although it should be maintained which we will come on to in a bit). Once you have picked your layout, added your info, you can leave it (but obviously promote it.)

The good thing about author websites, is that you can dedicate a page for each book/book series or promotion. You can include freebies for your visitors to sign up to your email for while you sleep!

You can also keep track using the analytics so that you can see which days/hours your visitors are most active or the best methods to attract new visitors.

What is the best website builder for authors?

What we tried.

Years ago, just before we released our Shona Jackson series, we hired somebody to design our website.

They used Wix and to be fair at the time, it was ok, but I didn’t really have a clue what I was doing.

It ‘seemed’ complicated, but you must remember I was a complete beginner (hence hiring somebody) which is of course what you could do also.

After a while, I didn’t really like the lack of options with the designing, so we moved onto squarespace.

We hired somebody else to do this and initially we were pleased. But as I did more and more research, I became more and more confident and knowing what I wanted.

I’d heard about blogging and so a while later, we moved onto GoDaddy that seemed to include email marketing, website and blogging all in one- perfect I thought!

At first, it was brilliant. Everything ‘under one roof’. But as they say, you measure the company by its customer service when things go wrong.

And they went wrong.

I liked the blogging interface, it was simple. But when I enquired about putting some ads on my blog to generate a bit of money, I was told only if you were living in America. OK.

Then we saw that when we sent out emails to our list, only very, very few were getting delivered. Sometimes none at all!

This was no way to run a business.

We saw there was a ‘Chat’ feature for their customer service and my goodness, we spent HOURS (no joke) talking to their technicians who never, ever sorted our issue.

Then, when I was sending an email, I wanted to embed a YouTube video to explain something, but the feature wasn’t available. I was told it was only for a day or two, but it lasted a lot longer. This was so frustrating.

We then moved our email list over to Mailerlite. Which is where we still have it.

I found it sooo much easier and the emails went off without any problems which is such a relief when you spend all that effort getting the sign-ups.

I started to get into blogging, so chose WordPress.com.

This can be your website and blog.

It was really easy to navigate for my blogging but again, I wanted to take my self-publishing business up a level and make some money from ads. But WordPress.com didn’t allow what I would call proper ads. You had to move onto the self-hosted sister site of WordPress.org.

Put simply, WordPress.com is all done for you and is great for starting out with a website and/or blogging, but has limited features.

WordPress.org means that you are responsible for building it and you need hosting. (I call it a place to house your wordpress website) so at first, we chose BlueHost.

So we had BlueHost as our er… hosts. Then we had WordPress.org as our new website that would also be our blog. We then still had mailerlite.

But…

I learned another painful lesson.

To succeed with things like blogging and SEO (search engine optimisation) i.e. where people find your business by the keywords you add on your website, you need to ensure that your website loads up- and fast.

Otherwise, this affects what is called your ‘Bounce rate’- the rate at which people search for you, or see your website and then ‘bounce off’ because it is taking too long to load.

We are all guilty of this, right?

But it isn’t good if you put all this effort into your website/blog etc. and then people don’t see your content any way because your website takes too long to load.

So…

I looked at the speed at which our website was loading through BlueHost and it was over 4 seconds. Doesn’t sound long does it? I looked at the analytics and saw that our bounce rate was something ridiculous like 90+% (What!!!?)

So basically, 90% of people that were waiting to look at our website, gave up because it was taking too long to load.

But, then I discovered Siteground.

Click image to view website

We kept seeing reviews about its speed.

“As a base for our highly customized hosting infrastructure we now use Google Cloud with its ultra-fast network, SSD persistent storage and 100% match of the energy consumed with renewable energy.”

We thought ‘Why not? What choice do we have?’ We could stay where we are and nobody hardly ever see our content, or switch to Siteground

We did the trial and my goodness!

It was lightening speed!

We looked up the loading time and it was around 2 seconds! More than 50% FASTER!

More than that, our bounce rate has come RIGHT down!

The good thing is that you can have more than one website (which we have as like I said, I’ve got into blogging and think it’s best to separate your interests otherwise you confuse your audience).

What we have:

Email List- Mailerlite

Website – WordPress.Org

Website Hosting – Siteground

Cost of an Author website.

What we pay:

Mailerlite – £45 a month (due to having the 5,000-10,000 email subscribers plan)

WordPress.org/Siteground – £129 for the year (Grow Big Plan)

There could be extras if you are hiring people to do the designing or you want professional templates etc. All entirely up to you.

Author website names.

What should I call my website?

There’s a great article on this – Click HERE

But to sum up, you are likely going to want to call it after your name (Like us, we are HackneyandJones.com)

Or, you may want to name it after your series or main character or the series…?

Or lastly, about the subject matter – ThrillerBooks.com

Make it easy to find, no strange spellings or you will never get found!

Good examples of self-published author websites:

Mark Dawson – Check out his books here

Website name – MarkjDawson.com (see just using his name – easy to find)

What’s great about his website, is that one of the only things you are drawn to doing is to sign up to his mailing list. He is an incredibly successful thriller writer and shows how simplicity is key.

Mark Dawson Website

Rachel Abbott – rachel-abbott.com

Check out her books here

Again, keeping it really simple, not a lot of writing, just a couple of options of what to do i.e. to check out her latest books. (If you scroll down, you can see her backlist)

Adam Croft – AdamCroft.net

Click here to check out his books.

Straight away, you can see he is offering not one but TWO FREE BOOKS!

Immediately, you see the value of visiting his website.

What should an author website include?

Get a simple domain name – easy to find you!

A place where your readers can sign up to your mailing list (via a free book preferably)

Easy to see social media follow buttons

A simple ‘about me’ section.

A simple way/place to buy your books.

A simple, classy design.

Not too much text.

not too many options of what to do on each page. (A confused buyer buys nothing).

Include reviews of your books.

An easy way for your readers to contact you.

What to do after your website goes LIVE?

Make sure your website is kept up to date.

If you have a ‘latest news’ section ensure it isn’t more than a couple of weeks old.

Include your website in all your social media links in your bio.

Happy writing!

Take care,

Vicky & Claire x

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