I've said it before and I'll say it again... an author website is a vital piece of author success. You should start thinking of setting one up the minute you decide to take your writing seriously and pursue author-ship. It doesn't matter if you don't have a published book yet or even if you don't have a completed manuscript. Your website is your "home-base" online.
But, why is this so important? Because you don't own your social media accounts or any other online space you may occupy. But, your website is yours and your goal should be to bring people that you do meet on social media back to your website to learn more about you, to learn more about your project, and to learn more about your books.
So, what do you even need to include on your website? If you follow any authors at all and have taken a minute to check out their website, I'm sure you've noticed the vast spectrum of features they include. Some seem to offer little information at all while others have websites filled to the brim with content. It's easy to get overwhelmed when you are starting out so here are 7 necessities you should be focusing on when building your author website.
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So the very first thing that you should have on your website is a home page. Now, this might sound a bit obvious, but I felt the need to include this because I see a lot of writers who are not offering up the proper information on their home pages. When creating your home page - this is the very first page your visitors will see upon stumbling onto your website - you should include the following:
- You need to have a short introductory/bio that tells your visitors who you are, what this website is, and what they'll be able to find here. Remember, this is not your About page, so it's not going to go into too much detail. It's not going to tell your entire story, but it is going to give your visitors an idea of what they can expect to find on your website and who you are.
- This is also a good place to link to your social media accounts so that they can connect with you further.
- Whether you are published yet or not - you need to be able to show the book covers (even if it's a temporary one) and link directly to your books. Your visitors need to have a way for them to access an area on your website that tells them about your writing and your book directly from the home page.
Now, this is where it gets a little bit personal and this is where it's going to be about you. If you know anything about me, I am all about being real and connecting with your readers through your story. This lines up with your brand as a whole because your business needs to be based on you and your brand and not directly about your books. And so on your About page, this is your chance to share your story.
Give your readers some interesting facts about you. Get them excited about seeing more things from you. Things you want to make sure you share on this page is:
- A picture of you. Absolutely share a picture of your face. This is immediately going to start building the know, like, and trust factor. And, that is something that you really need to be focusing on.
- Your author bio. This is going to be the short nitty gritty "about me" that expands a little bit from what you said on your homepage.
- Then, I encourage you to share more personal details with your readers here, not give them like your entire life story or anything but sharing a story that relates to you, your brand, and your writing. It could even just be a story about your writing journey, why you love writing, and why you write what you write. Just give your reader some personal details here that are going to help them connect with you more.
The next thing that is important to include on your author website is a contact area. Obviously, you need to give them some way to contact you. This is both for your readers and for anybody else out there who wants to do any kind of collaboration with you. Maybe there's somebody out there who really wants to do an interview with you or have you on their podcast or feature you in a "Rising Author's" section on their blog. Either way, they need to be able to contact you first. So absolutely have a page on your website that says, "Hey, this is how you can contact me". And, list your email. Or better yet, just include a form that they can type and fill out right there that will be sent to your inbox.
This is another area on your website that is perfect for linking to your social media accounts - Twitter, Facebook, Instagram. So you can say, "Hey, if you want to connect with me online, here are my favorite places to hang out."
Friend, even if you do not have a published work yet like I said earlier, you need to have a page on your website that tells them what you're working on. Give them tiny details. Even if you don't want to give the whole synopsis, you need to tell them what you're working on. Are you a fantasy writer? Are you writing a romance? What can they expect from you and why should they be excited about it?
Now, if you are published, this should be a given. Do not just make a little link that says, "Oh, buy my books here." And, then give no other information. That's bad practice. Give them information where they are without sending them off of your website. Give them information that is going to get them excited about your book and warm them up to it before they decide to purchase. Because if you just send them off to the purchase link, then you're not warming them up. You're not getting them ready. You're not getting them excited for what you have to offer.
Another thing to note is if you are an entrepreneur who is offering any other sort of services or any other sort of product, then you need to have a landing page. You need to have a shop setup. You need to have something set up on your website that they can buy those things from you. So say that you're an author who also offers an editing service. You need to have a landing page on your website that says, "Hire me as your editor, this is what I do. And, this is how much I charge. Contact me for more information." Or you can have a buy now button.
If you offer any other types of services or products, like book swag, signed copies, etc. Then you need to have a place where the readers can go and can get those things from you. If you do have those things, make sure you mentioned it on your homepage as well and give them a clear link and give them a clear path to follow on your website to get to where you want them to go. So if you are leading them because you have a service, then you need to, you know, set those breadcrumbs, make it obvious, hey, I have this. You want to buy this because this and this, right?
Yes, friend, you need a blog. Blogging is so important for SEO. If you don't know what that means, it stands for search engine optimization. This is when somebody types you in Google or somebody is looking for something in Google - SEO helps you show up as a search result. In that way blogging is one of the absolute best ways to get yourself seen.
So what you need to do is have blog posts. These can be things like:
- book updates
- genre-specific news
There a many ideas for author blog posts that can be pulling traffic into your website that you can share on social media, that you can pin on pinterest, etc. When you share on social media, you are going to link back to your website, get people back to your website, and hopefully on your newsletter list to buy your books.
On this press page, you need to have your media kit accessible. A kit is going to have your headshot, your bio, and links to your books to tell other people what you do. This is going to be an easy way for people who want to feature you to grab this media kit, use it on their blog, website, podcast, whatever medium they are using. Say an agent is interested in your work, this is where they will come to grab this media kit and there you go. They have all the information they need to know about you.
Another thing to include on this press page is if you have been featured anywhere, if you have short stories published anywhere, if you've been mentioned in any kind of magazine or e-magazine, if you have made any appearances on other podcasts or Youtube or blogs. Link to all of that from your press page so that people can check out more about what people are saying about you. And in turn you'll be building that trust factor of the know, like, and trust because if other people like you, so should they right?
What I mean by this is something that's related to your writing, writing in general, or to your book. But it's going to be the fun factor. This is something that your readers can come to - even if you don't have a book yet - that's going to get them excited and keep them engaged with your book before or after reading the book. Ideas for extras are:
- a song playlist
- photos of who you think would you would cast as your character in a movie
- drawings or sketches of characters or locations
- information about your world the book takes place it
- the character's family tree
- sneak peaks
- extra chapters
- maps of your world
- character interviews
Things like this are really just going to pull readers in, making them want to come to your website and learn more about your book and what you do. The point is to get them excited for your writing.
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