As a professional, or someone starting to make headway in publishing, you need visibility. You could either find a website designer, or you could create a site yourself. Don’t think you can? Think again.
Website or blog?
Authors may prefer a blog if most of what you share is text-based. Blog formats have good options for categories, archives, and more. Illustrators may be happy with a blog format, though a website offers more options for image display. Cool slide shows, for instance. The choice between a website format or a blog depends on your needs.
Author Kirsti Call set hers up on Blogger. Here’s her take:
“I consider my site as both a website and a blog because it serves both functions. People can look at the tabs and learn about me, but I can also post reviews or other things. I’ve used Weebly, Blogger, and WordPress, and Blogger is the most intuitive. I love that I can insert an image and move it around easily. Because Blogger is a Google product, it’s easy for me to use. It’s easily integrates with my email and Boogle docs.”
Kirsti’s site has lots of information, buttons from different groups she’s a member of and lots of book reviews. She has been posting things there since 2013, as indicated by the archives.
Kim Chaffee created her website on Weebly.com, a website builder. She’s an author who selected the website route rather than a blog format. If she chooses, she could also include a blog in her website in the future. “I started using Weebly about three years ago. It was one of the more user-friendly site builders that was recommended at the end of a picture book course I was taking through the Children’s Book Academy. There was definitely a learning curve but I think the multiple layout options provide a great jumping off point for users to get started. My site is very basic but truly that’s all I need it to be. A place where people can find me and get some info on me, my school visits, and my books. I’m sure Weebly has many features that I’m not applying on my site. Maybe when I have a few minutes to play around I will explore it a bit more. I haven’t tried building a site using any of the other options out there but have used the blog page feature through WordPress for Writers’ Rumpus and find that relatively easy to manage as well.”
Kim’s site is clean and easy to navigate. She commented that Weebly has lots of themes and options to choose from, so she can always switch things up to keep her site fresh. Simplicity makes it easy for the viewer to access the important info. Her home page image is of her workspace, which immediately says ‘I am a writer’. Her agent’s name is at the bottom of the page. She has two books listed, which are yet-to-be released, so that says this site is up to date, or rather, up into the future. Her page about school visits gives her rates, the ages she targets, and the length of her visits. A separate page shows her availability calendar. And she shares that she’s a runner with team spirit! In two minutes a viewer knows plenty.
I used Weebly too. Here’s my book site: joyceaudyzarinsbooks.com. You can see additional slide show options in my fine art site temporarily at joyceaudy.com (until we figure out a technical glitch with connecting my WordPress blog to it).
Good blog builder sites used by children’s book writers and illustrators are WordPress.com and Blogger.com. WritersRumpus is on WordPress.
The top website builder sites that don’t require the use of .html are Wix.com, Weebly.com, Jimdo.com, and Squarespace.com. And there are others. These four use “drag and drop” methods.
Susan Gaylord’s website is the one that convinced me I wanted to use Weebly. She is an amazing calligrapher who managed to pack a ton of information and features into hers, yet it looks clean and simple. And she convinced me it was doable.
Here is a comparison of the features offered by the leading website builder sites, including pros and cons. And most of them allow free trials so you can test them out, before committing to spending anything. Some offer free websites with a basic range of features. Note: some require you to use an awkward domain name.
First think about what you want to show on your site, type up the text and get some images ready. You can change it later. Choose a site builder to try and select a theme (overall style for the site). My first requirement is that the body text is readable. When you start, you will immediately see things that work or don’t for you. Start arranging things. Purchase a domain name. Once you are done, publish it.
Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, relies on clues in your website that lead people to you when they do a search. SEO is how your website and your work will be found. You have the power to enhance the response rate your site receives. In Weebly, for example, when you go to “settings” and choose “SEO”, you will see a box asking for the site description (books for young readers written by… or whatever) and another for meta keywords (Young adult, diverse books, non-fiction, …or whatever). Also, for each image you place you can add alt text (except in slide shows). The alt text helps viewers who cannot see the images to know what each image contains. This also assists search engines to figure out the content on your site. I posted my new book site Tuesday and haven’t had time for the SEO part yet, but I definitely will.
A good online presence will make you feel and look more professional. It is empowering. If you design your site you can update it yourself. So what do you have to lose?
Have you done your own website? Share your experience with others here!
My blog’s needs revisiting. Maybe a new site!
WordPress and other good blogging sites are successful at what they do – blog support. Weebly, Wix, and other website design businesses are accomplished at their specialty – websites. Consider what features are best for you before choosing which platform to use. Whichever method you decide, updating helps keep your image fresh. Best of luck with your redesign!
Hi Kim. Thank you for giving a good clear response to my questions!
Great post! Great advice!
Joyce, this is exceptionally motivating! Thank you so much for sharing this and highlighting the different possible approaches. I love Kirsti’s, Kim’s and your blogs/websites, and I now think my 2019 resolution is build a blog or website that combines my writing and tutoring.
That’s a fantastic resolution! I am not sure I’m *quite* ready to build my own website, but maybe I need to. Maybe I will! I’m a little worried about having another thing to maintain, honestly.
Depending on how you design your site you won’t need to maintain it except to add a new book when you have one. Skip the “news” section. You have total control over what pages to include. So only put in the ones that will not give you a headache! Your website is meant to make life easier for you, not harder.
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Thank you, Cathy. it’s something that you do for yourself. that would be empowering.
Laura,I am so pleased with your response. When Kim said that there was a learning curve she may have meant that for writers you may not be familiar with the way basic graphics programs work, like drag and drop, however they are also intuitive. If you get stuck, don’t panic. Use logic. You will get it. I would love to see your site when you do!
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What a great post, Joyce! Thanks so much for the feature!