So, you want to build an author page that is engaging and attractive – it’s not as difficult as you may think. Now more than ever it’s essential for authors to have a presence online. A professional-looking website is something every aspiring or established author needs, there are no ‘ifs’ or buts’ about it.
This blog is a quick guide on everything you need to tick off to make an author website that is engaging, ranks well on Google or similar search engines, and most importantly, helps you sell more books!
Let’s dive into how to create a professional author website, no matter your technological ability!
Set Your Goals First - Then Act
Before you start buying anything, put pen to paper and make a map of what you really want to achieve. Building an author website is the end goal, but there are infinite paths to get there.
Do you want a barebones informative website to start with, or do you want something with all the bells and whistles? Just like with buying a car, the more intuitive and comprehensive your website is, the more it will probably cost to run.
Chances are you don’t want this to be a huge investment, so it’s fair to opt for the more affordable options, especially if this is your debut into publishing. But, it’s probably a bad idea to try to do everything for free. A lot of web building platforms have free plans available, but that comes at a sacrifice to appearance or functionality.
Make sure you set a budget, set your goals and then start looking for services. That way you know what you want to achieve which will guide your decisions during the process.
Secure Your Desired Domain Names
Step one in creating an author website is securing your author domain name. This is really important and establishes your brand from the get-go. A bad domain name or one that doesn’t feel consistent can really harm your credibility. That’s why you need something that’s simple and clear.
This step is pretty straightforward and can be set up in a few minutes. Choose which domain hosting site you’d like to use for your author website, and purchase your domain name through that site. We recommend GoDaddy or VentraIP.
Once you find the right domain name, register it and bam, it’s yours. Even if you’re not sure when you can build your website, it’s still a good idea to lock-in that domain name to ensure no one else grabs it. You can safeguard the name for only about $15 to $20 a year.
Oh No! Your Name Is Taken
Depending on how common your name is, there’s a good chance the domain you want is taken. Sorry John Smiths! Don’t fear, with some crafty wordplay you can get around it. Try other word combinations like johnsmithauthor.com, or johnsmithwriter.com.
You may be able to get lucky with a different country code, but that could limit your success with international audiences. Keep that in mind before trying to secure a ‘.com.au’ web domain.
Also, never be tempted to put numbers into your domain name. And use dashes as a last resort. These can make your website seem amateurish or more difficult to find. At the end of the day you want a ‘.com’ website since that’s what people will type on instinct.
How To Build Your Author Website?
Building a website is easier than ever with plenty of services that practically design the pages for you! If you want a bit more customisation with a slightly higher design curve, consider a self-hosted WordPress website. Or maybe at the end of the day, all you need is an old reliable blog.
Let’s break it down with a good ol’ analogy:
Shopify, Squarespace, Wix and Other ‘easy build’ websites are new automatic cars you can buy from the dealership. They’re swanky, good looking, great to drive, but there’s a disconnect on how they actually work. Still, they’re perfect if you don’t want to get into the finer details.
WordPress Self-Hosting – this is a manual car that you built yourself! It’s powerful, can do whatever you want, and you have full control over how it looks and functions. Still, there’s a learning curve and it can be hard to get into. You’ll need to learn a lot or hire some help.
Blogging sites – blogs are a bike (maybe a moped) – they do the job, they get you where you want to be, but they can leave a lot to be desired. Still for some people, they are the perfect option and much more affordable.
As a general rule of thumb, the more work it seems to do for you, the more expensive the service is.
Hiring A Professional
Picking up web design isn’t for everyone. Hell, it can be downright daunting and one of the most frustrating jobs if things don’t go according to plan. In those cases, you may need professional help. A simple website build can cost between $200 to $1000 dollars. That quickly inflates if you want something that is custom-made with several unique features and effects.
Luckily, most authors who are just starting out are happy with basic websites that are fitted with everything they need, so don’t expect to be paying massive amounts if you need help.
Designing – Make Sure It Looks Gooooood
Your page has to look good to keep viewer engagement. It’s as simple as that. Poorly designed websites have higher bounce rates and lower interactions. So how do you create a good looking website?
If you chose to go with an easy build website, the good news is, it’s hard to make an ugly author website since they function mostly through a template system. If you’re building a WordPress website, it may be a bit harder. We recommend basing it off a set theme until you feel more comfortable with the customisation. Don’t worry, an Author page doesn’t need to be as intuitive as a business page, so keep it simple, and check out some of these attainable author pages to be inspired by.
Making An Intuitive Layout
Fun fact, did you know the average attention span is eight seconds on a website? Within those eight seconds, you have the tall task of making a good impression. After landing on your page, your viewer should be presented with several clear paths and something that sets the tone for the website.
For example, your toolbar should have several clear paths for a viewer to take, and the header needs to tell them exactly where they are. Overall your website needs:
An attractive header – a well-designed graphic that includes an image of you or the book cover of your most recent novel.
Author bio – your home page should start with a short author bio. Keep things snappy and fast on your home page, and link expanded information to other pages.
CTAs – make it clear where people can ‘Learn More’. Like we said earlier, your home page needs to be a grab bag of everything. Once you get a person’s attention, then send them to other pages where you expand on what’s on the home page.
Books/Projects – now’s the time to share your work. You want this quite high on your page, either as the first thing they see, or just under the author bio. Remember, the less scrolling people need to do, the better. Once again, keep the descriptions sharp and interesting, and create a dedicated page for each book you have to increase keyword reach.
Mailing List – depending on how forward you want to be, this can either be a pop-up or positioned within your page. Pop-ups get more impressions, but can be annoying and turn readers away. However, it can be easy to bury submission forms in your pages too. Play around with where you put it and use a heat map service to determine if people are reaching it.
Blog – it never hurts to have a blog. Each post you make expands your content web and improves your keyword reach. There’s nothing to lose but time with this organic marketing strategy.
Contact Form/Page – interacting with your readers is a truly wonderful experience. Give them an opportunity to do so on your page. The best method is with an email submission form so you can easily manage inquiries and messages in your inbox. It may also be worth adding a checkbox that asks if a visitor would like to join your mailing list. If they want to get in touch, there’s a good chance they want to see more of your content.
Media Page – make sure you include a spot where media channels can quickly download a file from your website that includes everything they need to run coverage on you. This file should include any relevant press releases, images of you and your books, plus relevant contact information.
The Best Advice For Good Web Design – Never Stop Playing!
Your first design probably won’t be your final, unless you’ve opted to hire a professional web designer. That’s fine! Half the fun is playing with designs and templates until you find something that really feels like you. Don’t rest until you find that look.
Writing Your Author Website Copy
Now it’s time to do what you do best – write! This is your website, so write however you wish. Inject as much personality into it, after all this is your digital ‘home’ – you make the rules.
The only advice we have is ‘don’t get carried away’. You still have to make sure your website is concise and easy to navigate. At least on your home page, keep things quick and snappy and have a bit more fun on dedicated pages.
Improve Your Reach By Targeting Specific Keywords
A website is also a good base for improving your book’s organic SEO reach. Before you sit down to write your copy, think about the genre or topic you want to enter and how likely someone is to find your website with a Google search.
For example, if you’re writing an Australian Crime Thriller, research which phrases are most popular and use those so people looking for similar fields may stumble onto your page. Google Ads has a fantastic keyword planning tool, and Google Trends is another way to do SEO research.
Make sure you’re injecting valuable SEO search terms into your copy wherever you can. Just don’t go overboard, or Google may flag your site and hide it.
Once you have copy you’re happy with, check on a keyword tracker like Semrush to see how many you’re ranking under and your average position for said terms. Basing copy off research is extremely important. You may be trying to rank for a much less popular phrase than another synonym. And, on Google, that difference can be as little as a space instead of a dash. One change like that can put you in front of a hundred more searches.
Make Sure Your Tracking Is Set Up
Now your website is built, make sure you’re getting relevant data. Link your website to Google Analytics so you can easily gauge valuable interactions.
Page Load Times
You can also set up some relevant conversions so you know exactly when people are making valuable actions on your page. This way you have easy access to all sales, sign-ups, phone calls, etc.
Need A Hand?
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