Author Essentials Part 3: Website

Good morning story Empire readers, P. H. here today with another edition of Author Essentials. Previously to foundation topics were discussed, domain name choices and establishing an email address for your writing needs. You can click on the links for each of those to catch up in the series necessary or refer back to them.

Today’s topic covers an author website. There are a number of different ways to approach establishing a website for your author branding needs. Craig has also discussed branding issues with some valuable tips.

Jumping right into the topic, remember that you will likely establish your domain, your email hosting and your website together. Also, I mentioned in each of the previous posts that you need to establish your budget and try to stick to that as much is possible. In a future topic, I’ll discuss some of the reasons why you want to have a care with budgeting for your needs. However, just covering the subject very quickly today since it relates to website development, I prefer to stay away from spending too much on hosting and website development at the beginning of an author career.

When I first looked into what I needed for my domain email and website, I balked at spending so much money on a full hosting package. This quandary for me actually hindered me from creating my site for several months until I finally revisited the issue and decided to go very low budget with hosting for email through Google at five dollars a month and a domain registration through WordPress at $10-$15 a year. Then I signed up for a free WordPress hosted site which meant I only spent $70 for the year rather than spending several hundred dollars that I could use elsewhere for my editing and cover art needs. It’s important to remember that your production budget is more important than your marketing budget if you are self-publishing.

The reason why I went with a free site through WordPress is that I did not want to spend too much money on a site and not enough on editing and cover art. I’ve seen too many people start writing and have no audience spend thousands of dollars on web development when it was unnecessary for their needs. This left them in a much deeper hole financially than they should have been. Focus on content and building an audience. You can do quite a lot with a free site otherwise.

My personal preference for choosing a website based on budget is a free site through WordPress. However, there are any other number of services that provide free websites as well. All of these can be very effective, however I preferred WordPress because of the overall quality for a free site. Plus, when I’m ready, I can upgrade with lots of useful tools.

There are a few technical considerations that you need to be aware of when you’re establishing your site. If you choose to work with WordPress, you will be signing up on their free site where you will have a domain name for your site ending with WordPress.com. However, you can avoid this branding problem by going ahead and signing up or a domain through WordPress and choosing to substitute your domain name in for a site that would normally have that dreaded branding problem or WordPress.com. WordPress allows for a free site to be created with a custom domain if you purchase a domain name registration. This is why you need to know what your plans are for your domain name when you sign up.

Regarding your email address, at the point of signing up you can associate an address for email and change that later. My suggestion is to use the directions from WordPress to work with Gmail and configure your email address to be associated with your website once your domain is registered and available. Then you can go to Gmail and follow the instructions for having paid hosting through Google. The process did not take me very long and only required a few configuration changes. Linked at the end of this post are several references with WordPress which provide the instructions you need for making these configurations.

Once you have your site established with your registered domain name and your branded email address, you are then ready to begin building your website. Even for a free site, you can do quite a lot more than you would think otherwise.. I have custom artwork that rotates on my header for the site as well as using other artwork on a carousel on my main page. There are quite a number of free themes that you can use for your own purposes, but I tend to stick with the more plain ones since I’m going to use my own artwork as much as possible. Surprisingly, I’m still using a free site though I am getting closer to paying for the professional site with WordPress. I’m actually to a point where my needs mean being able to use custom plug-ins so I’m ready to pay for services for my site. But I have had a free site since 2015 and done very well with it.

There are a few caveats to having a free site through word press. Typically when you choose to switch to a separately hosted site, you will find that you will lose all of your readers and followers that you have accumulated on the free WordPress hosted site. It is easy to point the domain registration to where you are choosing to host, but the loss of your followers will hurt quite a lot. For that reason since I have had a free site so long, it makes sense merely shift to a paid site with WordPress and go with their ample services. Whatever you choose you have to plan for the future so make sure that it currently fits your budget limits and that you can make a shift to a paid site as necessary with as little problem as possible while still meeting your needs for the site growth. So you will want to do some research about websites, blogging and what your immediate needs are as well as consider what your long-term needs will be. In a future post more advanced ideas about website usage and blogging will be covered. I hope this brings together the triumvirate of domain, email address, and website so you can begin making good choices for your author branding and plan for the future.

What has been your experience with site creation and development? What holds you back from establishing your domain email address and website? Thanks for visiting today and please leave your thoughts and questions in the comments section. I will get back with you as soon as I am able.

A few resources from WordPress:

P. H. Solomon

25 thoughts on “Author Essentials Part 3: Website

  1. Pingback: Author Essentials Part 4: The Budget | Story Empire

  2. I recently made the switch to a hosted site (blue host) for my web presence, but I kept my blog on the free WordPress site so I wouldn’t lose followers. It’s very easy to streamline the two together and make them seamless.

    I also pay to keep ads off my blog (minimal at $35.00) per year. I have noticed that the ads are become horribly intrusive when I visit sites where the bloggers don’t pay to keep them off their blog. It used to be you’d get a single ad at the bottom, now I’ll hit a site and there will be three ads in a single blog post. Lately toenail fungus ads have been popping up a lot which is just gross.

    I also don’t think people realize how inexpensive it is to host a website. When I signed up for Blue Host, I got a deal at $2.95 per month, and I took it for a five year period. That’s dirt cheap and Blue Host is almost always running that promotion. I use a free Word Press theme, but now I have a lot of plug-ins available that I wouldn’t have otherwise. I’m really happy I took the step. Now I just need to move my email over (which I am NOT looking forward to tackling, LOL!)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. When I first set up my author website seven years ago, I chose to go through Weebly. In hindsight, I wish I had gone with WordPress, which is why my blog site is WordPress. If I could find a way to merge them together, I’d do it in a heartbeat. WordPress is so flexible and has so many different options. Great post, P.H.!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve had a self-hosted site with WordPress for years. You don’t have to spend a fortune on hosting and design – there are lots of free or low-cost themes available. Self-hosted allows the author much more control. If/when an author hits the “big time” they can someone for a custom design. However, my blog is on the “free” WordPress site due to the fact it makes it easier for people to comment and follow. I do pay the minimum because I hate ads!

    Liked by 2 people

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