To be brief, there are three basic components of an effective website for writers:
- A unique branding and website design that reflects your book’s design and personal brand;
- A reliable content management system that allows you to manage and grow your site’s content yourself; and
- A solid marketing strategy that gets you and your book in front of your intended audience.
Let’s take a closer look at each of these components and see how they impact an author’s website.
1. Distinct Design
Your website’s design will tell your audience about who you are as an author, which is why you’ll want to make sure that your website is designed in a way that truly reflects you, your work, and your brand. It should show your audience that you are someone who is serious about his or her writing career and deserves their time and attention.
This is one aspect where the best author websites outshine others. Where other authors use cheap online templates that lack key features for their sites, the more successful ones understand how the skills and expertise of a professional web developer can contribute to the goals they want to achieve with their writer’s website. Furthermore, a professionally crafted bespoke website that represents the author’s personality and style helps in promoting the author’s unique brand as it gives him or her website individuality or exclusivity.
Some author’s prefer to have their website’s design tailored according to their book, which is often a good idea for authors who are publishing a single book or a trilogy. By doing so, authors are able to carry their branding from the bookstores to their website. In order to ensure that your book cover and website’s design are in confluence, you can ask get your illustrator and web designer to work together.
There are cases though where the book cover artwork’s copyright licence does not extend to website use, but incorporating similar elements shouldn’t be an issue. For instance, you can apply the same colour palette you used in the book into the website, or perhaps the same fonts fonts for the headings or buttons. You can also use similar images and textures as in the book’s cover.
The more established authors who released plenty of works cannot always use this technique considering the differences among each of the books they published. Their books may span multiple genres, ages, or styles that can pose a challenge to the web designer if he or she were to apply the above mentioned strategy. In this case, it would be best to design the website according to the genre or writing style of the author. For example, a sci-fi fantasy writer can incorporate lighting effects into their websites, or use darker and more mysterious colour schemes. The author can also include content that hints at some of the important characters in the book.
2. Content Management system
A content management system is a web-based software that is designed to help non-technical savvy users manage their websites easily. Here, authors can add to and edit their website’s content on their own and without having to call on their web developers for any minor changes they want made.
When it comes to CMS platforms, Wordpress is by far the most popular, and although it takes some time and effort to learn, you will find that it will all be worth it in the long run. In general, the best author websites have the following sections:
- A home page with continually updated excerpts (e.g. recent posts, events, latest work, etc.) from across your site.
- A ‘Book(s)’ section with a high resolution image of your book cover, blurbs, additional content, and a link to purchase the book.
- An ‘About’ page that shows readers who you are as an author, answered either in an essay format or a FAQ.
- A contact page that includes links to your social media accounts and pages, as well as a contact form so fans can message you directly through your website.
A blog where you post about the your work, events you attended or will attend, and even stuff that your find inspiring.
One common mistake of many website owners is simply putting up a website and hoping that people will just start coming to visit. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work out that way. In order for a website to fulfil its intended purpose, it needs to become a living thing - something that grows and blossoms like a tree. This is why you need to make sure that you implement the following third component rightly.
3. Marketing Strategy
All the effort of making your website look astonishingly attractive will be put to waste if you can’t get people to notice it. This is why a solid marketing strategy is crucial for any writer. Since this is the web we’re talking about, one of your key focus should be on a digital marketing approach that includes using blogs, emails, and social media. Through these mediums, you can keep your fans engaged and in the loop.
Because most of your web pages will remain fairly static, people may start thinking that there’s nothing new in your site worth visiting since they’ve practically seen it before. This is where your blog comes in. Your blog will be your key tool in ensuring fans that there’s always something new in your site worth seeing. Thus, make it a point to write high quality blog posts every now and then in order to keep people coming back.
While you’re at it, be sure to have an email sign up form ready. Sometimes, visitors tend to forget a website even though they really find it interesting. To keep these people updated, include a strong call-to-action at the end of your blog posts asking them to sign up for your email list.
And how can we forget about social media? Social media is a great way of promoting yourself and your work to the rest of the world, and putting social media buttons at the end of a post that encourages readers to like or share your blog is a great start in getting more followers.
However, building a connection between you and your audience is just the start. In order to be truly successful, you’ll want to make sure that you keep them engaged and interested. There are many ways to do so, like:
- Write an interview of your characters to help fans get to know them better.
- Provide a dimension of your work that is accessible only through your website.
- Host an open discussion about what a reader wants from an author, a book, or a series using comments.
- Discuss the books you’re reading (encouraging fans to read other people’s books is a good thing).
- Bonus Tip: Making Your Website Mobile Friendly
With the increasing numbers of people who access the internet through their smartphones and tablets, optimising your writer’s website and making it mobile friendly is no longer optional - it’s essential.
It is now generally accepted that mobile visits make up roughly about 30% of all traffic that goes into a website, irrespective of the industry. Moreover, industries and businesses that include younger people in their target audience see higher website visits via mobile devices.
One of our clients, an author of a popular book series, can attest to the benefits of having a mobile friendly website. Accordingly, her website generates 2,000 visits monthly, and 42% of these visitors view her website using their mobile device.
The takeaway? Make sure that your website is mobile optimised. Doing so will help to ensure that you don’t miss out on the growing number of mobile users, all of whom can become potential customers in the future.
- Never compromise on the design of your website. Remember, your website reflects you and your work, and you don’t want your fans - existing or potential - to see you as a cheap writer.
- Build your website’s design around your book cover or your preferred writing style or genre. This will help greatly in giving you individuality and help improve your branding.
- Familiarise yourself with your CMS platform so you can post blogs and updates, or make minor changes to your site yourself.
- Have a solid marketing strategy in place that encompasses emails and social media - these are great platforms to increase your exposure and gather more following for your work.
- Never let your social media stagnate; always find time to interact with your audience by answering posts or through chatrooms.
What other components do you think are essential to an author’s website? Share your thoughts in in the comments section below.
Ready to make the move to a professionally designed author website? Get in touch with me (Jin).