A common question that many authors ask themselves is, “why do I need my own site when I can connect with my fans through Facebook and Twitter?”

Simply put, would you rather rent or own?

Social media profiles are rented properties. Yes, people can contact you through these properties but they are not yours. You can contact your followers through Twitter, but you don't own these contacts – Twitter does.

A self-hosted website, and your email lists is yours. You own it.

The problem with rented social media profiles is they are constantly changing and they could change anything they want, without your permission and without notice. This leaves everything you have built vulnerable to collapse. All your content, all your fans and followers, contacts and conversations could literally disappear overnight.

Google+ is a great example. Launched in 2011, it could never really compete with Facebook and Twitter as a social network ~ and now Google+ as a social network is no more.

LinkedIn, the business social network, has added 67 million users in the past year. Now they're placing limits on a very popular feature – your ability to download contact information about your connections.

Another popular notion is that social media is free.

Sure, there's no monetary cost to register for an account ~ put up a profile photo, add a short bio, and ‘hey presto’ your marketing is done. The cost enters with all of the time it takes to post ‘free’ tweets and status updates.

The reality is that social media is not free, if you value your time.

Social media has its place. Its purpose is to drive visitors to your website – the home you own.

Once they get there, offer them fresh, juicy, new content they’ll find valuable. And because it’s your home, you can hammer nails into the walls and paint them red! You can control everything about it and create an experience for your audience that is totally yours.

Why does your audience need to visit your site?

You know what Facebook is like. We see an interesting post but before we know it, another interesting post has caught our eye, then another and another. It takes seconds to completely forget what we were originally interested in. And suddenly, we find ourselves at Youtube watching a cute dog video!

Social media is the vehicle to drive traffic to your website, it’s not the destination.

Rather than posting an image or video directly to your social account, put up a compelling teaser with a great headline, an eye-catching image, and link it to the full content on your website.

When a visitor comes to your website, they may quickly scan your post but you’re giving them the opportunity to find another post you wrote that they may also be interested in.

You have now given your reader extra information about you that they might tweet or share on Facebook. They might leave a comment, contact you, keep reading, and more importantly, come back for a future visit.

This is also where you can add them to your email list, and start building an asset that you own.

Now you know how to engage your readers, what are the fundamentals of a successful author website?

Read How to build your author website through distinct design and solid fundamentals.