I’ve been working in digital marketing for many years, so obviously I’m going to tell you that you need an author website if you’re planning on pursuing a professional writing career. Note: I’m not positioning this article as a question, but a statement of fact. All writers need author websites.
Why? Because your online presence and how you present yourself on your website can make a huge impact on your writing career. If you don’t have an author website, it looks as though you either don’t care enough about your online presence, you haven’t taken the time or done the research to set one up, or you don’t have what it takes to promote yourself, which you will need to do once your book sells.
Here’s why author websites (even if you are unpublished) rock:
An author website establishes you as an author, even if you are unpublished
Here at Aspiring Author, we believe strongly in visualization. It’s not where you are today, it’s about how you position yourself for the future. If you’re telling the world you are already an author with your slick author website, the world will think of you as an author.
An author website gives you a platform to share your news and updates
Even if you’re just starting out, you will likely have things to say to your audience. You can link to your social media profiles with buttons in the header, footer, or sidebar. You can publish a page and link out to any work you’ve had published online. And you can start a blog (more on that below).
An author website gives literary agents, editors and publishers the opportunity to learn more about you
Providing you set up your site with the correct information – we recommend firstnamelastname.com – and fill out all of the metadata fields in whichever content management system (CMS) you use – we recommend WordPress – your website, pages, and posts will start to rank on Google. This way, whenever someone Googles your name, your website will appear. Think how good that looks to publishing professionals who are researching you (and they WILL research you). You can also add a press or media page where you can include your author bio, photos, and other promotional materials for people to download and promote elsewhere.
An author website allows you to build an audience
Make sure you have an email newsletter set up so that you can start reaching out to people who want to hear your publishing news and updates. You can also use your website URLs as content for your social media feeds.
An author website adds trust and legitimacy to you: the brand
Get used to thinking of yourself as a brand. When shoppers research online, they usually visit multiple websites before settling on what they want to buy. Google calls this the “Zero Moment of Truth” (ZMOT). Consumers (people you want to buy your future books!) take longer online researching brands, and they only purchase from legitimate resources and brands they trust. You need to be that for your audience.
An author website allows you to get creative with your blog
Most websites come with an out-of-the-box blog solution, so that you can have a creative outlet on your site. By no means are you required to write on your blog, but the option is there. Blog posts are different from the rest of your website’s pages in that they tend to be very opinion-led in tone (“I think this…”), and they allow you to write new, timely, and relevant content. The rest of your site’s content is more rigid and fixed. Building a website might seem daunting at first, so you could always start with your fixed content like your author bio, about page, and contact page, and add more content with blog posts later down the line.
An author website allows you to publish
Websites really are a great form of self-publishing. There is even a “publish” button on every piece of content you produce! I’m about to hit one on this article right now. In other words, the more you write, the more you publish. And the best part? You have total control. No literary agent, editor, or publisher needed. You can now show the world your published content on your very own website.
An author website allows you to sell your books (when the time comes)
While most authors don’t sell directly through their websites, you can link out to bookstores, Amazon, and Goodreads. For every click, you can earn a small affiliate commission. Don’t worry too much about sales, though: the primary function of your author website should be brand, promotion, and amplification. More on the exact technicalities of how to set up an author website coming soon.