Platform Building 202: Should You Have a Website?

Janalyn Voigt, Author of Novel Books, continues the series on Platform Building.

“As a boy I believed I could make myself invisible. I’m not sure that I ever could, but I certainly had the ability to pass unnoticed.” ~ Terence Stamp

Do you, as a writer, need a website? Well, what assumptions would you make about an employment agency with no website? A career coach? A publicity firm? An agent? A publisher?  A bookstore? In your career you may fill some or all of these roles.

As the world goes online, a writer can’t afford to be invisible. Writers with a strong online image have an edge over those who don’t. I recommend you start by putting together your own website.

A website communicates stability and commitment to your writing career. It provides information about you to potential agents or publishers and gives you a base from which to network. It can draw a readership ready to purchase your writing, net you speaking engagements, and generate interest in book signings, giveaways or other promotional events.

To begin, you’ll need to obtain a “lot” on which to build your “house,” also known as a URL or Web site address. You can find these site hosts through an online search for domain providers or by going to 100 Best Free Web Spaces or Small Business Domain. Choose either to borrow space within someone else’s domain or purchase your own, usually for an annual fee.

There are benefits and disadvantages to either approach. I chose to purchase my own domain because I think the website address http://janalynvoigt.com looks more professional than one that reads http://janalynvoigt.(insert domain name here).com. I also purchased http://novelbooks.org, since I tag myself as “author of novel books.” I could have redirected this brand-name URL to automatically send traffic to my name URL (easier than it sounds), but I chose to set up a separate site geared toward selling books.

As with erecting a real-life home, you can do it yourself, hire someone to build a shell you finish or contract the whole thing out. Costs depend on the chosen method.

Check references for anyone you hire. You can redirect your blog to a domain you purchase as an inexpensive way to get web hosting. The above link to 100 Best Free Web Spaces covers this process and gives links to other informational articles.

I started with a “shell” or template I purchased from the domain provider, Go Daddy (for its competitive prices). I’ve since moved to ANHosting (for its user-friendly interface). Another popular service is Host Gator (because it acts as both Web Host and domain provider).

If you choose to use a free template, you will need to pay for web hosting. My first template through Website Tonight included web hosting for less than $100 a year (payment plans are available). It was a good way to get a site up quickly but less user-friendly than my current template (free but with purchased hosting) through WordPress.org.

Building your website is one of the first steps a writer should take to establish an online presence. So many writers let this very important step languish too long.

Homework

When creating a website, do your research, and choose your domain name(s).You’ll want to own your own name and your brand name. Don’t go wild buying up variants of your name, at least not unless you’re famous. To view my author name post, click here. Next time I’ll discuss what to include in your website.

Do you agree with my assessment about the need for a website? Can you shed light on some of the methods for obtaining a website?

© 2010 Janalyn Voigt

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This post appeared January 12, 2010 on Author Haven. Used by kind permission.

Janalyn Voigt writes  novel books.

DAWNSINGER, book one of her TALES OF FAERAVEN trilogy, will release with Port Yonder press. Her publication credits include Focus on the Family, Scripture Press and Pentecostal Evangel. Janalyn is affiliated with ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) and has been a NCWA member since 2008.  Visit her website at http://janalynvoigt.com/

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4 thoughts on “Platform Building 202: Should You Have a Website?

  1. I very much agree with you. I built my own author website and purchased my own domain names through GoDaddy. I used vistaprint as my web host. Cost is only $9 a month and I was able to do the entire site myself w/ no coding or technical experience. Can’t wait for your next post to see if I included everything you recommend. I will suggest looking at your favorite websites and pinpointing what it is about them you like and implementing those reasons on your own site. Thanks!

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  2. I agree that you should purchase your own domain, Janalyn.

    Whether that name is your business name (mine is bloggingbistro.com) or your personal name (laurachristianson.com), your website is your online storefront, open 24/7. Your website is a great tool with which to solidify your brand.

    I recommend purchasing additional domain names with common misspellings of your name, as well, and redirecting them to your primary site.

    I purchase domain names from GoDaddy as well, and host several of my clients’ accounts with Bluehost.

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  3. Janalyn,
    Good info, but at what point does a person do this? I am so new to this “writing” thing that the most I currently have is a blog via word press. I too am looking forward to your next piece.

    Like

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