Thursday, April 15, 2010

Author Platforms: Author Website

Last month, we talked about what an Author Platform is. Our project plan is to build the platform, bit by bit, each month. I could start this project by telling you to draw out your blueprint for the platform, but I won’t. I could, but I’m afraid we’d all end up huddled in a dark closet. Let’s just take it step-by-step.

If you haven’t already done it, create a web page for yourself. The URL should include your name. Mine is: You could also call it something like, but I think it’s easiest to just use your name. If you call it something like,, you won’t pop up on an Internet search as easily when someone Googles your name to try to find you. If you call it the name of your book, how many websites will you have to maintain by the time your fifth or fifteenth book comes out?

Create the site yourself or pay someone to do it. Which you do depends on your skill and/or finances. If you’re going to build your own or even if you plan to turn it over to someone else to do, I recommend you visit sites and note what you like and don’t like, what pages you would like to have, the colors, the pictures, the layout. Spend some time doing research. One site I like to browse is Xuni. They do professional sites for a lot of well-known authors. You may not be able to afford them, but you can get great ideas for your own site.

Start with a few pages. You can add more later. And, no, don’t wait until you have a published book to promote.

Keep your site clean, make it easy to read and easy to navigate. Put your navigation buttons on every page in the same place - at the top or in the sidebar. I started my website years ago. Within a few years, it had grown to around 40 pages. One day, I stopped, looked at it, and decided to take a machete to it. It was too big to be easily navigated, let alone managed.

Provide useful information to the public. Yes, put stuff about you (you are trying to build your platform, after all), but include pages that are for your readers or visitors. I have several pages of Resources for Writers, plus a page of Contests and a page of Events for writers. These, too, will build your platform.

Make some of your pages ones that are updated often, so visitors will come back to your site. My pages of Contests and Events are updated every week. The Resources pages are updated whenever I post a new article. The point is to make your site one that people visit, and if it’s static they won’t bother coming back.

Something to keep in mind: Building and maintaining a website will cost money.

An alternative: Blog hosts, like Wordpress and Blogger, are now offering templates that allow you to create multiple pages. You can use those pages to create a website-look to your blog. If you do, the same rules apply to your blog/website. Keep it clean, easy to navigate, welcoming, not stagnant, and preferably in your own name.

We could have started with creating your blog, but I’m assuming most of you already have one, so creating your website is our first step in building your platform. At the very least, go reserve your name so it’ll be yours when you do decide to create your own website.
Helen Ginger is a freelance editor, blogger, and writer. She teaches public speaking as well as writing and marketing workshops. In addition, her free ezine, Doing It Write, which goes out to subscribers around the globe, is now in its eleventh year of publication. You can follow Helen on Twitter or connect with her on LinkedIn.

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  1. Helen,
    Love getting information from you. Short, direct and very on point making it a lot easier for the ADHD writer to absorb.
    Thanks so much.

    Giggles and Guns

  2. You are such a valuable resource for writers, Helen. I have a website, but it doesn't get much traffic, whereas my blog, because it's interactive and has something new every day, does. I've been debating whether to keep the website at all.

  3. Karen, quite a few authors are switching to a blog that allows multiple pages and combining website and blog. Since I maintain my own website, I don't mind having them separate, plus it gives me a site under my name and a blog under a different name.

  4. I've got a website at
    It has tons of stuff on it, but not as current as my blog at

    I need to go over and update it again.

    Morgan Mandel

  5. Great tips! I maintain two websites and a blog and try to keep both current.

  6. Keeping it updated, although not necessarily daily, and offering information important to visitors will draw in people looking for your books or info on you.

  7. I think having something to update often is difficult, but so important as you point out.

    Another great article, Helen!

  8. Great tips as usual, Helen. Glad that you know so much about this part of the writing game to share with the rest of us.

  9. Helen,

    I've had a Web site for a long time—The Way Back Machine has my site beginning in 1999, but I had it for some time before that. I started out creating it in Publisher, then moved to Front Page, then to Dream Weaver.

    A couple of years ago, I moved it all to WordPress, still on the same domain I've always used. When I comment on other blogs or want people to see blog posts in particular, I use the URL for the page where blog posts appear. Otherwise, I use the main URL for the homepage, and there is a tab to the blog on the menu.

    Even though I've learned HTML and can maintain my own site, it's so much simpler to use WordPress. I can focus on content and not HTML coding and FTP uploading. I update it much more often, which, as you mention, is important, and since I update online, I don't have to upload via FTP.

    I highly recommend a self-hosted WordPress site for a combined Web site and blog.

    I seldom visit Web sites of authors whose blogs I read regularly. If the two are combined, I see the Web site menu when I read the blog.

    Lillie Ammann
    A Writer's Words, An Editor's Eye

  10. Helen, you really are the resource queen. This is the step I am taking next... the website, and I've been a little overwhelmed as to how to go about it, but as always, you have fabulous advice and resources. Thank you!

  11. It’s good to have a blog and website. The blog is the interactive. It gets people coming back, but the website provides solid static pages. Blogger offers 10 static pages, which will quickly get used up.

    I built my website with google sites. It's free and easy to set up.

  12. I also wanted to add that it’s tough to decide what you should post to your blog and what you post to your website.

  13. Informative and to the point- good job Helen.


The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice. Some of our contributors are editors, some are authors, and some are writing sheep. Yes, sheep.


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