Tips to Help You Create Your Website (for Writers, Poets, & Authors)
On Monday, I blogged about how I think all writers, poets, and authors should have their own website, here's a few more tips for those of you who are moving forward and creating one.
Also, again for those who asked-- yes, I use iPage & yes, I did it all myself & no, I have never had a class in creating websites. I am 100% self-taught. I do think it could be a little better, but I like that I can change it anytime I want and I didn't have to pay anyone for it.
Oh, and full disclosure here: I've signed up to be an iPage Affiliate, so if you sign up with iPage, please use the links I made above and below to iPage, as I receive money (they call it "a commission") for referring you. And note, if you know me, you know I don't recommend anything I don't believe in and would not recommend them if I didn't think they were great (I am sticking with them). That said to make sure you get the info you need, I also offer a few other places to consider below if you're starting your webpage and a domain name.
Tips, Ideas, & Suggestions:
1) Purchase your domain name & keep it simple:
a) You can do this directly through iPage if you sign up with them to host your site, but also through places like Register.com, NetworkSolutions.com and a big famous one I won't mention because I don't like how they portray women in their Super Bowl ads (but their name rhymes with SoSaddy).
b) You want an easy site to say. I can just say agodon.com and people can find me if they have my last name spelled correctly. Had I named it kelliagodon.com then I'm sure a majority of people would end up here: kellyagodon.com because most people spell Kelly with y.
Try not use hyphens or underscores if you can help it. It's a lot harder to say, "My website is Kelli with an i underscore Agodon," then just find me at agodon.com.
Just imagine yourself writing and saying this website a thousand times, have it be as easy to spell and to remember as possible!
2) Think Simple when creating your website.
The best thing someone ever told me about websites is to view yours as a billboard not pamphlet. Meaning-- people are searching the web and are taken by images and short easy to read sentences, not a lot of words.
You can have this though. If you find high school students are emailing you a lot for Frequently Asked Questions or a longer bio, include it on your bio page, just not on your main page where people arrive to.
People want to greeted with lovely, inspiring, interesting images of you and what you do, not something they feel they might be graded on later.
3) No Sears Author Photos--
If I could fix the one thing that drives me nuts about writers, is the "Author Photo." No blue pull-down backgrounds, a la Sears or JC Penneys or anything cheesy. Remember, we don't know you in the real world, you teach us what to think of you through your photo.
|Lasers & Cat also not the best idea.|
Go with something natural taken by a good friend or someone who loves you. Or splurge and get a great author photo done by a photographer you admire.
I believe classic before trendy, glamorous before trashy, iconic before ick.
Believe me, I've struggled, still struggle with my photo, so this isn't coming from a place of always doing it right. I once said to my husband, "I need something in my photo to make me look whimsical" and he replied, "The fact that you are planning to be whimsical, means you're not." Um, this is true. So my advice is-- work with who you are.
4) Have Fun, but Keep it Professional--
I love coming to authors' websites and being surprised. But I also like being able to navigate my way around their site too.
I once went to a site that had a beautiful entrance screen where a cool line-drawn bird was flying by with the person's name. When I saw it I felt as if I had discovered the coolest website ever. However, things changed quickly. I basically sat at this page clicking all over the page trying to make the page open, but couldn't figure it out. Then I realized I was to grab the bird and carry it with my cursor to its nest. This was like one of those carnival games where the basketball is too big for the hoop. By the time, I finally had cute bird in nest, I wanted nothing to do with this person as I was so annoyed.
As artists, we definitely want our personality to come out, but we also need to remember, we're creating this to help others learn about us and our work.
5) Have the main page showcase what you most want to share.
Currently, my main page has my book because that's why people were mostly going to my page this year, to buy my book. But this next year, I'll probably switch it back to being more of an "Author Website," as it was, which basically shows me, my books, and my projects.
I always think a photo of the person on the first page is important. I know as a visual person who doesn't remember names on their own, if I can see a photo, I can then connect it with a person in my mind.
6) Organize then create
Figure out what you want to share with your readers and what you feel people may need by coming to your site. Here's a few ideas of tabs/links to have to take your reader where they need to go:
Some of these can be combined, like Bio/Contact or Books/Projects if you don't want as many links.
Again, I think it comes down to keeping it simple and easy to access for the people who visit your site. And when you're done, send your website address to a friend to proof your site and check to make sure all the links are working.
I hope that helps any of you who are considering creating an author page or already have one but want to fix it up a bit.
Happy Webpage Creating!