You are probably thinking of creating a book website, but here I am going to tell you why you need to start an author blog instead. You will use this author blog when you upload new books, ‘social share’ your articles, and put your ‘media mentions’ or ‘media kit’ page together. A summary of this page will be provided down the bottom.
Rolling with the times, your brand will grow and change. If you set up a ‘book’ domain and website, unless you have some expert support, you may not have enough time to justify this approach. Websites take time and work to establish and rank effectively, and book launch promotions are time limited.
But… with your Author Website, the site can be added to and morph over a decade or so, as you put out more products for your growing number of fans. Journalists and editors can also find it more easily, especially if it is on press releases/emails. As soon as people hear about you somewhere, they can Google your name or company. (I have a site called PowerofWords, my business, but this one is better ;-).
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Author Blog Design recommendations
If you want to continually add and share articles, direct people to find out more about you, and add a book store, then WordPress hosted on your domain name is the best bet. Registering your Domain Name yourself means you always know where it is and when it is due. You’ll need website hosting for this, but it’s not too hard to do.
Website hosts like HostGator offer a simple control panel, letting people set up their WordPress initially with a click. Others offer installation for a small fee.
Which Hosting Plan to choose?
You can start off with a cheap plan, like Cloud Hatchling or WordPress Cloud Starter, from US$5.95 per month — discounted the first year. If you need a secure site for shopping cart functions, then you’ll need a minimum of Cloud Business or WordPress Business, from US$9.95 per month (about $160 – $300 p.a. Australian). But if you just use Paypal buttons, you won’t need that.
The reason I recommend the Cloud Hosting is the speed, uptime and overall economy. When people are retrieving the site from the US-based server, you want the Ping speed to be lightning fast. When I had hosting in Australia, I had a page retrieval speed of 28 seconds at times… ridiculous! Everyone was going away!
So I changed to Cloud Hatchling plus SSL, and it sped up to around 3 to 4 seconds to load, depending on whether I have an image ‘Slider’ working or not (I decided against it). Inside the control panel, you’ll see the speed of the server as it works. However, the real speed of retrieval depends on a few factors, like the location of the viewer.
Deciding on a Theme
Deciding on a theme can be a living nightmare. Like a complex design skin, the WordPress Theme lets you customise to your desired navigation styles, colours, sidebars, header images, normal page as a home page, blog widgets, etc. About 8 hours and 40 theme options later, your head is spinning! So let me recommend an option based on the experiences of Red Planet Design and myself.
We found that the choice of a supported, paid ‘pro theme’ is a good idea. This is because they are updated regularly, while free themes may be left to break and, basically, die.
2) IMPREZA 4. This popular theme may be customised to any brand colours and logo. You can choose layout templates, pick icons, and add eye-catching elements with a page builder called ‘Visual Composer’… all for only US $59. It is responsive to mobile devices, parts can be customised for smaller screens, and it is updated with every WordPress major change.
Loading the Theme is easy — even Hostgator just charges US$49 or so for that. You may then need some idea of how to customise a theme.
With the quick Supertasker, each bug fix or colour change is US $29 and its done in 1 hour. With the US$ exchange rate being what it is, you may prefer to hire an Australian for full customisation without a language barrier.
First though, order some vibrant web banners containing your author photo and book cover, of the right size for your desired header image (usually like 1024 wide). Designers can blend several elements together while sticking to your brand colours. You can expect to pay up to US$59 (on SuperTasker) for this banner, or try Fiverr. Why not get a couple of options? (I also can get this author banner created for you for AU$90).
Consider these three smaller costs (and your time), compared to one $2000+ cost of custom website design, and you’ll see why I go this route! HostGator offers free migration for simple transfers of a WordPress site. If you get stuck, just open your HG billing portal, hit Chat and wait a few minutes for direct help. They are available 24 / 7.
Instructions for transferring a WordPress.com blog to a self-hosted WordPress site: http://support.hostgator.com/articles/
Visual Composer (for WordPress) is a useful page builder plug-in that comes bundled with IMPREZA 4. Designers and novices alike can use it after some video tutorials (free), available from WPBakery. They also give 6 months support with the purchase, which is usually US$34, but is included with above theme.
Of course, with the many plugins and widgets, a novice will take time to learn how a WordPress website setup actually works. After all these years I still call on technical help for tricky issues. There are Pros who will install your social widgets and plugins that extend the functions on your new site.
Capture your Visitors from the Start
Whether blogger-author or business owner, you’ll want to capture your visitor emails with a valuable offer… we call these ‘lead magnets’. I have one about a Niche Marketing email course.
A lot of authors think they’ll just start writing a blog, but forget that 90% of their online visitors will forget about them not long after they visit. A Lead Magnet and email follow-ups allow us to build up a rapport and give value before they make any big decisions, like buying your book. It takes a little while to get used to inserting forms and setting autoresponders, but you will find the best email marketing systems also have the easiest interfaces.
For business authors, I recommend using an email subscriber helper, like ConvertKit. Having gotten SumoMe’s free version, I saw that ConvertKit seems to be an advanced all-in-one email marketing option. It integrates with popular course platforms or WordPress. It is US$29 per month though. See about ConvertKit Automations. (Not an affiliate)
For ConvertKit, you would get: unlimited Forms, Courses, Landing Pages, Automation Rules, Emails. That is pretty cool.
For SumoMe, you get the list builder app and can opt for lots of types of sign-up forms on various web pages. But to truly integrate the forms with your email, you’ll need either Zapier rules or use Mailchimp or Aweber. You soon get the ‘upgrade now’ reminder, and the upgrade is about $280 I think.
Author Blog Summary
- Use WordPress on a self-hosted domain (e.g. yourname.com)
- Use it to steadily promote books, social share your own articles, and upload a media kit (high res photos of both YOU and the book/s)
- Use your domain name at the bottom of every press release.
- Put your name URL on business card, LinkedIn and on email signature.
- Get your domain name yourself and take note where the logins are kept
- Start with a smaller plan, like Cloud Hatchling or Hostgator Cloud Starter — but if in the budget, choose the SSL option, so both Google bots and people see the secure lock.
- Always get expert help when you’re out of your depth. Try SuperTasker.com or TheFreelance Collective.com.au.
- Use an easy page builder (like Visual Composer by WP Bakery) to design your website a bit better. Sliders are optional.
- Get an author web banner made – it will make your blog look customised straight away.
- Capture your visitors with an opt-in form (e.g. SumoMe) and an offer of a free chapter or email course. Make sure the opt-in form SLIDES in, POPS up, or FLIES down. Nobody elects to just sign up.
This is provided free-of-charge by JenniferLancaster.com.au. Copyright 2018, Jennifer Lancaster, Power of Words. All rights reserved.
Disclosure. This page contains some links to other websites, which if you click and sign up, would lead to a commission for us. We have assessed the viability of the information provided above and even use it ourselves, however, please assess your needs based on your current experience and efforts with technology.