Creating the Perfect Author Website: A Step-by-Step Guide
Are you a new author looking to take your author career to the next level? Or maybe an established author looking to boost your author platform to solidify your staying power?
If either of these sound like you, consider creating a professional author website!
Having an Author Website can help you establish your brand, showcase your work, and connect with readers. Plus, it’s a great place for fans to check out updates about your writing journey and upcoming book releases.
But where do you start?
Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. We’ve created websites for million book selling authors, rising indie stars, and many debut authors as well. In this post, we’ll walk you through the step-by-step process of creating your very own author website. All the examples used are from websites we created for the authors mentioned.
Step 1: Choose a Domain Name
The first thing you’ll need to do is choose a custom domain name for your website.
People will search for you by your author name, so your domain name needs to reflect this to ensure your website is easy to find. For example, one of our self-published author clients, Melissa McPhail, used melissamcphail.com.
If your name is already taken, try adding your middle initial. For example, another of our authors, Thomas R. Weaver’s domain name: thomasrweaver.com. You can also add something to differentiate like “author” or “writer”, for example, ajaycollinsauthor.com.
If you have a pen name such as T.A White, the domain could be tawhiteauthor.com.
Step 2: Choose a Web Hosting Service
Now that you have your domain name, next up is finding a web hosting service for your author website. A web hosting service is a company that provides the technology and services needed to display your website on the internet.
When choosing a web hosting service, consider the following factors:
- Price: Different hosting plans have different price points. Be sure to choose one that fits your budget.
- Features: Some hosting plans come with additional features like email accounts and website builder tools. Choose a plan that offers the features that are important to you.
- Customer support: It’s important to choose a hosting company with good customer support in case you have any issues with your website.
Step 3: Design Your Website
It’s time to start designing your author website. There are a few different options for designing your website, including using a website builder tool or hiring a web designer.
But as with writing inspiration you should get some website inspiration before you start. See what authors in your genre have done for their author websites and consider using these approaches yourself.
If you want to design your website yourself, you could use a website builder tool like Wix or Squarespace. These tools offer pre-designed templates and drag-and-drop functionality, making it easy to create a professional-looking website even if you have no coding experience.
Step 4: Add Content to Your Website
Now that you have the foundation of your website set up, it’s time to start adding content. Here are a few things to include on your website:
Also known as your author bio page. This is a great place to introduce yourself to your readers and share a little bit about your writing journey. Be sure to include a photo of yourself and some information about your background and interests.
For example, Davis Ashura’s About page works well as his intro grips the website visitor immediately, making them want to read on.
This is where you can showcase all your published work, including book covers, descriptions, and links to purchase. It’s also a good idea to include information about any upcoming releases or pre-orders.
If you enjoy writing and want to share your thoughts with your readers, consider adding a blog to your website. You can use this space to write about your author career, book reviews, life and book updates, or other topics that interest you.
For example, K.C. Ale’s Blog page has a fun layout that showcases all the blogs with interesting thumbnails to entice visitors to click and read. K.C even wrote a small piece on the website we designed!
This is a great way for readers to get in touch with you. You should include your email address, social media links, and a contact form for people to fill out.
You definitely want to let readers know which other channels they can follow you on. Mention your social media profiles, for example your Facebook Author Page, and link to them.
Reviews and Social Proof
Show off your best reviews for each book on your book page and your best general reviews on your home page. Be sure to share your awards or if you’ve been featured on well-known platforms relevant to your books.
For example, Tim Sullivan has reviews from the Daily Mail and The Times.
Step 5: Set Up Your “Reader Magnet”
A reader magnet is a free resource that authors offer to potential readers in exchange for their email address.
These resources can be anything from a short story or novella to a sample chapter from an upcoming book to a downloadable PDF with bonus content.
The purpose of a reader magnet is to encourage readers to sign up for an author’s email list, which allows the author to stay in touch with their audience and promote their work. Reader magnets can be a powerful tool for authors looking to grow their email list and build a loyal following.
Here’s how you set it up:
- Add a button in the top right of your website navigation saying “Start Reading” or “Free” or even something like “Join the Fight” if you write military fiction.
- Create a page that this sign-up button will go to that will showcase your reader magnet.
- Add a section to the bottom of every page on your author website showing visitors what they will get if they sign up along with a form to collect their email addresses.
Daniel Gibbs’ reader magnet is excellent as it stands out while also falling into the theme of the website, as seen above.
You’ll want to make sure the email addresses you collected are actually useful!
Connecting your email platform to your website is a great way to stay in touch with your readers and promote your work.
Pick a Platform
Build Email List
Create an email list to store all your subscribers’ email addresses. You can do this by following the instructions provided by your chosen platform.
Create Opt-in Form
Add an opt-in form to your author website on the page you created in step 5. An opt-in form is a way for visitors to your author website to sign up for your email list. To add an opt-in form to your website, you’ll need to use the code provided by your email marketing platform. Simply copy and paste the code into the appropriate spot on your website.
Customize the Opt-in Form
Many email marketing platforms allow you to customize your opt-in form to match the look and feel of your website.
For example, Daniel Gibbs’ Opt-in form follows suit with the rest of his website while also giving a great offer in exchange for the visitors’ emails.
Test your opt-in form
Before you start promoting your opt-in form to your readers, make sure to test it to ensure that it’s working. You can do this by signing up for your own email list and making sure that you receive the confirmation email.
Step 7: Promote Your Website
Now that your website is up and running, it’s time to spread the word! Here are a few ways to promote your website:
- Share your author website on social media: Share the link to your website on all of your social media accounts and encourage your followers to check it out, just as Melissa McPhail has done in the above picture.
- Add your author website to your email signature: If you use email to correspond with readers or industry professionals, add a link to your website in your email signature.
- Include your website on your business cards: If you have business cards, make sure to include your website address on them.
- Share your website with bookstores and libraries: If there are local bookstores or libraries that stock your books, reach out to them, and share your website. They might be willing to include your link on their website or share your website with their customers.
- Participate in online events and book clubs: There are many online events and book clubs that you can participate in to promote your website and connect with readers.
Step 8: Update and Maintain Your Website
Once your website is up and running, it’s vital to keep it up to date. Here are a few things you can do to keep your website fresh and engaging:
- Add new content regularly: Whether it’s a new blog post or updates about your work, adding new content to your website can help keep readers coming back for more.
- Update your book list: Be sure to add any new releases or pre-orders to your “Books” page like Charlie Cochet has done in the above picture.
- Check your website regularly: Make sure to check your website regularly to ensure that everything is working and that there are no broken links or errors.
- Use analytics tools: There are many analytics tools, like Google Analytics, available that can help you track your website’s traffic and see how visitors are interacting with your site. This can help you understand what’s working and what you might need to improve.
Need Help Getting Started?
Creating your own author website is a great way to establish your brand and connect with readers. With these steps, you’ll be on your way to building a professional and engaging website that showcases your work and helps you take your writing career to the next level.
To make these steps even easier, we can take some of the load off! If you’re looking for a more budget friendly website with premium support, or if you want the entire website done for you, Rocket Expansion can help.
Just fill in this enquiry form and you’ll be one step closer to achieving your author website dream.
Want help with your author marketing? Get our FREE ebook and cheat sheet: 6 Steps To Getting More Readers.
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