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A Step-By-Step Guide to Making an Author Website for Under $100

FEATURED IMAGE New York Book Editors 4 26 2021 A Ste

After you've written a book, it's time to promote the heck out of it. One of the most important marketing tools at your disposal is an author website.

Creating your website will benefit you in so many ways. Here are just some examples:

  • Your website can grow a community of fans - You can use your website to build a fan base from scratch, then invite them over to your email newsletter. This way, you’ll continue to nurture your relationship and let them know when your latest book debuts.

  • Your website offers credibility - If you don’t have a website in this day and age, it’s almost like you’re invisible. Having a website proves that you exist as a professional author and gives your readers access to you and your books. It also proves that you take the business of writing books seriously. Even if it's “just a hobby,” it's a hobby that you're putting thought and care into.

  • Your website defines your brand on your terms - When someone googles your name or the title of your book, you want them to find your website and a listing for your book on Amazon. Don’t let a search return empty or have them stumble upon a bad review. Introduce them to who you are on your website so that they meet the real you.

  • You “own” the experience - If your readers want to learn more, be sure that you’re the one introducing yourself, instead of them learning about you from other places. By creating a website, you interact directly with your audience. Plus, you own the experience and can design it in a way that reflects your unique style and values. You’re not simply “renting” space, as with social media.

  • You have a place to direct ads - If you market books on Amazon, Goodreads, Instagram, Google, etc, you’ll need a destination (i.e., a landing page) for those who click on your ads to visit. Don’t automatically direct people to your book’s Amazon listing, especially if you’re not using Amazon ads. Send them to your website where you can have more control over the experience.

  • You can connect directly with your audience - If people visit your website, it’s safe to say they want to learn more about you. Don’t direct them to visit you on social media instead. Social media has many distractions that will eventually drag their attention away. Instead, use your website to speak directly to your audience in a quiet, and dare I say, more intimate environment.

Those benefits are just the tip of the iceberg. I could go on, but I’m sure you’re convinced of the wisdom of building your website.

Create an Author Website

Bottom line? Having an author website should be mandatory for every author existing in the 21st century because it allows you to control what you share and how you share it.

Having an author website should be mandatory for every author existing in the 21st century because it allows you to control what you share and how you share it.

But…

Building a website can be intimidating. I’ve spoken with many authors who haven’t created a website because they simply don’t know how to get started. Should you go with Wix, should you hire a professional website designer? What about WordPress? What does hosting mean? There are so many options that you may avoid doing anything at all.

I get it. Over the years, I’ve built dozens of websites for myself and my friends. But I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that the process can be frustrating and hurl-laptop-across-the-room inducing.

But here’s the good news: It’s never been easier to create a website. In this post, we’ll set up a website from scratch. The goal is to simplify the process for creating your author website in one afternoon for much less than $100.

Let’s get started.

The Nuts & Bolts of Building Your Website

Create an Author Website

Even if you’ve never created a website before, you can easily set one up by following these steps:

Choose Your Domain Name

Your domain name is the address that someone types into the browser’s URL (i.e. www.Google.com). It’s unique to you.

You can’t buy a domain name. Instead, you register a domain name. In effect, you’re renting the domain name for a specific period, usually between one to 10 years. When your registration expires, you have the option to renew your registration. Otherwise, your domain name will be up for grabs.

You can register your domain name from several reputable services, such as Google Domains, Bluehost, and Namecheap. I’ve always gone with Namecheap, and have never been disappointed. They run sales frequently, allowing you to register your domain name at a discount.

When choosing a domain name, consider the following:

  • Use your name. Don’t choose the title of your book as the URL for your author website—unless you only plan to write that one book. Instead, go with your name to give yourself room to promote all of your books. Pro tip: If your name is taken, add “author” or “books” at the end (i.e., CharleeDavisAuthor.com or CharleeDavisBooks.com). You can also add your middle name or initial to improve your chances of finding an available domain name.

  • Go with .com. A .com is the preferred domain suffix. While you may be tempted to go with .net or .website, don’t do it. It’s much better to choose the standard .com because people automatically default to .com when typing your domain name manually—even when you specify otherwise.

Choose Between Web Hosting and a Website Builder

Now that we have the domain name squared away, it’s time to build your website.

You have several choices, but let’s simplify it into the following:

  1. Build a WordPress.org website and host it yourself with the help of a web host.

  2. Use a website builder.

The first option is more complicated but it gives you the most freedom. Here’s how it works:

The second option is to go with an all-in-one website builder. This option has hosting built-in. It’s much easier to create a website with an all-in-one builder, but it’s also more expensive. However, I’ve found both a free and a premium all-in-one website builder to consider here:

Free option: Square.

Square is a popular financial processing service that allows businesses to accept payments in person and online. But here's where things get interesting. Square allows you to open up an online store for free. You may be thinking, I'm an author, not a storefront. But if you're selling a book, you're in business. You’ll find that it’s convenient to sell your book through Square.

The only drawback to Square’s free option is that you’re not able to use your domain name. Instead, you’ll receive a Square subdomain (i.e. YourName.square.site). To be able to use your domain name, you’ll need to upgrade to a paid plan.

Here’s how to set up your author website using Square:

  • Navigate to this page and select the free option (you can also go premium if you’d like).

  • When prompted to choose your business type, select “Books, Mags, Music and Video.”

  • Also choose the full website option and then follow the prompts.

  • If you need to add any graphics, such as a logo, you can use Canva. Canva is a freemium graphic design tool.

Premium option: Squarespace.

Squarespace, not to be confused with Square, is another all-in-one solution to register a domain, create a website, and host it all in the same place. You can also bring your domain name over if you’ve registered it separately. While Squarespace doesn’t offer a free option (prices start at $12 per month), they do have a 14-day trial.

Here’s how to set up your author website using Squarespace:

Final Thoughts

Whether you go with a free builder or choose to pay for a premium option, I hope this guide has motivated you to make your author website today. It’s something you can do in one afternoon—and for free!

Before you go, check out these related posts:

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