The Author’s Guide to Building a Website

If you are an author, you must have a website.

No exceptions.

The internet is the biggest marketplace for author in the world, your website is your store. A store customers can visit 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to learn about who you are, what you do, and how that will make your life better, whether you’re selling your time, products, or catalogue of books.

Unfortunately, a simple lack of technical skill stops many authors from building their website. After all, your area of expertise is writing, not website creation, right?

Fortunately, getting your first website up and running (or converting your website to a storefront that actually does the job it’s supposed to do) doesn’t have to be hard.

Follow this step-by-step guide and you will have a website up in less than two hours, guaranteed.

And the best part? It’ll cost you less than $100.

However, if you’re unsure of your technical skill and would still like a top-notch, professional product, with lightning fast turnaround and giant smiling support, there are done-for-you services that will get you up and running with a premium looking website faster than you thought possible, for less than you thought you would spend.

Domain ($10)

The first step in building a website is choosing your home address. Use care when choosing, this is how you will direct people to your website for the rest of its life.

For example: www.google.com

Ideally, your website should share your company name. This will help keep your branding consistent and give your customers a superior experience. If you are an individual rather than a company, that’s fine. Many authors use their name as their domain.

For example: SeanMPlatt.com

.com is the most widely accepted TLD (top level domain). Aways aim for a .com because it will reduce customer confusion and increase the perceived value of your website.

It is also advisable to secure your country specific TLD, such as .us (United States) or .co.uk (United Kingdom).

In some cases YourName.com will not be available. The best solution is to add a prefix or suffix to your brand.

For example: www.SeanPlattAuthor.com

You can also choose a domain related to the services you are offering. Though you might  lose some of the branding advantages, you may greatly benefit because of the enhanced advantage to your site’s Search Engine Optimization.

For example: www.HorrorBookAuthor.co.uk

A domain is merely your site’s business card, to make a website you can actually use, you must also have the “store” where your files (web pages) are hosted.

Hosting ($10/month)

A host is a small storage network in the World Wide Web (WWW).

When choosing where to host your files, consider:

Reliability – How often does the host go down? Over a period of a year your host should be live (up time) 99.98% of the time, at least.

Support – 24/7 support is a must. Your online assets are everything. You cant afford to have something go wrong without having anyone around to help.

Ease of use – Your hosting account should come with a control panel (cPanel) which will allow you to perform simple operations without having to hold an advanced degree.

Domains – If you plan on having multiple websites, it’s important to invest in a host that allows multiple domains on a single account. Some only allow one.

Bandwidth – Each time someone visits your website, data is transferred from the host to their computer. This is what makes it possible to display your website on their screen. This data, measured monthly, is called bandwidth. 100gb or more should be enough for any new website.

Disk space – Your host has a hard drive. The more files upload to your site, the more of that hard drive or disk space you fill. Fortunately, websites don’t absorb much space on their own, meaning over 10gb should be plenty.

Our Recommendation: SiteGround 

We currently use SiteGround for all of our websites (big and small) because:

Reliability – 99.9%

Support – Round the clock assistance, with hundreds of operators, online live chat and a support number you can use to call 24/7.

Ease of use – cPanel included, along with an A-B-C easy one-click install for WordPress.

Domains – Unlimited

Bandwidth – Unlimited

Disk space – Unlimited

Click here to check out SiteGrounds packages.

Software (Free!)

Building web pages from scratch is hard, especially if you don’t know how to write basic HTML. Fortunately, you have FREE access to the secret weapon used by everyone from authors and content marketers to copywriters and online entrepreneurs, to just about every Internet marketer in the world: WordPress, a platform, that once installed allows anyone to create web pages with the click of a button.

WordPress is your perfect solution. It’s open source and free to use, which means you will never have to pay for upgrades or licensing fees – EVER.

There are over 50 million websites using WordPress at the moment – a mix of small businesses, bloggers, developers and online entrepreneurs. With this level of community there is always someone to help you if you get stuck.

Because WordPress is so widely used and thoroughly respected, a simple Google search solves most problems.

And because its open source, there is a staggering selection of available customizations from designs (themes) to plugins (easy to upload “packages” of code that alter the behavior of your site).

Theme ($70)

There are plenty of beautiful themes available for authors, for example this author theme.

Before you choose your theme provider, consider the following:

Reputation – How many people have used their themes? How happy is the customer base? How long have they been in business?

Support – Themes do occasionally get bugs, will the developers stick around to fix them? Do they offer basic tutorials for beginners?

SEO friendly – Search Engine Optimization (SEO) can be an awesome amplifier to online success, so it is essential that your theme has this covered.

Our recommendations:

WordPress.org Completely free themes, used by millions of websites.

StudioPress – StudioPress currently support in excess of 50,000 customers and are part of CopyBlogger Media. A reputable company with squeaky clean code.

ThemeForest – Unlike the above two providers, ThemeForest is a collection of themes from thousands of developers, curated by the ThemeForest team to provide you beautiful high quality themes at an unbelievably low price.

Plugins (Free!)

WordPress and a quality theme are a powerful combination. Yet there are ways to make it better, spend 10 minutes installing the two plugins below for an additional SEO boost.

All in One SEO pack

The All in One lets you customize every element of your website to make it search engine friendly. An absolute must for any website.

Google Fonts Typography

This plugin allows you to customize the typography of your WordPress theme without having to touch any code. There’s 900+ font choices.

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