SETTING UP YOUR BLOG/WEBSITE
Don’t wait until your book is finished to build your website and connect with your audience!
Domain: Your Online Street Address
You’re going to start by purchasing a domain name. Your domain name is like your street address. It’s the website address your audience will type in to find you online.
If at all possible, I suggest using your name as your domain (website address). Many authors want to use their book title as their domain name, but if you do not already have a website, I don’t recommend this. (If you already have a website based around your name, then by all means, purchase a domain for your book title. Then simply set up that domain to forward to a lead page on your website.)
Domain names usually run about $10 a year. That’s why I suggest you purchase this. However, I did promise I would include how to set up your website for free as well, so scroll down for details on how to do that.
I used and recommend NameCheap.
Web Hosting: The Land You’re Going to Build On
You’re going to need a company to host your website. The charges vary based on how many people (visits) your site receives each month. If you have a blog go viral, they don’t turn people away because the visitor count exceeds what you paid for, they simply upgrade your account for you and provide ample warning. At the time of this writing, you can purchase a yearly plan for less than $50 for a WordPress site (that’s what you want).
I use and recommend SiteGround.
They also provide the emails for your website, but you need to set them up, so don’t forget to get it done! I recommend creating a few emails (I think you can create 5-10 for free). example@[yourwebsitename].com
Here are some ideas: info, support (or help), booking (if you’re interested in speaking at events), and a personal email.
Online Platform: Your Website, the Building!
Now that you’ve got a digital street address as well as permission from hosting company to start building, you’re ready for the fun part—designing and building your website! This is where you’ll be choosing and designing all of the pages on your website. As an author, this can feel a bit overwhelming, but don’t worry, I’ve got you covered. I’ll include details below on what pages need to go on your website.
I use and recommend the paid version of WordPress (WordPress.org) LINKED HERE. You can sign up for your new WordPress.org account on Siteground, which I’ve linked for you. It’s $3.99 for the StartUp plan, which is more than sufficient. Once you’ve chosen your WordPress plan, they will ask for your domain name (which you’ve already purchased on NameCheap!). Just enter it there and Siteground will walk you through the rest of the details.
Designing Your Website
Unless you know someone who can design your website for you, you’ll need to get a little bit creative. While WordPress does provide some of their own themes for free, I found that the paid options were more seamless from page to page (meaning, every page of your website looks like it goes together).
I use and recommend Elegant Themes (LINKED HERE). They have specific designs based on your industry. One of the reasons I like Divi Themes (sold by Elegant Themes) so much is their customer support. While I was building my website, I chatted with their experts online regularly and they helped me with every single step.
I recommend the following page combinations at minimum:
Home Page, About, and Booking (or Work with Me).
Home Page: Some people like to combine the Home Page and the About Page. That’s find too. Just make sure you have a page with information about you, as well as a page where they can book you for speaking services or work with you*. I’ll talk more about this in a minute.
I additionally recommend having a Blog Page where they can learn more about you and your future book topic, as well as a place to sign up for your newsletter. This is important, because you can use your email list as proof that you have followers who will buy your book. A strong email list is more important than lots of followers on Social Media, so maybe offer them something of value for signing up.
*Booking/Working with Me: There are all kinds of reasons why someone might hire you. Here are a few—speaking at an event, coaching services, services, products, digital course, mastermind group, etc. You have something you can say/teach/share/help EVEN IF YOU HAVEN’T WRITTEN YOUR BOOK YET.
Here’s How To Do It For Free
WordPress.com (not WordPress.org) offers free website hosting, however due to the free nature, there are a number of limitations. If you choose their free hosting, your website name will be featured as https://www.wordpress.[yourname].com. You do not need to purchase a domain name or web hosting as that is all provided.
I believe you can still purchase a domain name (around $10 a year) from Namecheap to make your website look more professional. *I know that’s not free, but since it’s inexpensive and makes a big different, I thought I would include it.
**Things online change all the time. Please confirm this option (using your own domain name with a free wordpress.com account) is still possible before proceeding.
WordPress.com additionally offers a number of free templates which you can use to set up the various pages on your site.
You will also need an email. Gmail offers free emails. Choose an email with the same name as your website. Of course, your email will still contain @gmail.com.