10 Essentials for Your Author Website: Part 1

10essentials

Feel like your author website is outdated or ineffective, but don’t know how to begin revamping it? Overwhelmed by the thought of creating one from scratch? Check out these 10 must-have elements for your author website.

Websites are no longer static, digital business cards—their purpose is to do more than just relay information.

Your author website must be a connecting point with your fans, a source of valuable information, a portal for communication, and always dynamic.

When readers visit an author’s website, they’re able to show their support and get to know their favorite writers better—and strong relationships between writers and readers means incredibly devoted fans, which leads to stronger word of mouth marketing.

Simply put: more website visits translate into more books sold.

So why wouldn’t you develop an effective, professional hub for your online presence and interactions?

  1. Make a good first impression

It may be tempting to whip something together and quickly share it with your fans, but it’s important to remember that your website truly represents who you are and what you can offer others. Develop an author brand consistent with how you wish to portray yourself. With this in mind, consider the following questions:

  • Will people know what I write within seconds of arriving at my site?
  • Does the voice and mood of my site resonate with my ideal reader?
  • Will visitors understand the page they are on and what it’s about?
  • Will they know what to do next? Does the site flow well?
  • Does my site appear professional and credible?
  • Is there a clear call to action, such as “buy my book” or “subscribe to my email list”?
  • Is there honest reasoning as to why someone would respond to the call to action?
  1. Include an About Page and Author Bio

Your readers want to know more about you, and this is the perfect place to tell them. About pages are some of the most frequented pages, so you don’t want to leave this element out. While the surface purpose is to share more about yourself, the deeper purpose is to quench the reader’s unspoken “what’s in it for me” question. Keep this in mind and consider the following tips:

  • Have a professional headshot taken. Whether you prefer a clean, studio portrait or a more relaxed photo in a natural setting (e.g. in a park or at your desk), it’s important to have a well lit, high quality photo. A grainy cell phone snap often gives off the wrong impression.
  • Introduce yourself.
    • Start with a persuasive opener, informing your reader what they can expect to find on this page, as well as your site as a whole.
    • Tell your personal story—focus on what led you to start writing, what has inspired your books, and why you love it. Let your personality shine while still keeping it professional. Browse some of your favorite authors’ websites to get inspiration.
    • Be sure to mention your writing credentials and associations
    • Then, gain some credibility by providing testimonials and reader quotes.
  • By now, your reader has invested in you and your site enough to provide them with a call to action. Provide a link to your books, invite them to join your email list, etc.
  1. Have a Contact Page

If you want people to engage with you, don’t make it difficult to find your contact information. Make it as easy as possible for people to get a hold of you.

  • Include a “contact” tab in the main menu of your website. On this page, include your preferred methods of communication.
  • If you have a contact form, keep it simple and to the point—don’t ask your readers too many questions about themselves.
  • If you list your email address, use the following format to avoid spammers: “yourname[at]gmail.com” or “yourname@yourwebsite[dot]com.”
  • List your social media profiles
  1. Build an Email List

Even if you don’t have grand plans for a newsletter or an impending book launch, it’s never too early to start collecting email addresses. These early sign-ups will most likely be some of your biggest fans, supporting your work by word of mouth recommendations, forwarding your emails, and sharing your posts on social media. Why is an email list so important, and how can you make one? Check out this article for more information on how to get started!

  • Don’t worry! You don’t have to send out a newsletter each week. You can be upfront about the frequency of your newsletter. Don’t feel pressured to send one out too often.
  • Don’t try to sell something every time you contact your subscribers. It’s important to add value (link) to your audience, not just use them to promote to.
  • Make your opt-in box or sign-up form very easy to find on your page, but not obnoxiously large.
  • Consider including a “sign-up incentive” such as a promo code for your books, a sneak peek at your next story, or a free chapter download.
  1. Gain Credibility Through Testimonials and Reviews

Your website visitors will instantly find you more credible if you include positive reader quotes, social proof, and testimonial reviews to your website. Without being sales-y, even your most critical visitors can be won over through the words of a third party. So gather real, succinct reviews from readers, and include them on your site.

  • Email your list of address for feedback, reviews, and thoughts from those who have purchased and read your books or who follow your blog.
  • Whenever you receive a great comment, tweet, or email from a reader, get permission to use their words as a testimonial on your site.

Keep an eye out for the next 5 essentials in the upcoming Part 2!

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