Using WordPress for your Author Website
One of the things I struggled with at the beginning of training myself into a self-publishing storyteller over traditional, was not anything to do with writing my stories. In actuality, what I was (and arguably still) have trouble with is the perfect author website. As a freelance web hosting provider that specialises in helping authors and WRPG/play-by-post roleplaying communities, I’m aware of the various online softwares one can use to create their website if they don’t want to code from scratch. Today I want to share a little about why WordPress is one of the good options for any writer, even those that can code for themselves.
As someone who can code HTML websites, I’ve gotten very used to having my layout do exactly what I want. However, as an author, as much as I love making web designs, I don’t have the time to continually code webpages when I know that my author site is going to grow to hold information and articles on all my books, worlds, characters, upcoming events, competitions and extras that are akin to DVD extras. So I decided on WordPress, a free online software that when I last checked was used for over 11% of all online websites.
Here are some facts to get us started…
- WordPress can be used in combination with free web hosting provided by WordPress via WordPress.com or it can be used on paid-for hosting (such as Draebox.com) by downloading the software from WordPress.org. This makes it accessible to everyone, and powerfully able to adapt to your needs.
- WordPress.com provides an inbuilt community of writers – using tags, you can build a following, but it can be difficult to get comments and to start a discussion. For authors, many of these writers won’t become paying readers (there’s a lot of free content in the WordPress.com community), but they may promote you through word of mouth.
- The .org version you host can be adapted more to suit your personal style preferences or brand. It also has multiple ways to monetise your website that are not available to those using the .com option.
- It’s possible to start on the .com and then to move your content to the .org option for free.
- It’s not just a blogging platform – it’s an all-in-one website creator (a CMS).
- Various eCommerce (online store) plugins are available for .org sites – I recommend WooCommerce.
So What IS WordPress Really?
WordPress is considered a content management system or CMS. This means it is designed to make it much easier for its non-technical or non-coding users to take advantage of it for their online presence, whether that be blogging, websites or something else. This means after sometimes as little as an hour of exploring the software, you’re likely to get to grips with it pretty easily, even if you don’t know any coding knowledge at all!
What are Some of the Reasons Authors can Benefit from using WordPress?
- It’s a time-saver – no coding knowledge it required, so you can work on a webpage’s content, and that’s all you really need to do.
- There are thousands of layout possibilities, many of which are available for free.
- It can host images and downloadable content – saving you a few more seconds each time you post.
- It can be linked up to all of your online social media presence – Twitter, Google Plus and others, meaning it is possible to have automated notifications go out each time you submit a new blog.
- You can schedule blog posts for release, meaning you can save further time by preparing your minimum number of blog articles you are trying to achieve per month all in one day.
- It can combine your online store with a website and personal blog.
- Generally, there’s always somebody who knows how to fix something WordPress related.
- It’s possible to customise individual posts or create your own elements (coding required for that) – this can include buttons, or page layout, and can even be used to bring attention to something like an email signup.
What if as an author, I don’t know what to put in it?
That’s fine! I’m still toying with mine, and there’s nothing wrong with that, nor is there a right or wrong way to use your site. I recommend starting off with a webpage for each series (or just books if you only have one series or no series but multiple books), an about page and information for people to contact and/or connect with you. Litter your pages with links to your email newsletter though to improve your author platform.
Deciding .com or .org
In truth, it does not matter which you pick. Both are the same ultimately. Org comes with the ability to add plugins such as the ever popular WooCommerce – WordPress’ number one plugin answer to an online store, which usually integrates nicely into any style or theme you might be using. But on the other side of things, .com comes with an integrated, readily-available community of writers and readers. They may not be a writer in the same way as you, but they write to get their point across, or to share their poems and so on, with usually anywhere from 500 words to thousands of words. So you’re in good company!
A Few Asides About .org and .com and Price…
- It is usually cheaper to go with .org if you are considering having your own domain name, because WordPress.com charges you a lot to use one, and you can’t usually transfer it!
- “Premium” WordPress.com gives you the same abilities as .org, such as using a custom theme, or customising the free ones a lot more than is immediately possible. But it usually works out more expensive to go that way instead of .org-ing it.
- WordPress.com requires less work to maintain, but it doesn’t require a lot to maintain .org regardless (and what there is can be automated).
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