When I first learned about platforms or reaching readers, I realized I needed a website. A daunting thought by any stretch of the imagination. There are domain names, building a site or hiring someone to build it, and maintaining a site. It was basically overwhelming for me. Now keep in mind, I was a computer programmer in an earlier life.
The look has to be just right. There had to be a reason why people would frequent your site besides the books you were selling. I had two choices 1) either build it myself (DIY), or 2) have someone else build it for me. I mentioned before about me being eclectic, eccentric, and creative. This is not without built in complications.
1. Website DYI- There are tons of programs and books on the subject. There are even sites on the web that help you build your site in a preprogrammed templates.
Part of this search was using various last names including my maiden name, my ex's name (not that I wanted to credit him with anything other than a sperm donor for my terrific children), mother's maiden name, my grandmothers' maiden names, and names I made up. They were all taken at least once.
I do this also with writer names too. If another person or writer has your name that could be a bad thing or a good thing, but when there are seven with your name, it can be confusing really fast for a reader to find you. This can be cheap or expensive depending on the domain name you pick.
As I said, it can be daunting. Or if you have a couple thousand dollars lying around, you can go with option two...hire a company who specializes in web design. I didn't.
I went with a website company with templates. There was a fee for registering the domain name and hosting fee...all in all about $105 a year. Relatively cheap. I spent hours picking a simple background, the perfect layout, just the right amount of pages or tabs and voila, I had a website. This was the best semi-professional way to my way of thinking.
What I didn't take in consideration at the time 1) How the website would appear in the SEO, 2) The cost over the years versus the profit, and 3) the exposure I would gain.
- The website appeared on search engines as hosted by &#$% the main website which irritated me to no end because you have a limited amount of space which will show on a search engine search. This took up valuable space.
- The amount of views was small because nobody knew who I was and there are TONS of other websites. That's all the internet is.
- For months the website got one or no hits at all. I believe after the first year and the end of my contract, there were sixty hits. Now I've been a previously, traditionally published author of nonfiction books and articles for decades, but I could not draw people to my site. I was disappointed but the lesson was learned.
While once upon a time (she writes twisted fairy tales) there was a difference between blogs and websites, today there is none. A blog can serve as both. Thank you, Charlotte! You saved me a ton of $$$$.
Granted for the most part, there is a set guideline on the design of the site...just like the other one I paid for. There are constrictions, but isn't everything on the web...we are governed by size, layout and html. It's free so there's no cost versus profits. :) There are analytical tools available to see how many hits per blog and where their from. I can maintain it myself. I can add, delete, and update it to my heart's content. Best yet, I was already doing it so why not have it do double duty?
I frequent a lot of blogs and websites of writers and nonwriters. I see something I like and incorporate it in mine. It may not be exactly the same, but the idea for it may have come from another source. I can change it every month if I want to but that would be crazy and time consuming so I prefer quarterly. Do readers find this disconcerting? Possibly, but the important thing to note is that I can do-it-myself.