In this episode I talk about Author Websites.
Do you need an Author Website? No. Is it something worth thinking about setting up – definitely.
You can set up things like e-mail subscriptions using services like mailchimp and have them host the sign-up page – you don’t need a website to collect e-mail addresses. I discuss the fact that you can set up an author page on Amazon using Amazon Author Central (https://authorcentral.amazon.com/) – my page is here (needs work!).
I take you through the difference between a WordPress.com site (free, but hosted on someone else’s servers and limited in what you can do) and a self-hosted WordPress.org site that you need to have hosted on your own space you buy off a hosting company.
I also mention the cheaper, but much more technically difficult option of creating a static website hosted on something like Amazon S3 – for an ad-free way to create a fairly unchanging site this is a good option, if you can get over the learning curve.
For most people I’d recommend a self-hosted site running the WordPress.org software – most hosting services let you install this with “one press” and then you have a blank WordPress site you can edit using an online GUI like this:
To get your WordPress site to look nice, you probably want to change the Theme of the site. A WordPress Theme is a way to change what the site looks like. Make sure any themes you use are mobile responsive – that they look ok on a mobile device (for example reasonably sized-text, no pop-up covering the whole screen and a decent layout).
Another advantage about WordPress.org self-hosted sites is the ability to add plug-ins – these are server side modules which add abilities to your site. For example I have the following plug-ins installed:
Blubrry PowerPress – for podcast feed
Contact Form 7 – for adding contact us box
Disqus Comment System – for moderated comments on blog posts
Wordfence Security – caching and security
Yoast SEO – various SEO functions
Social Warfare – paid, adds sharing buttons, allows different images to appear for Pinterest share for example.
You do need to be careful before installing too many plug-ins though – as many can conflict with one another, causing issues with your site.
I also talk about what I consider essential free tools you should set up on your site – Google Webmaster Tools Search Console – which will allow you to check that your site hasn’t been black-listed by Google search for some reason and gives you general information about how Google sees your site and Google Analytics, a fantastic FREE tool for viewing the type and number of visitors to your site. If you set up website goals you can work out what type of visitors are signing up to your e-mail list and which aren’t. This isn’t available on a shared WordPress.com site.