Author Archives: Blog Editor

5 Mistakes Writers Make On Their Author Websites (And The Easy Fixes) | Web Design Relief

Did you know that every website needs regular care and housekeeping? So unless you have a fairy godmother or can sing well enough to inspire woodland creatures to assist you with your chores, you should keep a virtual broom and wrench handy. Even the most meticulous author website design may experience issues that arise over time: Links break, information becomes obsolete, plugins stop working, etc. Thankfully, the most common mistakes writers make on their author websites have easy fixes!

Check out these website blunders and Web Design Relief’s tips on how to fix them without IT support intervention.

5 Easy-To-Fix Common Website Mistakes

Broken images: Uh-oh, has your beautiful photo been replaced by a sad face or what looks like a torn piece of paper? This means that the file containing the image may have been corrupted. But this can be fixed simply by re-uploading your photo to your author website or installing a handy plugin to solve the problem for you!

Typos: Some of the most damaging mistakes on an author website are typos, grammar mishaps, and incorrect punctuation. After all, you’re a writer—you’re held to a higher standard of web content than your online neighbors. Typos and grammar gaffes on your website may cause visitors to question your writing skills in general.

And you can’t count on website building elements to alert you to typos; they don’t feature spellcheck like word processing programs do. Thorough, expert proofreading is the solution to this common mistake and can ensure that your author website is up to professional standards.

Dead Links: Is there anything more frustrating than a link that leads nowhere? If the hyperlinks you have included on your website are no longer active, your site will look abandoned and poorly maintained. Worst-case scenario—improper use of links can even get your site banned.

Fortunately, reviving dead links is easy! If a website has a new web address, simply update your link with the new URL. If the site you are linking to no longer exists, remove the link altogether or find another source. And remember to check your hyperlinks often to make sure you aren’t letting dead links lurk on your website!

Slow Response Times: Does your website take a long time to load? Having too many elements running can cause lagging. Download time is an overlooked issue on many author websites. And if your website is taking too long to load, visitors will bounce off your site.

To fix a lagging website, reevaluate what you really need on your web pages and what is simply clogging up response times. For example: There is no need to have images larger than 1500px, so you may want to resize large photos so that they do not take up so much space. However, don’t lose the resolution—make sure your photos have at least 300 dpi (dots per inch). Another tip: Instead of uploading videos directly to your website, upload them to an external website like YouTube and then embed them on your site to save space!

Design Is Not Mobile-Friendly: Your author website may look perfect on your desktop computer, but nowadays more and more people visit sites using their cell phones and tablets. So it’s important that your website looks great on mobile devices too! The key is sizing. Make certain that your buttons are big enough to be seen on smaller screens, but that your photos and graphics aren’t so big that they are cut off.

Our pro tip: Test, test, test! View your author website on as many devices as possible and adjust your design elements accordingly.

Check out these 7 tips for a more mobile-friendly author website!

BONUS TIP: While most mistakes on your author website can be easily fixed, there will be glitches that require more complicated intervention. But don’t panic! Regular website backups can still save you lots of grief. Backing up your website frequently gives you the option to revert back to an earlier version (before the error kicked in!).

 

QUESTION: What are some overlooked mistakes you’ve found on websites you’ve visited?

Your Author “About Me” Web Page: What To Include (And What Not To)! | Web Design Relief

Any savvy writer will tell you: An “About Me” page on your author website is an absolute necessity. The “About Me” page is usually one of the first pages new readers will visit, and the first stop for literary editors and agents who are interested in your work. But that doesn’t mean you should dump anything and everything onto your “About Me” page—no agent, editor, or reader wants to know the exact date you got your first haircut. Here are some suggestions from the experts at Web Design Relief on what to include and—just as important—what not to include on your “About Me” page to strengthen your author brand.

What To Include On Your Author “About Me” Page

Your Author Biography

Your author bio is the most important element of your “About Me” page. Writing it might seem challenging, but it doesn’t have to be—as long as you remember to include the basics:

  1. The genre or genres in which you write.
  2. How many books you’ve written and/or where your work has been published.
  3. Professional achievements related to your writing, such as awards, best-seller lists, even blurbs from prominent experts in your field or from fellow writers.
  4. Relevant proof of authority in terms of work experience, education, and other credentials. What makes you uniquely qualified to write what you do?
  5. Writing-related side-hustles, such as whether you’re a journalist, a reviewer, a podcast host, etc.
  6. A writing style that fits with your author brand.
  7. A personal touch, which may include a mention of your family, pets, your work for charity, or whether you have an unusual hobby or a surprising educational degree. The personal touch usually comes at the end of the bio. 

Photo Or Video Introduction

Whether your author publicity photo is an impromptu selfie or a professional portrait, you should have at least one picture of yourself on your “About Me” page. By nature, people respond to and remember faces, which will make you more memorable.

Depending on the genre in which you write, you may also want to consider adding other visuals that are in sync with your author brand. Some ideas include posting pictures of your work space, the setting of your books if you write a series set in the same town, or other writing-related photos that expand the world of your stories or give the reader a deeper sense of who you are as a writer.

Many authors who are comfortable with video embed short videos on their “About Me” pages. They often use these videos to introduce themselves, welcome readers, and invite visitors to browse, join the newsletter, or read an excerpt of their latest books. 

Call-To-Action

Every page of your author website should have a clear call-to-action based on your goal, whether it’s to sell your latest book, sign people up to your newsletter, or direct potential readers to an excerpt on another page of your website.

Since a newsletter is one of the best ways to corral readers, nurture a connection, and ultimately market your future releases, you should make sure to have a “subscribe to my newsletter” button on your “About Me” page.

Social Media Connections

Clickable social media icons provide a subtle invitation for website visitors to join you on one or more platforms. If you’re particularly active on Facebook or Twitter, consider using website plugins to display your recent posts to intrigue your website audience and tempt them to follow you.

What NOT To Include On Your Author “About Me” Page

Personal Contact Info Or TMI

Never include your home address, employment address, or personal phone number anywhere on your “About Me” page. Most importantly, avoid inadvertently including private information that is commonly stolen for identity theft, such as your exact birthdate, your mother’s maiden name, the first street you lived on, where you and your spouse met, your first pet’s name, etc. Sharing some of the details of your life on your “About Me” page is a great way to make connections, but for safety’s sake, be sure to maintain healthy boundaries.

And avoid oversharing. Telling visitors a few interesting tidbits about your life is fine, but don’t drone on for paragraphs about the spelling bee you won in third grade or how old you were when you had your wisdom teeth removed.

 

Question: What kind of information do you look for when you check out an author’s bio?

7 Social Media Scams: Writers Beware! | Web Design Relief

Social media is a great way for writers to build their author platforms and connect with fans, readers, literary agents, and editors. But beware: It also puts your personal information and privacy at risk. A recent survey found that 22% of Internet users reported being hacked at least once.

At Web Design Relief, we understand the importance of following best practices and protecting yourself against common social media scams. Here’s how to stay safe and reduce your odds of becoming a victim.

Common Social Media Scams—Don’t Be Fooled

Profile Hijacking

Profile hijackers take over a victim’s account but keep the profile and images. Then they use the hijacked information to create other accounts. Once the hackers secure a connection with family and friends of the victim, they use scam tactics to try to get money. The hijacker, who is now posing as the hijacked victim, will reach out with fake emergencies that need fast cash. Don’t fall for the scam: I’m on vacation and lost my wallet. Can you wire money or send cash? Another version states: I’m out of town. Can you buy a gift card for my niece’s/nephew’s birthday gift for me? Be suspicious of anyone asking you for money on social media.

Lottery Schemes

Friends, if you receive a notice on social media that you have won a new car, or a diamond ring, or a bag of cash, please investigate before you start celebrating. If you have to pay, it’s not a prize. Lottery scams are becoming more and more cunning each day. What they all have in common is that you are asked to purchase something or send money in order to retrieve your big prize. Be alert. If it sounds too good to be true, it is. Here are signs you should run the other way if you have been notified that you are the big winner:

  • You are asked to pay for something
  • You are required to wire money
  • You must first deposit a check that will be sent to you

Catfishing

Catfishing is less about fishing (unless you are fishing for compliments) and more about phony romancing. Catfish create fake online profiles and then seduce victims into fictitious relationships. Once they gain your trust, they work on gaining gifts and your money. Interesting fact: 64% of catfish are women. Don’t get caught by catfish no matter how many shiny lures they wave in front of you!

URL-Shortening Cons

URL shorteners are a convenient way to make a longer URL fit into a limited amount of space. However, they can also mask malicious sites that drop spyware into a user’s computer without the victim ever realizing. If you have concerns about clicking on a link, there are sites such as CheckShortURL that will allow you to see the original link before you click on it.

Chain Messages Hoaxes

Chain mail messages have been around forever—but they’ve never been more dangerous. Though they are no longer written on paper and sent via snail mail, chain mail scams are still prevalent on social media. Cybercriminals threaten that something will happen to users’ data if they don’t forward the message to friends. Or that an account has been cloned and certain steps need to be taken in order to secure it. One of the steps is informing all your friends of this, which ultimately hands over all your contacts to the hacker. Snapchat and Facebook both have been affected by chain-letter scams. Avoid this by immediately deleting any and all chain mail messages.

Online Quizzes

Who doesn’t love an online quiz—they’re harmless and fun, right? Wrong. The Better Business Bureau cautions that many quizzes are designed to mine your computer’s data. Everything from addresses to debit purchases and bank statements. Cybercriminals embed links in quizzes to gain access to personal information stored on your computer. Once these criminals have what they need, they employ other scams such as profile hacking and catfishing to steal your money and/or furtively subscribe you to monthly services billed to your credit card. If you can’t resist a quiz, make sure it comes from a reliable source.

Here’s a fill-in-the-blank quiz for you from Web Design Relief:

If it seems too good to be true, _____ _____.

Money Flipping

Money flipping is not new, but scammers are perfecting new ways to do it. Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook are notorious for users advertising ways to turn a few hundred dollars into a few thousand. They show the happy faces of investors enjoying their profits while basking in the sun on their yachts. It’s simple: All you do is send a prepaid debit card number and pin to a certain email or number so the investor will have access to load money. But fraud experts warn that the only people making money off this deal are the scammers who collect the information and go shopping.

Especially For Writers: Avoid These Publishing Scams

There are new scams surfacing every day. Writers, in particular, are vulnerable to publishing scams, especially those involved with self-publishing. Some vanity publishers have earned a reputation for charging exorbitant fees. And there are hybrid printers who charge smaller fees but increase royalties to supposedly offset your cost. For book writers pursuing traditional publishing, there are literary agents who might make you think twice about entrusting them with your work. Find out how to spot a bad literary agent.

For more tips on how to stay safe while on social media, check out our guide: Safety Tips for Social-Networking Writers.

 

Question: What social media scams have you encountered?

Is A “Free” Website REALLY Free? 10 Things Writers Need To Know | Web Design Relief

You know all the reasons you need an author website—to act as your online information source for readers, editors, and agents; to provide a hub for your author platform, etc. But like most folks, you don’t want to spend all of your hard-earned cash building a website. Budget-conscious writers might therefore jump at the chance… Continue Reading

7 Things Writers Think They Must Do When Building A Website Vs. What They Actually Need To Do | Web Design Relief

When it’s time to create a website, many authors aren’t sure what they should include—so they go above and beyond what’s really necessary. If you’re new to the idea of website design, you might think adding more-more-more is the best way to get your money’s worth. But at Web Design Relief, we know you don’t… Continue Reading


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