Category Archives: Author Websites

5 Real-Life Elements That Will Make Your Author Website Appeal To Real-Life Readers | Web Design Relief

Rather than relying on overused marketing concepts, your author website should be designed with one goal in mind: to connect with the right audience for your work. At Web Design Relief, we know that once you’ve determined who your real-life readers are, you can then offer better, more targeted content. Don’t be afraid to share your personality with website visitors—they want to know more about the real-life YOU! (Discover your web personality here.) Sharing some personal details can help readers form a bond with you and keep them coming back for the long term.

How Featuring The Real-Life You Helps Your Author Website Appeal To Readers

Tell Your Story

Your author website is the best place to showcase your books, poetry, and short stories. But don’t stop there! When you also share personal moments, thoughts, and inspiration on your website (and your blog), visitors will see you more as an actual living, breathing person and less as an anonymous face on a book cover. Sharing personal anecdotes is one of the best ways to build your personal brand, create a following, and increase book sales!

Update Your Headshot

Standard headshots are often…well, standard! There is nothing wrong with a headshot that shows you in business casual wear in front of a plain background. But this is your author website, not your LinkedIn profile shot. Post a fun headshot, or even a series of photos that captures your personality. Website visitors will want to see your playful side, not just the let’s-get-down-to-business side. Help your audience connect with you on a personal level. If you write horror stories or serious nonfiction, you might want to choose a headshot that reflects your genre. But you can still crack a smile in another photo to show the person behind the pen (or behind the vampire fangs, if that’s the case).

Uncomfortable in front of the camera? Well, say cheese, because we’ve got you covered with Headshot 101.

Integrate Social Media

Do you often find yourself tweeting, scrolling through Facebook, or uploading your new selfie or food photo on Instagram? Odds are, your followers do this too! Integrate your social media into your author website through widgets and live feeds so that visitors can learn more about the real you and share your posts—helping to expand your reach with more opportunities to market your writing.

Share A Video

Clearly, your author website visitors love to read. But if you have a video camera, a GoPro, or a smartphone, you can also share a video on your website. This can be a vlog or welcome video, a guide to your writing process, a tour of your writing space, a reading of your favorite passage, and more. Your audience will feel more allied with you if they have a face and a voice to put with your words!

Write A Dear Reader Letter

If your website comes across as too generic or just the opposite, too over-marketed, maybe a Dear Reader letter is just what you need. This welcome letter can be the place to share insight into your writing process and/or what’s going on in your life in a personal, relatable way. For more tips on writing a letter that stands out, check out the anatomy of the Dear Reader Letter.

Don’t Overdo It

While sharing personal stories and information can be a great way to connect with your audience, don’t put every aspect of your life on display. It’s always best to keep your website tasteful and secure, and your identity safe. Here’s how to steer clear of getting too personal:

  • Don’t share anything you wouldn’t tell a stranger.
  • Don’t post photos while you’re on vacation, letting people know your house is empty.
  • Avoid the gross and grand aspects of your life (no pics of your recent appendectomy).
  • Details matter, but skip the second-by-second updates of your life (nobody needs to know that you are eating toast).
  • Never, EVER share your personal address or phone number, or email address (use a contact form instead).
  • This goes double for your social security and credit card numbers: Do NOT give them out.

Final Thoughts On Appealing To Your Audience With Real-Life Elements

Sharing some parts of your life with your audience is great! It shows that you are willing to connect with them as real-life people, not just as unknown readers or potential sales. Author website visitors prefer author websites that aren’t heavy-handed with marketing buttons and purchase links. Be smart about what you share with your visitors—but don’t be afraid to have a little fun either!

 

Question: Which personal aspect of your favorite author’s website do you most like?

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?

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 to use a platform that says you can create a “free” website.

But you know the old adage: There’s no such thing as a free lunch! The experts at Web Design Relief know that many of these supposedly “free” websites actually have hidden costs, limited options, and even unexpected dangers. Here’s what you need to know before you sign up for a “free” website.

10 Things Writers Need To Know About “Free” Author Website Builders

  1. Free websites usually can’t be customized. As a writer, you have a unique personality and a unique style of writing. So you’ll want to customize your website based on what you write—a picture book author, for example, would certainly have a different author website aesthetic than someone who writes horror novels. Having an author website that reflects you and your writing helps you attract the right audience. Free websites, however, offer only a few basic, cookie-cutter templates that are rarely customizable, or might only offer a few color and template options. And forget having multiple pages—these companies may not even let you choose fonts or color schemes that match your book’s genre!
  1. Free websites may not let you sell your products. Free website companies don’t always give you options for selling your books and other products (tote bags, bookmarks, etc.). They also may not allow for a contact page—making it difficult for visitors to reach you to set up speaking engagements, book signing events, etc. And many prohibit you from running your own targeted ads.
  1. A free website might stick you with an unfavorable URL. Picking your author website’s domain name is an important decision, and it should be one you—and only you—are in control of! You’ll want your domain name to be something easy for your readers to remember, one that is all letters if possible. Example: YourNameAuthor.com. But many no-fee websites won’t give you that option, or only let you choose part of your URL, or make it mandatory to include their business name in your domain name.
  1. Your free website may not function very well. Once you get past the design challenges, you’ll find that many free websites are hosted on unstable servers that are vulnerable to viruses, or servers that are shared by thousands of websites. As a result, your website may load very slowly, or not at all. When your site finally does load, it may be subject to devastating crashes—and many free website hosts don’t create backups of your site—so in one crash you could lose everything.
  1. Free websites are often riddled with ads. Free websites have to make their money somehow—so if they’re not charging users like you, they often turn to advertisements to turn a profit from their sites. These ads could be placed anywhere on your website, and there could be so many of them that they distract from your content. You also won’t get to choose the ads, so chances are they won’t have anything to do with you or your writing, and may even tout products that don’t align with your values, giving the wrong impression to visitors.
  1. Free websites often don’t support mobile browsers. These days, your fans are as likely to search for your author website from their phone or tablet as they are from their desktop computer. Smart website design includes optimization for mobile platforms, but free websites rarely offer this option. The result? Your website may not load properly on fans’ mobile devices—or may not load at all. So visitors will bounce off your website and head to someone else’s.
  1. You may actually end up paying—a lot. If they aren’t loaded with tons of annoying ads, so-called free websites must find other ways to make money. You may notice charges for “annual fees” or “security fees.” Another tactic: Services that are normally included in a professional website design (custom email addresses, hosting images, etc.) may be “extra charges” on a free site. There may also be charges for services you’ve never heard of, like “website transfer” or “FTP access.”

And keep an eye out for the supposedly free website that’s really just a “trial offer”—once the trial expires, you’ll have to pay an arm and a leg to keep your website live.

  1. Free websites usually don’t offer any help or support. If something goes wrong with your free author website, it’s very unlikely you’ll get any help from the company to fix the issue. Most “no-fee” websites don’t even provide a phone number or general email for questions, let alone offer IT support. And let’s face it: Like most writers, you’re probably considering using a website service because you aren’t a tech expert or IT troubleshooter. So why choose a free website with no support or help desk?
  1. Free website companies can vanish overnight—along with your website. These companies’ terms-of-use agreements are often ironclad: Infinite protections for them—and none for you or your author website. Not only can most free websites choose to drop your website at any time, the company itself can disappear at any time. Most don’t even have to inform their users before they shut down their servers—you could simply wake up one morning to discover your website is gone, and the company won’t be held accountable.
  1. A free website may give the wrong impression. A poorly designed, low-quality author website can be just as detrimental as not having one at all. If literary agents or journal editors visiting your author website are bombarded by irrelevant ads or find navigating the site difficult, they may decide to simply bounce off—since it will seem you haven’t truly prioritized your writing career. And with hackers constantly finding new ways to break into less secure websites, your readers who visit may be less willing to trust an off-brand website, making it less likely they’ll sign up for your mailing list or visit your site again.

 

How To Get The Best Author Website On A Budget

Rather than take your chances with a free website, trust reputable companies like WordPress to create and customize a website on a budget. If you already have an author website and are looking for low-cost ways to keep it useful and current, check out this list.

And if you’d like to put the entire website-building project into the hands of experts who understand the unique needs of writers, the techies at Web Design Relief can create an affordable site for you. Even our most budget-friendly options will still make a big impact on your writing career—check out our Professional Package or our Create-Your-Own Package.

 

QUESTION: Have you ever used a free website service? Why or why not?

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

Writer: Create Your Own Author Blog Editorial Calendar | Web Design Relief

So you have an author website and blog? Great! But are you posting interesting, new content on a regular schedule? Life can get busy: A few long days at the office, extra carpools to violin lessons and soccer matches, binge watching that show everyone’s talking about…and before you know it, you’ve neglected your blog. The… Continue Reading

Self-Test: Is Your Author Website Up To Professional Standards? | Web Design Relief

Your author website is a powerful networking tool, essentially acting as your online business card. Since your website represents you as a writer to readers, editors, or literary agents, it should look professional and polished—not like the cheapest option you could find. Take this easy self-test from the experts at Web Design Relief to determine… Continue Reading


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