Saturday, January 9, 2016

Designing Your Writer’s Web Site

As a freelance writer today, your Web site is an important part of your marketing plan. It will be your online home, the place where hundreds and possibly thousands of people will get to know you. It’s the place where you can present your products and grow your business by obtaining more work. Once you purchase a domain and choose a hosting service, you’re ready to begin designing your site.

Whether you design your site yourself or hire someone to do it for you, you’ll need to know what to include. Professional Web designers may know how to put material onto the Internet, but you can bet that very few know what’s needed on a writer’s site.

Every Web site contains the same basic parts—a Home Page, an About Page, Content pages, a Resources or Links Page, and a Contact Page. The Home Page is usually the first page a visitor sees. It’s the introductory page to your site and connects through a navigation menu to the other pages of the site.

The next most important page on your site is the About Page. Here, you’ll present yourself—why you chose to be a writer, what publishing experience you’ve had, and your social media connections. It’s important to let readers know where else you’re active online. You’ll also want to have a professional looking photo of yourself on the page.

Another important page is the Contact Page of your site. This should include ways in which visitors to your site—either editors or readers or both—can contact you. Here, you’ll post your preferred methods of cotnact—regular mail by street address, phone number for home or cell, and Email address.

A page which you may want to include is a Resource Page, which contains links to other sites that are of interest to you or are related to the subjects you write about. Many writers think that they don’t need outside links because they’ll take visitors away from their site. Actually, these links help visitors to find your site. The right links help to raise your rankings on search engines like Google which enables readers to find you faster. The rest of your site contains pages of your content—books, article listings, etc.

Before you decide on what your site will look like, you need to figure out its purpose. What do you want your site to do? Do you want to connect with your readers or do you want to connect with your editors, or perhaps both. Your site needs to have a direction and a unity that visitors will eventually associate with you.

First and foremost, your name should appear as an integral part of your Home Page. Under it you may want to add a tagline that clearly describes the type of writing you do.

You may also want to include an Email newsletter signup. Whether you send a newsletter once a year or once a week, you’ll want to stay in touch with readers who visit your site. MailChimp is one email newsletter service that’s free for up to 2,000 names, which helps automate this process for you.

If you write non-fiction, your site should contain a sample list of articles you’ve published. And if you also write non-fiction books, you can either have a book page or a separate page for each book, with links to so that your visitors can easily purchase them. In the beginning, you could easily combine everything into one page.’

If you write fiction, both short stories and novels, you can follow the same as above. You may even want to include a sample short story, one that’s one or two pages long. Novels can be listed much as non-fiction books, but if you write books in a series, then you’ll want to group them by series, with additional separate pages for each book, with a synopsis, reviews, and an excerpt. And always include links to where your work can be read or purchased in both print and digital form.

Depending on what you write, you may have been covered in the media. Create a page with testimonials and links to reviews or articles about you.

One of the biggest mistakes many writers make when developing their site is getting clever with menu listings or pages. Your Web site isn’t the place to get clever. It must be clear and straightforward, with logical navigational links to your various pages. Try to limit your menu to five or seven items. If you have a lot of content, group it into sections, then list the section titles in your Home Page menu. Create a separate menu with items pertaining to that section on the first page of each section, called the Landing Page. And always link back to your Home Page.

Another mistake many writers make is creating a blog page and calling it their Web site. While a blog is on a Web page, it isn’t a Web site. Your site needs to contain the four basic pages, plus various pages containing your content.

Don’t think you have to create all your pages at once. Start with the four basic pages, plus perhaps one page listing your work, then proceed from there. Creating new content keeps search engines happy and brings visitors back.

To learn about a basic Web site design package, check out BBC Web Services.

Next Week: You’ve Got a Site—Now What?

1 comment:

Marilynn Byerly said...

And if they think they will have visitors with bad eyesight or tired eyes, they shouldn't use white ink on black and choose one of the smaller sizes of text available at Blogger. (Hint, hint.)