Some writers use only social media to connect with readers, but most social media is a superficial system of communication filled with brief posts or videos. It’s good to be connected with readers via social media, but social media has its limitations. Most importantly, the user forfeits control over their content which can be lost when the company changes policies.
If you’re serious about your writing career, build a website.
Websites are all about content, much of it written. Lucky for us, writers are all about writing. We’re a natural fit with websites. Website design is about putting together the content in a visually pleasing way. If you’re published, you have the written content or descriptions of your stories, so you have text. As for visual content, you have book covers. If you’re unpublished, nothing is stopping you from creating an informative website.
Why does an unpublished author need a website? It’s the best way to ensure you own your domain name. Many website builder companies offer easy to-fill-out templates beginners can use to create visually appealing websites.
Two basic questions need to be answered as you think about your website: what will be its purpose and who will be its audience?
The purpose of your website determines what you’re going to put on it. For published writers, one purpose is to sell their stories, but that doesn’t have to be the site’s only purpose.
For example, I want to promote and sell my books, but I also want to educate writers and entertain readers. For the past 20 years, in each rendition of my website I’ve worked to promote that purpose.
For the unpublished writer, a website offers a place to establish some credentials before publication. (Check out my free PDF “Promotion Before Publication” for ways to get known before publication at www.gingerhanson.com.) A website also offers prospective agents. editors, and readers a taste of your writing skills.
Potential Website Audience
Once you establish the purpose of your website, it’s time to think about your audience or who you hope will visit your website. As a writer with published books, I hope readers who enjoy my books will visit to learn more about me and my stories and buy more of them. Another segment of my audience will be writers because two of my ebooks are writing skills handbooks. Anyone who buys She Sat, He Stood or She Said, He Said will probably visit my website because I put downloadable charts used in the books on my website. I also have various handouts, such as the previously mentioned Promotion Before Publication and Story Steps, an overview of some steps I take when I write a story.
The Readers page is devoted to a behind the scenes look at my writing life as well as my nonwriting life. I also post free short stories or articles that I think might interest readers.
As you can see, it’s a good idea to picture your potential audience because they influence the content you put on your website. Once you can answer those two basic questions–purpose and audience–it’s time to think about how your web site will look.
In the next blog, we’ll look at how to use storyboarding, a basic design technique that works well with building websites.