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Traveling in Books: Author Blogs

Websites & Hosting & Blogging, Oh My!

by M Carroll

An author website is a big investment both financially and in sheer consumption of time. Making the right choice on how to create and host your website can be a tough decision, but it is a crucial part of any author’s platform. Your author platform should be up and connecting you with readers before your book is even published!

I started building websites in 2014 using WordPress: https://thetreebook.org/, https://maureencarroll.com/, http://cathymartin4art.com/, and others. I don’t consider myself an “expert.” I built my own websites because the cost of website development by experts was prohibitive – $3000 minimum each and I needed more than five! The cost to have someone build a basic website is $3000 – $6000, but there is a lot of variability in site-building services and you can get a website built for less. This article details the cost/value issue well: https://www.markbrinker.com/website-cost

I researched cost but also talked with many friends, authors, and small business owners about their website and their experience either building it on their own or hiring the work out. EVERY single person who had their website built for them and were not taught how to update or maintain their website themselves had determined that they had wasted their money within a few years as the website became stale or obsolete and they had to pay again to update. When you talk to companies about “updating” old sites, they’ll likely convince you to start over. Another $3000 +! Because of this, authors need to be in control of updating – doing basic word changes, adding media, etc.  – for their website even if they hire out the initial website building.

That said, there are some website development tasks that require coding. I learned basic html so that I could address some of these website coding issues, however, I prefer to farm out high-level website development work to experts because I prefer the task of writing words rather than code. But that’s just me!

If you decide to do website building and development yourself beware of the pitfalls of “free” hosting. WordPress.org is different than WordPress.com: https://ithemes.com/tutorials/wordpress-com-vs-wordpress-org/. Also be aware of the difference in SEO (Search Engine Optimization) offered by the different website development companies: Wix, Square, WordPress, Weebly, etc. Sites that require a database or complex SEO are best served with Wordpress (so far.) Because WordPress was built as a blogging platform “nothing comes close to WordPress’s blogging feature,” but some folks really like the simplicity of Wix. Check out the differences here: https://winningwp.com/wix-vs-wordpress-which-is-best/

ASSISTANCE FOR AUTHORS

Currently, Anamcara Press offers website development for Anamcara Press authors only. This is a basic website that links to the Anamcara Press shopping cart and checkout. There is no page limit. Authors are taught how to update their website themselves for most desired changes. There is a four-step development process:

  1. Assign domain name/URL and hosting
  2. Link the site
  3. Design the website with the author’s design elements & branding
  4. Teach author how to update the website

There are several website updating tasks that must be done regularly by the author (or someone assisting the author): checking the comments and removing spam; updating plugins; adding/updating SEO (such as keywords); and blogging. However, be aware that several author-accessible plugins should never be messed with and are set to auto-update.

There may be other desired tasks that require the assistance of an expert such as customizing contact forms, linking pages, or adding specialized features. Any updating of the website that can be completed from the author portal, the author may feel free to change themselves. If the website updates require changes to be made from the host page, authors can contact Anamcara Press for assistance.

ADDING MEDIA TO YOUR WEBSITE

Adding podcasts and YouTube videos is easily done from the author’s portal and can be added to any platform. Lawrence Public Library offers a high-tech studio for podcast and YouTube video production. Apparently, our culture is very much addicted to video snippets. Even book-lovers watch YouTube!

I recently talked to someone who works at KUs Watson Library. As a former employee I was alarmed when he told me the book carts were empty at the end of the fall semester.

“Empty?” I asked, “You were so over-staffed everyone got the library cleaned up in a jiffy?”

“Nope. They were never checked out to begin with.”

Although this little story was disheartening, it doesn’t mean that students, and others, aren’t consuming words. They are. Listen for the sing-song-so-cool-and-brand-new change in vocabulary happening all around. There were hundreds of new words added to the dictionary in 2019 including Buzzy (as in ‘what’s the’) and Stan (as in a super-fan or being super-fannie).

In any case, writing still matters, and words — as a creative expression of our humanity — have found a vibrant home as audio books, YouTube videos, podcasts, Netflix shorts and longs, etc. And writers still have to imagine and write them first. It’s just shape-shifting.

Keep scratchin’!

FOLLOW YOUR DREAMS

Christmas star. Stars and full moon in the night sky.