One of the first marketing tips a writer is given is to make sure she has a web presence–and do it before she’s published.
Three years before my publishing contract, I created a blog and used it as my author site. For the most part, I was quite happy with it. I updated the site on a monthly basis, along with a newsletter reminder, and had formed a nice reader base, so it served me well. When I received my contract from Zondervan, however, I realized I wanted more. I had two choices–pay someone to build a website, or do it myself.
So began my journey. I began visiting author sites and kept track of those I liked best, paying attention to colors, layout schemes, page descriptions, and author photos. I also studied web designer sites and their client portfolios. For learning purposes, my favorite sites were:
From there, I requested price quotes. And that’s when my enthusiasm began to waver. Some of the designers were charging over two-thousand dollars–and I’m sure worth every penny, as their client pages were gorgeous! To add to my dilemma, I’d heard it said that your website must look professional–an outward reflection of who you are as an author (or in other words, not cheap & dowdy). Well that’s great, if you have the money . . . but this gal from Kansas didn’t have that kind of money to spend.
With a sigh, I began searching for less expensive alternatives. I considered updating my blog. Blogs are free, and I already knew how to manage them. But I really wanted a new look. So I set my chin, determined to figure out a way to make it work.
That’s when I discovered a host program called Homestead. Several of my author friends used the program and were quite happy with it. I began studying the tutorial and realized I could create an author site with nearly all the functions I’d requested of the designers–and for a smidgen of the price.
Of course, I would have to design the pages myself–which would take time and creativity. Fortunately, Homestead’s design program has an easy learning curve, and it turned out to be quite fun. Plus, I had the added advantage of being able to update my site whenever I wanted–an option I might not have had if I’d paid a designer. The company also offers a free trial period, to make sure it fits your needs. After 2 weeks, I’d designed a Website that was a reflection of who I am as an author.
Check it out here.
I went into this venture desiring the best, settling for less, and being quite satisfied with the end result.