Excuse the “work in progress” ContentMeant site — I’m taking the time to
procrastinate post about website building – specifically, to share some of my favorite free, pay-what-you-want,** low-cost, and value-packed web-building resources and advice for authors and others. I’ll be adding to / refining this list as time goes on, but for today… Misery web-building loves company, so if you’re not doing anything exciting this weekend, why don’t you buckle down and join me?
To Start: Some Author Website Basics
This article on Creating An Author Website give 101 info on why every writer needs one (it’s the cornerstone of an author platform), and some basic hints.
StudioPress Sites and theme templates. For three years, I’ve been really happy with the Genesis platform and their themes for my own author-writer site (customized from Shay Bocks’ Foodie child theme — a huge fave). StudioPress Sites include hosting, and themes are mobile-responsive (critical for today’s authors), modern, and have lots of built-in widgets, so basic set-up requires no coding. The theme set-up instructions are good, and their customer service is great — so I stuck with them for this (in progress) site.
Bonus feature for authors!
Even better news is that StudioPress now has a template called Author Pro (look under Shop for Themes), which has a built-in widget for selling books… woo hoo!
Author Website Elements & “The Guts”
What goes into an author website? Elements of an Author Website — one of my articles from my days running About.com / The Balance Book Publishing site — will get you started. Sign up for the site launch notification / newsletter (below) and you’ll be the first to get a robust update of the article (and much more).
How to Write A “Selling” Author Bio – I wrote this recently for the Mystery Writers of America NY Chapter’s blog. Since you’re writing the website for your author platform, write your bio and get this up, first.
I have a love-hate relationship with Grammarly, which sometimes wants to force me to spell the Queen’s English (what is that about?) and constantly puts red lines under things I know are correct. Still, as a writer, I think it’s a good idea to minimize typos and grammar errors and there’s a free version, so I’d recommend you check it out.
Author Website Design & Photography
I’m not a designer, but I play one when I’m building a website. Which is why I rely on free and low-cost resources* like:
Webresizer.com – this is an always free website which allows you to upload and optimize your photos for the web — that is, it makes your photo the ideal pixel size for what you need while reducing the overall KB or MB of your photo. Why is this important? It makes your photos (and therefore, your website) load faster. Good for everyone!
Canva.com is a design site for non-designers, with templates and fonts and all fun things that send any visually-stimulated geek into a rabbit hole. But it’s a great resource for not only your website, but for social media, as it includes templates for all the headers you’ll want to make – and those spiffy, pithy quotes that are easy to post and Pin.
Colourlovers.com – okay another geek alert – but this site (which is supposed to be spelled in the Queen’s English) is great for picking palettes (that is, colors that go together nicely).
Feast Design Co. – If you really want to dive into DIY visually branding for your author website and digital media presence, I recommend the Garnish series of lessons at Feast Design Co. (the designers of the Foodie template, mentioned above). I’ve personally found Feast to offer great value for the quality of information and service they provide – and the site offers some tips on design and branding, as well.
Free and/or royalty-free stock photo services are legion and here are some qualified recommendations, but I find that choosing photography is a highly personal matter. For example, the image at the top of this post is from Pexels.com and it took me a bit of searching to find what I was looking for ( for my budget (“pay what you will”**). For those with a bit more cash who want a huge selection of high-quality, professional images (for example, for their home page), I also truly love Getty’s iStock. Their stable of photographers get paid, too.
Author Website Cautions
Also from Mystery Writers of America NY Chapter blog — The 7 Common Mistakes of An Author Website. Read through these to make sure you’re not making them.
**If you use their material, I advise throwing some coinage at the “pay what you want” folks, for artist’s karma sake — or at least do the photographer / artist / app developer a solid by referring them.
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Hey, smart reader! Do you have a favorite website design resource? Share in the comments what it is and why you like it – you might be helping out a fellow author and I just might include it in an update. I know I don’t have to warn you about not bombarding us with spammy ads.