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?
I originally wrote this article for authors — but then I realize that much of the advice applies to small businesses or solopreneurs who wish to promote themselves or their business on a website. There also is some advice and are some links specific to writers and authors.
To start: some website basics
Every business and author needs a website (it’s the cornerstone of an author platform) – and there are some good resources.
StudioPress Sites and theme templates for just about any business. For years, I’ve been really happy with the Genesis platform and their themes for my own author-writer site (customized from Feast Design’s Foodie child theme). 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 site, as well.
StudioPress even has a template called Author Pro, which has a built-in widget for selling books… woo hoo!
Author website elements & “the guts”
What are the critical things to include on 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.
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.
Spelling and grammar for your website
I initially had a love-hate relationship with my free copy of Grammarly, which sometimes wanted to force me to spell the Queen’s English — but a reader instructed me how to change that preference (thanks, Sveinn!). Now, I’d highly recommend it as a great check of spelling and other grammar rules.
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 a free website which allows you to upload and optimize your photos for the web — that is, it makes your photo the ideal pixel size and dimensions to look great 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! Also, when you’re using a website template, it allows you to crop the photo size to the ideal template – so the photo spacing doesn’t look wonky.
- 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 your social media content needs. 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).
- Free and/or royalty-free stock photo services – 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 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 the selection at Getty’s iStock and Adobe has a price-per-month stock photo offering — and they offer a free trial.
FYI, when a service offers “pay what you want,” for creative karma’s sake, please do pay something.
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.
Do you have a favorite website design resource? Share in the comments.