Having some sort of presence online as an author is essential if you want to connect to a larger audience, and you do have some choice, you most probably have social media feeds (Twitter & Facebook still being the most popular), but do you have a website and/or a blog?
For most of the big-name authors the common option is for a website alone (well, with social media too), having a large audience they know people are looking for them on line already, this means having a site which they or their publishing house updates with news every now and then works just fine.
But for the indie author who is in the process of growing their audience you’ll need something which is more current and far more engaging.
Now you could set up a website which includes the option to have a blog within it, and for many this works very well, there are certainly plenty of platforms to get you up and running with an author’s website very quickly, they tend to have templates which you build your site around and have become very easy to use.
The other option is to just go with a blog, again, like the ‘build-your-own’ website services these too are incredibly easy to use and very cost effective. The most common choice for setting up a blog is using Wordpress, I know there are many other services out there too, but Wordpress are the largest and currently have thousands of new blogs being set up each and every day (this may not sound that important, but when a service is used so heavily it means they know what they’re doing and also there’s a great deal of advice out there should YOU need it).
The first thing to understand is that there are two types of blog with WP, the first is WordPress.org and the second is WordPress.com , for the .org version you’ll need to download software from WP to create your blog and with the .com version you create your blog from their online website alone.
For many the .com version is a better fit and you can create your blog directly from WP’s own website, you can use one of their domain names for free or purchase something more specific , it also comes with free hosting (although it does limit your blog to 3GB of space, so keep the images you upload small over time).
However, for more freedom, WP’s chargeable services make more sense (you won’t have wordpress within address of your blog for a start, and you won’t get their advertising either). Their prices currently start from $4 per month for the Personal plan, this gives you the custom domain name, further support, free themes, 6GB storage and removal of their ads.
The next plan they offer is the Premium, this is $8 per month and gives more advanced tools, you still get the custom domain name & additional support, you will also get unlimited free themes, advanced design customization, 13GB of storage and be able to monetize your site.
After this is the Business plan at $25 per month, offering everything from the Premium plan but with the additions of Unlimited storage, SEO tools, access to live courses, upload themes, Google Analytics integration and removal of any WP branding completely.
For those who want to simply write an engaging blog then the Personal plan works very well (and as you grow you could always upgrade your plan at a later date).
Once you have set up your blog the key thing is to keep using it, I know of people who have written a blog every single day for the past ten years, using it more of an online journal for their thoughts. This may not work for every author, but having a regular schedule for writing will make the blog more current, even if it’s just once a week (people want to see that your blog in use and that the last time you posted wasn’t a year ago).
Keeping your blog up to date is important but so is creating content that your readers find interesting, useful and engaging, so write about subjects that genuinely interest you, I know that ultimately you are using the blog to help promote your book and career as an author, however, if your blog is just one big advert you will struggle to find readers, remember to keep your reader in mind.
Book cover designers.