YES, You MUST Have A Website!
IF you are serious about being an author or self-publisher … in fact, IF you have a freelance business of ANY kind … full time, part-time or occasional … you NEED a website. I won’t bore you with the details, but here’s why:
- A website gives you credibility. You’ve arrived. You’re on the map…And, it’s a BIG map.
- A website allows you to reach a WORLD-WIDE audience. But it also allows you to target local and regional audiences.
- Once you’ve defined your target, a website enables you to show examples of your work … your portfolio. You could showcase your work ON the website, or allow PDF downloads from your website.
- By giving access to your portfolio, a website allows potential clients to check you out first … this is a no-risk way to get to know you before purchasing your services. If you’re one of those types who shies away from sales, your website can do it for you.
- If you’re self-publishing, you can provide samples of your books. If you are bidding for work on the freelance job-boards, you can send potential clients to your website for a looky-loo. Best of all, visitors are looking for something or someone just like you, so they already want to know more.
- If you offer a newsletter, you will be able to collect the names of your visitors and constantly feed them updates on what you are up to. This is a marketing tool that has grown in popularity for good reason. If you haven’t considered creating one, start giving it some thought (I’ll show you how).
Ultimately, your own website is not just a nice thing … it is a NECESSITY! And now, it’s firmly within the reach of pretty much anyone with a computer and access to the web.
Cost, Time and Technical Skills
Some of you may be wondering about the cost, the time you will have to invest, and your lack of technical skills …
Cost was a consideration a few years ago, but it’s NO longer a major obstacle. If you are willing to put in a bit of work, you can have a 5 to 10 page website up and running for less than $150 (USD) a year. Remember, you are in business and you should take that business seriously. Besides, setting up a website is cheap compared to the $500K or cool million you’d pay to set up a restaurant!
Time expenditure is unavoidable, but consider it an investment in your business. Having said this, depending on the route you choose, you could have a basic website up and running in less than a week. Realistically, I would advise you to take your time … and aim for a month. DON’T PANIC – that would be a month in which you set aside one or two hours a day to the project. Sigh of relief goes here ___. After your site is up, time investment drops significantly, although remember that visitors will want to see regular activity, so set aside a manageable amount of time for updates.
Technical skills are no longer as rigorous as they once were. However, IF you are going for the cheapest option and setting up your own site, you will definitely have to ramp up and learn a few technical things. This can be daunting, but there are user-friendly forums where the participants are VERY helpful. They really ARE … I use these all the time and am always amazed at the help I get. Also, most hosting services make the process relatively simple, and tools like WordPress have options that are designed for the novice site builder.
What Do You NEED In Order To Build A Website?
A domain name: To register a domain name costs $10 to $20, unless you want to get up to no good and need a domain name that is akin to a bank account in the Bahamas. In which case, the rest of the information in this article doesn’t apply to you anyway.
Getting a .COM address is your best choice. Why? Because most people will AUTOMATICALLY type .com (they probably won’t remember .net .org etc). IF you are specifically doing business ONLY in another country ie Canada … then yes do .ca but also try to get the .com to block others from using it. Ultimately, your website address is part of your brand, and it’s better for you if searches lead straight to YOU and not someone else, who might be selling something similar!
A hosting service: Your website host does not need to be located in your city, state/province or even in the same country. It doesn’t matter where they are. What matters is the level of services you get. (More about this later.) Hosting services start at $75 a year and up. They are more expensive if you want to pay by the month.
Some BASIC tools: There are a few FREE website building options available. Some of them are downright dangerous to use. Your best bet is WordPress. It is free, it is reliable and it will NOT disappear overnight.
There is tons of free training on how to use WordPress if you have time to search and learn. There are also some paid courses that will have you at an expert level in no time. Thankfully, the days of having to be fluent in HTML are behind us. It’s worth having a bit of knowledge about your options, though, because there are useful plugins that can provide value to your site in multiple ways.
Once your website is live …
It’s worth repeating that your website will need regular updates. This maintenance is necessary to ensure that your site keeps popping up when potential buyers are searching for the type of products or services that you’re selling. Again, think of this as an investment. YES, it is a never-ending “feeding” mission. But there are ways to feed this beast without spending HUGE amounts of time doing it (I’ll touch on this in another article).
Your page updates may also require a little more input in terms of stretching your tech skillset. You’ll learn about those pesky SEO buttons, and how to schedule posts that draw traffic. Fortunately, these learning curves are gentle, and after some experimentation, very rewarding.
Your site should also be the HUB of your business. Everything flows out from it. This means that the time you spend on it will filter to your other platforms – your author page, your social media and your newsletter. These in turn, will bring visitors back to your site, creating a lovely loop of productivity that you will quickly learn to love!
In a nutshell, your website is your flag in the sand … for YOURSELF and for OTHERS. It gives a clear message that says:
I am in BUSINESS.