As a writer, you need to put yourself out there, and it starts with having your own website. This is your home, where you share your world, keep your readers updated on what you’re doing/publishing, or attract clients. Your website is an extension of you, and for this reason, there are things that will convey who you are, and some that will just drive the visitor away.
I won’t go back on the mistakes that ruin your freelancer image, because I’m focusing today on your window as a writer only, whether you’re a freelancer or a novelist, with the dos and don’ts of a writer website!
1 – DON’T COPY ANOTHER WRITER’S WEBSITE
You’ve seen that cool website that seems to attract a lot of traffic? You’re a fan of that famous writer who’s cramming bestseller after bestseller? It’s tempting to copy what works for others or what appeals to you, but do you really want to erase your own personality to be a copycat? Be yourself! Pick your own style and colors, or even just a pre-made design that represents you well, no need to have web design skills, there’s something for everyone (and for free!).
2 – DO GO FOR A PROFESSIONAL LOOK
Professional looking doesn’t mean expensive. Obviously, if you have the means, do invest in a web designer that will do the job for you, but there are enough free ressources on the web for you to host your website for free (your internet provider usually offers space with your subscription), downloading and installing WordPress is free as well (and it is the easiest tool to create a pro looking website, there are tutorials everywhere!), and themes can be found for nothing too. A domain name will cost you a bit of money, but it’s on the cheap side, and I really recommend you get one. Go for your name with a .com if you have no idea what you want, or a word/short sentence that fits you well, but stay away from lengthy domains that no one will remember.
3 -DON’T LEAVE YOUR WEBSITE UNATTENDED
The biggest mistake writers make is to put the writer before the visitor. Remember that it’s not about you: you wouldn’t need a website if it wasn’t for your readers/clients. So don’t believe that once your ‘about’ page is done, you’re cool, bring in new content regularly, make people want to come back. If your website is static, visitors will think you’re inactive, and will not be prone to following you there and on social media, or subscribe to a newsletter if they feel you won’t be posting anything new soon.
4 – DO TREAT YOUR CONTENT WITH GREAT CARE
You’re a writer, so whether you’re a copywriter or a novelist, storytelling is one of your skills. Use that to create pages that scream that you’re indeed a writer! Make it appealing!
Same goes for spelling and grammar: you’re a master of the language you use, so your content should be flawless. Yes, an original design will be attractive, but don’t focus on design over content, you’re not here to prove your web designer skills.
5 – DON’T BE DIFFICULT TO CONTACT
A contact page with a clear form is a given, but you can give opportunities to your visitors to contact you on every page (don’t make it too obvious, but if the occasion arises, just add a clickable link to your contact form or simply write your email address). If people have to make too much effort to reach you, they simply won’t.
6 – DO OFFER FREE CONTENT
How are your readers or potential clients/publishers supposed to be attracted to your writing if there’s none to read on your website?
Stop being afraid of plagiarism, there are ways to fight it, and you need to take risks anyway, so create a blog, post articles, check with previous clients if it’s okay to post snippets of what you did for them etc…
See, it’s easy! So, is your website okay on all those things?