Choosing between an Author Website or Blog

This post is the sixty-third post in a series about writing a novel. You can check out the list of past topics at the end of this post.

My last two post have been covered author bios and your Amazon Author page. These allow readers to know more about you the author. Another way to connect with your readers is to have a website or a blog. Really into today’s tech savvy world, it is surprising when a company – or in this case an author – doesn’t have some sort of web presence.

So, which should you have – a blog or a website? (And before anyone says anything – yes, a blog is technically a website. The difference is that a blog is typically update more often than a traditional static website.)

Blog

Blog is short for web log and is a frequently updated website consisting of blog posts arranged in reverse chronological order. When readers come to your site, they see your most recent post first.

A blog can include static pages in addition to the current posts. (I have 2 static pages on my blog – “About Me” and “My Books.”)

Positives:  Blogs are typically updated regularly (daily or weekly – it is up to you) which give readers a reason to return. Blogs also provide an opportunity for interaction between authors and readers through comments on posts.

Setting up a blog is easy. You don’t need any computer or programming expertise. You will simply use blogging software such as Blogger or WordPress. If you are on a tight budget, a blog can be established for free.

Negatives: You need to update it regularly (or lose readership of your blog) which can take time away from your writing. You will also need a topic to write about unless you plan to just update readers about your exciting life as an author, which is not something I recommend unless you have a very exciting life or can make it extremely interesting.

Website

A website is a static group of pages containing text, images and videos accessed from the same domain name.

Positives: Easy if you want to put up information that won’t require updating on a regular basis.

Negatives: Unless you have the knowledge, you may have to hire someone to maintain and update your website. You will have to pay for your domain name as well as a site to host your webpage.

Website offer only one-way communication. While you can inform your readers, they cannot comment which means no reader/author interaction.

Website with a blog

The lines between a blog and a website are blurring. You can easily design a website that incorporates a blog. I designed a WordPress-based site for my husband’s law firm that has a static front page as well as three other static pages. It also includes a blog regarding recent court decisions. His website was done through WordPress.org verses WordPress.com where I have my blog. (The difference is .com is hosted on WordPress’s website and includes WordPress in the address while when using WordPress.org you need your own domain name and web hosting site.)

WordPress.org actually offers a comprehensive content management system that allows people to build sites with their software even if they don’t want a blog. Quite a few companies or groups have done their website through WordPress – The Rolling Stones, Carleton University, BBC America, and Best Buy Mobile – to name a few. The benefit of using WordPress is you can publish content such as text, audio and video and have it done in minutes. If you had a traditional static website, it could take hours to build a page and hours to update which can cost you time (or money) each time.

Here are some tips for those of you who choose to set up an author website.

  • Don’t put a blog on your website if you are never (or rarely) going to update it. If you want to blog about something other than the books that you have written or are working on, you might consider setting up a separate blog.
  • Make it easy to buy your book. Readers should not have to hunt around your website to find out what books you have written or how to purchase them. If you don’t have a shopping cart/purchase program on your site, be sure to provide direct buy links to your books at other internet retailers.
  • Make sure to name the site after your author name and not your book or series. This way you can focus on a site that incorporates all your books in one location.
  • Make sure you incorporate social media buttons (widgets) so readers can find you on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, Goodreads and any other group you are involved in.
  • Make sure you have a place for readers to submit questions or comments. You do after all want to connect with your readers.
  • Do not use too many images – simple is better. A lot of images will increase load time. But then again you don’t want to go overboard with text. You want to find a balance.
  • Make sure you update your site! And this means not just with your information and latest book but to occasionally change the layout or design colors/style.

Your main goal with an author website is to provide information to not just fans but potential readers. Make it exciting, interesting and some place that will want to visit again.

Previous topics

#1 – Deciding to write a novel – Writing Myths

#2 – Three areas to develop before starting to write a novel

#3 – Finding a Story Idea and How to Know if it “good enough”

#4 – Developing Characters for your Novel

#5 – Major characters? Minor Characters? Where does everyone fit in?

#6 – Developing the Setting for your Novel

#7 – The importance of developing conflict in your novel plot

#8 – To Outline or not to outline 

#9 – The importance of a story arc

#10 – The importance of tension and pace

#11 – Prologue and opening scenes

#12 – Beginning and ending scenes in a novel

#13 – The importance of dialogue…and a few tips on how to write it

#14 – Using Internal Dialogue in your novel

#15 – More dialogue tips and help with dialogue tags

#16 – Knowing and incorporating back story into your novel

#17 – Hinting at what is to come with foreshadowing

#18 – Tips for writing different scenes in your novel

#19 – Dealing with Writer’s Block

#20 – Killing a Character in your Novel

#21 – Keeping things realistic in your novel

#22 – Establishing Writing Goals and Developing Good Writing Habits

#23 – Using the five senses and passive voice in your novel

#24 – The benefit of research in fiction writing

#25 – Novella or Novel, Trilogy or Series – decisions for writers

#26 – Avoiding Plot and Character Clichés

#27 – Novel Writing – Endings and Epilogues

#28 – Fantasy Novel Writing – World Building, Dragons, Magic and More

#29 – Finishing your First Draft

#30 – Your Second Draft and Beyond

#31 – Picking Stronger Words and Watching out for Homonyms

#32 – Omitting unnecessary words in your novel

#33 – Beta Reader, Proofreaders and Copy Editors

#34 – Knowing your grammar or at least using a grammar checking program

#35 – Using a Revision Outline during your Novel Editing

#36 – Editing Techniques: Taking a Break and Reading Aloud

#37 – Publishing Options for your book

#38 – Self-publishing an ebook decisions

#39 – Picking Your Book Title and Your Pen Name

#40 – Investing in an eye-catching book cover

#41 – Writing an awesome book blurb

#42 – Deciding on Front Matter for your novel

#43 – Deciding on Back Matter for your novel

#44 – Formatting your eBook for publication

#45 – Pricing your e-book

#46 – Selecting Categories and Keywords to improve your Novel’s visibility

#47 – Book Promotions: Cover Reveal and Pre-Orders

#48 – Publishing your novel with Amazon and KDP Select

#49 – Publishing your e-book with Smashwords or Draft2Digital

#50 – Marketing your E-book

#51 – Finding your Book’s Target Market

#52 – The importance of Book Reviews and how to get them

#53 – Is it worth it to offer your book for free?

#54 – My results from offering my novels for free

#55 – Amzon’s Kindle Countdown Deals explained and my results

#56 – Selling your book through book ads

#57 – Using a Book Trailer to promote your novel

#58 – Offering your novels or short stories as a box set

#59 – Deciding whether to offer your book as an audio book

#60 – Taking your book on a virtual book tour

#61 – Writing your Author Bio and selecting an Author Photo

#62 – Setting up your Amazon Author Page and International Amazon pages

Author website or blog: Do you need one, both or neither?

Nowadays authors need to make sure they have a visible internet presence but do you need to have a website or a blog? Do you need both or have the lines between these two blurred enough that only one is required?

First off, why do you need a web presence? Nowadays reader expect to connect and find out more about authors on the internet. Your website is how they can do that. It allows you to promote yourself and your books to them and provides them a way to contact you. 

So which should you have – a blog or a website? (And before anyone says anything – yes, a blog is technically a website. The difference is that a blog is typically update more often than a traditional static website.)

Blog

blogBlog is short for web log and is a frequently updated website consisting of blog posts arranged in reverse chronolgoical order. When readers come to your site they see your most recent post first.

A blog can include static pages in addition to the current posts. (I have 2 static pages on my blog – “About Me” and “My Books.”)

Positives:  Blogs are typically updated regularly (daily or weekly – it is up to you) which give readers a reason to return. Blogs also provide an opportunity to interact with the author by allowing them to comment on posts.

Setting up a blog is easy. You don’t need any computer or programming expertise. You will simply use blogging software such as Blogger or WordPress. If you are on a tight budget, a blog can be established for free.

Negatives: You have to update it regularly (or lose readership of your blog) which can take time away from your writing. I had been posting three times a week and had to drop it down to two in order to focus on my latest novel. You will also need a topic to write about unless you plan to just update readers about your exciting life as an author. (Not something I recommend unless you have a very exciting life or can make it extremely interesting.)

Website

websiteA website is a static group of pages containing text, images and videos accessed from the same domain name.

Positives: Easy if you want to put up one-time information that won’t require updating on a regular basis.

Negatives: Unless you know HTML or have webcoding software, you will have to have someone else design, maintain and update your website. You will have to pay for your domain name as well as a site to host your webpage.

Website offer only one-way communication. While you can inform your readers, they cannot comment which means no reader/author interaction.

Website with a blog

As I said, the lines between a blog and a website are blurring. You can easily design a website that incorporates a blog.  I designed a WordPress-based site for my husband’s law firm that has a static front page as well as three other static pages. It also includes a blog regarding recent court decisions. His website was done through WordPress.org verses WordPress.com where I have my blog. (The difference is .com is hosted on WordPress’s website and includes wordpress in the address while when using WordPress.org you need your own domain name and web hosting site.)

WordPress.org actually offers a comprehensive content management system that allows people to build sites with their software even if they don’t want a blog. Quite a few companies or groups have done their website through WordPress – The Rolling Stones, Carleton University, BBC America, and Best Buy Mobile – to name a few. The benefit of using WordPress is you can publish content such as text, audio and video and have it done in minutes. If you had a traditional static website it could take hours to build a page and hours to update which can cost you time (or money) each time.

So while you can to decide to do a website OR a blog, it might be best (easiest, cheapest and more time efficient) to have one site that does it all. But really the most important thing is that you DO need to have at least one of them so readers can at least learn more about you and your books.