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.