Demystifying Authors Websites: Blueprint to Clarity6 min read

Warning box by Janine Bolon - This post is not a fluff piece!

I think a warning is needed for you here, I teach the obvious. I teach it directly. I teach without frills. This post starts with me sharing the basics and then builds into the data I’ve collected over the past 20 years. After building hundreds of my own website pages. After hundreds of blog posts and podcast show notes, I can tell you, with analytic data, what works and doesn’t work for my authorpreneurial business. Will this work for you? Yes. Why? Because the one thing I have heard from my readers is that they love my websites. Frequently they tell me my sites are “clean,” “easy-to-navigate,” and don’t have a lot of fluff.

Here are the stripped down basics of what you need to begin your author website. Right now you may have one page running on your website. Your HOME page and all it is doing is collecting email addresses of your future beta-readers. Right? Now that you are deeper into writing your book and your email list has gone from two subscribers (you and your web designer) to eight subscribers (you’ve had a few friends sign up), you are now ready to build two more pages. Only two more, no need to go crazy with this.

  • Home page with email form “above the fold” to receive updates on your book
  • About page with a short story on why you are writing your book and how to connect with you via social media?.
  • Your Book’s page. If you are still writing the book, have a hand drawn image with stick figures on what you think the book cover will look like and a short paragraph explaining how you are seeking beta-readers and a rough date on when you plan on having the book done. Give yourself at least nine months! 😉

For my first book’s landing page, here is what I had posted as I was writing it for my students:

Ditching Debt: Three Simple Steps for Financial Stress Relief by Author Janine Bolon

That’s right! A hand drawn image with scribbles showing what I was doing. I posted that on my website and people loved it! This was the moment that I learned how much my readers relished being a part of the creative process with me. This was back in 2005. I learned that people love to see an artist at work. As a writer, even more so! The final product came back from my graphic designer looking like this.

I posted this image after I had it from my designer and made it a part of my monthly update to my subscribers (I had 23 by that time) as I moved along the book writing process.

Janine Bolon's book cover: Ditching Debt

A debut author’s website  or even a veteran author’s website, for that matter, doesn’t need to be complicated. I think you’ve got that figured out by now. Here are a few reasons to keep your website simple.

  1. The primary goal of a website for an author is to gather email addresses from their community, showcase their work and provide information about themselves. It’s essential to keep the website clean, straightforward, and easy to navigate so your readers can find what they’re looking for quickly and easily.
  1. A simple website design helps you save time and money. Developing a complex website can take months and cost thousands of dollars, time and resources that could be better spent on writing! Am I right? A simple website can be created and launched in a fraction of the time and cost. Speed is success at this point. What is the old saying? “Done is better than perfect!” I’ve made thousands of dollars because I launched quickly rather than waiting for everything to be ready.
  1. A complicated website may actually detract from your message. By bringing in too much information, graphics, and other distractions you will most certainly overwhelm and confuse your visitor, making it difficult for them to focus on your work. A simple website, on the other hand, can help visitors focus on the author’s writing and style, while providing a clear, concise message about their past work and current projects.
  1. Easy to Update. As your business grows and your career progresses, you will want to update your website with new information, such as new books, events, projects and media coverage. A simple website can be easily updated and maintained, allowing you to keep the website fresh without incurring significant time or expense. Hey! We love saving money, right?
  1. Simplicity. Simple websites are accessible to a wider audience. A website with complicated design elements or navigation may not be accessible to everyone, particularly those with disabilities or limited internet access. A simple website, on the other hand, can be designed to be accessible to all visitors, regardless of their abilities or the technology they use to access the internet.
  1. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) This is the last thing I worry about or even consider in my writing or website page development, but after seven years of online marketing, I am just now focusing my content to be optimized for search engines. This, my friend, is not a priority when you are first starting out. I wouldn’t worry about this aspect of your website until you’ve published your second book, okay? Relax on this.

Remember that the most visited pages on any author’s website are as follows and in this order. I get this data from fifteen different websites and eight years of tracking my readers’ activity. I’ve also interviewed hundreds of business owners and asked them about their analytics as well.

The most visited pages on an author’s website, in order, are: (drum roll, please)

  • Home page
  • About page
  • Books page
  • Events page
  • Blog or Writing Tips page
  • Contact page

So, from day one, have your home page ask for your reader’s email address.

Then, build out your “about me” page.

When you have your idea of your book sketched out a bit, get the landing page ready. Have a hand-drawn idea of a cover along with your two-to-three sentence summary of what you think you are going to write about and then say,

“I’m still writing this book, but this is what I’m thinking about at the moment.”

Your community will love you for your authenticity and “realness” of you being you. No pretense. No marketing glitz, just you speaking to your reader conversationally person-to-person. Lovely! What a fantastic change of pace. Am I right? Of course I am. You already feel more relaxed that you don’t have to be anything different from what you are.

People will try to make the book launching process very difficult. It isn’t. If you want a quick tutorial on how to run a book launch from scratch, on a limited budget, join me for my “almost” weekly OPEN Friday Coffee and ask me for details.

As you work out each chapter of your book, send out an email to ask your beta readers to give you advice on it (much like what I have done with this project!).

Janine Bolon is the author of Author Podcasting: How to be a Stand Out Guest and take Your Book on a Virtual Tour, along with 14 additional books on business, personal finance, and spirituality. She homeschooled her 4 children, created over 90 online courses and continues to teach her students and readers on how to live the life they desire. She lives in Colorado and hikes year round. Want to talk to her? Join her for OPEN Friday Coffee.

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