My Books, Website Tips

What I Got Wrong in Indie With Ease

What a lot can change in 2 years. When I wrote the first draft of my author self-help guide, Indie With Ease, I was in full-time employment and definitely feeling the squeeze of trying to publish novels and still “have a life”.

Fast forward to 2020, and I’m loving my new career in which I help (mainly) writers and authors with website design. I’m less happy, however, in knowing that what I wrote on this topic in Chapter 12 of Indie with Ease is no longer 100% sound advice.

What I Got Wrong in Indie With Ease | Pauline Wiles

In part, my thinking has evolved on what marketing should mean for authors. And in part (happily), technology has moved on, and new choices have emerged.

Here’s a look at specific advice I would now re-think:

1. Don’t settle for a free domain name >> MAYBE.

Your own domain name (for example, www.paulinewiles.com) is a small investment and helps you look much more professional. For the cost, I still think it’s worth buying your own name, instead of relying on a free one from your website provider. However, I now say it’s better to be online with a free domain than not at all. If this is standing in your way, just move ahead with a free name.

2. Your best bet is a self-hosted WordPress site >> NO.

This represents the biggest change in my thinking. Unless you like playing around with technology and have plenty of time to manage themes, widgets, plug-ins and more, WordPress is no longer the best choice for busy authors. If you have a healthy budget and want to blog, consider Squarespace. If you’re at the other end of the budget spectrum, Carrd.co (affiliate link) could be a fabulous choice for you.

WordPress, does, however, enjoy huge market share, so don’t be surprised if you chat to other authors and they don’t even know there are alternatives. And keep in mind that many training courses on how to build a website just assume you’ll use WordPress, with no consideration of other options.

Also: a self-hosted WordPress site means you’ll need to purchase website hosting, and this is an area where large affiliate incentives are offered. Bluehost, for example, pays up to $125 to the person who’s apparently offering you impartial advice. If you use my Carrd link, on the other hand, I make a little under $6: a trivial amount which has no bearing on the advice I give.

And here’s the advice in Indie With Ease that I still stand behind:

  • You may need to pay for help to get your website set up…
  • … But do aim to understand enough about your site that you can make basic edits yourself, without paying for every tiny change.
  • Keep your website clean, simple and attractive.
  • Collect email addresses; don’t rely on social media to reach out to fans.
  • A small, simple site is a thousand times better than no site at all.
  • Add a blog only if you enjoy blogging and will update it regularly.
  • If you do choose WordPress, be ready to spend time updating it and keeping it secure.

I’m well aware there’s nothing stopping me from publishing an updated edition of Indie With Ease. And I hope you’ll forgive me when I say that is currently a long, long way down my to-do list. Hence this article. I hope it fills the gap a little!

As always, I’m happy to answer your questions on this topic, or to discuss your own website needs.


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4 Comment

  1. Reply
    Julie Valerie
    February 5, 2020 at 11:27 am

    You give such great advice!

    1. Reply
      Pauline
      February 5, 2020 at 11:51 am

      Why, thank you!

  2. Reply
    Jean | Delightful Repast
    February 6, 2020 at 7:46 am

    Pauline, you really have this down! I started with the free Blogger, blogspot.com. Then I went to self-hosted Blogger. And I’ve been very happy with it. Doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of WordPress, but I’m so glad I never listened to all the people who told me I should switch to it. Several years ago I saw a presentation on Squarespace, and it sounded really good. Carrd.co is new to me, and though I’m not going to switch, I’m glad to learn about it.

  3. Reply
    Pauline
    February 6, 2020 at 8:12 am

    Yes, Jean, blogging is such an integral part of what you do – and you get amazing engagement with it – that Carrd.co is definitely NOT a suitable choice for you (there is no blogging feature on Carrd). If you did ever want to step up a level, Squarespace is well worth looking at, but there would certainly be a budget impact too. It seems to me you’re doing absolutely fine on your current platform.

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