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.
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.
- See more on what I consider are the drawbacks of WordPress (scroll down to subheading).
- More info on what your website might cost.
- How to evaluate advice you read online.
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!
Would you like a free 8-step Author Website Starter Kit?
With clear explanations and impartial advice, you'll feel ready to make decisions on the purpose of your website, choosing a platform, and the main content you need.