Jul 25, 2013

Build a Better Author Website With Me

I put Zoe in charge of building my website, but she spent all her time on Grumpy Cat memes.
It's important for authors these days to be accessible online, especially if you're starting out with self-publishing or going through a small press publisher who doesn't have the big budget to promote your work. 

I've loved my blog. It has remained my favourite form of social networking, and I've tried a lot of them! I will always blog, aiming to share any information I think can help other writers and authors. But now, I need to create a more professional website to host my blog. My page needs more than Blogger can provide.

Don't get me wrong, Blogger is still a great platform for new bloggers. It's easier to use than many others, and allows you to track your growing follower list. And I've no intention of deleting everything I've built here, but migration will begin soon to a new hosted site, using a professional Wordpress theme. My site will have pages to accommodate my upcoming vlogs for teens and kids on creative writing (iTeenWrite), information about my writing workshops, a book page, free resources and, of course, my blog.

I'm starting from scratch and doing this techie work myself, so it'll be a while off yet. So why am I telling you now? I'm going to record every step with lots of screen shots and voice over instructions, so if you take this path you won't make my mistakes. I'm hoping to make web building easy for you!  

Here's the thing. I can help you each step of the way if your process is the same as mine. My host site and domain name is Just Host, I find them reliable, consistent and fairly good value. I tried Squarespace but found it more than double the price for a platform that was too complicated for me to use and only produced a very basic site without an IT degree. I've heard good things about Crazy Domains, but haven't tried them. I can happily give Just Host a plug and have included an affiliate link below - have a look and see if it's for you. 
My first step will be installing Wordpress through Just Host:
You have homework! Even if you don't want to try this tactic for building your site, this is something you should do before creating any website. Write a plan, a list of all the important things you want to include on your website. Will you offer writers' workshop, school visits? Want a sales page for books? An email sign up form? Plan before you build, it'll make life easier later!

25 comments:

  1. Thanks to Bloglovin I picked this up while having lunch at our 'fave' cafe at slq, lol! You know what i think of wordpress -- and i thought about your Capcha Code complaint on blogger. A pet peeve with wordpress is having to fill out your life story just to comment...then to be taken to yet another screen to swear you are who you say you are. Ugh! Actually worse than Capchas I think.

    However, i will follow your directions here so you can get instant feedback from one of ypur students, lol!

    Great share, buddy.

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  2. Look forward to your progress through the process, Charlene. However, my computer is not allowing me on to any wordpress blog at the moment, so hopefully that will change soon! Denise is right - I've heard other complaints about the signing in difficulties on WP, although that wasn't my problem.

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  3. Thanks for the feedback Denise and Rosemary, I'll look into that problem (i.e. ask Cavin), it might have something to do with the settings of the person's blog. I'll see what I come up with. Just figured if I have to go through this painful confusing process, I may as well share and see if I can save someone else from making my mistakes :)

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  4. I'm impressed you're doing it yourself! I plan to hire someone because there is no way I could put something professional together.

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    1. I may be asking you for that contact if things go horribly wrong - I've already deleted the site twice!

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  5. Hi Charmaine .. good luck - I'm getting help with mine and will convert to WP - but have noted the challenge ...

    Keeping this open to read other thoughts .. cheers Hilary

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    1. Hi Hilary, sure there's the sensible approach of getting someone who actually knows what they're doing, but really... how hard can it be (why is everyone laughing so loud?). ;)

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  6. I tend to disagree with the article. Blogger has everything that you need and then some. My site at www.eastonlivingston.com is a Blogger site. I also have a site that's a Wordpress site. Each of them offers the same amount of customization. So there's really no "better" or "more professional". It's how you use the tools that you have. J.A. Konrath uses a Blogger platform site and that thing has tons of people going to it and is a simple format. So the article is a tad misleading in because I believe there's a misunderstanding about the benefits of each platform.

    All that being said, I wish you all the best in your switch. Wordpress is a good platform. There's a learning curve as with everything but if you know how to work some HTML and CSS, you'll be good to go no matter where you land.

    God bless.

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  7. I have both, a blogsite and a website, but at this point, blogger has more action by far.

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  8. I had Wordpress for a while. I liked it, but it felt so much easier to stick to my blog and give it pages.

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  9. Very interesting idea. I'll be keeping an eye on how it progresses. Perhaps i can learn something for my own attempt (coming soon I hope).

    mood

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  10. Good to see the differing views. Blogger is a good platform for blogging and I've been happy with it for a long time. I would still recommend it to new bloggers as it is a lot easier to handle. For me, Wordpress just has a little more to offer - so far those extras have not been worth the hard work. Now it is. I have a few little gripes about blogger, such as the influx of captchas lately because spam is not being caught as well as it used to be (I have a whole conspiracy theory that this is intentional to lure us all to use Google+ comments as Google desperately tries to sell Google+ to users), but I do agree that I will find problems with Wordpress too. All my old content will stay here, and I'll still be on Blogger for a while, I expect this to take me at least a month to switch over. After that, I'll redirect the link so it won't be hard to find.
    If you are curious, follow along. I am NOT a techie html/CSS expert, but I am someone who believes if I break the instructions down to simple steps, then I can do anything. I'm just hoping to get value out of the process by offering those simplified steps to others. I'll still visit Blogger blogs! One thing I've always said about social media of any type, it's not the platform I care about, it's the people.

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  11. Hi, Charmaine,

    I enjoy changing wall papers and messing with my blog and I'm reminded that I haven't changed anything in ages when I visit Denise, who's always mixing things up.

    Like yours, my site is hosted by Justhost. Wordpress is really good for the professional look, but boy, oh, boy, do I hate working with it. I'll follow along as I'm sure to learn some stuff. I also like Weebly, they have some nice professional looking pages.

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    1. Hi Joy,

      Your page looks great though - very professional. I do actually admire the way you present yourself, in your books as well. I do mess about a bit too and when I change something I absolutely love it for a while, but in hindsight I can't believe some of the tragic backgrounds I've had - I'll always remember the design with my head repeated over and over - the stuff of nightmares!

      I'm very happy with Just Host. It's not often I'll recommend a brand. I did use Webcity for a while and although price-wise they were good, I found their control panel just too confusing for a non-webdesigner. I think I did play around with Weebly, and they had a bit of promise, but I don't think you could use Wordpress themes and plug ins - but I could be totally wrong too!

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  12. I'm looking forward to seeing what your new website will be like; I'm sure it will be great! If you have blog posts on your Wordpress site, I'd like to leave comments, but the problem is that a lot of Wordpress bloggers (and also several people on Blogger) require commenters to leave their e-mail addresses. Every time I do that, my comment ends up linking directly to my e-mail inbox, which means anyone can read my messages. I had to send several frantic e-mails to those bloggers to get them to remove the link/delete my comments (which they all were nice enough to do). So I might not be able to leave comments on your new website, sorry!

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    1. I did not know about that glitch! I see that there are a variety of widgets you can use on your Wordpress site for comments, so some are probably better than others. Although, I never want people to feel obligated to comment, I get many visitors every day who pop in and read and leave, and that's ok too. I'll see what I can do about that problem, because I would hate to lose touch all together with my online buddies :)

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  13. I'm in need of some tech training - so I'm along for the ride. Good luck, it's something I keep telling myself I should do - like learn the basics of blogger which I still don't know. I'm hopeless, but maybe if I follow along won't be for long! Looking forward to your journey!

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    1. Don't worry Yolanda - my steps will be super simplified - I even find those 'For Dummies' manuals too complicated!

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  14. Nice post - that's great you're going to keep track of what does and does not work for you. I've heard of a couple bloggers moving from blogger to wordpress and they got fellow bloggers to help them. I'm sure I'd need that, as I'm not all that tech savvy.

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  15. Oh, I'm glad you're going to document this, Charmaine. I'm going to need to do something like this in the future, so it will be very helpful to learn from you!

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  16. It will be very interesting to watch this process. Best of luck!

    Sarah Allen
    (From Sarah, with Joy)

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  17. This is something to think about for the future. Thanks for the advice, Charmaine. :)

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  18. I'm so happy to see this might a tally be helpful to others. I've already struggled through the Wordpress installation, making a ton of mistakes, so I'll report on that soon. Don't worry if you're not ready yet, I'll create a PDF or separate page when I'm completely finished so you can access it any time.

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    1. Should be *actually - text is too small for me to see on the iPad :)

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  19. Hi, Charmaine,

    This is awesome! Thanks for taking us along on the ride with you! At some point I'll need to do this as well, especially if my new service takes off. We shall see. Time will tell.

    GOOD LUCK! You're pretty smart and savvy, I'm sure you'll have it up and running in NO TIME!

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