An author website is one of the most effective marketing tools for a writer. It has the potential to turn a random visitor to your website into a full-fledged fan of your writing. But in order to get to that coveted place of sold-out book signings and ten-thousand blog subscribers (okay, sorry, we’re getting a little ahead of ourselves), you’ll want to avoid these four common mistakes writers make on their author websites.
And don’t worry; we’re not here to nitpick. We’re super-proud that you’re considering building an author website or already have one. It’s the first step toward building a fan base and solidifying your burgeoning author platform, so have fun!
4 Common Mistakes Writers Make On Their Author Websites
Crowding Your Homepage. While you don’t want to underwhelm your visitors, it’s much easier (and more detrimental) to overwhelm them. Crowding the homepage of your writer website with text, photos, and random links will only serve to confuse and turn off your visitors.
Instead, have a clear message on your homepage: a brief introduction to yourself or your work (or both!), one or two images that pertain to the text, and a link or call to action that will lead visitors deeper into your site or urge them to subscribe to your blog or follow you on Twitter.
Imagine your author website as your home and that you’re giving a virtual tour to your visitors. Clean up a little so moving from room to room is easy and pleasant.
Outdated Features. Think of your author website as a shiny, new car. If you ignore your car’s needed oil changes and tire rotations, it will inevitably become unsafe to drive. Likewise, if you don’t keep your website updated, it’ll become less secure over time.
Say you install a plug-in from the get-go to protect your site from hackers and spambots, but you fail to update it for several years. The plug-in essentially becomes obsolete, and your site becomes vulnerable to attacks. Making sure your author site is as up-to-date as possible is a simple way to protect yourself and keep everything running smoothly.
No Contact Form. If you want your potential fans and readers to keep coming back and stay up to speed with your writing news, you’ve got to give them a way to do so. Not creating a visible and simple way for your fans to contact you is the quickest way to tell them that you’re not interested in hearing from them.
A contact form doesn’t mean giving away your home address or telephone number. Using a simple contact form like Gravity Forms ensures that visitors can get in touch with you without accessing your personal information.
Over-Linking To Outside Sites. While it isn’t detrimental to link to other websites (perhaps a local bookstore you’re affiliated with or a café you’re giving a reading at this week), too many links can drive traffic away from your site.
The goal is to keep your visitors on your site as long as possible and not distract them with too many unnecessary or unhelpful outside sources.
BONUS TIP: If you have a blog, make sure it’s integrated with your writer website, as opposed to existing on an entirely different site.
Keeping your visitors happy and at ease while they’re browsing your author website is a sure way to get them to come back. Simple homepage design, an easy-to-navigate structure, and a definitive call to action provide a quick and easy way for visitors to get in touch (and stay in touch!). But be careful about offering too many distracting links.
Question: What elements of an author website keep you coming back for more?