For poets, building an author website doesn’t have to be an arm-twisting exercise in self-promotion. Instead, creating an author website to showcase your poetry should be an opportunity for self-expression—one that just happens to grow your fan base, sell more copies of your poetry collection, and improve your professional networking!
And the experts at Web Design Relief have more great news! As a poet, you are creative, artistic, inquisitive, intelligent, exacting, and passionate—all the qualities needed to build an outstanding author website.
The only question is…where to start?
What’s the easiest (and cheapest) way to build a website that will showcase your poetry?
Here are the first steps to take in order to create a professional website that can build your reputation for quality poetry.
First: Decide What’s Important—Clarify The Objectives Of Your Author Website
Here’s a list of objectives that many poets hope their websites will achieve. Read through the entire list, then rank the objectives in order of their importance to you (print out this worksheet if it makes it easier). Doing this will give you a better sense of what you want your author website to do for your career as a poet.
Author Website Ideas Design Worksheet For Poets
10 = very important
1 = least important
(HINT: Ties are okay!)
____ A place to showcase full-length poems so people can read them online
____ A focused retail site for selling my poetry collection or other books
____ Impress visitors with immediate, emotional images (less text, more color) that convey the mood/tone/impressions of my poetry
____ A central hub that serves as the linchpin for my social media efforts
____ Highlight (front and center) my professional writer bio and poetry publishing accolades
____ A web property that gives me full control over a private author mailing list and fan-building efforts (in contrast to the lack of control on social media)
____ Emphasis on personal branding in order to position my online persona as the center of my marketing efforts
____ An interface that makes it easy for publishing professionals to find and contact me about potential career opportunities
____ An easy-to-update website that focuses on habitual blogging
____ A website that is going to promote my marketing and outreach efforts (like poetry readings, seminars, and talks)
____ A webpage that is going to support the growth of an audience of poetry readers (a la Instapoets)
____ Exert some control over the information that search engines offer when someone “Googles” my name (aka Search Engine Optimization)
A Publishing Tip All Web-Savvy Poets Must Know About Starting A Poetry Website
If you are planning to publish your creative writing on your private author website, it’s important to be aware of publishing industry standard practices regarding what is considered previously published writing.
Most literary journal editors will not consider previously published work. That means, if a short story or poem has been published before, it is no longer acceptable for publication anywhere else (unless the periodical specifically acquires “reprint rights”).
So if you share your poems on your author website, most editors will consider them to be published—even if they have only been read by a handful of people.
Discussions about what is considered previously published writing can get very complicated. Click here for an in-depth exploration about the definition of previously published writing.
Decide How You Want Your Author Website To Look
The best author websites reflect the personalities, interests, and styles of the writers who own them. In order to be sure that your poetry website mirrors who you are as a writer, check out our web design personality self-test. You’ll find out if you are a minimalist, a social butterfly, a traditionalist, or an imagist. With a better sense of who you are and what you like in an author website, you can move forward with confidence, knowing that readers will come away from your website with an accurate perception of you as a poet.
Here’s the first question in this fun web design personality quiz!
What’s your favorite way to spend a Sunday afternoon?
- a) Calling your friends to catch up on the latest gossip
- b) Taking it easy, not making too many plans
- c) Paintball tournament, followed by redoing your kitchen, followed by an evening walk near your favorite lake
- d) Doing your chores, then reading or watching TV
Take the rest of the quiz right now, then come back to this page!
How Much Money Should You Pay For Your Author Poetry Website?
The cost of an author website will depend on your commitment to quality, imagination, and budget. To create a website for your poetry, you’ll need to establish a budget and then do some research to discover how to stretch your dollar as far as it can go.
Overview Of Your Author Website Design Options
Cheap/free author website. There are a number of blogging websites that offer writers the ability to create free websites. The major advantage of a free website is obvious: It’s free! But the old adage that you get what you pay for holds true when it comes to free website-building platforms.
Here are some of the drawbacks that could come with using a free website tool:
- Limited customization abilities (or none at all)
- Cookie-cutter websites that don’t necessarily capture a writer’s unique voice
- Time lost figuring out what you can and can’t do on your free website
- No human support for questions/issues
- No shopping cart for book sales
- Advertisements on your website that are beyond your control
- Limited functionality for developing a fan base (such as restrictions on plugins that allow writers to build an emailing list)
- No URL (domain name) choice (which can make branding as well as communication difficult)
- Hidden surcharges for “upgrades” that are available at little to no cost under different circumstances
- Potential difficulty upgrading or changing your branding later on
- Privacy issues (stemming from limitations on “contact me” forms)
For some writers, the advantages of having a limited, free website outweigh the disadvantages of having no website at all. So if choosing a free website is the only way for you to have any website—go for it! Just be sure you research ALL of your options before making a commitment.
Middle-of-the-road author website investment. Most poets who strive for professionalism work with website design companies like Web Design Relief. Web design companies are not free, but they usually offer various options for writers to accommodate various budgets. Here are some of the advantages of working with a web design company:
- High-value investment through semi-custom web design (not cookie-cutter, but not 100% custom)
- Website design that captures a writer’s personal voice/style/brand, which is really important in the publishing industry
- Responsive customer support means less time asking questions, more time writing
- No outside advertisements on your site for a professional, quality appearance
- Lots of flexibility for fan base building and integrating social media functionality
- Shopping cart for book sales
- URL flexibility (plus, a good web design company will take care of hosting and registration for you, which saves time)
- Upgrades that are not simply hidden fees and may even be built into varying packages
- If you ever need to change your author website, you have a company that will ensure a seamless transition
Investing in a web design company to professionally build your poetry website may prove to be a key strategy in developing your reputation for quality as a poet. Expect to pay anywhere from five hundred to a few thousand dollars, depending on your budget and goals.
For a sample of what a web design company might charge, check out the writer web design packages.
High-end poetry websites. Web design companies who cater to corporations and famous brands have been known to charge a starting fee of $10,000 for web design. Some global bestselling writers do have extremely expensive websites in order to support their enormous audiences.
But do you need a website that could cost as much as a dream vacation?
We don’t think so.
For better or worse, poets don’t usually need to make huge investments in order to create an author website that beautifully and effectively gets the job done.
How To Effectively Communicate With Your Website Designer
We could talk all day about plugins, SEO, and custom coding, but all the technology in the world won’t help your writing career unless you have a good relationship with your website designer. Because your designer holds the key to building your website, it’s important that he or she understands who you are as a poet.
Here’s how to ensure you and your website designer are on the same page:
Make your priorities known. Offer your designer a list of your priorities in their order of importance (hint: you can base it on our list above).
Share examples of poetry websites or author websites that you like. Offer your web designer links to three or four examples of author websites (preferably poets like you). Then, share details about what you like—and don’t like—about those websites.
Get visual. If you have specific ideas about images you would like to use—or if you already hold the copyright for images you would like incorporated into your poetry website—be sure to communicate this to your web designer. If you’re not sure about what images you would like to use in the header section of your website or elsewhere, there’s no need to stress about it! Your web designer is there to help you sort through your choices and make decisions.
Headshots and cover art. In a best-case scenario, you will be able to give your web designer a JPEG of your author portrait prior to the start of the website design. If you have published a poetry collection, be sure to send over high-quality images of your cover so that your designer can incorporate your cover art into the site.
Brace yourself for a reality check. Unless you are paying a high-end web designer to build a website for you from scratch, you may be disappointed to learn that some website management systems are not able to accommodate all of your requests. The value of investing in a semi-custom website means you won’t have to empty your bank account in order to have a great website, but you may be limited in the custom options you have to choose from.
Remember: When it comes to communication—more is better!
The designer for your poetry website is not a mind reader; clear communication must run both ways. At some point, you may be tempted to abdicate your responsibility to make decisions about your website and leave it up to your designer (Do what you think is best!). But we’d like to offer you a word of caution: Don’t.
A good web designer (especially one like Web Design Relief that specializes in working with writers) should have great suggestions that meet your particular needs and goals. But leaving every choice up to your designer with little direction could end in frustration for everyone. The more specific you can be about your preferences, the more likely you will actually get an author website you’re happy with.
More Resources For Your Poetry Website Design
Whether you’re taking a DIY approach to your author website or working with a professional website developer, these articles will help you build a more effective online platform for your poetry career:
Question: Can you help us? Tell us what you think is the most important single element of a poet’s website!