Q: Should I do an author website or a blog?
I could equivocate and say, sure, you can do a website if (a) you know how to do them yourself, or (b) you’re willing to throw some money at someone else to develop and maintain a traditional website. Yes, a good website can be very artistic, powerful, brand-focused, etc. It can also, unfortunately, be complex, confusing, time- and money-sucking, or just downright intimidating to even think about planning it.
Instead, a simple blog can definitely serve as an author’s main online presence. No problem!
And it’s free. (Just create it on Blogger.com or WordPress.com, as many authors do.)
And it’s easy.
The enormous advantage (besides the free part!): you can easily create your blog today. Then, it’s easy to learn to update it with news, comments, small excerpts from your brilliant writing, etc.
Whereas for a website, unless you know how to access it yourself (also, CMS or Content Management System sites can be set up to allow multiple contributors), you’ll incur small but constant costs by going through a web manager. And too often, you spent a lot of time to set it up, believe it’s perfect, and leave it unchanged . . . and it soon becomes slightly out-of-date. Then more so. And more so.
Or, as is the case with many writers, you just never get around to doing a website because you think it’s complicated or confusing . . . and just go around saying, “I know I should have a website . . .”
A better approach is to say, “I know I should have my own online presence . . . a place where people who are interested in me can find out more about me in the way I want to present myself. Hey, I know! I’ll create a blog.”
Why dawdle or dither? Create a blog site. There’s virtually no downside.
If nothing else, view it as an online business card. You have a printed business card, right? Why not have an online version? And over time, with a few posts, your simple and easy blog can grow organically (and as slow as you wish) into a place visitors can get to know a little about you . . . how you think, what you care about, what your writing is like, what your involvement in the literary world is all about . . . with far more insight than they will get from your typical website.
I recommend blogs as “author mini-websites” or “online business cards” for three reasons:
- They are cheap (free at Blogger.com or WordPress.com).
- They are easy to create, use, and maintain.
- They focus on content more than design.
On Point #3 in that list, a key reason I recommend blogs for authors is that, as they are mostly standardized templates, they encourage you to focus more on content . . . and to worry less about design.
Ultimately, content is far more important!
You don’t have to blog daily about what you had for breakfast. Instead, just commit to posting any real news about what you’re doing as a writer. In a pinch, post a brief excerpt from your writing and tell us something about it – its genesis, its challenges, the choices you made, why it’s important to you or to your story . . .
Go cheap, do a WordPress blog hosted on the WordPress.com site. It’s free. You can always bite the bullet and upgrade later to a website approach if you’ve figured out what you want that a blog can’t do and why.
If you need help, drop me a line. (Contact me at Great Lakes Literary.)