Author Website or Blog – Which is Best?

By | April 20, 2011

Q: Should I do an author website or a blog?
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.

(If you need help, you can hire me for a pittance, or you can get a lot of what you need from books like WordPress for Dummies or Google Blogger for Dummies.)

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 and it soon becomes slightly out-of-date.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:

  1. They are cheap (free at Blogger.com or WordPress.com).
  2. They are easy to create, use, and maintain.
  3. 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 . . .

MY RECOMMENDATION
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.)

3 thoughts on “Author Website or Blog – Which is Best?

  1. Smitty

    I started blogging just the way you say, using the simplest of templates. Now, I just need to come away from the anonymous world and create a blog for the public side of my work as a writer!

    Reply
    1. Philip Martin Post author

      You don’t have to pay for having a blog at a public site like WordPress.com. Incredibly, it’s free. You go to that site, sign up, pick your blog name, and the blog is instantly hosted at the WordPress site. I.e. all the files live there. You go to that site (to your personal entry point, i.e., your account), which shows you a control “dashboard” where you do stuff like write a post and then make it visible to others on your blog.

      A slight downside is that your URL is longer than if you arranged & paid for your own hosting. For instance, this blog is http://writershandbook.wordpress.com. I don’t pay a dime to have it. I just use the free WordPress.com site. So it has the .wordpress in the URL. Not a big deal.

      You do pay for hosting if you plan to do a website with your own URL. For instance, my main consulting website is http://www.GreatLakesLit.com (I do editorial critiques and book-doctor work, and a select bit of custom-book publishing support). Anyhow, that site is hosted at GoDaddy.com. This means I rent space on the GoDaddy server. I create my website in a software program called RapidWeaver (under $50). I upload my files to the GoDaddy server, to my account. GoDaddy makes my webpages public and manages the traffic of the zillions of visitors who flock to my URL.

      Bluehost is another host, like GoDaddy. The annual hosting fees aren’t much. What’s more complicated is getting & learning software to create the look of the website, and figuring out the ins and outs of loading files and navigating around the host’s site.

      So WordPress.com is not only without cost, it’s easy to use. So . . . why not? You can always do a full website later, or in addition.

      Reply

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