The Fastest Way to Build an Online Home

Yurt

by C.K. MacLeod

Do you have an online home? You really should.

Recently, a managing editor contacted me to see if I was interested in doing some work for his publisher. The timing wasn’t great for me, but I didn’t want to leave the publisher high and dry. With the managing editor's permission, I contacted my editing group and asked interested editors to contact me. I got seven email responses in the first hour.

When I make a referral, I want to know something about the person I’m referring, but I couldn’t find out anything about these editors other than what they told me in their email messages. They didn’t appear to have online homes.

I get it. Setting up a website and keeping up with social media is a lot of work. But may I suggest that you do one small thing? Set up an About.me page. I learned about this site through personal branding expert Sidneyeve Matrix.

About.me is the equivalent of a digital business card, or a mini one-page website. It’s free for a basic account, it’ll take you less than an hour to set up, and then you can link to it in your email signature. Here's my About.me page:

Corina's About.me page
Corina's About.me page

If you’re providing services, or you have something to sell, you don’t need to buy an online mansion. You can take up residence in a tiny online yurt.

Image by Prashant Ram

6 Steps for Building an Author Website

Building blocksby C.K. MacLeod

Creating a website involves a few steps that can be a little confusing at first. Here are the basics:

1. Choose a domain name.

Your domain is the web address people will use to find your publishing company. Put a great deal of thought into what you'll name your site, and make sure it's easy to remember. There are many do's and don'ts for naming a web site; you may want to consider all of them.

When you decide on the name of your website, you'll need to see if that domain name is already taken. You'll then need to purchase your domain name from a site that offers domain names for sale. Go Daddy is a popular domain registrar, but it isn't the only choice. You may be able to purchase a domain name through your web host (see below).

2. Choose a web host.

A web host is a company that hosts your website. Think of hosting as space you rent on the Internet. Again, there are many web hosts to choose from, so do your research. I use Bluehost because it

  • offers 24/7 support for the first year,
  • has some great website building tools,
  • offers a free domain name for one year,
  • will allow us to build more than one website with the same account, and
  • offers five free email addresses.

3. Choose a website building tool.

Website building tools are designed to make setting up a website easier. Gone are the days when you'd have to hand code your website in HTML.

WordPress is a popular open-source website building tool with lots of features, but if this is your first website and you're looking for something easy to use, the Weebly website building tool is by far the easiest way to begin.

Building a site with Blogger is an option, too, if you're interested in blogging or setting up an author website, and not selling anything from your website.

I recently switched over to WordPress so I can make use of some of WordPress' time-saving plug-ins. Both WordPress and Weebly have options for setting up an online store, or using plug-ins that will let you to sell books from your website.

4. Follow a tutorial.

Weebly is pretty intuitive, and I found I could just experiment with Weebly's drag-and-drop features to set up a website with little frustration. WordPress was another story. It's packed with features, and it can take some getting used to. I followed this tutorial by Simon Whistler to set up my Wordpress site.

5. Use a website checklist.

Once you have your website set up, you'll want to consider what features you'll need. A website checklist can help you to make decisions and keep you on track.

6. Build anticipation.

Your website doesn't have to go live right away. It can go live when you're ready. See if your website building tool has a "coming soon" page template or plug-in that you can mount while you work on your website in the background.

For more information on the ins and outs of setting up a website, see Jane Friedman's post, Self-Hosting Your Author Website: Why and How to Do It.

Image by André Hofmeister

Updated. Originally posted at Beyond Paper Editing.