By Gregory A. Kompes
Every writer needs a website. A virtual sales brochures that brands you as an expert in your niche. When well-designed, websites create a positive first impression with your editors, agents, publishers, clients, and readers. By following these four steps, you'll have a great site online in no time, for under $100 a year.
Step One: Purchase a domain name that reflects you, your writing, or your services. It's good to be creative, but important to maintain a professional image. No matter what domain name you choose, purchase your own name (i.e. www.gregorykompes.com), before someone else does.
Do your research; there are a lot of domain providers out there. Most offer an annual payment that adds convenience and saves you money. I use FabulistFlashDomains.com where domain names are under $10 a year and site hosting (see next step) starts at $3.99 a month.
Step Two: Websites need a "host" or a place to live online in order to be accessible to viewers. An Internet search for "website host services" will jumpstart your research. When selecting a site host, avoid the "free" hosting sites because they put advertising banners on your site creating an unprofessional look. Many site hosts offer banner-free services starting at $3.99 a month. As your career grows, so will your reader following and website needs. Start small and add services as you need them; Select a host that offers upgradeable services.
Step Three: Create site content that promotes you, your services, and your books. Take Jenna Glatzer (www.jennaglatzer.com), author or ghostwriter of 16 books, as an example. Glatzer describes her site: "I have info about each of my books, along with my bio, media appearances, reviews, free articles for reprint, frequently asked questions, and contact info." Websites are perfect for selling books, advertising services, blogging, and capturing your reader fan base through e-mail subscriber lists and newsletters. Future columns will explore these topics in more detail.
Step Four: Build a professional-looking website or blog. Some site hosts offer easy templates. If you can use PowerPoint, you'll quickly understand website creation software such as FrontPage, Publisher, or Website Tonight. If you're interested in learning the simple website programming language HTML, W3Schools.com has an excellent (and free) HTML tutorial. Christina Katz builds her websites in Adobe Contribute, which is inexpensive and easy.
If you are not technically inclined, you can hire someone to build your site for you. After it's done, follow your host's upload instructions (or have your hired gun do so for you) and your site will start promoting you 24-7.
Gregory A. Kompes, The Writerpreneur, is an Internet self-promotion expert. Gregory is the author of the bestselling 50 Fabulous Gay-Friendly Places to Live and the Writer's eBook Series that includes Endorsement Quest, Should You Write an eBook, and Your Online Media Kit. He is co-founder of the Patchwork Path anthology series, Presenters & Programs, the Writer's Pen & Grill, and Laudably Tarnished: A Poetry Workshop. Gregory is editor of The Fabulist Flash, an informative newsletter for writers, and the award winning Eighteen Questions, a Q&A series that collects and shares the experiences of published authors.