A big “Thank you!” to everyone who responded to my request for input yesterday. I’m considering how to proceed with the various options open to me.
So you can get an idea of what’s out there, here’s an interesting article discussing ten different writers and their Web sites, showing how the latter fit into their marketing activities, help them earn a living, and introduce new readers to their portfolio. I wouldn’t fit any of the ten in terms of my ‘mix’ of books, blog and interests, but they give a pretty broad picture of what can be done. For example, what sort of writer would you think has a Web site like this? (Click the image for a larger view.)
There are many more examples at the link.
I’m not sure how my Web site should look. Should I go for the old-style English country gentleman’s office, complete with overstuffed leather chairs, overflowing bookcases, and a dog by the fireside? Or a Colonial look, with me pursuing a marauding elephant through the garden with a double rifle while Miss D. serves tea on the verandah, sweetly calling to me to leave the chase until I’ve had a scone with jam and cream? Perhaps a Texan look … barbed wire strung around my desk as I sweat over the keyboard, with a red-hot brand poised threateningly next to my imperiled posterior, held by a hand with a tattoo on the wrist reading, “Write faster, dammit – OR ELSE!!!”?
I'd recommend simple and accessible.
What about you makes you different?
You have an interesting personal history, and I've certainly never run into anybody with a similar background. Perhaps you can use some of that history to define an image.
I was responsible for the website for a small guitar manufacturer for almost a decade, and while there are a number of good ways to go about making and maintaining a website on a small budget, here's what we did that worked:
I hired a programmer to make a wordpress site, specifying the pages I wanted and providing the artwork for the templates. He gave me account access and I added the site contents myself. If you are interested I would be happy to pass on the name of a programmer who did great work for me for years. He also has basic graphic arts capability.
We made a big site that served successfully as the primary marketing tool for the company for years for an initial investment of under 2K. Annual maintenance was typically a couple of hundred dollars to update the site software and make sure it was secure, and the fairly minimal expense of a name hosting account and separate web/e-mail hosting account.
As to contents, I would advise you to keep it simple and mobile, as well as PC, friendly. One thing I learned is that anything "cool" – like animated mouse-overs etc. will require regular maintenance as it will randomly stop working, or just won't work on some machines. I would avoid flashy frills. They're more trouble than they're worth.
There's nothing wrong with being fairly "old school" – people really just want information, intuitive layout and clear, obvious, navigation.
BTW … just finished "Lightning". Very enjoyable!
Look at the Analytics for your current site. See what gets comments. Record visits and comments in two columns.
Then write out your goals and prioritize them. Two columns.
Then design your site. Focus on content, and forget the cool graphical look.
This should be part of your marketing plan…
I like a spreadsheet Glenn Livingston did, 3 columns, to see what he wanted to work on. I think it was fun, potential profit, and last year profits. May be a 4th column for social worth. And a multiplier on how much each column is worth to you.
Since you are from South Africa, totally go with the Colonial look. It completely fits your personality and background.
"Should I go for the old-style English country gentleman's office, complete with overstuffed leather chairs, overflowing bookcases, and a dog by the fireside? " I laughed out loud and upset my coffee.
No offense, but I can see Miss D with the back-up rifle and spotting glasses (and full Victorian ladies' hunting attire) more easily than imagining Miss D in an afternoon tea dress on the verandah.
Not that I'm one to talk. 🙂
Take a look at Mike Cernovich at danger and play. He's got a lot of good advice on selling his book (Gorilla Mindset) and being your own PR firm.
Good Luck from Rick!
Miss D wrote on mad genius of your target groups. Create a couple of avatars if your target customers.
Wher I see most author sites fail is in the selling of there books. I would focus on this with snippets / samples of all your books. Ending with buy links.
And do some free short stories in your universes.
Use paper prototyping to figure out potential usability issues.
Use fivver and Elance for cheap it work. Or get the work done in South Africa… My guess is the dev cost there is a bit lower than the us.
The biggest focus on a good site is the design. Dev is easy.
List out the content you have. Perhaps past sermons…
List out sites you like with a column for what feature you like.