New Author Tip: What is the difference between a blog and author website, and do I need both?

Whenever I am out and about the first question people ask: “Do you have a website?” So I thought I’d talk briefly about the difference between a blog and an author website and if you need both.

First, no. You don’t necessarily need both, though I do recommend it for authors with several published books. But, first, let’s get into the major differences.

Though both are referred to as “websites” a website is different from the blog in that it is something that is static and unchanging. It focuses on the author and his/her work without the distraction of too many other elements (like new posts). Sometimes websites just have one page and that’s OK. The purpose of the website is to give immediate information about who the person is, what it is that they do and how you can stay in touch with them and their work. These things must be understood immediately upon visiting the author’s website.

A blog is the place where the author (that’s you) would write on a regular and consistent basis. Deriving from the word weblog, blogs are technically also websites but the differences is that readers can come to learn more about you as a person and become familiar with your work through your consistent posts. They can get to know you personally and as you are writing your book, not just by reading your published work. A blog is always changing as the writer is always posting new content and is much more interactive than a website which is the basic difference between the two. Blogs have comments, sharing options and catch the attention of Google much better than a static website.

So the major difference is:

  • Website- Static, to the point, unchanging (can have widgets and things but does not change as much with updated posts.)
  • Blog – Constantly changing, interactive, easily indexed by Google

The question is: When should you invest in a website or blog?

If you have no books out, it would make more sense to start a free WordPress blog before investing money into a website. Use the free blog to get a feel for blogging and writing publicly, and use it as a way to build your platform by adding value that brings readers. Don’t just talk about your writing, talk about your life in general. Share your favorite kind of music, movies, or whatever pertains to the subject of the book you are writing. Also, learn more about blogging in general.

I am not going to get into the “Is writing blogging?” debate. I am just going to say that if you’re a writer using blogging to connect with readers you should probably take the time to learn a little bit about how your blog platform of choice works if you hope to do well. No, I don’t think just publishing posts alone is enough. You can write until you’re blue in the face but if you don’t know how to add tags and categories, set up an about or contact page, connect social media, add a follow button and all of the basic stuff, your blog is just going to sit there doing nothing. People may find you eventually, but understanding these basics will help them to find you quicker.

In any event, use blogging as an opportunity to be social, make new friends, and network with professionals. Blogs are interactive and a great way to keep your readers updated. It’s also the easiest way for you to get to know your audience on a level beyond the basics. You can tell by likes, comments or social shares what kind of content people like. This will help you to produce more valuable content and that’s what you want.

So, website? Blog? Both?

If you have several books published I would say to have both a website and a blog, with the blog accessible through your website.

I am not saying you have to spend a lot of money on a website but it should certainly be part of your budget strategy when you are ready to begin. I don’t understand why in every other business people understand that to start a business is to also start a financial plan as well, except when it comes to writing. Publishing books, my dearest Indie Authors, is not free. It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money to publish a book but it will cost something. Create a budget for that something and don’t publish the book until you can afford to do so. If you want to become a Self-Publisher you will need to be just as financially responsible as if you were starting any other business. Let’s start taking ourselves seriously as authors! And if you’re serious about publishing you must consider thinking like a businessperson and the basics of all businesses are having a website where people can learn more about that business. If you’re a serious author you should have a website.

But, your blog can also certainly act as your website….with a few changes.

Because the blog and the website still have major differences, if you do this (have your WordPress blog act as your website) consider making a few changes to your blog:

  • Use your author name as your blog name and purchase a domain name. If you intend to use your blog as an author blog you are going to want it to be something like: www dot yournamehere dot com, and not www dot tanyaforeverlove dot wordpress dot com. Yes, this blog is not named after me but don’t be like me. But, also consider that I have an author website that is named after me already and this blog is linked to that site. I can send people to yecheilyahysrayl.com and they can still access this blog and that’s what you want: a place where people can access all of you in one place.

 

  • If your blog is also your website (and you blog using WordPress), consider setting up a static or landing page. I can just tell people to go to yecheilyahysrayl.com and they will find everything they need on me (including this blog). But if you are using your blog as your website, remember, the major differences between the website and blog is that the website is static and gets straight to the point. There is no long list of posts to sift through and what the person does is immediately available. An author website focuses ONLY on you, the author, and your work. It’s unchanging and provides everything someone would need to learn more about you without the added commentary, widgets, theme changes and constantly updated articles. This means that if your blog is your website, you may want to change your blog name to reflect your author name, create a domain name of that name and then, you may want to also create a static page.

To create a static page on your blog, first, create a new page.

Dashboard > Pages > Add New

Make this a landing page. A landing page is a single web page used to promote a business or product. Click on my Stella Trilogy Page Here for an example. It was once the static page for this blog. Notice the number of comments. I also sold books through that page. By being able to keen in on the books with no other distractions, people were capable of focusing on the work. That’s what you want and that’s what author websites provide. If your blog is your author website, you can provide that same kind of focus by adding a static page.

After you’ve published your new page you’d want to make it your static page.

Go to your dashboard

Setting > Reading >

Under Your Homepage Displays, check static and then check the landing page you just created

Now, when you tell people about your website they won’t be distracted by your recent blog posts, sidebar widgets, comments, etc. It will act as an author website but also a blog.

Cons: Of course, there are pros and cons to everything. One con of having a static page on your blog is that sometimes it can be harder for people to access your blog posts and follow you. If people have to look for stuff they usually leave. This is one reason I took down my static page. Depending on your theme of choice, people won’t be able to access your blog posts or follow you with the static page up. With this theme I am using, the static page doesn’t even show my follow button.

Which comes back around to why I think, if you have several books out and have established yourself, it’s easier to have both.

  • If you have no books out and are just getting started, create a free WordPress blog and be sure to name your blog after your author name as it will, for now at least, also act as your author website and people will try finding you first by your name so it’s easier.

 

  • If you have several books out have both an author website and a blog. I suggest using either WordPress to create your author website or Squarespace and then making sure that your blog is accessible through your website. You can create a blog through your website platform (i.e. through Squarespace) or you can create a blog on WordPress separately and then just link it to your website. Either way, you want people to access the blog through the website.