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.

How to Add a Favicon to Your WordPress Site

Do you favicon? I have started to pay more attention to them and love the neat look it gives my browser. First, what is it?

Favicon – Also known as a browser icon, website icon, site icon, or URL icon, a Favicon is a tiny logo / image that shows up when you visit any website.

Mailchimps Favicon

My Author Website Favicon

Custom Favicon’s help to brand a website, establishing your website’s identity. Instead of the default icon that shows up when you create a website, your logo will show in the browser when people visit your website and looks good for your online presence. Plus, it looks cool. I added a favicon when I acquired a domain for my blog so that both my author website and my bog have matching browser icons:

So, if you’d like to add a Favicon to your blog, here’s how.

First, be sure you have an image or logo to add. The recommended file type is ico or PNG (if you’re still using Internet Explorer, shame on you. No, seriously, PNG website icons won’t show on some Internet Explorer browsers so try JPG).

The standard Favicon sizes is 100px x 100px and 300px a 300px and they will show smaller of course at 16px by 16px. Be sure your image does not exceed 100KB.

The next set of steps is as easy as 1, 2, 3.

  1. Go to your WP Dashboard
  2. Scroll down to settings > General
  3. To your left is Site Icon > Upload your image

After uploading your image refresh your page. If the favicon still doesn’t show in your browser you should clear your cache. (In Firefox: Tools > Options > Advanced > Network > Clear now).

Authors / Bloggers – Take these 5 Basic Steps to Secure your WordPress Site TODAY…

Article Quote: “WordPress is the most widely used website platform, and it powers a quarter of all websites. That immense popularity means that developers are constantly adding new software options, but it also means that hackers are always looking for WP sites with lax security. Here are steps you can take to make your website more secure.”

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

By

img_8940 Joel Friedlander and Nate Hoffelder img_8939 

on The Book Designer Site:

54462821 - laptop infected virus computerLicence to use obtained – Copyright Natchapon Nilsonti

Monday is usually my spot in our publishing schedule, but I’m giving it up today for a good reason.

Last week Nate Hoffelder of The Digital Reader alerted me to a widespread attack on vulnerable WordPress sites. Since my site, and those of many other authors run on WordPress, this is a serious situation you should pay attention to.

The attacks, which have affected over 2,000,000 WordPress pages in the past few days, was reported by, among others, Ars Technica: “Virally growing attacks on unpatched WordPress sites affect ~2m pages.”

Here’s one thing they said:

“Attacks on websites running an outdated version of WordPress are increasing at a viral rate. Almost 2 million pages have been defaced since a serious vulnerability in the content management system came to light nine days…

View original post 38 more words

3 Reasons You Need an Author Website (And Why It’s Not the Same as a Blog)

3

Let me start by saying that a blog and an author website are two different things.

From the word weblog, a blog is a website that is designed to be interactive with regularly updated content. This can be why they are so popular today and why every writer should have one. Blogs are a great way to communicate with readers, meet new friends, and network with business people in your field.

A website is less interactive, not updated in the form of publishing new posts, and exists for selling products or services, promoting products, and displaying more information about the owner. Every professional business person will have a website. The biggest disadvantage from the network side for websites is that they are stationary. After someone purchases your product or service, joins your newsletter or discovers more about you, there is no room for interaction like with a blog. This may have you to question, why then, is it important for authors to have both?

  • Professionalism

Having a blog is great, especially since they are so popular. The blog, however, is really just the first step. Every professional person will have a static website where people can go to learn more about them, discover where they are offline, follow their social media, and purchase their products. It looks more professional on business cards and flyers to display a website people can go to that is formal and stationary in addition to the blog. Though there’s no interaction on a website, you don’t really want it to be. The author website is to be as professional as you can afford without a lot going on. It’s your online store and people do not get to kick it in the store.

  • Products / Services

One of the biggest advantages of having a Website is being able to sell your books through your website. Instead of relying solely on Amazon and other places (where you can’t monitor who your fans are), selling directly through your own website gives you more control in this area. You can sell paperback copies of your book, add other products related to your books, add an email sign-up form to collect email addresses, and know who your supporters are. You can see exactly who just bought your book and reach out to them more personally. Even though you can, technically, sell through your blog as well, there’s a lot going on. On this blog, I have people following, commenting, liking, and reblogging daily, I’ve got the slide sidebar widgets, and pages. There’s just too much going on. I’d prefer my online store to have its own space on an author website and to also have a blog so that I can further build with those who support me.

  • Paperback and Hardcopy

Paperback and Hardcopy books are highly underrated, as well as the author website. Today, everyone relies strictly on Amazon and Lulu. It makes sense then why there’s always a complaint about Amazon’s algorithms: authors will have nowhere to go to sell their books. I am not sure why. As a Self-Publisher, you have the freedom to sell your books however you want* (Disclaimer: In case there are restrictions on you selling your books through your website, you can instead create a new page and link it to your Amazon account. People who go to that page–your book page or store–will be taken directly to your page. Check out Angela Ford’s page HERE. She does this beautifully. Also see how her blog and author website is so integrated. Goals!).

Build an author website and add a store for your paperback books. In 4 Common Sense Reasons it Can Benefit You to Self-Publish, we talked about the benefit of having more control but I am noticing that we do not always exercise this right. We are adding more and more rules to Self-Publishing that limit our ability to be creative and to have more control of our work. (By limit creativity I do not, in any way, mean that your creativity should ever supercede excellence. Be as creative as you want but don’t just put anything out there).

Despite their issues, I would still recommend that authors have a presence on Amazon for readers. The two questions I get most from first time customers:

“You gotta website?”

“Are you on Amazon?”

I am not talking about writers, bloggers or people familiar with the online scene or the publishing process in any way. I am talking about regular everyday readers (especially those who spend a lot of time offline) whose first thought to find a book is to go to the library or look it up on Amazon. If only for this reason, I would say to have a presence there. Amazon and Goodreads (which is owned by Amazon) is where the readers are right now. However, you don’t have to be a slave to them. There is no way that Amazon should successfully enslave any Independent Publisher to where they can no longer sell their books in the unfortunate event something happens and they can no longer sell through Amazon.

Although eBook is king, having a place where people can purchase paperback copies of the book is beneficial in more ways than one, but I’ve edited this due to certain third party restrictions you may have selling your books through your website. I wouldn’t want to get anyone in trouble. Just research and read your terms and conditions. It is good to have paperback versions of your books through along with the ebook. Be sure to research also when pricing your paperbacks. You can charge anywhere from $13.95-$17.95 or even upwards to $20.00 but you should do your research before setting your price and do your calculations. Setting the price too high OR TOO LOW can influence sales. Be sure to factor in how much it costs to print your book when setting your price. For print-on-demand, the method many Self-Publishers use to print their books, the printing cost will be deducted from your retail price, meaning your book royalties comes from the retail price minus the printing costs and wholesale discount. You don’t want to price your book so low that the printing costs leave you with little to nothing in profit. Also, consider the cost of shipping, handling, and State tax. But remember not to over price either.

Where to Start

There are tons of easy-to-use website builders you can use to create your author website but the gold standard for an author website is WordPress. I really don’t want to be repetitive. There are already tons of excellent articles on why WordPress is the best place to build an author website and there’s no use re-creating the wheel. I found an informative article that should provide all you need to know HERE.

Now, about WIX…

I hear a lot of talk about how bad sites like WIX are and how authors should not use them. While WordPress is what I’d recommend, you use, there’s nothing wrong with using WIX starting out. You have to start from somewhere. WIX may not be something you want to make a permanent home but it’s not terrible. I use WIX now and it’s not great but it can work until you can do better. (I’ve had my author website longer than I’ve been blogging or even knew about WordPress so I’m behind in that respect but, like I said, it works for now.)

Author Website? Blog? Or Both?

It only makes sense for authors to have both a blog and an author website.

Author websites present a professional image for the serious author, enabling them to build an online store where people can go to purchase their books and to access their Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Lulu, Apple iBookstore or Smashword links.

Blogs help to foster relationships and build trust with readers. Instead of purchasing a book once from a website, they can come on over and join you in a place where they will receive consistent content and insight into your writing life. People can provide feedback and interact with you daily. The more time you spend with someone, the more time you have to get to know them. Blogs give you the opportunity to build trust with your readers and to stay connected with them.

The purpose of the blog is more providing valuable and informative content than it is selling. Though you can surely sell through a blog, I would suggest using the 80/20 rule: 80% providing value, and 20% selling. That’s because blogs aren’t really for hard selling but for networking. Authors who lack the skills to blog (and focus only on writing and trying to sell their work) often find that the blog doesn’t work for them. That’s because the true purpose here is not to just write but to also interact.

If you really want to make your blog work for you:

  • Be sure there are links to your author website on your blog.
  • And then make sure your blog is accessible on your author website.
  • Go back to your blog and add an Author Media Kit, Media Page or a page with a list of your books. (I have all three). Since your website is your online store, you obviously don’t need to create a book page there but these pages on your blog will drive people to your store.
  • On your author website, create a new page and link to the Author Media Kit on your blog. It will save you the time of having to re-create the page and further connect your blog with your author website (unless you are already utilizing the blog feature of your website).

Built-In Blogs – Most website builders (Like WIX) will have the blog built into the site already and you can always use that. However, I happen to like WordPress better far as blogging is concerned. You get much better engagement and interaction blogging via WordPress than you’ll get through the blog feature of your website builder. That is because blogs here (and blogs in general) tend to have more traffic.

Summary.

  • The blog’s sole purpose is to be interactive (updated content, promotion, guest posting, interviews, building trust, forming relationships, creating bonds, etc.), driving people to your website.

Blog > Social Media > Author Website > Shop > Purchase

  • Your author website’s sole purpose is to sell.

“Blogs and websites work in very different ways, serve very different purposes and produce different short-term results. However, they are both necessary to increase your online exposure and to strengthen your online business reputation. It is important to have both as part of your online presence. They function well together and undeniably, you will see positive results over the long term if they are a part of your business online.” – Michael Cohn


Speaking of Author Websites, be sure to stop by mine! The Stella Trilogy Box Set is on sale. If you were wanting to get your hands on physical copies, now is your chance. Sale ends 2/28. Click on the image below. (Who is Stella? Learn more about these books by reading what readers had to say HERE).

box-set-_1

Writing 101 – Assignment #8: Write a Letter – Dear Indie Authors

Letter

Yecheilyah Ysrayl
The PBS Blog
Shreveport, LA 71104
Wednesday, November 11, 2015

 
Indie Author Name
Future Best Selling Author
My Pen Name LLC
Word press Blog
My City, IL 60639

Dear Indie Author Name,

It is a pleasure to see you stepping into this exciting field. It has been far too long since we’ve talked to each other. I was pleased to hear that things are going well for you and that you are happy in your new career.There is something, however, I would like to share with you. I hope it will be beneficial to your new role as an Independent Author.

We live in an age where hackers rob banks from computer screens. Identities are swiped with the clicking of a mouse and the input of numbers on a keyboard. Now days, whole books are stolen, articles are copy and pasted from blogs like yours and websites are turned into books. A legal name is not required to self-publish and apparently, neither is talent. What does this mean for you, dear Indie? There is no sure way of firing the self-employed computer geek from his position in his mother’s basement where he lives off coffee and stolen material. No sure way of tracking down thieves who have no face. There is however, something that we can do: Name Brand Yourself.

It starts with trust really. As an Indie Author you’d have to have tons of trust in your work. Humility is a must but part of being humble is staying firm and my dear Indies, you must stay firm. Start by producing your own website. By website I do not mean your blog. Purchasing a domain name for a blog does not make it a Website. Seek to create your own author website or hire someone else to do it and link your website with your blog.

Next, you’d want to promote your website. This means you will direct people to your website to purchase your books and they can access your amazon pages from there. Remember that trust thing we were talking about? You’ll need it here. Right now you’re pretty much a nobody but being a nobody is part of the deal. Everyone started out as nobody’s. Yes, even Oprah.

Once you’ve established an author website (www.yournamehere.com) you may now add product. Never ever sell PDF copies of your book. My advice would be to sell print books only. Yes, through your website. Use POD (Print On Demand) as your printing company and not just where people can buy your books. If your name branding yourself you should be directing people to your website anyway, not the print on demand site. Am I telling you to forget POD? No. You need them. Unless you have your own printing company somewhere, you will always need Amazon and Smashwords or wherever else Indies are publishing. But, there’s a smarter way to use them. Instead of waiting on royalty checks alone, use PODs as printing companies. That is what they do right? Print your books? Buy in bulk and sell directly through your website.

This is the most secure option I can give you. Make sure to invest in a good platform for your website, preferably one that prohibits people from being able to copy and paste. To go further, set up a legal structure (a sole proprietorship or LLC) if you really want to do it big. This is added protection.

What about Amazon? What about them? You need eBooks so put your Amazon eBook links on your author website. Only have the option to purchase a Kindle or otherwise non-easily downloadable version of your book. (Did I say not to have a PDF version for sale?) DO NOT sell PDF versions of your books on your website. The rest is marketing and promotion. Direct everyone to your author website. Create business cards and bookmarks using your logo and author website. Want to securely Self-Publish a book? Treat it like a business. It will take time (lots of time) but the hope is that people will not be able to get yourwebsite.com out of their heads. Soon they’ll say: “Did you read the latest novel by yourname? Visit http://www.yournamehere.com. That’s right; eventually your name will be the brand they remember.

Does this guarantee illegal copies of your book won’t be available elsewhere? Probably not. That guarantee went out the door when technology surfaced centuries; I’m sorry, worlds ago. Of course, no method is guaranteed, but at least you can keep a better eye on product if you a). produce professional work that is hard to copy and b). you’re selling it from your own site as opposed to someone elses. You never know, you may even save enough money to hire a lawyer. Now that’s what I call taking Self-Publishing to another level.

I will call you next week. In the meantime, I hope to visit your website soon. I’ll access your amazon page from there.

 

Sincerely,

 

Yecheilyah Ysrayl
Author, Poet, Blogger
http://literarykornerpublishing.com

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