How to Start a Professional Author Website for Beginners

Create Author Website
Create Author Website

As difficult as it may sound to the beginner, starting up a new author website is quite easy, even for the more creatively inclined. Having your own author website will give you a hub for you to post what you want when you want to post it. Best of all, you are in charge of it. That means complete creative control.

These are the four things I’ll be going over in this post:

  1. Picking a domain name through GoDaddy
  2. Setting up a hosting plan through HostGator
  3. Choosing a premium theme with ThemeForest or Creative Market
  4. Starting a mailing list with MailChimp

Picking a domain name

Your domain name should be as close to your author name as possible. Do not name it after a character or a single book you have written, unless you’re making a website specifically for a book. Your website will be your primary hub, your own spot on the internet for friends and fans to find out more about you.

If you write under your own name, use your own name as your domain name.

If you write under a pen name, use your pen name as your domain name.

It’s recommended not to try and get creative with your domain name, as it will cause confusion for people who are trying to look you up. Stick to a firstnamelastname.com, and always try for a .com URL. Although there are now hundreds of URL suffixes, .com is still the most common and easily remembered.

I purchase all of my domain names from GoDaddy.com. It’s easier to manage them from one central spot than multiple websites, especially if you write under multiple pen names.

Do you write under a pen name, and want to keep your real name private? Be sure to pay the few extra dollars a year for WHOIS privacy. When people look up who owns a domain name, your name will not show up.

Setting up hosting

After snagging an excellent domain name, you’ll need to host your website somewhere so people can get to it.

I prefer to use HostGator for all my websites. They are super helpful with any questions and have 1 click WordPress installation to start putting together a great website quick. HostGator is incredibly inexpensive a month, around $10 per month.

Getting a premium WordPress theme

There are two websites I use for great looking premium WordPress themes: ThemeForest and Creative Market. Between the two of them, there are thousands of themes and templates to use for your website.

Generally, you will want to use a few different styles, depending on what your goal is for the websites. If you are creating a website for 1 single book, a single page website could work. If you’re creating a hub for all books you’ve written, you’ll want a blog style website.

There are even themes specifically designed for authors, like TheNovelist.

This website is using MH Newsdesk.

Setting up a mailing list

When people come to your site, you want them to both

  1. Stick around and buy a book from you
  2. Add themselves to your mailing list

That’s the key to having amazing releases online: the mailing list. What it is is a list of people who opt-in to join your private list of e-mails, and then whenever you want you can e-mail the entirety of that list with a click of a button.

This is great for new releases!

If you have even 50 loyal readers who are on your mailing list, that’s 50 people that will buy your new book within hours of release, thus bringing you more sales through a boost in rank, reviews, and increased visibility.

I always used MailChimp for my author lists, and once I had at least 50 people on my list I would upgrade to the $10/month plan. This allows you to setup an automated sequence of e-mails for new signups, perfect for auto-mailing freebies.

Add content to your website!

It only takes a few steps to get a website up and running, and a few more steps to have a successful author website. In review, we went through the following four steps when starting a new author website:

  1. Picking a domain name through GoDaddy
  2. Setting up a hosting plan through HostGator
  3. Choosing a premium theme with ThemeForest
  4. Starting a mailing list with MailChimp

If you have any questions over any of the steps, please leave a comment below. All of the above websites have tutorials as well.

Good luck with all your writing and creating your author website.

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Justin Charnell

King of Spades at Onyx Defiant
I spend my time working out when I feel like it, being a gorgeous webmaster, and learning things. Former Marine, total POG (0651). I drink too much. PlayStation 4 on occasion. Gummy multivitamins and gallon jugs of water.
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