Five Common Author Website Mistakes
Your writer website is a key component of your marketing plan. But it’s also a grain of sand on an endless beach. Have you carefully planned, executed, and maintained your site in a way that will attract visitors and encourage them to return? Or is your site one that people will give only a cursory look?
Are you making these common author website mistakes?
1) The text is boring. Your website content should be professional, but not terribly formal or dry and stiff. You’re a writer; don’t stop being creative here. Let your personality and your writer’s voice come through. Imagine yourself talking with your website visitors. Engage them in a personal way to build connection and loyalty.
2) Hard to navigate. Keep your site organization simple, and make it easy for your visitors to find what they’re looking for. Don’t be too cute with your navigation tab and menu labels. “About” and “Biography” are standard, clear labels for pages with information about the author, but a label such as “A Writer’s Journey” could have several meanings.
3) Your do-it-yourself website looks like you made it yourself. You can have an effective web presence for free, and you can create it yourself. But just because you can, should you? If you don’t have a grip on the basics of graphic design and writing for the web, you risk looking like an amateur rather than a pro. Educate yourself about what makes a website effective, seek the advice of a professional, or ask for a website review from your critique group.
4) No calls to action. What do you want visitors to do when they get to your site? Give them a reason to stay and interact with you. Visitors need clear invitations and easy ways to leave a comment, sign up for your mailing list, participate in a contest, or buy your books.
5) Outdated content. Your blog hasn’t been updated in months; you’ve got a notice that your book is “coming in 2013” and it’s 2014; and several of your links are broken. Why should a visitor stay—or return—if it looks like you’ve abandoned the site?
What do you like about websites you visit on a regular basis? What is it about some websites that turns you off? View your own website through these lenses.
To learn more about how to avoid mistakes and build an effective author website, attend my “How to Shine Online” session at the Florida Writers Association’s Mid-Winter Conference. I have scads of good info and practical tips to share with you!
Mary Ann de Stefano is the editor of The Florida Writer, the official magazine of the Florida Writers Association. She is also a writer, editor, and organizer of writing workshops with 30+ years experience in publishing and writing consulting. Besides working one-on-one with writers who are developing books, she designs author websites and advises on e-marketing. Mary Ann does business at MAD about Words, named as a play on her initials and love for writing.