Amanda Luedeke

July 10, 2014

Thursdays with Amanda: 5 Musts for an Author Website


2013amanda2Amanda Luedeke is a literary agent with MacGregor Literary. Every Thursday, she posts about growing your author platform. You can follow her on Twitter @amandaluedeke or join her Facebook group to stay current with her wheelings and dealings as an agent. Her author marketing book, The Extroverted Writer, is available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Websites…every author should have one. They are your central hub; your validation point. They are what will tell the world that you’re up and running and serious about this writing thing and that you aren’t going anywhere soon. All because you have a website.

It may seem silly, but that’s how we view these online spaces. They have a way of making everything OFFICIAL in a way that Facebook and Twitter and Google+ can’t. Weird, yes. But it’s true. I mean how many times have you googled a band, a company, a service provider and winced at the fact that while they may have a million Yelp recommendations or a slew of Facebook follows, they don’t have a site?

There’s something about a website…it’s like an online stamp of approval. And so yes, every author should have one. In the past I’ve talked about the components of a website, and I also touch on this in my book, but I wanted to provide a down and dirty list of 5 MUSTS FOR AN AUTHOR WEBSITE.

My hope is that you’ll spend the weekend adjusting your site to hit on each of these five things.

  1. LINKS TO SOCIAL MEDIA. Take a look at your site’s home page. Is there a clear way for visitors to connect with you on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram? Do you have those buttons clearly displayed? This is important, because you don’t know how your fans will want to interact with you. When they show up to your site, it’s an opportunity to get them to connect on a more intimate level. So, you want your social media links front and center.
  2. PLEASANT IMAGES AND DESIGN. It doesn’t need to be expensive or overly fancy, but your site should be a space that is pleasing to look at. The colors and fonts should be up to date (don’t be like Joe Lando), and your author photo should be somewhere within the site. These days it’s easy to find beautiful site templates that can be used on WordPress and other similar sites. And many times, they’re either free or less than $100 to purchase.
  3. AN ACTIVE SITE. I have a weird opinion on blogs…I think they are the single most time-consuming, difficult thing you can do to try and grow a platform. So no, I don’t recommend that your blog be your sole marketing focus. BUT! Blogs come in handy when it comes to getting your site ranked well on Google (SEO), and they also do wonders for making your site appear lived-in. By updating your blog at least once a week, you’re proving that you actually spend time on your site. You’re a living, breathing author and you want to interact with fans! Another way to keep your site looking alive and well is to adjust the text from time to time. Keep an updated calendar of events, and adjust the home page wording to reflect different times of year, or different promos/events. This will make your site come across as an active space.
  4. INCENTIVE TO VISIT. While updating your blog and making your site feel lived-in will give some incentive for visitors to return, you really want to have other dangling carrots. Consider your audience and your brand, and determine what you have to offer that will get people coming back for more. For some, having a great blog will be the key factor here. For others, they may find success with offering PDF downloads that are updated every quarter or so. Or maybe their speaking schedule/tour is enough to get people coming back to check in. OR, maybe for the nonfiction author, the site could have video curriculum that can be used in conjunction with the book…thus giving readers a reason to visit over and over again. The idea is to keep them coming back, and to avoid having a site that can be visited once and then forgotten about.
  5. GOOGLE ANALYTICS. All of the above will be for naught if you aren’t tracking your numbers. I can’t stress how important a program like Google Analytics is to an author site. It will not only tell you how many visitors you’ve had, but it will show you how the visitors got there…what search terms they’re using to find your site, what social media programs they’re using to connect with you, and what kinds of posts have received the most hits. Google Analytics provides an unlimited source of knowledge. You can truly know your visitors, thanks to this program, and in turn, you can cater your blog and site to better meet their needs. Thus increasing traffic and, yes, GROWING YOUR NUMBERS!

Those are my five tips on having a great author website.

What are your tips? Or what are your website struggles?

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  • Melissa Tagg says:

    This is such a great post, Amanda…and great tips. However, I will admit that I had to read it in two parts because as soon as you mentioned Joe Lando I got totally sidetracked. His website is ridiculous, but he still retains his cool factor…he will always be Sully to me.

    Honestly, my biggest website struggle is juggling the blogging part of it with all the rest of my social media. GAH. But I actually really love blogging…and I love FB and Twitter…I’m even enjoying Instagram. I think the key is keeping it social…

    • Amanda Luedeke says:

      Feel free to do WHATEVER IS NECESSARY to avoid blogging burnout. You could go down to one or two posts a week if it helps keep you going. Or maybe weed out some of the social media networks that aren’t really clicking with readers. Because yes, eventually it all starts pulling you in different directions.

  • Ron Estrada says:

    I’m a firm believer in newsletters, Amanda. The one I use for the trailer hitch company I market for has been our best sales generator. And authors can get creative. Gina Conroy and I are working on a weekly serial, like a TV series, to be delivered via newsletter (middle grade). At the end of the “season,” we can bundle it and offer it as a free download or even sell it. We’re even creating social media accounts for our main characters and keeping them live and tied in to the story. Maybe we’ll even use YouTube if it starts to take off. But the point is to be creative and show off your stuff. If they love your newsletter, they’ll surely love your books.

    • Amanda Luedeke says:

      Yep, newsletters can be great if you have ideas for how to use them…and it sounds like you do!! Great work!

  • Lynn D. Morrissey says:

    Amanda, excellent post. Thank you. How necessary/important is social media? If you have a great website, is, say, using FB necessary? It seems to be a real time-waster. Your thoughts?

    • Amanda Luedeke says:

      I think it’s important to be present on some kind of social media channel, whether that be Facebook or Twitter or Instagram. It’s almost an expectation nowadays that artist (actors, musicians, etc) be accessible in this way, so if you’re wary of doing too much social media, choose one outlet and, paired with your site, it should be enough.

    • Lynn D. Morrissey says:

      Tx, Amanda. I should have added too that my husband hates FB and really doesn’t want me daughter and me to have it. Do most “artists” have a strictly pro FB page, and interact personally only in the sense of talking about their biz? Bear w/ me; I’ve written 3 books, but (amazingly) am new to this aspect.

    • NotafanofFacebook says:

      Thanks for asking that Lynn. I had the same question, and a related one. . . is it ever enough just to have a fanpage, and not personally be on FB? I imagine running your own fanpage would be a FB faux pas. Do you think so?

    • Amanda Luedeke says:

      Nearly every author runs their own page, so don’t let that thought scare you! Sure, you could keep your profile inactive and simply focus on your page. Nothing wrong with that. Just set the profile status to private and ignore any friend requests.

    • NotafanofFacebook says:

      LOL. That’s good to know. Thank you so much for these tips! Your articles and comments are beyond fantastic.

    • Amanda Luedeke says:

      I believe Facebook’s rules dictate that anyone using the site for professional purposes should do so through an official page. However, to set up a page, you need a profile (because that’s how you access the page). The profile doesn’t have to be active; it just needs to exist. So you could go that route…set up a FB profile and page, but just use the page as a means of maintaining an online presence as an author.

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