Step-by-step guide to create your own author website and blog, drive traffic to your site and earn money from the outset. All in four days or less!
The aim of this post is to offer tons of value in one place. There are so many long-winded articles that detail the whys and how-tos of site-building and blogging. If you’re anything like me you just want to sift through the fluff and get to it. I’ve done the sifting for you. I’m going to tell you the actions I took and the tools I used to create an author website and blog. All of these steps can easily be completed in four days or less. Here goes!
Prepare Your Content
You can do this before or after the blog set-up but I prefer to have some content to insert while setting up.
- Think about the content you want to have on your website. For most authors a good start would be an About page, a Contact page and a My Books page.
- For your blog, ideally you want to have at least a few posts ready to go. This way, once you start driving traffic to your site, you’ll have some valuable content for people to browse and read. Some ideas are book excerpts, posts about writing, character descriptions, posts on topics related to your genre, reviews of other books, book promos, etc.
- Remember, the bottom line is your content has to be something that people will find beneficial. You want them to return for more and you want them to share your content with others. Each post should at least be one or more of the following things: interesting, entertaining, educational and/or stimulating. Of course it doesn’t have to be perfect from the outset. You can use trial and error as you go to see which types of posts are well received.
Set Up Your Author Website
This can actually be done in under thirty minutes especially if you’ve used WordPress before, but it will probably take longer than that to get the look that you want.
Host platform: First sign up with a host platform to get your domain. This is the only thing I’m going to suggest paying for from the beginning. You can get a free WordPress site without a separate hosting domain. However, there are many pitfalls to this down the road and you’ll likely end up switching and wasting time re-doing the whole site (like I did). I use the most popular host which is Bluehost*. It works out to about $70 for the year including the recommended privacy add-on.
Create Your WordPress Site: There are other platforms but WordPress is the most popular and the one I use. You can create your WordPress site from within Bluehost*. Once you have your site you can choose a theme and start customizing. This is the point where I recommend spending some time at least, playing with and customizing the themes until you find something you’re happy with. It’s worth looking at other websites (author sites, blogs, etc.) to see which features you want on your own site. Many sites have the theme listed at the bottom.
Add Logos and Other Visuals: While playing with the themes this is also a good time to choose images and/or logos for your site. I get free images from Pixabay and I do all of my design work for free using Canva. The theme combined with your visuals will make up the overall look of your site. Remember they can always be changed later so it doesn’t have to be perfect. You can look at this as a first draft. Everything, including the theme can be edited.
About, Contact and Books Pages
This is all pretty self-explanatory. Your About page will be your bio which you can adapt to suit the tone of your site. For the Contact page WordPress themes have a default contact form to put in which can also be edited. For your Books page make sure you add your Amazon links. If you haven’t already signed up with Amazon Associates now is the time! Use the links they give you (make sure you’re in the HTML tab in your post editor) so you can earn commission for sales directed from your site.
If you already have a mailing list, add the appropriate plug-in and get forms to add to your site. If you don’t have a list, definitely consider setting one up. People coming to the site may want to hear about book releases, promos, blog posts, giveaways, etc. through e-mail. I use MailChimp and got the plug-in to easily create pop-up and static forms for my site.
Optimize Your Posts
Now that you have your very own author website set up you’re almost ready to start blogging. You could start aimlessly posting but instead of just throwing stuff down there are some things you can do to improve the chances of your content being found.
Yoast SEO Plug-in: One plug-in I strongly recommend before you start any posting is Yoast SEO. This is so valuable especially if you are an SEO newbie. This plug-in analyzes the content for various aspects of readability to help you improve the reader experience. Most importantly it analyzes each post based on keywords you choose. It then gives you tips on how to improve the search engine ranking for each post. Yoast is a great start to SEO, but if you want to know more I highly recommend this Wordtracker article.
Google Keyword Planner: In order to find out which keywords to optimize for I use the Google Keyword Planner. It takes a bit to get used to but it is incredibly powerful for helping to get more exposure.
Google Analytics: WordPress has its own stats tool but Google Analytics is far more advanced and is recommended so that you can see what’s working, where, with whom, etc.
Make Sure Your Content Is Sharable
Once you’re ready to share your content with the world you’ll want to make sure it’s as sharable as possible.
Standard Sharing Buttons: Go into the sharing tab and select which buttons you want to have on your posts and which posts they should appear on.
Twitter Cards: Add Twitter cards to your site to make sure your content is visually optimized when shared on Twitter. If you’ve already installed Yoast, you can go into settings and set the default card format, e.g. small or large summary card. Anytime you or someone else shares from your page it will extract the image and some text to form a card that will be visually appealing encouraging more views and shares.
Share Your Social Media: Websites and social media can work reciprocally. Sharing your site content on social media is one thing. But you can also link back to your social media profiles through your site. Go to the widget options for your theme to add your Facebook page, Twitter feed, etc.
This may seem premature but it’s better to at least think about these things early on. You’re hoping to attract thousands of people to your site with your valuable content. You might as well make the most of it.
Aside from the Amazon Associates links on your Books page, there are tons of other ways you can monetize your site should you wish. Depending on your content you might be able to share products that you think your readers would appreciate hearing your views about. While offering them valuable recommendations you can get kickbacks by signing up to affiliate sites. Some top sites to try are shareasale.com*, Linkshare, CJ and Clickbank.
Even the most incredibly valuable content needs a boost of some kind. Posting content to social media or hoping search engines pick it up may not get you the traffic you need. Here are some tips for increasing readership.
Driving traffic can become a full-time gig but there are some “set it and forget it” ways to help get your content out there. Here are some suggestions:
Social Media: Connect your blog to your social media profiles so your posts are automatically shared to all of your fans and followers.
SumoMe Discover: You know those “You May Also Like” pages you see at the bottom of many websites? By activating the Discover app in SumoMe those pages will appear on your site, while your content will be displayed on other sites.
StumbleUpon: Sign up with StumbleUpon and add their button to your sharing bar to get your content in front of Stumblers.
BlogLovin: Sign up with Bloglovin and add your blog to their list. This enables people to follow and share your blog from their platform.
Social Media: Aside from automatically sharing your posts on your social media profiles you can also seek out your audience in other places. For example, you can share blog posts in Facebook groups or tweet your posts along with appropriate hashtags. Author groups, blogging groups and any groups related to your genre are great places to start. You can also boost posts in Facebook for a fee.
Guest Post: This one requires more time and effort but one of the best ways to get your website link out there is to guest post on other blogs. Contact blogs in your genre and see if they might be willing to accept a post.
I have lots more tips about maximizing the potential of your author website and blog but I’m trying not to clog this post up with too much info. I hope this has helped you! Leave me a like or a comment to let me know what you think. And of course please share if you think this post could benefit others!