As with most things, technological advancements have completely changed the face of websites for businesses… Which also means websites for us authors.
I have been in the web development and technology industry for over 20 years, and it used to be that if you needed a website, you had to hire someone like myself, which was no simple (or inexpensive) matter.
But times —how they change!
Now with the readily available options such as self hosted WordPress, WordPress.com, (which yes, it differs from a self-hosted WordPress), wicks, square space, and others authors have a plethora of choices and options available to them.
But with great choices, comes great… Indecision.
- Which platform is best?
- How do I know which one to choose?
- I’m not a techie, I don’t even know where to start!
And to be frank, while I highly recommend asking for other indie authors’ opinions, choosing the option that is best for you for your author website is a personal matter.
Here are some things to keep in mind when deciding which platform to go with:
Your Personal Comfort Level with Technology
If you are relatively comfortable, and can follow it straightforward step-by-step directions, then doing it yourself with a self hosted WordPress site may be the best option.
A self hosted WordPress site is simply a WordPress site hosted with the hosting provider of your choice, such as Go Daddy, blue host, host gator, and countless others. With a self hosted WordPress site set up your hosting account and with a one click install of WordPress you are up and running. This option gives you the greatest amount of flexibility and control however, this option is also the one that will require the most amount of comfort level with technology. Besides the initial one click install, you must choose your themes, your plug-ins, and any add-ons are extras you may want for your website –—and unless you are already familiar with these options, you would need some guidance and advice.
While most people think your budget is typically the main consideration, the multitude of choices you have to build your author website are, mostly, relatively inexpensive in this day and age.
However, the biggest consideration where your budget is concerned is to remember this: what appears to be the least expensive option, can sometimes turn out to be one of the more expensive.
Why? Because the “free” starter package is often so limited that to do what you need to do with it as an author, you will need to upgrade it to one of their more expensive paid packages which can often run $20, $30, $40 or more per month.
So, What’s the Difference between the Options?
Authors can get started on WordPress.com for free. However, if you need to do much in the way of plug-ins to extend the functionality, use custom domain names, remove the ads, or do any social media integrations, payments, analytics, or advanced SEO you must upgrade to one of their higher level plans. For example, to for something as common and straightforward as installing plugins, or to include advanced social media and SEO options you would have to go with the business plan which is $25 per month at the time of this post.
These, and others like them, are known as packaged website builders. These can be a great option for someone who wants to go the DIY route, but does not want to go with a self hosted WordPress website.
These are easy, drag-and-drop style website builders that require little to no tech knowledge to get up and running and can be up and running and his little as a few minutes to an hour depending on how much you’re trying to build.
The considerations with packaged website builders is the cost. To get security, metrics, upgraded support, additional functionality such as a newsletter and list integration, and social media integration, many of these types of services will require a higher tier subscription plan.
If you are comfortable enough and want to have completely control, optimal growth ability, and one of the best price-options… then self-hosted WordPress sites are for you. Most offer one-click installs that allow you to get up and running quickly, and hosting can range in starting at just a few dollars per month.
Some of our favorites include:
These author websites can range from done-for-you WordPress sites to custom programmed websites and ColdFusion, PHP or other programming languages. And as you may imagine, the price can vary wildly depending on what you’re looking for.
There are several options for DFY author websites, we here at Author’s Mojo offer 🐾 PAWs — Personalized Author Websites. This is a completely done for you package that includes a complete WordPress author website, with plug-ins and integration with your MailChimp (or other) mail list service.
(Because we think that writers should be… you know… writing… not spending time trying to figure out all the tech stuff! 😉).
It includes the first year’s hosting, and an industry-standard SSL certificate. A feature that makes our products stand out, is that we offer 24/7 tech support, where you have an actual phone number you can call if you need help that isn’t answered in the video tutorial library that come standard with the 🐾PAWs sites.
There are other options for done for you author websites, such as AuthorCats, or any website developer can build you a WordPress website relatively inexpensively, even people from freelancing services websites. If you go this route, make sure the developer is recommended and has a portfolio and history of satisfied customers. To make sure you’re getting an author website that meets all of your indie author needs, I strongly recommend choosing a developer that is also an author, or has a history of working with authors, to ensure you’re getting the best website for your needs.
To Sum up…
The option you go with, should be based on which product most meets your needs and comfort level, and your budget. Keep in mind, with your site being completely customizable such as with a 🐾PAWs site, or self hosted WordPress, you can use your website as your central hub, even having all of your blog posts automatically shared over to your various social media platforms reducing the time and work you have to put into keeping yourself active on all of those platforms.
To help make your decision-making process a bit easier, grab a copy of our quick Choosing the Best Website for Me Checklist.