Monday, April 24, 2017

15 Steps to Building My Children's Author Website ~ by Patricia Toht

In January, 2016, I made a list of writing resolutions. #1 was to build my author website.
Image by medithIT
Here's how I went about it:

STEP 1 - Secure the Domain 
Possibilities abound for securing a domain name, but I decided to go with the granddaddy, GoDaddy. My last name is unusual, so it was readily available. If you have a more common name, you may need to get creative - add your middle initial or name, or add "books" or "author" to your name.




STEP 2 - Do Some Research
I spent time studying other authors' websites. Many were built by website designers who, for a fee, can transform your vision into a technical reality. But in the end I decided that, a) the price was prohibitive for me, and b) I wanted the ability to change things on my website without incurring additional charges. That led me to...


STEP 3 - Buy a Book 
I decided to look into Wordpress. Like GoDaddy, Wordpress is a platform with longevity and one that offers a lot of options for customization. It came recommended in many articles that I read about author websites. 


STEP 4 - Procrastinate




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In January, 2017, I made another list of writing resolutions. The first resolution was to finish the resolutions I vowed to do in 2016. So, back to the website!

STEP 5 - Do Even More Research 
Despite reading the entire, most of, half of the book, I knew little about building and hosting a Wordpress site. It was research time again. I filled out spreadsheets about hosting sites, costs, themes, etc., but still felt stuck. I resorted to an online quiz, which pointed me to a particular host + Wordpress, and a suggestion to use their overlay which would make design "simple." Well, "simple" wasn't what I encountered. I worked on it for days and made NO progress!

STEP 6 - Throw a Tantrum




This may have involved tears, lots of self-deprecation about my small brain, a call to cancel the web hosting order, soothing (but unappreciated) words of comfort from my husband, and a large glass of wine. 

STEP 7 - Phone a Friend
I called my son, who knows a few things about tech stuff.






STEP 8 - Pick a Winner! 
I decided on weebly.

STEP 9 - Select a Theme
A theme forms the basic skeleton for how your website will look. My friend and fellow grogger, Christy Mihaly, has a weebly-built website that I really like, so I begged her to share the theme's name with me, and she generously did.


STEP 10 - Choose Color and Overall Mood
I wanted my website to reflect childhood innocence. My husband photographed an old typewriter and some Hummel-like bookends that reflected that innocence and I chose colors from those photos.

STEP 11 - Pick the Pages 
Which pages did I want on my website? I chose the basics: a Home page, About Me, Books and Magazines, News, Extras, and Contact Me. (On some of the pages, I found that the amount of info was too much, so I made subpages.) Christy's website had used a plug-in to add colorful boxes, and I added that app to my toolbox.

STEP 12 - Create Images and Words
This part took quite a bit of thought and editing. I already had lots of images to use, so it was a matter of choosing the right ones. As for information, of course I wanted to include my books, but what else? Each bit of text was rewritten several times. In fact, I'm still tweaking.

STEP 13 - Get a Critique
I know what I don't know, and that includes what makes for an effective website. Christy Mihaly had enlisted the help of Lisa Amstutz to build her website, so I asked Lisa for a critique. She was reasonably priced and incredibly thorough - I am still working through her suggested changes!



STEP 14 - What about SEO?
Another thing that I hadn't a clue about was search engine optimization - how to get your website to pop up when a web search is done on your name. I asked Lisa for help with this as well.



STEP 15 - Now, PUBLISH! 
Weebly guided me through connecting my website and my domain name, and I sent my website out into the world! Yes, I still have one section that is not completed (the "Extras"). I still have changes to make, and I know some errors have yet to be found, but I expect this will be ongoing. If you'd like to take a peek, you can find my website at: 




If building a website is a goal of yours, then go for it! 
Don't hesitate to ask for help. Don't be afraid to start over if needed. Experiment. Tweak. And I recommend a glass of wine, too.

Do you already have a website? Leave your address in the comments below. I'd love to take a look!

29 comments:

  1. Your step by step tips, Patty, are helpful and filled with humor. I enjoyed checking out your website and learning more about you.

    While I do not have a web site, I occasionally, I share posts on my Word Press account.
    ~Suzy

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    1. Thanks, Suzy! And you're in good company - lots of authors choose to post instead of host a website. I'm a huge fan of your gorgeous photos on Facebook!

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  2. Thank you, Patricia, for sharing your journey into your fab author's website! The tips and process are a keeper for me. Congrats on all your successes :) I'm still a wannabe-LOL

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    1. You're an amazing wannabe, Charlotte! Keep going! Don't give up!

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  3. Glad you have a site! It looks great!

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  4. Patricia I love your website. I too tried to use Wordpress but ended up using WIX - much easier. Take a look. www.elizabethwilcoxsaba.com

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    1. Hopefully you didn't dissolve into a puddle of tears while trying it, Elizabeth. I love George and Bosco on your website!

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  5. Hi Patricia!

    I looked at your website and I'm impressed. Great job! I turned my Blogger account into a makeshift website back in 2010. You can find it at www.donnalmartin.com and I would love to know what you think...

    Take care,

    Donna

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    1. I think many people follow that same path, Donna. I love your color choice! The site feels sophisticated, yet gentle at the same time. Kudos!

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  6. Your blog looks fabulous! I use Weebly, too, although mine isn't as fancy.

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    1. I love the cherry blossom colors and "Tina's Tidbits". Looks great!

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  7. I went through a similar hair-pulling out experience. I decided to use Weebly, and went for the free option until I'm published so that I could learn the ropes of websites. Once I have a book to showcase, I'll be buying a domain and then I'll have to decide whether to stick with my current site or create a new (more professional?) site.

    http://lexicalcreations.weebly.com/

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    1. That's a great plan, Jen. Love the poem on your website!

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  8. :) So many rave about Wordpress, but the rest of us think it's a headache. :)

    Great instructions! I pay for my domain name but use Blogger's free blogging program for my website. (I've been using Blogger since 2009 and find it very user friendly.) For several years I had it just as a website (with the homepage as the landing page without any blog posts). However, I recently decided to keep a bit of a blog, too. So I decided on a bit of a makeover. Weebly seems like a great option! Your site looks great. One additional thing to consider is creating a list of events.

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    1. Good suggestion, Annette! I like the organization on your site. (And glad to hear that I'm not the only one who was frustrated with Wordpress.)

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  9. Your website looks great! good job.

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  10. Just putting together a website is tough enough, then on top of that is creating content. I find I neglect mine a lot - maybe after I publish I'll have more to say. You've done a great job with yours.

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    1. Thanks, David! I actually scheduled some reminders for me to check the website, as I'm much more likely to pay attention to Facebook and Twitter. Good luck with your writing!

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  11. Thanks, Patricia! I'm current on Step 6. I was leaning toward switching from Blogger to Wordpress. Why do you like Weebly better?

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    1. Haha, Manju, I just remarked to someone that they should just SKIP step 6! Weebly was so much easier for me to build - it seemed very intuitive, since I was just plopping boxes into other boxes. And I was able to find answers to some of my questions by hitting up weebly forums. I've also heard great things about SquareSpace and Wix. Good luck with your website!

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  12. Brilliant blog post, Patty. And your website looks terrific, too. Thank you for the shout(s)-out. And -- big congratulations on ALL your forthcoming picture books. Yay, you!

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    1. Thanks, Christy! I love your website - the arrangement, the colors, that gorgeous moose by Tanja Bauerle.

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  13. I loved reading your post! I can so relate to your time trying to read up on Wordpress and the procrastination! I am encouraged to check out Weebly so thank you for sharing. Your website looks terrific :))

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    1. Thank you, Annina. Persevere! You can do it!

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  14. Such a helpful post. I shared this with the SCBWI Michigan listserv and several people commented that it was just the information they needed to get started on a website. Thank you! I use Weebly and have been happy with the results. It's so flexible and easily modified when I want to update. www.carriepearsonbooks.com

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    1. Thank you, Carrie. I'm glad to hear that it might be of help. I love the book tour movie on your home page -- very clever!

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