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Otis Anderson
Otis Anderson

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The Why and How of Websites for Writers

Provide an Author's Shop Window for Editors, Clients and Readers

Many writers feel that a professional website is too hard (to build themselves) or too expensive (to use a web designer). That might have been so once, but not any more.
Readers, editors and clients are being conditioned to expect writers to have a website, and now it's fast becoming something that writers can't afford to leave for another day. Although they understand this, thousands of freelance writers or authors have put off creating paper writing service websites because of a seemingly insurmountable problem: they simply have no idea where to start. They know nothing about building a website – and as for the other option, hiring a web designer to do it instead... isn't it prohibitively expensive to get a professional to do it?
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User-Friendly Website Templates: XSitePro and WordPress

Luckily things have evolved to the stage where writers can actually have a good shot at building a professional-looking website on their own. This is thanks to software that provides well-designed templates, so the site doesn't have to have that 'home-made' look. One very easy website builder is XSitePro. This software has a great many more bells and whistles than a writer is likely to need, because it was created with internet marketers in mind. However, just ignore the 'extras' until they are needed (if ever) - the main thing that a writer needs to know is that by using this software, it's possible to come up with a nice-looking site in a very short time.

The creators of XSitePro even offer a free header tool, XHeader, that anyone can use to create their own personalised site header graphic. It's worth downloading this just to play around with it - especially since writers can create all sorts of graphics for their sites with this tool. It's easy to export the results in standard image files like jpegs or gifs.

XSitePro website design software will create a very professional-looking site for any writer, but the software is not free. On the other hand, writers on a tight budget will find that PageBreeze (which is free to download) has all the functionality they need to build a website, but the trade-off is that there is much more of a learning curve.

What if an author wants to have a writer's website, but doesn't have the time or inclination to build a website themselves? There are two options:

  • hire a web designer to build it, or
  • use an online website builder (where the writer signs into a website then uses the tools on the host website to create pages and upload photos.)

Consider Starting a Blog

Lastly, a very easy and inexpensive way to make a start on becoming visible on the Internet is to start a blog. In fact, many writers have actually chosen to convert their original websites to a blog format. Why?

  • A blog allows interaction with readers and other writers; they can post comments.
  • A blog can be customised to look like a website - writers can add extra pages and links at will.

WordPress blogs are easy to use, highly customisable, and there are lots of useful plug-ins available (to combat spam, upload photos, add links to popular social networking pages and so on). WordPress is easily customisable so that the site looks more like a traditional website than a blog.

Do-It-Yourself Website or Pay a Website Designer?

For a writer who can see the benefits of having his or her own website, the first step is to decide how it is going to happen: DIY or use a designer. A few years ago it could become very expensive to have a website professionally designed and uploaded to the Internet. Now there are many website designers who will do this for a very reasonable fee. For example: website designer Gail Breese specalises in creating websites for writers. Her website shows a dozen or so of these sites, along with comments from clients. To find a website designer in your country, just do a search using a phrase like "website designer for writer's website" and see what comes up.

Plan the Content for Your Writer's Website

The next step is to plan the content. A good place to start is by spending a few hours looking at other writers' websites – and there are thousands of them around. Check out their home pages, their 'about me' page, and the layout of the site. Look at sites that are based on a blog format as well as traditional websites.

Bookmark any sites that appeal because of the colours, design, or content. This will be useful for writers who design their own sites as well as those to opt to use a website design service. Scroll to the bottom of the home page to see if the site designer has been credited – if so, it's easy to look them up on the Web. Finally, don't be afraid to use the 'Contact Me' section of a website you like to ask the owner who built the site.

For most writers, it is well worth taking the time – and if necessary, investing some money - to create a professional Internet presence. Don't put it off any longer. Make a start today by investigating the various options for a writer's website, and tomorrow... that website might be a reality!

To Find Other Good Website-Building Resources

For other good website design software and resources for those creating their own paper writing website and blog, try entering terms like 'website design software' and 'graphics for websites' into a search engine. There are new programs being created all the time, and one of them might be exactly what is needed!

Top comments (1)

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Otis Anderson

any other resources?