Recently I posted an update on one of my social media feeds about my new website. One friend said something to the effect of, “Hey, you should write about that — how to start a website!”
So, here we go!
I am by no means an expert at website building, but I can tell what approach I took when launching Web Writing Advice almost two years ago, and what I’m doing now to get Cupcakes and Yoga Pants ready for the world.
Let’s first clarify: I’m a writer, not a web designer or IT pro. I started by doing a lot of Googling, reading, subscribing to blogs and experimenting with the buttons and functions in WordPress.
Personally, I love Syed Balkhi’s website, WPBeginner. His information is broken down into easy-to-follow steps and simple language.
Above all, don’t be afraid to dive in and just try something new. There’s almost always a blog post or YouTube video out there to help you through it!
So, if you’re trying to start a writing website of your own, here’s a few ideas to think about.
1. Pick a name for the website. I tend to go for things that are kind of obvious and blatant (Web Writing Advice), but am slowly realizing that cute and clever also garner attention (Cupcakes and Yoga Pants). Google the names you like to see if someone already has a site under that name and then, much like picking a tattoo, live with the idea for at least a month before committing. Are you still loving the website concept and idea? Then, go for it!
2. Buy your domain name ASAP. Once you do decide on your ideal website name, buy the domain. I bought both of mine through Blue Host long before I even starting building the actual websites. You don’t want to have your heart set on a specific URL, then find out later someone snuck in and bought it out from under you.
3. Pick a website platform. I started my first blog on Blogger, a free platform owned by Google. Although it worked fine for me, a friend explained that free sites aren’t very reliable. They’re sort of like renting versus owning something. So, I now personally self-host my websites using Blue Host (affiliate link) and WordPress. Nobody can take away my sites for placing advertisements on the pages or endorsing a product I like.
4. Create a logo. To build your brand identity, you need to have something visual for people to remember. See my nifty little computer screen above or my cartoon yoga girl on my other site? I use these logos on my business card, social media and elsewhere so people recognize me and my sites across various channels.
5. Choose your name. I personally suggest writing under a pseudonym, or if you’re married, using your maiden name, to keep a little separation between your personal life and your professional life. When you make it big, you don’t want unwanted solicitations or mail from stalkers.
6. Go beyond your resume. Sure, building a writing website is ultimately to promote you as a writer and your services or products, but why not do more? I blog about writing tips and ideas in addition to having static pages about who I am as a writer and what services I offer. Plus, blogging shows off some of my writing skills to potential clients at a click glance — and keeping this website updated shows my diligence — all qualities clients like to see in someone they’re hiring!
7. Include writing samples. This may seem obvious, but I’ve visited many writing websites that just tell what the person can write and never actually link to any samples. It’s not good enough to say “contact me for samples”. Nope. Create an online portfolio and show off your work right away to get more people interested in what you do.
8. Include multiple contact options. If the main purpose of your writing website is to get people to hire you to write for them, you need to offer several ways for them to reach out to you. Include a contact form, email address and links to your social media profiles. If you have a business phone number and address, consider including those too. Just don’t advertise your personal home address. You don’t want creepy people randomly showing up on your doorstep.
9. Create a schedule. Before you launch, and once the site is live, you must stick to a schedule to keep readers interested. Plan to post on the same days each week so people can know when to expect your latest post, if you’re blogging. I really don’t suggest putting up a static website with two or three pages. You’ll never climb the ranks of Google and get found. Websites with fresh, updated content get boosted to the top of search results, and that’s where you want to be, right?
10. It doesn’t have to happen in a day. I’m getting ready to launch my second healthy lifestyle blog, and I’ve spent months preparing it behind the scenes. I desperately want to push the magic “publish” button and have it up and going. But, no. I’m waiting until I have everything set up the way I want so it creates a positive experience for readers right out of the gate.
Are you putting together a writer’s website? What questions do you have? Please ask in the comments below and I’ll help as much as I can. If your question is complex, I might just write about it for another blog post. OR, do you have an amazing tip to share with other writers thinking about starting a website? Please share! We can all learn from each other.
Write on, friends! ~Angela