New authors are sometimes stumped by a single question -- should I create a website or a blog-site? I suggest going with a blog-site. There are several reasons for this: cost, ease of set-up and updating, most sites are set up to resemble blogs, and you will need a blog anyway.
Having a blog website takes half of the work out of it. Lack of coding skills will not slow you down, because most online blog programs have creation tools there at your disposal that will do the coding for you. You only need to know how you want your pages to appear.
Blogspot (blogger) and Wordpress (WP) are free. We like free. Of the two, I would lean more towards Wordpress simply because they give users unlimited pages. Blogger has added the pages function to their system, however they have a limit of ten pages. Having unlimited pages means being able to create a single page for each of your books (and of course you will have tons :D), rather than one long run-on page of which readers will only scroll through half.
Both blogger and WP have their pros and cons. Blogger is a bit more user friendly. Its tools are easier to navigate. As well, add-ons (known as widgets) take fewer steps to add to your blog. For those who have some coding knowledge, blogger also gives users access to the blog template so you can change to a different template and/or augment the template to suit your needs.
However, people code more widgets for WP than blogger so WP has more functionality. Some have taken it upon themselves to augment widgets for use on blogger, but that does not happen often.
WP takes a little more time to learn than blogger. It presents a lot of information at once because it offers so much for the user to make their blog-site look amazing. Blogger sites have the tendency of looking alike, no matter how the templates change. The same cannot be said of WP sites. Often times, unless you see the “this site provided by Wordpress” stamp at the bottom of the site, you would never know it was a WP site.
WP has two ways it can be used. The first is a free site hosted through WP’s platform. Users can change out templates, but only a set number from their database and access to the template coding is prohibited. The second is to download the WP software to your hosted site. This allows you to use any template you like as well as augmenting the template. However, you then have to keep up with WP’s security updates or risk your site being hacked.
Hosted or not, blog or website, the one thing you will need is your own domain. Shy away from sites that say they will purchase the domain FOR you as part of a package. Those become a pain in the butt later if you decide you want to switch services because they will own the domain. You always want to be the one in control of your own domain name.
You can purchase your domain (YOURPENNAME.com) through a site like GoDaddy. There is also Register.com, but I know nothing about them so I cannot speak about what they offer. Be sure to sign up for the DomainsByProxy package as well so you are not advertising your physical address when someone uses a site like WhoIs.net. GoDaddy will register your domain and then you can set it to redirect to the blog you set up with blogger or WP.
Purchasing a domain without hosting keeps the cost manageable. So far as domains are concerned, it is usually recommended that you use your pen name as the URL. That makes it easier for readers to remember.
.COM is the usual ending most people go for, but you can purchase .NET, .ORG, et al to insure no one tries to encroach on the brand of your name and make a competing site that will direct traffic away from your site. All of these endings can be redirected to the same landing page.
Notes about GoDaddy:
· The site is convoluted on purpose to get you to purchase products you do not need by accident. You are not a business so you do not need a business account. You are not a store so SSL is unnecessary as well.
· When using the search for domain feature to see if your particular domain is free, purchase the domain right then if it is free. GoDaddy (and other sites that offer domains) has a nasty habit of cataloging searches and buying up domains so people have to buy them back at a ridiculously high rate if they want to use them. The same goes for keeping up with your payments so you do not lose your domain.
Other than those two things, GoDaddy is the devil with whom I prefer to deal.
Once you have your website set up, you can jump into places like Twitter and Facebook and then link them all together. But that is a topic for a different article.
Hope that helps.
Renee Bagby / Zenobia Renquist -- http://zenobiarenquist.com
I have three blogger blogs:
· Personal blog - http://dreneebagby.blogspot.com
· Promo blog - http://dreneebagbypresentsfirstchapters.blogspot.com
· Promo call blog - http://promo-reminder.blogspot.com
And I am helping Flash (Stephanie Burke) build the book pages on her WP blog: