Day 8: Your Website and What’s Wrong With It

As I was writing this post, I found out something awesome, and I’m going to share it with you. I’ll let you know when you get to it.
Whether you’re an author with a site that has looked the same forever or are new to website mastery but have just completed the assigned homework, everyone needs help. All websites are not created equal!
Less than a month ago I had an awful site. Well, not awful but it was doing me no good. A little preface so you know I know what the heck I’m about to tell you!
I had always done my own sites through WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) applications, and then in 2007 decided to actually pay someone to do my site. I reasoned, I’m a professional, and I needed something really fab to enhance and support my career. I met a programmer and together we designed a very sparkly and dazzling all-Flash site. It was animated and fun, and I got compliments on it almost daily.
Here is a little speedy movie of what it looked like:

Now, I’ve got a pretty good gut instinct, and in the pit of my stomach, I had a fear about this fabulous site because I was unable to update it. I thought, “I know! I’ll jampack it full of stuff so I won’t have to update it!” This was a completely ridiculous notion, considering how fast our online lives move, not to mention I had things happening in my career I needed to input. I didn’t Cavemanlisten to my gut so I’ve had basically the same site since 2007. In internet years that’s roughly when the Flintstones were still eating Brontosaurus burgers in Bedrock.
Knowing what an enormous job revamping a site is, I put it off. But finally, and because of Little Chicken’s Big Day coming out in April, I decided it was time. I’d been hearing a lot of good stuff about WordPress, and knew it would allow me to easily update when I needed to. But one of the best things about WordPress, I think, is that I can have my blog within my website. That way, visitors aren’t sent all over the internet for my content. Before, I had to send them to my blog separately from my site. That creates a problem – where do I point people to, my site or my blog? This way there is just one destination.
You can certainly hire your college roommate’s kid who dabbles in web design, or, if you can, you can spend some money by hiring someone. You can also build it yourself. Right now I’m going to (kind of) contradict what I wrote about godaddy the other day. I still use them, and I still recommend them, but I just listened to a podcast with Pat Flynn, of

You have arrived at the awesome part.

I watched this movie Pat made about creating a blog – this works for a site, too – and it’s fantastic. Despite the fact that I have not yet made the switch to (web hosting provider) bluehost myself, I feel confident that my sources who do are experts. I listen to a lot of podcasts by both Pat and Cliff Ravenscraft, and they both swear by bluehost. The thing that convinced me to recommend bluehost the way Pat does is because of what he shows in this video. bluehost has a one click WordPress installation process. Then you can add your own customization. But the thing is, you can start blogging right away, and the blogging can be integral to your site.

This next tip is harder for us writers and illustrators because we are what we do – we are our brand. Our names are synonymous with our work, and so we have the choice of using our own names. But consider this: Pat also recommends that your domain name should match your blog title. For example, his domain is so when people link to him, they use those words. They might write something like, “Pat over at smart passive income has a blog about…” and they’ll link the words “smart passive income.” That’s a back link, and that’s what Google looks at. His URL and his blog both contain that keyword. That’s a big arrow pointing at your site in Google speak. (By the way, Pat will be on my podcast in May, so keep an eye out for that, in which we’ll discuss passive income for writers!)
I need to find out whether buying a domain name and having it forwarded would have the same effect. Do you know? Did you think that tip was as awesome as I did?
Tomorrow: Working with a professional website designer.
Beginner track homework:

  1. Surf these sites. They’re among my personal favorites in terms of design and information:
  2. Create an outline including the most important things you feel you need above the fold.
  3. Go to WordPress and create an account and watch their tutorials.

Protrack homework:

  1. Surf these sites. They’re among my personal favorites in terms of design and information:
  1. Go to your site and look at it with a critical eye.
  2. Ask yourself these questions:

o Is it representing me as a successful professional?
o Is it easy to navigate?
o Is my most important information above the fold?
4. Mindmap your next site.

Recent Comments

  • Melissa Taylor
    March 28, 2011 - 7:53 pm · Reply

    You have everything but just one questions — what about the crazy cave man? I think that’s an essential ingredient to any good blog – in fact, I want him to visit my blog soon! He makes me smile.
    But, seriously – great post.

Leave a Comment

Enter your info below if you want to…

  • be a better writer
  • learn from live critique workshops
  • have access to interviews with experts
  • learn the how-tos of writing
  • be in a community of like-minded writers.