As a writer, you need to have a strong online presence, be tech savvy and have a website that showcases your talents and services. But how to create a writer website without breaking the bank and hiring a web designer?
To begin with, you don’t have to with these powerful website tools and hacks. The best part is that some of them are free. Second, professional writers use these resources to connect with readers, increase book sales, grow their email list, and massively surge website traffic. But most important of all, you can create a writer website in less than one day.
The three most important steps you need to take to create a writer website are to first pick a host, website theme, and site name.
In some cases, free isn’t always better. You need to pay to host your website and get WordPress or blogger out of your URL. If you don’t, you send the message that you’re not serious. Blue Host is an excellent choice. I wrote a tutorial about how to transfer your free website to Blue Host.
Another excellent choice is Siteground. Siteground has great customer service and affordable plans for the first year. We used Blue Host for a while and then switched to Siteground to take advantage of their hosting deals and to increase our website speed.
Pick a theme that represents your writing brand and style. For examples of different writer websites, check out the article The Best Writing Websites for Writers.
They have a few different choices and their sales pitch is to choose a design that converts visitors into sales. In addition to website themes, they have a few plugins like Thrives Architect and Thrives Leads to help you with website design and lead tracking.
Some writers rave about Genesis Framework by Studio Press and adore their feminine themes. We chose a Thrives Theme for our website, but Genesis might have been a better choice based on style and layout.
Bluchic is a smaller company that provides website themes and stock photos. Each week they send out a newsletter that’s enjoyable to read and usually has some smart website tips to follow.
When you create a writer website, you need a way to communicate directly with your readers.
It doesn’t matter what you write about or what products you offer, you need an email service provider. My favorite is Mailerlite. As you’re growing your email list, you don’t want to pay a monthly fee to do it. Your first 1,000 subscribers are free on Mailerlite. The platform is easy to use and the customer service is excellent.
Another recommendation is to purchase a personalized email address. Basically, your name plus your website name. For example, firstname.lastname@example.org. Google Suites is a good choice.
Once you choose a host, theme, and email service, you need to think about SEO. Unfortunately, this was an afterthought when I created a writer website. If I had to start again, this would be a part of my strategy.
Search engine optimization or SEO helps people sift through the millions of websites and find yours. Understanding the basics of SEO is easy, but like anything online, is more complicated once you dive in. Yet, don’t be overwhelmed. The basics are all you need at first. Check out the article, The Best SEO Tips for Bloggers and Writers to get the basics of SEO.
Google Analytics Dashboard for WP
You’ll want to install Google Analytics on your website to monitor traffic, referrers, and the most popular pages. You can use the information to plan blog content and discover trends. You’ll also find out what information people are typing into Google to find your website.
Yoast is a free plugin that teaches you SEO as you use it. Basically, the plugin will tell you if your blog post is easy to read and to find on Google. You choose a keyword and metalanguage for website search and Yoast will give you a ranking.
You can keep playing with the keywords to get the green light. If you don’t have great SEO, your website traffic will be low because no-one will know how to find you.
As you create a writer website, you’ll be adding images to your site. Large image files slow down your website loading speed. Slow speed has a huge impact on SEO and user experience. Experts say that you have about 3 seconds for your website to load before the person leaves.
Smush takes your images and optimizes them for size. The quality of some images matter if you’re going to print them or if you provide photography services, etc., but for the most part, the naked eye can’t tell if your image has 2000 pixels or ten. What matters is how fast they load. Smush decreases loading time.
W3 Total Cache
Another tool to create a writer website is the W3 Total Cache plugin. It reduces website downloading speeds and improves performance. After I added this plugin the speed of my site increased dramatically. You can test website speed at Google Page Speed or Pingdom Website Tools
Accelerated Mobile Pages
Website speed is important to rank high in Google results and to keep readers on the page. One free plugin to help speed up your site is Accelerated Mobile Pages. Your site will be super fast, making Google smile.
However, I will mention that how your website looks will change on mobile and sometimes not great. Before adding this plugin, do some additional research to decide if it’s right for you.
Now that you have the website up and running and a focus on SEO, decide how you’ll reach your writing audience.
There are many social media platforms to choose from, but my recommendation is to start with one. My main source of website traffic is Pinterest.
People claim that Pinterest will skyrocket your website traffic in minutes. In my experience, that’s not true. However, Pinterest is my number one resource for referral traffic, and I highly recommend finding a strategy that works for you.
But how to utilize Pinterest? Honestly, it’s a beast, yet there are some tools and resources that will help you grow your traffic and email list using Pinterest.
Social Warfare Pro
When people visit your site, you’ll want them to share your content. Social Warfare is an affordable plugin that makes sharing easy. The plugin integrates with your WordPress dashboard and you write the copy and upload the pictures readers can share on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.
If you use Pinterest to promote your blog, then you need an automatic scheduler. The basic plan for Tailwind covers most of what you need to start with, and they have easy-to-follow video tutorials.
Pinterest is a visual search engine, so you need to create beautiful pins. I wrote a tutorial on how to make beautiful pins that will help you. In order to make gorgeous pins, you need to invest in an editor like Pic Monkey or Photoshop.
I didn’t want to learn Photoshop, so I started playing around with Pic Monkey. It quickly became apparent that the free version wasted my time. I decided to invest in the paid version. Now, I use it constantly to create pins for Pinterest, slides images, printables, book covers, and more.
One bit of advice I took when starting my blog is to focus on only one social media site to master. If you choose Pinterest, I recommend reading and taking as many courses as possible.
When the Ultimate Bundles opens enrollment, purchase the Genius Blogger's Toolkit. Usually, it’s about $97 and you’ll get access to a ton of courses from everything from increasing traffic to how to master Pinterest.
But, if you don’t want to wait for enrollment to open start with Redefining Moms Pinterest course and her master course on how to create affordable Pinterest ads. Pin Practical Promotions will show you exactly how to drive traffic and sales using Pinterest. Check out my blog post on the secret to growing your email list.
A great way to encourage sharing of your content is to use Pinterest Widgets. This plugin adds a pin it button to images and a Pinterest board to your sidebar.
When you first create your writer website, you might consider starting a blog. Having a blog helps establish you as an authority in your writing genre and is an easy way for you to promote your books as an author.
Plus, you can make money from ads and affiliate products. How to Make Money Blogging Fast gives you some good tips to get started.
As a writer and blogger, you’re going to need to write a lot; especially in the beginning. So, learning to write fast and strategically is a must. Join our Write 3K in 3 Days Writing Challenge. You’ll write a ton of quality content and set a writing schedule that works.
Since you’ll be writing a lot, investing in an online editor and spell check will make your prose shine. Even the best writers and bloggers make grammar mistakes. One of the best online editors is Grammarly. The free version will help you catch your errors, but if you want to dive deeper you can pay for the premium version.
We also have a Blogger Grammar Refresher Course that will refine your grammar and syntax skills to make editors beg for your writing.
Thrives Headline Optimizer
Clickable headlines drive people to your website. We use the Thrives Headline Optimizer. You can write unlimited blog titles for one post and then test which one gets the most traffic. I find it fun to use and a smart way to discover what people are interested in reading.
We also show you how to create powerful headlines in our course Get Paid to Write Quality Blog Posts.
So you wrote an evergreen blog post a year ago, but now readers might think it’s outdated. One way to make your blog post current again is to install Comment Luv.
You can change the setting to have your latest comment to go on top, rather than on the bottom. Now you have a recent date for new readers to see.
Comment Luv also comes with the option for the commenter to leave a link to their latest blog post. Savvy commenters look for this because they know it’s free promotion for their content.
The worst possible thing that could happen is that you haven’t backed up your site and now you’ve lost everything. Or you’re infiltrated with spam comments and security becomes an issue. The plugins below are free and protect your site from lost information and security threats.
You’ll want to automatically back-up your website and keep your site secure with Wordfence. They have a premium plan with tons of security features, but the free version does the trick.
This free plugin protects your site for spam. Once you add Askimet Anti-Spam, your site will be fully configured and protected.
When you create a writer website, the main focus is to market your books and services. But once you start increasing your traffic, placing ads on your site could be easy passive income. Google Ads or Media Vine are the most popular choices. But if you’re not tech-savvy, using a plugin to the add the ads will save you time.
To help you start to monetize check out the article How to Make Money Blogging Fast.
Ad Inserter is super easy to use. You can copy and paste ad code into their interface and the ads will appear on your site.
Now, that you have the best writing tools, resources, and hacks, you’re on your way to a professional writer website and blog that’s above the competition.
What’s your favorite writing tool and resource? Tell me about it in the comments below.
*Sometimes we use affiliate links to keep us in ink and chocolate. Oh, and to keep creating free stuff for you.
Amber Roshay is an instructor, writer, and instructional designer who founded Pen and Parent with her college best friend. She's written two novels and co-wrote How to Make a Living as a Writer. When she's not chasing after kiddos and indulging in baby snacks, you can find her writing with a cup of coffee in hand. Join her on Pinterest.