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One-Hour Author Website

Cover: One-Hour Author Website

I enable authors to create their own professional WordPress website, on a budget, with no coding. Your own site with your domain name gives you credibility and a permanent place people can find you online. I want you to succeed, to be recognized, to support yourself in a profession where it’s hard to get noticed and hard to get by.

Membership benefits

  • This super useful online book of step by step illustrated instructions for setting up, securing, and managing your website.
  • Automatic setup tool to configure your website, create pages and menus.
  • Priority response on contact requests.

The free trial period for new subscribers lets you evaluate the material at no risk. You can even follow the instructions to set up your site without paying me anything, if you’re quick about it. But I hope you’ll find value in continued access to up-to-date, comprehensive guidance to managing and extending your site.

There’s also lots of free help here anyone can browse.

I’m doing the work for you of finding ways to accomplish each function easily, free and without the need for writing code. I’ve also written a few free plugins to add to the catalog at WordPress.org and on my own download area when I couldn’t find anything satisfactory.

What kind of website will you create?

My fiction writing website at tylertork.com gives an idea of the sort of site you can create from this book. Your site will include these features (if you choose):

  • About page with your bio and any other information you choose to share.
  • Catalog of your books and anything in which your work appears. Visitors can preview content, read reviews you choose to feature, and click to buy.
  • Contact form to let people get in touch without exposing your email address to the public.
  • Email list signup so you can start to build a following.
  • Blog to share your news, views, and thoughts, giving people a reason to return.
  • Social media links to your profiles, to make your site the hub of your online presence.
  • Share buttons.
  • An email address in your domain for a professional look (me@myname.com).
  • Any other pages you choose to add.

The automatic setup tool creates the “skeleton” of your website. Getting to that point — a fully functional but blank website — is the “one hour” part. After that, it’s up to you to flesh it out.

What comes after that?

I’ll guide you in adding content, uploading photos, blogging, and extending and maintaining the site. Your website will be flexible, with the ability to totally revamp the look later on without disturbing any of the content. It will be portable, to easily backup and restore to a new hosting provider should you find a better deal.

All right, how do I join?

Membership does not expire and is currently priced at $20 with one-week free trial. Compare it to buying a book from a retailer, except this one stays up to date.

We don’t store your payment information and there are no further charges. Members will automatically receive email notices of new blog posts and may occasionally receive other notices (e.g. of important updates to this book). You don’t have to maintain a membership to operate your website — stay as long as you find the information helpful.

Once you’re logged in, use the arrows on the left and right sides of the screen to go to next and previous pages. This will take you to each section in turn. There’s also an outline on the right if your screen is wide enough, or below if the screen is narrow.

I still have questions…

What does it cost to run a website?

The website you’ll create using the information here will cost $100/year or less to operate. Most of this is the price of hosting — renting space on a server to have a place to put the site.

You can save by shopping for bargains and avoiding premium themes and plugins. I’ve recommended best-value hosting providers, and have found free options for every component a typical author will need. If you have a trusted friend who has or wants a website, look into sharing the price of hosting.

Do I need to know HTML, CSS, or other swear words?

No. A little knowledge of HTML and CSS doesn’t hurt in making everything the way you want, but my goal is always to make that unnecessary.

No, really, I don’t do technology

I try to keep everything as simple as possible, but there are easier ways to get a decent website — they’re just more expensive. Sign up for the free trial, look through the step by step instructions, then decide.

Can I pay you to do this for me?

No — I prefer to spend my time writing books. But there are many services that will — it’ll just cost more than doing it yourself. You generally can choose between a website designer who’ll charge you several hundred up front (more or less), or an author website hosting business who’ll set up a boilerplate site and then charge you monthly, which adds up over time.

This material is suitable for writers who are game to do it themselves to save money. It’s a good, inexpensive, starter website that you can extend to suit your needs — or pay someone later on to jazz up, but meanwhile it looks good and it works.

If you have a teen-aged nibling who’ll work for fudge brownies, they can use this book to create your website, and probably save money overall compared to hiring a web designer (depending how many brownies they eat).

What if I already have a website?

I cover this case in the book, but briefly, it depends whether you want your new site to be at the same URL, whether the site already uses WordPress, and whether you have people already sharing/linking to your content and want to preserve those links.

How much work is it to manage a website?

It’s up to you. You can just set it up and not touch it unless you have a new book coming out and need to add it to your catalog. But the site does you a lot more good marketing-wise if there’s fresh content on it regularly — personal news, notices of upcoming appearances, reviews of books you’ve read, promotions and opportunities for readers to engage with you.

Why WordPress?

  • It’s free, and you have lots of control over how your site will look.
  • It’s portable, so you’re not tied to a particular web hosting company.
  • It’s flexible, so if you want to revamp the look of the site you can do that without copying/pasting stuff and creating new pages — just apply a different theme.
  • It’s popular and open source, which means it’s easy to find answers online if you have questions, and knowledgeable developers browse the forums to answer your questions if the answers aren’t already out there to find.
  • The developers of themes and plugins are generally pretty responsive to folks with comments or problems.
  • There are tons of reasonably priced web developers who can add special-for-you things without having to pay for a whole new website, if you later decide to go that route. But you’ll find there are lots of choices for anything you might want to do, many of them free, so chances are you won’t need that for a while, if ever.

Do I need to worry about SEO?

SEO (Search engine optimization) is the practice of fiddling with your site to make it rank higher in web searches. Whether you use WordPress or some other site-building system, it’s worth paying attention to, but mainly in terms of writing useful fresh content for your site. If you post the sort of material people search for, link to, and share on social media, your site will naturally rank higher. That’s the stuff search engines are looking to sift from the vast sea of garbage that is the Internet. Fortunately, as a writer, creating interesting words is what you already do anyway. Just do it on your own site instead of giving away all your best stuff to Facebook for free.

Also, though, the website setup tool will install software to evaluate and assist with SEO, and WordPress is already set up in such a way as to follow many SEO best practices.

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