Do Authors Really Need a Website? Weighing in on the Debate

Do you need a website as an author?

This one question has sparked off a heated debate among many authors and book marketers. Many authors and book marketers swear by author websites. These supporters argue that websites offer more control over publishing, marketing, and sales. Others hate it, claiming that websites are a waste of time and energy. They point to the many (and I mean) websites built on generic templates who get less traffic than an ice cream truck in the middle of winter.

Let’s look at the pros and cons.

Pros of an author website

Author websites, supporters say, give readers what they want. In this age of social media, readers expect authors to have a website. Websites are the new business card for most professionals (including authors).  We live in an age where readers want more than a simple author bio or fan club. They want to learn more about their author’s personality and story. An author website can provide that connection.

An author website also benefits the author. It can serve as a central hub for all marketing activities. This central hub gives the author more control over their content. Authors can look no further than Facebook to get an example. Over the recent years, the number of fans and readers who can view your content has dramatically declined. This decline is due to changes in Facebook’s algorithm. The algorithm is the set of rules that Facebook uses to decide who gets to see what content.

(To be fair, Facebook had to make some rules because users would be overwhelmed with content. That being said, the change was not good, especially for authors and small businesses who depended on non-paid content!)

In summary, author websites help authors

  • Establish a central place where they have more control over content and sales
  • Maintain reader loyalty by providing consistent content
  • Build an emotional and social connection with readers
  • Establish a central channel for communication (email newsletters, static pages, landing pages, Contact Us forms, etc.)

Cons of an author website

 

Building a website takes a lot of work. It takes technical knowledge and it takes time. Even though there are click-and-create websites that allow you to create a website without knowing HTML in seconds, having a website doesn’t mean that it will be a marketing success.

Having a website can actually destroy your marketing efforts. Having an outdated website is an almost guaranteed way to turn readers away, not towards, your website content. To be effective, a website needs to be updated regularly using the latest technology. For authors that can’t keep, this can easily translate to an outdated website.

Creating and maintaining a website takes time and resources, something that most authors don’t have a lot of. This lack of resources can lead to mistakes like author photos that hadn’t been updated since 3 years.  Businesses use an army of people (copywriters, bloggers, SEO staff, developers, editors, and more) to keep pages updated. Most authors don’t have access to a team like this.

In summary, authors might not need a website because

  • Building and maintaining a website requires extra time and investment
  • Not keeping an updated website can sabotage your marketing efforts
  • Having a website could end up a waste of time
  • Having a website doesn’t guarantee marketing success or even visibility

Top 3 questions  to help you decide if a website is right for you

You might be still wondering if you need a website is right for your author brand or not. If not, here are 3 questions you might consider:

  1. Goals: Why do I want a website and what role will it play in my marketing?
  2. Resources & Planning: Do I know what I need to create the website that I want?
  3. Audience: Who do I expect to see my website and how will I provide what those visitors want?

 

Image Credit: Public reproduction of “The Muses Garden” by Lionel Noel Roye (Public Domain work of art)

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