If you’re not a technical person, the mere thought of building a website can bring on horror movie chills.
It’s like being in your living room, the couch vibrating in time to the hum of intense background music. Ellen Ripley is making her way through the dark corridors of Nostromo. Somewhere in the dark recesses of another hallway lurks an alien. My hands became sweaty, even though I’ve seen this movie more than a dozen times and I know what’s about to happen.
Some people get that same feeling when thinking about building a website—knowing that all kinds of scares and snags are lying in wait for them.
But websites don’t have to be scary! Building your shiny new author website has nothing in common with being attacked by a monster-movie alien—in fact, it can actually be kind of fun!
Basically, the whole website-building process can be divided into 6 major steps (and a few smaller steps within those):
- Choosing a hosting provider
- Choosing a domain name
- Choosing a platform (CMS)
- Choosing a template
- Customizing your website’s look
- Creating necessary pages
- Editing your site’s look
- Adding your content
- Enjoying your creation!
I’ll give you step-by-step explanations for each of these, showing how you can create a website that will be your writer portfolio, blog, store… or whatever you want it to be!
Sit tight, and let’s begin.
1. Choosing a Hosting Provider
Nowadays, there are thousands of website hosting providers, and choosing a reputable, reliable, affordable option can be a problem. But luckily, we can help guide you through this tricky part of the process.
All hosting providers can be divided into four groups according to their cost:
- Low cost
- Medium price range
- Excessively overpriced
Since your website will not require enterprise-level specs and is not likely to have thousands of daily sessions (at least in the first six months you launch it—when you’re an international bestseller, you might have to scale up!) you can safely choose medium price range hosting providers. These include:
Be sure to check the terms for each of these offers, as sometimes the price increases after the first year.
All of these hosts are reliable—your site won’t be crashing regularly because of a server issue—offer plenty of add-on options and services, have good customer support, and are trustworthy.
Since I’m a big fan of BlueHost, I recommend you go with them. But really, any of these will fit your author website’s needs.
Each of the hosting providers on this list has a few options for how you can host your site, whether you choose WordPress hosting or shared website hosting.
If you choose the first option, you’ll only be able to create a WordPress website within your account. By choosing the second option, you’ll be able to build a website powered by any content management system (CMS). Just pick one in the apps section and install it.
Shared website hosting gives you more freedom comparing to WordPress hosting. I recommend that you choose shared website hosting based on my experience, shared hosting is a good thing for a small website or a blog, as it allows you to be more flexible.
There is a catch, though: shared hosting implies that server resources are equally divided between multiple accounts/websites. So if another website that is located on the same server as yours has an unexpected traffic increase, it may hurt the performance of your website.
So! You’ve chosen your host and signed up for a plan. Let’s move on to the next step: picking your site’s name.
2. Choosing a Domain Name
Most hosting providers give you a free domain name for one year (when you register an account). Unfortunately, it will not be free forever—after that first year, you’ll have to pay for the domain name, and the expense will vary depending on what type of domain you choose.
How to Choose the Right Domain Name for You
If I were you, I would use my name as a domain. Okay, so that’s probably my ego speaking, but this is a great choice in terms of your brand’s promotion. All in all, you are free to choose any domain name you want, but keep in mind that it should:
- Be easy to remember
- Be hard to misspell or type incorrectly
- Not contain many numbers
- Not be too long (try to use less than 20 characters)
If you stick to these rules, you’ll be able to choose a great domain. Dot-com domains are the easiest for people to remember—most people will type “.com” by default when looking up a web address. However, there are lots of other options out there, like .net, .org, .biz, .blog, and even .author. So if your chosen domain name is taken as a dot-com, you can try other domain endings. Just keep in mind that your readers may try to go to the dot-com and end up somewhere you didn’t intend if you use one of the less common endings like “dot-blog.”
3. Choosing a platform [CMS]
I’m a simple person— if I blog, I do it with WordPress. No, creating a website isn’t a challenge from a horror movie, but if I’m being honest, building a writer website on any platform but WordPress or MotoCMS is just plain creepy.
So I’m mostly going to stick to WordPress in this guide—it’s the simplest, most user-friendly, and most flexible option for someone who doesn’t have a ton of time and/or technical skills to set up a website. I’ll give you all the necessary examples in terms of the WordPress themes most suitable for a writer website. (But I’ll also show you a few other options in case WordPress isn’t your method of choice)
Just to be clear, there are dozens of platforms you can use to build a website (both free and paid). But WordPress gives you the most options for the lowest cost and fuss.
So! WordPress it is!
Just install WordPress on your new hosting account—this is usually as simple as a one-click process where you choose your username and password and the system does all the rest. Log in to your new WordPress account on your site and it’ll walk you through a few basic steps to set up.
From there, we can get to the fun part: customizing!
4. Choosing a Template
In terms of WordPress themes, you have two options: free and premium.
Free themes are a good choice if you’re short on budget, but this may lead to some difficulties in the future.
Imagine you’ve built your website on a free WordPress theme, and here comes another update of the WordPress core. It’s possible that this update could give your website functionalities that are not supported by your free template—or that the person who made your free template could stop supporting it at any time, leaving you vulnerable to security issues.
So I recommend choosing an affordable paid (premium) template instead. You’ll have more security in the future, more options down the road, and you’ll also have far more functions and sleek features to get you started!
Most WordPress providers release free updates that are available to all of their clients. This is a bullet proof way of staying up-to-date until you decide to do a redesign and opt for another theme.
In this case, I’m 100% positive you need a premium theme. After all, it’s your career we’re talking about here!
Let’s look at the options in detail:
- Lifetime updates
- Support ( community or ticket-based)
- Opportunity to be up-to-date on security upgrades and new features
- More sleek features, like post sliders or animations
- No support
- No updates
- Up-to-date? I doubt that.
Now, picking a theme can be both exciting and daunting—though we’re still not stuck in a horror movie here. There’s just a lot of choices!
To help you find a great theme that will showcase your writing and brand, I’ve put together a selection of some writer and author website templates that you will definitely like. Best of all, TCK Publishing readers get a 15% discount!
Here they come!
Jack Baker: Writer Responsive WordPress Theme
This WordPress theme comes powered by an Elementor page builder. That’s a plugin that will help you easily create various page layouts and fill them with modules that will deliver options like videos, spacers, Google Maps features, sliders, image boxes, carousels, counters, and so on. The theme comes with a person-oriented homepage, which is a perfect choice if you are aggressively promoting yourself as a brand.
Editorso – Journalist Blog WordPress Theme
Building a blog-focused site where you’ll post lots of frequent updates? This template is a great choice. In terms of customization, all that you need to do is change the logo, site title, and color scheme, then add an email to the contact form and you’re ready to go. All other elements and pages are already created and function exactly as you need.
Moroseta WordPress Theme
This sleek blog design is worth considering, especially if you plan to sell books or other products directly on your website—there’s a store function built in! Just add the necessary products (with pictures and descriptions) and it will be ready to accept visitors and clients.
House Press: Publishing Company WordPress Theme
This is another WordPress theme with the Power Page builder. Want to sell books, courses, or other products on your site? You’re covered! It comes with an Ecwid, a powerful, secure, and easy-to-use online store solution that gives you a fully functional shop on your WordPress website.
Monstroid2: Multipurpose WordPress Theme
While many of our other themes mentioned here have been tailored specifically for professional writers, this theme is a little broader—but that’s great, because it can help you do anything you can dream of with your site! Monstroid2 is a multipurpose WordPress theme that has all the features and functionalities you will ever need. What’s more, it has 20 child themes on board, so basically if you buy Monstroid2, you will get 21 WordPress themes for the price of one. Just like that. Gotta love it.
Now, I know I said we’d focus on WordPress, but I wanted to include a few MotoCMS themes, too, just to give you extra options.
The Good Book MotoCMS 3 Template
Don’t want to fuss with setting up pages and parameters in WordPress? With this MotoCMS theme, you’ll be able to create a website using an intuitive drag-n-drop builder. MotoCMS offers you enough settings to tune even the tiniest element on your website.
Writer/Author Responsive MotoCMS3 Template
If you check out the review section on the Details page of this template, you will find lots of highly satisfied users. That’s because MotoCMS was designed to be an intuitive site-building platform, easy for non-techies to use. With the help of MotoCMS, you’ll be able to make all the necessary customizations and release your website in about one business day.
John Milford Responsive MotoCMS 3 Template
And here we’ve got another MotoCMS template designed especially to help you make a great writer website. Its powerful admin panel will help you customize it in a matter of a few hours so that you can quickly start sending readers and fans to your online platform.
Are you already experienced with building websites? There are two more options you might want to consider: a couple of HTML5 templates.
James Brown HTML5 Writer Template
Here’s an example of a minimal HTML5 theme tailored specifically for a writer’s needs. The most notable things about this template are the extra page layouts and smooth parallax effect.
Paul Adams: Writer Website Template
If you’re good at HTML, you can opt for this HTML5 writer website template. Use your favorite code editor to change images and text, upload those pages to your hosting account, and your website is ready. In terms of site speed, HTML5 websites are always the winners.
5. Customizing Your Website’s Look
I gave you a few options for MotoCMS and HTML5 websites in the last section, but most people will choose to use WordPress because it’s free, familiar, and easy to use.
So we’ll use WordPress as our example for how to complete your website. In this customization section, I’ll give you some details on how you can improve your site’s looks.
Let’s make the Jack Baker template work for you. Did you choose another template? No problem—the same steps and tips will generally apply in terms of what you’ll need to adjust to make a really great personalized website.
The first thing you need to know is that this template is extremely easy to customize. How easy?
Well, let’s give an example. There’s a variation of chess called speed chess. Players are given 60 minutes for a 60 moves game, making one move a minute. I do something similar: my hobby is the speed customization of a template!
I try to change the looks of the theme in the shortest period of time possible. I usually play this game on weekends when I can relax and when no one is distracting me.
The last WordPress theme I played with was Jack Baker The best thing about Jack Baker is an Elementor builder. That’s a free drag-n-drop WordPress page builder that can help you create tons of possible layouts with the help of predefined modules. Another notable thing is that Jack Baker has a JetElements module that will deliver additional layouts to your website. Creating pages will be easy as pie.
Let’s see how!
Creating Necessary Pages
You’ll need to create a few key pages to make your website truly valuable to your readers. You’ll want to make sure you have places on your site to explain who you are and what you do—an About Me page, in other words—as well as a Contact page with information about how readers can get in touch with you or follow you online.
You’ll also probably want to include pages for each of your books and/or book series so that readers can quickly learn about what you’re writing. You may want to include a blog so that you can post regular updates. It might also make sense to have an online store where you sell your books, as well as an events page where readers can see what you’re up to and where they can meet you.
All of these are possible using any good quality theme! Take a look at some other author websites and see what pages are used most often, then put those on your site.
If you use a theme specifically designed for writers, like Jack Baker, there will usually be spaces for all this information already set aside. It’s as simple as filling in your details!
Editing Your Site’s Look
In the Jack Baker theme, you’ll be able to edit the look and customize it via the WordPress Customizer, or by using the Elementor builder.
With Customizer, you can edit some standard WordPress elements like site title, logo, color scheme, and so on.
Meanwhile, using the Elementor page builder will help to fill your website with advanced content elements.
Let’s have a look which modules the home page was built with.
The first screen is called the Showcase Panel and is edited from the Customizer.
There you can add your photo, your details, and some marketing text.
The next section includes a Text module.
The background image can be replaced from the section’s settings.
The next section contains few text modules and a Subscribe and Follow module.
Section #4 contains the Advanced Carousel module.
In this section, you can show off all your books in a sleek clickable carousel, allowing readers to explore everything you do.
The next section contains a Testimonials Slider. The slider module has a bunch of options that will help you give it the look you need.
This section is perfect for showing off all the great reviews you get, helping to build social proof to get readers to buy your books.
Right under the Testimonials section goes the Latest Post section.
There you can choose how many posts you want to see on the homepage, arranging them either in a single column or splitting them between 2-6 columns.
And the last section on the homepage is the Counter Module.
In terms of website performance, the counter acts as an entertainment feature. It will help you provide your site visitors with some fun info— like the number of words you’ve written this week, or how many cups of tea you have made in the last month. In general, editing content and sections is really easy. A variety of settings will help you customize your website, making it look really awesome.
5. Adding Your Content
Now that your sections are all set up and everything is in place, all you need to do is add your content. Change out the background, add a headshot or other images, upload images of your book covers, and start blogging. In no time at all, you’ve created and launched your very own author website!
6. Enjoy Your Creation!
This is the final step in this guide— and by now, I hope you’re already on your way to enjoying your new, awesome writer’s website.
From here, you just need to start sending traffic to your site—and we have a guide for that, too! Click below to learn how to get your first 1,000 visitors.
Want to learn more about how to manage your online presence as an author? Check out these articles!
- Networking for Writers: Why You Absolutely Need To Be Easy To Find Online
- Why Every Author and Small Business Owner Should Be Building an Email List (and How to Do it for Free)
- How To Build Your Email List Using YouTube