An Author Website on a Budget
So, you’re a writer. And, because you’ve got good business sense and a bit of class, you know that you don’t just need a Facebook page. You know that in order to be seen as professional, to get that call from Oprah, eventually,
you’re going to need a website.
But. you’re on a budget. So you google “cheap websites.”
Chances are, you’re going to get pointed to Wordpress.
I beg you to just hear me out for one second:
Yes, Wordpress is free. But only sort of.
For starters, you’ll have to buy your own domain name (ie, your firstnamelastname.com), You’ll also need to pay for a website host, which is basically where your website “lives.”
And, here’s the real kicker:
If you want a Wordpress website that looks good? You’re going to need a designer. And good designers are not cheap.
Can you do it yourself? Sure. Lots of writers do. But here’s the trick with DIY on Wordpress. Wordpress, first and foremost, was built as a blog platform. Hence, by default, out of the box, it will look like a blog, with the focus being on on blog posts, rather than say, a pretty homepage, a robust books page, an attractive About page, or any of the other pages an author needs.
Yes, there are templates that can help you camouflage the blog focus, but the good templates will cost you. The free ones look, well, free. And again, unless you’re a coding wizard, chances are your website’s always gong to look just a tiny bit homegrown. And maybe that’s fine with you!
But if you don’t have a big budget for a great designer (for author websites built on Wordpress, I highly recommend Priceless Design, they’ve built the only Wordpress-based author websites I’ve ever seen that I actually like), and you don’t want to do it yourself, but you still want your website to look at least pretty good?
Please consider Squarespace.
Note that Squarespace does not currently have an affiliate program (if they did, I’d be all over it), so I get absolutely zero compensation for recommending them). I’m just passing it along, because if you’re a newish author (or an established author!) they’re a fantastic all-in-one solution for getting a decent looking website, even if you do it yourself.
And you can do it yourself, because Squarespace is entirely drag-and-drop, no coding required.
My website that you’re on now is a Squarespace website. My husband’s website here is a Squarespace site. Rachel Van Dyken’s and Audrey Carlan’s websites are Squarespace sites (full disclosure, I designed all of the above via my web design company Last Word Designs).
But again, less you think I have an agenda, check out Jamie McGuire’s site. I had nothing to do with this website, but my Squarespace-savvy eye immediately flagged it as Squarespace asite, and my tech-know-how verified it. And it’s a good site, right? So many better than two dozen big-name authors I could name write now whose websites make me cringe.
Now, there are plenty of Squarespace-specific designers out there that can help you customize your site to be “wow” (raises hand), but what really sets Squarespace apart from Wordpress is that you can create something that looks professional on desktop and mobile right out of the box. Squarespace doesn’t try to force you into a blog format. You don’t have to learn any HTML to fix the janky parts. You don’t have to install plugins, and worry about keeping those plugins current. You don’t have to waste hours looking for a theme that is both affordable and attractive.
Curious about Squarespace, but don’t know where to start? I recommend signing up for their free trial, and when it prompts you to choose a starting template, go with the Native template to start. It’s not their fanciest template, but it’ll give you a great sense of just how easy it is to swap in your own image, name, etc and get something that gets pretty darn decent.
If you don’t love it? You can cancel after the 14-day trial, without a dime spent.
And if you do want to spend a few dimes for something fabulous, check us out at Last Word ;-)