Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Ways To Begin Your Web Presence

I remember the feelings and my fears when I wanted to launch my first website. It was several years ago and I didn't know the first thing about where to go and what to do.

So I took the most logical step and asked around within my network of friends and acquaintances and found someone. A web designer in another part of the country was happy to work with me. I looked at her work and liked what I saw then we negotiated a reasonable price that I could handle and deadlines.

I worked intensively on that first website, the contents of what it said about my writing and my work, the articles that it displayed along with a bookstore section for my various books in print. There were several weeks of intense back and forth email conversations. I constantly checked the website and it's development and finally everything was in place. I had a well-designed, practical website which was a static brochure of my writing work.

Then after several weeks, I wanted to change something. No problem because the designer changed it. Then I received the bills for these minor changes--and that's when I began to have a strong desire to learn everything I could learn about web design and some basic HTML skills.

As you launch your website, you have to make a basic choice whether you are going to have someone else do it (out source is the big buzz word for it) or do it yourself. From my hard earned experience, I decided to do it myself. It puts the control firmly in my hands and is a lot less expensive in many ways but it is a choice on your part.

During the last few years, tools like blogs and other simple ways to launch a web presence have been developed. It's easier than ever for an individual to launch quality work online.

Determine Your Topic

No one can be all things to all people. Some authors launch a hodge-podge of material which is a mixture of things only their immediate family would care about, writing for the broader public and maybe a hobby or two thrown into the mix. Because that material is not targeted to a specific audience, it hits the target--no one. It's important when you launch your web presence that you determine your topic and stick with that topic.

Select a topic which is broad enough and something you have plenty of passion and things to say about it--or at least you can find other things online to quote and point out about that topic. If you stick to your topic and consistently build good content into your website--and promote it to everyone who crosses your path using simple tools like a link in your email signature line--then your audience will find you and come back to read what you have to say.

If you notice on these entries about The Writing Life, they are focused on writing and publishing. I've had other writers comment that they are amazed I don't veer from the topic but each one ties back into something about writing. That focus is intentional on my part and the consistency builds the audience. Readers know what they will find when they come to read my articles and content. It's important to select a theme and stay with that theme--no matter what other things you think you want to include on the site.

Three Places To Begin

When you want to launch a website, it may seem daunting to do it yourself. Here's different ways to begin and I've used each of these tools and know they are effective to build a presence online.

SiteBuildIt is one of the best values online. You can build unlimited pages and use a huge user guide. This system does much more than build pages but automatically gives you the ability to build your audience through the creation of a newsletter. Everything you need is in one economical price. I've built thousands of pages online with this system and it does not require that you know anything about the technical side of producing a website. It's where I built all of the pages in Right-Writing.com. Periodically I can change the design of the entire website--with one command. It's remarkable so I recommend you give serious consideration to this system.

Site Build It!

Homestead is another inexpensive system to consider for your website building needs. They have simple template tools which are all point and click. You don't have to be a technical wizard or know much about computers to use these tools. In a short amount of time, you can create a professional website.

3 mo. Half-off Gold & Platinum

XsitePro is an inexpensive yet powerful website design program. Once again you don't have to have any technical computer know-how to begin to design well-crafted and professional websites. With XsitePro, you need a hosting location such as Hostgator, which gives you a place on the Internet to put these professionally designed pages.

These tools are just a few of the easy-to-use systems that I recommend for building a web presence. It is important for you to begin some place and these three possibilities will give you a starting point.

If you don't have a topic to launch your web presence, then launch your own name as a website. Focus just on having some web pages that tell about you and your passion for writing and doing what you are doing. You never know when your name will pop into an editor's head, they will go to google and what will they find. Give them something to discover about you. If you take control of the information and create it, it will be there.

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1 Comment:

At 1:25 PM, Blogger Krista Phillips Left a note...

I recently created my own website. To me, it wasn't about creating my platform. The purpose is exactly what you mentioned, to provide a place for agents/editors, and hopefully, someday, readers! to find out a little bit more about me.

I'm still working on my website, but for now I just have it in Microsoft Publisher. I have tasked my husband with the learning of HTML so we can spiff it up and I can still have time to write. My brother-in-law is a computer programmer and let me have space on his web-hosting server site (whatever you call it!). So far I’ve only spent $7.15 and that was to buy my domain name!

My blog is the same. I don't have a topic, but since I write romantic comedy for the CBA, I try to have my posts be either 1.) Edifying for the Christian walk or 2.) Funny! The funny thing about my blog is that no one in my family even reads it! Mostly it is other writers and the occasional stranger who surprises me with a visit!


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