8 Benefits of Having an Awesome Author Website
If you have any doubts about usefulness of author websites and their influence on your career, take a look at what you would be losing out on without building your own author platform!
Should indie authors have a website? Is it even worth it? If you’ve had doubts about it I get it, it might seem like a ‘nice to have’ thing rather than a ‘Must’. And it’s true, author website will not take your career from zero to hero and will not sell millions of book copies for you while you do nothing. But here are the real reasons why they matter.
Why it makes sense to have an author website:
Signals it’s a serious career
Email List building
Discovery through SEO/organic traffic/social media
Additional Income Streams
Facebook advertising can cost less
More book sales
Here they are in more details:
Brand Protection and Copyrights
I’d say this is one of most important benefits of having a serious author website with your own domain name. If some other author has a similar name and nabs the domain name you want (www.johndoe.com etc) then you’re losing the readers to him. If your site is hard to find, people will lose interest. If reader goes to Google and searches for you but some other author comes up, he might just start reading their books instead. Or just be confused and leave and possible forget your name at all. Which would stink! Also, this depends on country of residence, but if there was a dispute between two authors about using the name or pen name, person who bought the domain first, can try to use it as proof and it can benefit them.
Makes You Look More Serious
Imagine a journalist, a reviewer or an agent finds author’s book on Amazon and loves reading it. Then decides to do a Google search to find more info on him and considers not just reading the books but maybe more! What if an agent wants to sign the author and represent him, or journalist wants to write a feature article about the author but Google search delivers no results in the search and Amazon has very limited information. The person might just lose all interest and think this isn’t as serious an author as he’d thought. But if he/she found a website for this author with additional information, more books, contact form and a blog that’s being updated at least monthly (so not a ghost town), that increases chances for collaboration/partnership! A busy person will not spend much time looking for information, will not dig very deep and wants all things to be conveniently available. If they aren’t, well, there is plenty of fish in the sea (not to mention their inbox is full of other authors pitching them).
So, not having an author website at all, might cost you partnerships and opportunities. Even a not-so-active but updated and good-looking website will make you look like you are serious about your writing career and goals.
Email List Building
This is probably the most important one. Email lists are your way to advertise for free to readers who like your work, to do research on what readers like, get members to your street team and get the first reviews.
I’d go as far as to say that if you have no list, you are not an independent author. Why? Because dependance on Amazon, while is freedom from Publishing companies, it is still dependence on one platform, one gatekeeper. If Amazon decided for some reason to ban you from publishing books, it would be a disaster. But having an email list can help at least partly minimize the damage. You can send your readers to other distributors like Kobo. Or even sell directly to them.
Your email list members are also the people most likely to buy other stuff from you, like signed copies, t-shirts or other merchandise that you can have off of Amazon (like on Etsy store). That allows you to make more money from writing career and diversify your income. And email list is the core group of people who will rate your ideas, support them and even give you better ideas too.
Discovery channel through SEO or Social Media
If you blog, you get the chance to get more traffic not just from your link in the book but from Google or Social Media. If you write blog posts about books in your genre, that might bring traffic if readers share your post in a group of readers on Facebook. If you review or recommend great books, that is useful to readers and might get shared around.
There are authors that build website specifically for one genre and use it to blog about those books and get nice amount of traffic from Google and can turn those visitors into readers of their books eventually(through email list or just gaining respect and reader curiosity from great insightful blog).
It’s your site, your blog so you can say what you want, when you want and not be censored by any gatekeeper. If you have some controversial opinions, that might become a viral blog post. If you are witty and write witty blog posts about pop-culture that can go viral too. The blog allows you to express your unique talents and experiment.
In addition, some authors use Facebook fan page as their ‘website’. But with Facebook making organic reach (how many fans see your post for free) lower and lower, fan pages are anemic and are to be used to help with marketing, not be the main marketing vehicle. Facebook ads are still good and you need a fan page to have ad account. But beyond that, fan page is a dying marketing channel and can not replace website. Not to mention that if FB doesn’t like something or someone unfairly reports your post, the fan page can be taken down. Fan page should work in concert with your website, not replace it.
Additional Income Streams
Having your website allows you to make a bit of money through affiliate marketing, advertising or other products (like Merchandise).
A simple option for Affiliate marketing is selling other authors’ books through Amazon Affiliate program. If you write a review of a book you loved, you can include the link to the book’s Amazon page on your post and earn small commissions if the reader buys anything on Amazon. The good thing about it is if someone clicks on your affiliate link but doesn’t even buy the book, but buys something else, you will get commissions for that buy still. It will be some percentage (from 1-10) of the money they spent for stuff bought on Amazon.
Affiliate marketing is very common, plenty of authors do it. This website is supported by it too, some of the recommended tools like Grammarly or website hosting are affiliate links. It won’t be a full-time income source for authors but you are getting paid for doing very little. Writing a book review is helpful to your site and the reader. So it’s a win-win while you can also make a little money!
Getting companies to advertise on your website is less likely for authors. The websites usually get too little traffic, only big websites/blogs can survive on advertising income. If the website isn’t getting tens of thousands of visitors a month, it’s not really an option to get a company to advertise. It is possible for authors to partner up and exchange ads on each others’ websites or pay small fees, that could work, but it would not be a big source of income.
It is also possible to sell t-shirts and other merchandise for authors but it’s not a common practice yet but as time goes and Print-on-Demand services and 3D printing become cheaper, it will become a more viable option. Right now it’s mostly for authors who are already in the so-called ‘mid-list’.
Cheaper Facebook Advertising
Your author website can help you have cheaper advertising on Facebook!
With Facebook Pixel installed and showing your ads to Website Visitor Custom Audiences.
You see, when a reader visits your website, FB Pixel then ‘pixels’(tags) anyone who visits your website and has a FB profile(they must have FB profile). From there you can advertise to the website visitors and reach them on Facebook with your ads. It’s a bit like email list, in a sense that you have a list of website visitors and can have them see your content. This is called ‘retargeting’ and it costs cheaper than advertising to completely new audiences on Facebook.
It is also possible to create Lookalike Audiences from your website visitor audience (basically telling FB to find people who have similar interests to your visitors, which means they are more likely to be fans of your books, than average person on FB). They are a bit cheaper to advertise to too. That’s why thesee options help authors advertisee cheaper rather than advertising to Interest audiences. And it is a MUST to have Facebook Pixel installed these days.
More Book Sales
So all of these do help sell more books, with convenience and branding BUT I don’t want to overhype it and say that once you have a website you’ll sell books like hot cakes and it will blog up your sales. No, it won’t be that easy. If anyone says that, they are probably just trying to sell you something related to website design or tools. A website is your platform and a multiplier for your books. But it has to be well-done, modern and at least not boring. Then it will help you, otherwise, it’s no silver bullet.
So, I hope you found this helpful and learned some new benefits that you can gain from your website. If you know someone else who has been contemplating the need to get an author website, share this with them!