5 Different Options for Creating an Author Website

There are quite a few options for authors to start their websites with. From free Wix sites to world-dominating WordPress sites. This article overlooks the 5 main options authors use for their sites. You’ll have easier time picking the one you want to use after reading this.

You want an author website but not sure what technical option to use? What ‘platform’ to use? Should you have a self-hosted website with WordPress or a free alternative like Wix, or Squarespace or WordPress.com? In this short post, you’ll see the overview of options and their costs. In the end, there are two options that are great, one for more ambitious authors and one for those who just want to get a basic website done and move on to the writing! 


So what are the main options in 2018 for getting a good website?

 

Most authors use these options:

  1. Self-hosted WordPress.org website/blog
  2. Wix.com
  3. Squarespace
  4. WordPress.com (hosted by WordPress mother-company, not your hosting company)
  5. Custom Coded Website
 
 

Overviews of each:

 

Self-Hosted WordPress (starts at around $70/year)

This is the most flexible option. Not just technically but price-wise too. The WordPress itself is free to download. You need to pay for website hosting and domain name. There are many free WP design themes with great designs. All-in-all, it starts at really inexpensive $50 a year for hosting and domain name and at the top of the range, the price can go up to thousands if you were to order a completely custom WordPress theme coded specifically for you. But there is no need for that for 95% of authors. And no need at all when just starting your career. Here is the pricing to expect for an author:

Pricing

It varies depending on your hosting choice, domain price, and theme price.  Here are the usual ranges:

Hosting – from $2.95/mth on FastComet.com, $4/mth on Bluehost etc to tens of dollars per month with a premium hosting like WPEngine.com.

 

Domain (like www.yourname.com) – usually around $10-15 a year and many hosting companies give a year of it free if you use their hosting. BUT the competition is so big these days that it’s becoming possible to get a free domain for longer – FastComet.com includes it free with hosting for as long as you host with them, so that is an amazing deal. 5 bucks/month take care of hosting and domain.

 

WordPress Themes – 0 to a few hundred bucks to $2000 for a completely custom created theme. Free themes are perfectly good options these days. 

Pros:

1. It’s 100% independent and you own your website 100%. If you want you can move from one hosting company to another or redesign however you want, there are no limitations. Websites platforms like Wix, Squarespace don’t have this. You’re basically renting the tech and have certain limits.

2. Thousands of design Themes with all kinds of functionality. You can even design your site with a drag-and-drop principle which is what Wix do (and it used to be the Achilles heel for WP). If you don’t like themes there are tens of thousands of designers who can make them for you.

3. Thousands of amazing of plugins (for collecting emails, creating mini bookstore to display them nicely, displaying the progress of your word count of a book, SEO help, even e-commerce shop if you want etc). A ton of free plugins too. In fact, all the basics can be taken care of with free plugins.

4. It’s an Open Source platform which means that there are millions of developers working on WordPress, themes, and plugins to create a huge ecosystem to grow it and make it useful. That means you will never have an issue with hiring a designer or developer or finding someone to help you with it.

5. It runs 30 percent of the Internet website. Not our industry, WHOLE internet websites. It’s an insane amount of website (in the billions) and WordPress is the number one tool used. 

6. Thousands of Youtube video tutorials, articles, and guides on are available to learn to use WordPress. Never a shortage of information. Even website hosting company support reps are often trained to know it and can help you with issues.

7. If you want to have a professional take care of your website and not worry about it then this is the best option for most professionals to choose from. Most author website designers use WordPress.

 

 

Cons

 

1. This is a bit more learning-intensive tool than Wix or Squarespace but that is the price you pay for having the most flexibility and freedom. Yet, this is NOT a scary technical thing. Just like any software tool, you just need to practice a few times (just like you need to learn Microsoft Word, Scrivener or any other new program you get). 

2. If you want to just do a website and have minimal engagement with it, spend not much effort at all, this might be too much to start off with. If you really don’t care about your website, other options are probably better. There would be less moving pieces so to say.

Support:

Your hosting company will provide support for hosting questions and often help with WordPress issues too. Some hosts provide 24/7 support in emails too. This will depend on the host you picked.

There are literally millions of designers and developers, thousands and thousands of free resources for and tons of groups/forums where you can ask for help. If you need someone to redesign your website or just improve it, you can find a WP developer or designer easily. 

 

Wix 

Technically it’s a good option, quite pretty and easy to use. Even has a free version. But because it’s not self-hosted, you are basically renting a website and can’t take it and migrate it to some other website hosting company. It also comes with some limitations with cheaper plans. Although that doesn’t mean it’s bad. There are pros and cons to having many options, sometimes fewer options are easier to deal with. 

Pros

1. Their designs are nice, editable visually (WYSIWYG editor). Modern looking and mobile responsive too. 

2. A bit easier to start and use than WordPress.

3. Has nice functions and will serve as a solid author website with no issue. If you do it well.

4. There is something to be said about having an all-in-one platform like this. It’s a bit less tech to deal with.

5. Wix takes care of all hosting and security stuff. You never have to worry if your plugins need an update etc

6. It is a 100% independent and publicly traded company (you can buy their shares as investment). This means they are less likely to go bankrupt out of nowhere and dissapear with your website. Their stock pricas has been going up quite nicely the last few years and they do well. Which is good to know.

Cons

1. While you can choose from 510 designs which look well, if you want to switch design later you will need to rebuild your website, so you’ll have to be careful when picking the one you want to stick with. They are also not inherently mobile responsive which means you’ll have to work on designing that in their ‘mobile editor’. 

2. You’ll not get a professional domain with them in their Free version, just their .wix.com extension (so johndoe.wix.com etc). 

3. The free version comes with ads on your site. There will be one ad! You’d have to get paid version to not have them.

5. You can’t use a professional domain with a free version of it. Which sucks. And means that you need to get the paid version which starts at $4/month. Then you get rid of the ad (if you pay $8 a month) and can connect a domain to it. So the price becomes the same as WordPress and hosting basically. And the price goes up with more resources needed so in future Wix can become more expensive.

6. If you stick to the free plan, your website will look less professional a bit. The domain extension .wix.com adds length and the longer the domain the fewer people are likely to remember it. 

7. Some more advanced features like an e-commerce shop are only available at the most expensive plan. Not all indie authors need those.

Support

They provide 24/7 support.

 

 

  1. Squarespace

Another option like Wix. You rent a website and don’t need to worry about getting hosting or anything. You just pay monthly for it. They have no free option, just a free trial though.

Their designs are nice, modern, mobile-responsive, but a bit template-y. 40 designs to choose from. You can change them as you want without needing to rebuild your website.

 

They claim to have ‘Marketing tools’ but those are really just measuring tools (like analytics) or sharing buttons which really don’t help marketing (it’s a basic feature, free WP plugins do it and it doesn’t ‘market’ for you, you still need to get people to the website who then might share your stuff).

 

  1. WordPress.com

This is not the final list of articles. AWG will be maintained and updated every month to keep it relevant and will have more articles, resources and tips added as time goes. The goal is to make this THE most useful author website information source online. If you find it useful, please share it or any article with your author friend who might need it! 

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