A professional public image is everything when it comes to self-publishing, and these days, nothing can make or break your image like the internet. Social media makes creating a personal brand cheaper and easier than it’s ever been, but sometimes it helps to invest in a more professional looking website or blog that you can use to direct your audience towards new projects.
If you’re looking to put together a website and don’t know where to start, here are some tips and tools you can use to make your site as professional as possible.
Terminology: Websites vs. Domains
When people talk about designing their own websites, they tend to use the phrase “website” inaccurately to refer to both the site itself and the web address you type in to get to it. This latter address is called a “domain.” Many website builders offer a free domain with their services, but you usually have to pay for those services. Other companies allow you to buy just the domain and have it send the person who types it in to whatever website you want, as long as that website already exists (for example, you could buy “bookface.com” and have it redirect to Facebook).
When you’re signing up for a website building service, make sure you know what it is you’re getting for your money! Below are some companies that I’ve used in the past for smaller personal websites.
Widely regarded as one of the best website designers for those who know nothing about designing websites, this company’s design features are easy to use and fully customizable. SquareSpace also has free domain hosting, easy mobile access, and complete control for developers.
SquareSpace’s services are relatively inexpensive — you can go on a monthly basis for $10 a month, or you can buy several months or years in bulk for a little bit of a discount. Squarespace also sponsors many websites and podcasts and gives out offer codes to lower the price of their yearly rate, so be on the lookout for great deals when surfing the web! In the meantime, you can sign up for a 2-week free trial that gives you an in-depth look at all that SquareSpace has to offer.
Unlike Squarespace, WiX has free online tools that help you to build your own website with drap and drop design tools and easy to use templates. There are also easy-to-use designs for Facebook pages as well, so you can customize all aspects of your online presence to fit your personality.
If you pay to upgrade to a premium account, you also get a website with no ads (Wix features advertising on the free version) and a free domain. There’s even a template for creating your own online store so you can sell your own merchandise directly on your website!
If all you want is to own YourName.com, or if you want to be able to own the website domains for each title of your book without creating a new website for each, you can buy the domains at MyDomain.com for as little as $9.95 a year. Then, you can have those domains redirected to a site that you build on a free blog-making tool like WordPress or Tumblr.