As a writer, you need your own website. It's a space on the internet that you control. For most writers, a WordPress site is the best option. You will need to pay for a domain name and web hosting.
Most other options are expensive. They also put your website under the control of the hosting company. If you become unhappy with this company, it will be hard to move your website.
To find a good web host, search for "best non eig hosting." Many web hosting companies are controlled by an unethical company known as EIG. Many web hosts charge a low price to start with and charge higher prices when it's time to renew your plan. Interserver is one host that does not do this. They also allow more than one website on any plan, which many hosts do not do.
There is a simpler version of WordPress known as ClassicPress. You can also use it for your self-hosted site, but you will have limited options for the way your site looks. ClassicPress claims to be faster and easier for disabled people to use.
Once upon a time, writers just needed to know how to write. They didn’t need to know how to register domain names or put up websites. In those days, “the web” was something made by a spider.
There were even many centuries in which writers did not need to know how to type.
However, those days are over. Now, a writer needs an author website and social media accounts to market the books. If you go indie, you’re on your own for marketing. Even if you go with a traditional publisher, you will need to help market your books.
You may not think of yourself as a technical type. However, you’ll need to put on your techie hat and use the internet to market your books. And your author site is your home base for marketing.
Note: This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product through an affiliate link, I may receive a portion of the money at no additional cost to you.
Your Author Site is Own Space on the Web
You need your own website. If you use a space on social media, they can take it down whenever they want, or make it harder for your readers to find you. You have more control over your own website.
To establish your own space on the web, you will need a domain name and a place to host your website.
Your Domain Name
A domain name is the name for your website. You’ll need to purchase this from a domain registrar and renew it yearly. Namecheap is a good choice.
Be sure to get Whois protection, too. Otherwise, anyone can look up who owns the domain, find out who owns it, and contact you. One reason to use Namecheap is that they provide free Whois protection. Many other registrars charge extra for this.
If possible, get the yourname.com domain name. For example, if you write as Anna Woodworth, you will want the domain name annawoodworth.com. If you want to use your real name and the dot.com name is taken, you could go with something like yournameauthor.com or yournamebooks.com. If you use a domain like yourname.net, you might lose traffic to people who enter the dot.com version.
WordPress for a Writer’s Author Site
For many writers, WordPress is the best long-term choice. WordPress is free software for blogs and websites. However, you will need to pay a web hosting company for space to host it (more about web hosting later). This software is available at wordpress.org. Once you have web hosting, you can also install it directly from your hosting account.
There is also a site called wordpress.com. You can build your website here, and you can use a limited version for free. However, you won’t have the flexibility you would have with a self-hosted WordPress site. You can also find good web hosting for less than it costs to use a full-featured site on wordpress.com
Benefits of WordPress for Writers
WordPress offers numerous options to customize your website. You can choose a theme that sets your site’s appearance. Many WordPress themes have options that allow you to select the color and layout of your site. You can also choose plugins that add more functions to your site. Even if you don’t know how to code, you can set up a website that looks good.
Ease of Use and Support
While there is a learning curve, WordPress is fairly easy for a beginner to learn. There’s also plenty of free information about WordPress on the internet.
Since WordPress is very common, hackers often target it. If you don’t keep WordPress, themes, and plugins up-to-date, it can become vulnerable. However, if you practice good website security, WordPress is reasonably secure. There are teams of experts who work to find and patch any vulnerabilities. You can also use plugins to make your site more secure. Here are some of the most recommended ones.
- All-in-one WordPress security (everything for free!!!)
- Wordfence (limited free version)
- Sucuri (limited free version)
A Marketable Skill
Knowing how to use WordPress is a marketable skill that can also improve your day job prospects. It’s a skill you can put on your resume.
A Place of Your Own
If you have your own WordPress site and keep regular backups, your site is as secure as it can be. Some site hosting companies, such as Wix, Weebly, WordPress.com, and Squarespace will allow your to maintain a site on their systems for a fee (some have a limited free version with ads). Some people may find these systems easier to use than a self-hosted WordPress site.
However, if the company goes out of business, raises its fees beyond what you want to pay, or closes your site because it mistook it for span, you’ll have a problem. A wordpress.com site can be transferred to a self-hosted WordPress site, but it can be complicated. Sites hosted with other companies might be even harder to transfer.
Your self-hosted WordPress site is a place of your own on the web. If you aren’t happy with your host, you can change to a different one. You can decide what theme to use, what colors to use, and set up your site any way you like.
Web Hosting Tips for a Writer’s Author
You’ll need web hosting, or a place to host your website from servers. Web servers are the computers that host websites.
In shared hosting, you just rent some space on a server for your website. It’s the cheapest way to get a site up. It’s plenty for most authors.
If you get many visitors, or build a huge website, you may also need to buy a more expensive plan. However, you probably won’t face this problem as a newbie author.
For a higher price, you can get managed hosting in which your web host handles your updates and security. You probably won’t be able to use some plugins because they may conflict with your host’s systems. If you can afford it, managed hosting can free you from some of the technical aspects of a website. However, you might not develop as many technical skills.
Other Types of Hosting
You’ll come across other types, such as VPS (virtual private server), private server (you rent the whole server), and others. You don’t need to worry about these–these are options needed for very large or very busy websites.
Finding a Web Host for Your Author Site
Choosing a web host can be confusing and frustrating. If you look in detail at what different hosting packages offer, you’ll find many technical terms that are hard to understand. However, the specs offered by most hosting plans should be sufficient for an author website.
Web hosts often advertise a low monthly price. However, you often have to commit to two or three years to get that low price–and the reneal prices will be much higher. That $2.99 a month web hosting might be $10.99 in a few years. This can work well for people who need a low price to start with and who can pay higher prices once the site starts making money.
However, some web hosts are not entirely honest about this. They advertise the lower prices without making it clear that the renewal prices will be higher. I would stay away from such companies as I would not want to reward dishonesty.
If you enter “best web hosting” in a search engine, you’ll find lists of websites and reviews of them. However, these reviews are almost always written by affiliates of the hosting companies–people who recommend the sites to their readers and get paid every time someone buys hosting through their links.
Many well-known and widely recommended hosting companies are owned by the conglomerate Endurance International Group (EIG). This company has been widely criticized for buying up hosting companies, keeping them going under their old names, but reducing the quality of the service and pouring more money into marketing. Many webmasters consider EIG’s actions unethical.
How to find non-EIG websites
If you search for “non eig web hosting” you will find sites with a list of web hosting companies that are not owned by EIG. The following sites can also provide more information. These sites can help you find good hosting companies that do not come up in searches for “best web hosting.”
I chose to use Interserver (affiliate link) because I like the fact that I could open multiple websites on one account. I also like the fact that the renewal price does not increase.
Here are some hosts I haven’t used, but which looked pretty good. You may want to check these out.
None of these sites allowed as many sites on as inexpensive a plan as Interserver does. Siteground and A2 Hosting are also fairly expensive. However, if you just want one site for your author business, these companies may work.
How to Save Money
Domain registration and web hosting cost money. While they are not very expensive, many writers are on tight budgets.
Look for sales. Many domain registrars and hosting companies offer good sales in Black Friday season. You may also find good sales other times of the year.
Free Options for an Author Website
While there is no way to register a domain name for free, you can get a free website.
Free WordPress hosting is available, although you won’t get the security, maintenance, and ability to handle traffic as you would with paid hosting. Smartblogger has provided a list of some of the better options for free hosting.
You could start your site on the free version of wordpress.com. Customization options are limited, and WordPress will run adds on your site. You can transer your site to a self-hosted WordPress site when you’re ready. However, this takes some technical skill. Look for a web host that will do this for free. If you have to pay for this, it could cost more than you saved by starting for free.
Free WordPress Alternatives
Here are a few free alternatives to WordPress you could use.
ClassicPress is like WordPress used to be–before they developed the block editor. Some people who were not happy with the changes WordPress made forked version 4.9, which is the last version without the block editor. (Forking is taking open-source software and making your own version of it. That’s allowed with open-source software). They’ve been developing it as ClassicPress and keeping it updated for security. A ClassicPress site needs hosting just like a WordPress site does.
The ClassicPress people claim that ClassicPress is more stable and secure than WordPress. They also claim it’s easier for people with disabilities to use than the WordPress block editor. Since ClassicPress is more lightweight than WordPress, it’s also faster.
Where ClassicPress falls short is its theme options. It comes with three themes, which are based on WordPress default themes. These themes are basic and lack the customization options it takes to make a site unique. You can get a paid theme for ClassicPress at Rough Pixels.
Groove is an all-in-one internet marketing system. It provides a site builder, email marketing, sales funnels, online stores, and much more on one account. It’s designed for digital marketers, but there is a limited free version you could use to build your author site.
However, you would be building on someone else’s space and you likely would not be able to transfer it easily to another site. Groovefunnels will also send you plenty of emails encouraging you to market their system.
While GrooveFunnels claims to be easier to use than WordPress, I’ve found its site builder system unwieldy. The free version allows only 500 email contacts, so the email marketing is not that useful.
The paid version of GrooveFunnels is too expensive for an author website. It also includes many features you don’t need, unless you want to start a comprehensive online business.
Another all-in-one digital marketing system with a free starter plan is systeme.io. The free plan gives you a web site and email for up to 2000 subscribers. However, you will not have the flexibility you would have with WordPress.
If You Need More than One Site
Some writers need more than one website. You might need a site for your indie publishing company. Or you might use more than one pen name and need a site for each name. Perhaps you also need a site for your freelance business or for a blog unrelated to your fiction.
In this case, I would recommend Interserver (affiliate link), since they will allow you to host as many sites as your account has room for–and if you run out of space, you can just upgrade your account. Many other hosts will let you host only one site on the least expensive account, even when the account has room for two sites.
You really can learn these basic internet skills–even if you think of yourself as a non-technical artsy type. These skills can also be useful in a day job.