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Monday
Jan232012

All About Web Space for Authors

It's guest Monday and today Sierra Godfrey is schooling us on the often confusing waters of deciding what you want your web home to be--website, blog, self-hosted, free, etc. She's going to give us some practical tips to make it easier for us to know which direction is best for us.

 



BLOG TOUR ALERT: Today I'm at Sexy Lady talking about From Blank Page to Published Book - How CRASH INTO YOU Came To Be

 

 


 

Take it away, Sierra...

 

 

All About Web Space for Authors
by Sierra Godfrey



When I'm not writing, I work as a freelance graphic designer. I design brochures, logos, and Wordpress-based websites with my build partner, fellow writer Mike Chen. We opened shop on our joint project, Atmosphere Websites, last summer. In that time, we've had a ton of questions about blogs vs. websites. And funnily enough, authors seem to be the ones asking the questions. 

 

Roni has written a lot on the subject of author websites as she's emerged out of the chrysalis of unpublished writer with a strong blog into the butterfly of published author with a real need for a website that accomplishes many things. I've written about this at length, too, especially for unpublished writers. A few weeks ago, Anne Allen had a post about whether you need a website at all. Here are some answers to some of the more common concerns and questions we've gotten:

1. What's the difference between a blog and a website? 

Put very simply, blogs are for social interaction. They're for engaging with others. It's okay if you want to use yours as a soapbox, but remember that the basic function of blogs is for people to comment and interact with you.

Websites are more for information purposes. They don't always nor automatically feature mechanisms for you to interact. For published authors, they're perfect for marketing books.

Of course, you can market your books just fine on your blog, but if you do only that, people will stop coming around--because you're no longer having a conversation with them.

Some published authors have asked us: Do I really need a blog? The answer is no, of course not. But if you want to provide an easy to way to converse with readers and writers, then yes.

2. What's the advantage of paid services over free ones?
First, here's the breakdown:

  • Blogger is free,
    run by Blogger and hosted by Blogger.

  • Wordpress.com is free, run by Wordpress and hosted by Wordpress.

  • Wordpress.org is free content management software that you download and install on your own server space


Server issues

Why on earth would you use your own server space and pay all associated hosting fees when you could just use Blogger or Wordpress.com's server?  The simple answer is that if they go down, so you do. 


Custom Design


One of the questions we get a lot is why anyone should pay for website design when there are so many free templates out there--for both blogs and websites. And it's true, there are free templates and some of them are really great looking. I personally maintain a blog through Blogger's free service, although I've tricked the heck out of it so it looks exactly how I want it to look. (I address why I use the free Blogger site rather than my own Wordpress site below.) Here are a few reasons for both:



With a paid web host, you:
  • Have control over how it looks and acts, and can customize the graphics

  • Can add customized features that a lot of free templates don't allow

  • Can change it, add to it, grow it,  and you generally have a bunch more options for doing this, including account size space



Free services are great because:

  • They're, well, free

  • There are a lot of beautiful templates

  • A company (Blogger, Wordpress) runs the server and takes care of upgrading templates and updating the interface

Domain names

"But I can get my own domain name on my free Blogger blog. Why do I need to pay for a hosting package?" You're paying for that domain name--and still not owning your blog space, and you're not getting extras like your@yourname.com email addresses, which you usually get for free with paid hosting packages. And, if you don't have a website, there's no room to add one later. But if what you want right now is a blog atwww.yourname.com. then the domain name option through Blogger or Wordpress.com is a good one.


3. So why are you using Blogger?


A few weeks ago, I was telling someone about the advantages of getting your own server space and domain, and installing Wordpress on it, and paying someone to do a custom design. And then they asked me, "So how come you're using a free Blogger blog?"
 

  
To be honest, there's no good reason--I just haven't gotten around to switching yet. I don't even have the excuse of having to buy or set up my own website, because I already have it. So for me, it's the matter of transferring my Blogger blog over to a Wordpress blog. I see no advantages in staying with Blogger except that I'll lose my blog followers; this is pretty easily overcome by publishing a post begging people to switch and leaving it up there. And I don't have the number of followers that Roni does. She's a little more cautious about losing her hordes--and yet, she's expressed to me that she worries about losing all the content she's published on her Blogger blog.


When I move my blog over to my own website, I'll get a better blog publishing interface (in my opinion; Wordpress has many more blog-friendly features than Blogger does even with Blogger's new interface, which strangely mirrors Wordpress's now). And all the posts I've written for the past three years will import right over, and the chance of losing them all to a crash of Blogger's doing will be minimized.
 

In the end...

Using a free blog or website vs. a paid, custom-designed one is a personal choice. Generally, you're going to want more space, freedom, and control when you're a published author, which are things a free service can't supply as well. And there's no question--a yourname.com site looks professional. 
For marketing reasons, I always advocate having your own server space. There are a number of low cost and very reliable hosting companies that offer space, email, and domain names at affordable prices. (I use 1and1.com and have four web hosting packages through them; my business partner Mike uses Bluehost.com for the same reason.)
But free blogs offer wonderful, great-looking services as well--and work just fine for lots of folks. Blogs and websites are all a part of how you manage your identity online, and as an author all those choices are highly personal. 
Please ask me any questions, or let me know how YOU plan to go forward with free or paid web spaces.

About Sierra:

 

 

Sierra has enjoyed crafting stories for as long as she can remember. She especially likes stories that feature women who grow from the choices they face—and get the guy at the end. She’s a member of RWA and lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband, two little boys, and two annoying cats. In her spare time she works as a freelance graphic designer and technical writer. To the untrained eye she can appear somewhat sassy, but at heart she loves a good story and is really quite sweet, especially when the lighting is right. Visit Sierra at her blog or Twitter.


 

 


“...a sexy, sizzling tale that is sure to have readers begging for more!" –Jo Davis, author of I SPY A DARK OBSESSION

 

 

CRASH INTO YOU is now available! Read an excerpt here.

All content copyright of the author. Please ask permission before re-printing or re-posting. Fair use quotations and links do no require prior consent of the author. ©Roni Loren 2009-2012 |Copyright Statement|

 

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