5 Ways to Make the Most of Your Author Website

“If you build it, they will come.”

In the nearly three decades since Field of Dreams blessed our culture with this mysterious misquote, it has served as powerful inspiration for countless people pursuing an endless variety of dreams.

For an author, the phrase can help maintain momentum when finishing a manuscript, but it’s also useful for staying focused on creating the elements of an author brand that make up a successful content ecosystem around the book.   

The most important piece of that ecosystem is its home base—the author website. (If you don’t already have a website, you can learn about the basics here.) An author website should be a living, breathing, and ever-evolving entity that readers will want to come back to again and again for something new, so you should always keep your eyes peeled for ways to improve and add value to it.

Here are five tips to help you make your author website the best it can be.

Identify your audience and stay focused on helping them. 

 The success of your website—and your writing—is completely dependent on connecting with your audience. Everything you do should be with that audience in mind. Learn as much as you can about them, and let their needs be your guiding light. If you aren’t doing this well, you may be leaving opportunities on the table.

Make content creation a habit. 

Your website is essentially a living, breathing representation of you and your brand. If you build it and let it remain stagnant, you miss the chance to build a long-term relationship with your readers. To keep your website fresh, you need to set a publishing schedule and stick to it! Whatever schedule is right for you—whether it’s once a week or once a month—creating content consistently gives readers a reason to return to your site. If they return to your site, they may join your newsletter, buy your book, or share your content with their network. Each of these deeper engagements with your material helps to build your platform and introduce your ideas to new readers.

Tier your content to reward your biggest fans.

Regardless of how frequently you publish new material, you can strengthen your bond with readers by giving some of them the REALLY good stuff . . . in exchange for their email addresses. Creating tent-pole, evergreen resources or tools lets you offer more in-depth access to your expertise than a free blog post, and visitors who see all the value in your free blog posts will happily sign up for your newsletter to gain access to that next-level information (and in the process, take a step closer to possibly buying a book).

Make it easy to convert.

The ultimate goal of your author website is not just to inform or entertain your audience, but also to drive book sales. All your work creating valuable content in tiers that allows readers to dig into your material will be wasted if you don’t make it easy for them to make the purchase! Ensure that every page—especially the home and book pages—includes a link to a retailer selling your book. This doesn’t mean you have to slap obnoxious starbursts at the top of every page, but providing avenues to buy the book in contextually relevant ways is simply smart business.

Tailor a portion of your site to conference organizers to promote speaking.

If professional speaking is a part of your monetization strategy, it is essential to speak directly to the subset of your audience who are interested in seeing or hiring you to speak. Often this information can be secondary or even tertiary to the main information on your site, but making it easy for conference organizers to learn about your services gives you the best chance to develop this aspect of your business. Distilling that information into a downloadable speaker press kit available on your site lets them share that information with other stakeholders.   

It takes faith to press on when the going gets tough, as Kevin Costner’s character poignantly demonstrates in the film. There are no guarantees in life, but earnest effort does increase your chances of success, and sometimes faith and hard work are rewarded in spades.

Maintaining a great author website can seem overwhelming, but it is an important step toward reaching your potential. If you follow these tips, you can rest assured you are working smart to build your brand and attract readers.