Pimp Up Your Writing Website
Most writers have the same thing on their website – a bio, a list of their works, and a contact page. But don’t settle for having the same ho-hum content as the majority of your fellow writers. It’s time to kick your web presence up a notch! (You do have a website for your writing by now, don’t you?)
According to a Nielson Net Ratings survey of the usage patterns of Internet users worldwide, people spend an average of 45 seconds on a webpage before moving on to the next one. With such a brief time to grab a viewer’s attention, it is essential for your website to pull people in. Gordon C. McRae’s website at gcmcrae.com does a great job of reeling you in immediately. His home page is full of visually magnificent pictures that encourage you to continue scrolling down. You won’t be able to leave the website in 45 seconds, I assure you.
New York Times foreign affairs columnist, internationally renowned author of five bestselling books, and three-time Pulitzer Prize winner Thomas L. Friedman has an impressive website at thomaslfriedman.com. Not only is the site visually pleasing, it is interactive. It yanks you in right from the homepage where he offers an MP3 audio preview of his latest book. Below that is a video that plays right on the page (doesn’t open in another window!) which touches on the topic of his book on global warming and the environment. Still on Friedman’s homepage, you’ll find numerous links to his articles in full, a button to connect to Friedman’s LinkedIn profile, and an invitation to join his mailing list. A lot of thought went into presentation on Friedman's site.
While many people are reluctant to give away things for free, by doing so you often benefit in the end. Like musicians who give away free CDs and profit through greater concert turnout and increased spending on their t-shirts and souvenirs, consider giving away samples of your work to encourage readers to buy the whole thing.
While most authors simply list their published credits, take it a step further and provide links to at least a portion of your work so people can read it if they choose. Toronto freelance writer Paul Lima’s website (paullima.com) does a superb job of this on his “Business Writing” page. He has HTML links and PDF versions of over a dozen of his business writing projects and a couple dozen links to his newspaper and magazine articles. Like many authors, Lima also uses RSS feeds on his website.
Writer and bestselling nonfiction book author Trevor Corson has received kudos for his well-designed website, trevorcorson.com. As Brad Fitzgerald, founder of graphic design company Apt Design, said, “Trevor gets extra points for his use of social media and blogging. The way these are sorted and posted down below is brilliant.” I love the website for it's pictures that draw you in, the layout of each page, and Corson's casual style, which makes it clear he doesn't take life too seriously. Love that!
As writer Thad McIlroy points out, it’s nice to have a website that reflects the personality of the author. It’s also a bonus when the website mirrors the type of books the writer creates. Dan Brown’s site is a perfect example of this. Like many of his books, his website is like unlocking a puzzle. For each of his books, he has a corresponding game or quest on his website that gives you additional hints to use when reading his work. This is an amazingly interactive website. Check it out at www.danbrown.com.