This is one of the most common questions I hear from authors. As an author myself, I get it. You need a website. Even if you have the expertise already (or could figure it out), you’re probably pressed for time. It’s hard enough finding time to write and market, let alone sideline as a web designer. Letting a professional handle it is tempting!
But most of us have yet to hit the New York Times best sellers list, so we also have to think about how to best spend our time and money. This post will help with that.
This post will cover: why authors need a website, whether to DIY or hire a web designer, and what the ongoing and design costs are for a website.
Why Authors Need a Website
A well-designed author website functions as a multifaceted tool, that can do a number of things:
- Digital business card: a website is like a digital business card, where people can find information about you and your work.
- Direct line of communication: your website is often where people will contact you.
- Professional Showcase: Presents your work in a professional manner, highlighting your books, achievements, and reviews.
- Marketing and Promotion: Acts as the central hub for all your marketing efforts, from book launches to author events, increasing the visibility of your work.
- Sales Platform: Provides a space to sell books directly to readers.
- Control: You own and control your website, unlike social media which may go eXtinct or become unusable because of time or the whims of new owners.
- Newsletter Sign-up: A newsletter is one of the most powerful ways to connect with potential readers and buyers. Your website is the most common place for people to sign up.
- Sell related services: If you offer services related to your writing (speaking engagements, writing courses, editing, etc.), your website is a great place to host that information and receive contacts from people who want to buy them.
- Content Hub: A place to publish blog posts, articles, or news, keeping your audience updated.
- Media and Press Kit: Makes it easy for the media, bloggers, and event organizers to find and download your press kit, high-resolution images, and biographical information.
Which of these functions you want to add to your website will depend on where you are in your author career and what your goals are.
Should you DIY your Author Website or Hire a Web Designer?
Both methods can give you a fantastic website but each has pros and cons.
DIY Author Website
Some things to consider if you want to make your own website.
- Less expensive!
- Learning Experience. You’ll learn all about web design and maintenance.
- Personal Satisfaction! Wow! You made that! (Your mom will be so impressed.)
- Time-consuming. That’s time you’re not spending on writing, marketing, or the other myriad things on your authorial to-do list.
- May not look as polished or function as professionally.
- No help with technical challenges. You might encounter technical issues that are difficult to resolve without expert knowledge.
- SEO and Optimization. Understanding and implementing effective SEO strategies can be complex for beginners.
- Stress. Not everyone enjoys playing with new technologies like I do – for many of my clients it’s downright stressful.
Hiring a Professional Web Designer
Some thing to consider if you’re considering hiring a designer.
- Guidance and Expertise. You’ll have someone knowledgeable to help you make informed decisions so you get a website you love, that also best meets your goals.
- Professional Design. You’ll get the expertise of someone who can create a custom design to meet your needs.
- No technical challenges. We’ll handle it all!
- Time-Saving. Spend time on your passion, not your website!
- SEO and Performance. We have a thorough understanding of optimization and site performance, so you know the website will perform well.
- Training. Not all web designers offer training as part of their service, but we do. We want our clients to come out of the process feeling empowered to take over as much of the ongoing website work as they want to.
- Ongoing Support. We are happy to make updates and provide support for our clients – so you have someone ready when you need them!
- Cost. We do charge for our time – just as we expect you to charge for yours!
- Finding the Right Designer. You’ll need to spend some time getting to know potential designers to make sure you’re a good fit. It’s one of the big reasons we offer a free chat – we can discuss your project and your larger goals to see if it’s something we can help you with and whether we’re a good fit.
Ultimately, the decision between DIY and hiring a professional should be based on your budget, comfort with technology, time availability, and the level of customization and professionalism you want for your author website.
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What will you pay for an author website?
Like a house, websites have two kinds of costs: the cost to build it and the cost to keep them running once you do. Let’s take those in opposite order.
Ongoing costs of a website
To have a website on the internet, you need to pay two different of fees:
- Domain registration – This is the fee you pay to use your domain name (also called a URL). As an author this will usually be the name you write under. For instance, my author website is AngelaMIsaacs.com. This workbook can help you pick a domain name.
- Hosting fees – This is the fee you pay to have your website on an internet-connected server.
Some website builders give you many options to choose from (WordPress) while others only let you use their service (Squarespace and Wix.) I have a blog post with a full comparison of different author website platforms and their costs.
For a WordPress website, you can expect to pay around:
- $14/year* for domain registration at NameCheap**
- $13/mo to $18/mo* for website hosting with Siteground** or BlueHost.**
* These are the year 2 costs. Most companies will give you a substantial discount to reel you in the first year, but the amount they go up can vary a lot! We usually recommend these companies because they have good quality service at a rate that won’t break the bank.
How much does it cost to design an author website?
Going back to our house analogy, the cost to build a house will depend on a lot of things:
- How big is it? (Bungalow or a mansion)
- Does it have special features? (Jacuzzi tub, a wine cellar, etc.)
- Is the design standard or bespoke? (Laminate counters or hand-carved granite? Oak wood floors or special-order tropical wood?)
- Who is doing the labor? (You or a builder.)
The same applies to websites:
- How big is it? (One page? Five? Twenty-five?)
- Does it need special features? (A webstore, blog, newsletter integration, a platform for the courses you teach,…)
- How bespoke is the design? (Like a hand drawn logo.)
- Who is doing the labor? (You or a web designer.)
Ask two people what a “basic website” includes and one person might envision a single-page website with no special features, whilst the and the other imagines a 10 page website that will require a logo design, graphic design, and multiple integrations.
For both those people, that’s the basic level that will meet their needs – they just have different needs! This is why this question is so hard to answer as a web designer. (We’re not cagey on purpose – I promise!)
Just give me an answer already!
I hear your pleas!
I like to help authors reach their goals – including their goal for a straight answer! (But I will give them in ranged because of all the variability I’ve mentioned!)
Author websites can range from $0 for DIY sites to well over $15,000 for the kind of very large site with lots of bells and whistles you might see for a NYT best selling author/speaker/motivational coach.
But usually a professionally designed author website will cost between $900 to $2999 depending on all the factors above.
Creating an author website doesn’t have to be overwhelming! Whether you’re just starting out, looking to expand your reach, or seeking to elevate your existing online presence, I can help.
I’m here to guide you through the process and create a website that truly embodies your voice and vision as an author.
To make this journey smoother and more tailored to your specific requirements, I invite you to schedule a free consultation with me. In this session, we can discuss your goals, explore which package or custom solutions best fit your needs, and address any questions you may have about the process.
**Affiliate link Disclosure
This post contains affiliate links and we may get a small payment for purchases made through these links at no extra cost to you. We only use affiliate links for services we highly recommend and have used ourselves!
About the Author
Angie Isaacs is the owner of Bookend Creative Studio and a published children’s book author. On the blog, she writes about web design, branding, marketing, goal-setting, and writing.