Your Creative Web Site

    October 20, 2003

During 2003, a Web site stopped being an optional extra for all creatives, including writers. It’s now the expected thing. If I read a book by a writer I’ve never heard of, I’m not only disappointed if I find that she doesn’t have a Web site, I feel it also puts her credibility in question. Publishers are well aware of this expectation. Although publishing houses haven’t been on the cutting edge of technology, they now all provide Web space for their authors. They know that readers expect and want to get in touch.

Setting up your own Web site can be intimidating. What do you put on the site? How do you do it?

It’s nowhere near as difficult as it appears. In fact, if you can use your word processor and know how to cut and paste, you can now create your own Web page — in just an hour or two.

At Digital-e, we know writers find the process challenging, so you can join our Creative Club, which gives you not only your own Web presence, but also the option of selling ebooks, reports and other electronic material through the site —

Decided you want an online presence? Great! Start by thinking about your audiences, the people who will be coming to your site to learn more about you and your work.

Your Web site is for your audiences: editors and readers

You can’t go wrong if you keep your audiences in mind. In other words, what groups of people are you targeting the information on your site toward —

* Readers?

* Editors?

* Agents?

* Clients?

It’s useful to make a list of your audiences. Yes, I know you feel as if this information is completely obvious, and that it’s at the front of your mind — how could you forget it? You CAN forget it, and what’s more, once you get into the feverish activity of constructing your site and making a million and one decisions concerning it, you WILL forget whom you’re targeting.

Here’s a useful tip: If you’re not sure whether or not something belongs on your site, ask yourself — do my readers/ editors/ clients want to know this? If it won’t interest them, leave it off the site.

Your site can be as large as you want to make it, or it can be tiny.

Your tiny site can have a big effect, and for some writers, a one-page site is ample. For novelists or nonfiction authors, this could be a one-page listing of your books with links so that readers can purchase the books from If you write for newspapers and magazines, it could be a page listing your published work. If you’re a copywriter, your page could be a bio with a client roster. Your one-page site ensures that your readers, editors and potential customers can find you and can find ways to contact you.

Please take the plunge, and go ahead and create your own site. It’s a lot of fun. You’ll learn a lot, and you’ll also meet some great people because all the answers to your questions can be found online. Simply do a Google search for anything you want to know.

You can also ask questions and get help from Digital-e’s forum — –

A site plan — for a more ambitious site

If you want more than a one-page site, here’s a plan for a small site. This is the kind of site you can put up and maintain yourself without it driving you insane with work. Many Internet Service Providers offer free hosting, and site templates. This is the easiest, the fastest and the cheapest way to develop your own site. If it’s your first site, and you’re not technologically minded, then this is the way to go.

Here’s a list of pages you may want to include:

* Home page. Make this user-friendly. Put yourself in your visitors’ shoes. What would they want to know? Tell them up front, right on your home page. If you write books, put the cover of your latest release on your home page, with the blurb and perhaps a flattering photo.

If you write articles, let editors know who’s published recent articles, and what topics you cover.

If you’re a copywriter, offer some useful information, right on your home page. (Why useful information? Because your site is an audition. Your clients will hire you if they perceive you as being knowledgeable, and an expert in your field. If you paste “Hire ME! I’m the best!” on your home page, you’re not going to collect many clients.

* Excerpts. Got published work? Put some of it your site. If you have book proposals you’re trying to sell, you can put those online too, but put them in a password-protected area of your site, and then give editors and agents access when they request it. You can also put articles you’ve written for promotional purposes on your Articles or Excerpts page.

* News. This is the page on which you announce your latest sale, whether it’s a book or a magazine article. Use it to announce anything writing-related: the latest issue of your newsletter, a book-signing, a research trip, etc.

* Contact information. Put an email address, and a postal business address. If you don’t have a business address, hire a post office box.

* A bio. Your writing bio. This should be written in the third person, like so: “Author and journalist, Peggy Smith-Jones started her writing career at her hometown newspaper —”

Get started today and create your Web site. If you take it step by step, it’s easy, and it will turbo-charge your creative career.

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