Every writer should have a website, preferably one that bears your name. Not only do you give people a one-stop centre to discover and interact with you, it's a great way to build your personal brand.
I've made a few mistakes when I began building my space on the Internet. And some of the mistakes cost me a lot of time and money!
Here are five things I wish I knew before I built my author's website - may you learn from them:
Get a domain name from a domain name Registrar not your web host
Your domain name, especially one that bears your name, is precious Internet real estate. The last thing you need is for it to be held hostage by a host provider or worse, lose it altogether. When you buy it from a domain registrar such as Namesilo or Namecheap, you have total control over your domain name. Therefore, when you move hosts, you can thus point your domain name to the new space.
You can have a website with your own domain name for just US$10-20 per year
While it is best to "own your space", many writers, especially if they are starting out, are not exactly rolling in the dough. And when you come from a developing country with a weak currency? The cost can be prohibitive. A Malaysian, for example, can end up paying RM200 for a basic site.
So, here's what you can do if you're on a tight budget. Buy a domain name and point it to a Blogger blog. It's cost-effective, and better - you don't have to deal with website maintenance because Google does it for you.
However, note that you do run the risk of losing your blog if Google deletes your blog without warning. It does happen.
Wordpress may not be for you if you hate to deal with code
Many of the "how to" guides out there recommend Wordpress if one decides to get a self-hosted website. While Wordpress is indeed a powerful and flexible CMS, think thrice if you're not tech-savvy or do not have time to deal with its numerous updates and glitches (some which are catastrophic).
I've had self-hosted Wordpress sites since 2004, and I've been hacked numerous times. Once, my portfolio website was flooded with tens of thousands of spammy comments. My host provider didn't give any solution beyond "delete every comment."
Wordpress websites can be a pain to manage
Did you know that if you do not update your plug-ins regularly, you'd be open to security breaches? Or that even if you do update them regularly, you run the risk of messing up your site because your Wordpress version may not agree with the plug-ins?
If you choose to use Wordpress, be prepared to face all of this. If you're comfortable to tinker with code or hire a developer, you'll probably love Wordpress. However, if you prefer to produce content, dealing with nitty gritty tech stuff can be very frustrating.
There are other options besides Wordpress
If you're not willing to deal with the backend stuff of a website, there are other website options such as Typepad, Squarespace, Weebly or Wordpress-managed hosting. Alternatively, you can try free services such as Wordpress.com or Blogger.
How about you? What system are you using - and are you enjoying the experience?