Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Indie Life--Zen and the Art of Website Maintenance

It's time again for another edition of the Indie Life, hosted by the Indelibles.

I tend to talk about writing business for these posts, and today is no exception. My focus today is author websites. I've known for a long time that it's important to have an author website, so sometime in the mid-nineties I bought sandraulbrich.com. I did my own website design, and boy, does it show. I haven't updated the site in several years. (Priorities change when you have a young child.) I think I used Frontpage or something similar to design the site, but I don't even have the program anymore.  Given that I publish my work as Sandra Ulbrich Almazan, and given that I don't even have my books on my current website, something has to be done. Fortunately, there are at least two easy ways for an author to set up a website.

One way is to go through a service like wix.com. Wix provides free websites (with better features if you pay for an upgrade, naturally) with customizable templates. (Squarespace offers a similar service, but I think they're a little more expensive than wix.) I recently set up a new website with them at sandraulbrichalmazan.com; please check it out if you have the time. (I hope you think it's better than the old site!) I'm still playing around with features, but so far this is a lot easier to use than Frontpage. Wix provides a shopping cart for your website with one of the upgrades, something I may consider doing if/when it makes sense to sell books directly through my website. For now, I get most of my sales through Amazon, so I'll hold off on using the shopping cart until I have more of a fan base.

Another option for authors is to skip the website altogether and use a blog as their main web presence. Like Wix, Blogger and Wordpress both have customizable templates for layout and design, and since you can add separate pages to your blog, you can make it function like a website with pages for a bio, books, and so on.

If blogs and websites are so similar, is it worth having both? In my opinion, a website is more permanent than a blog, so it makes a better Internet base. On the other hand, a blog may be easier to maintain and keep updated. I have my blog feeding onto a page of my new website to combine them. Perhaps later on I'll try exporting this blog to the website so everything is in one place.

How about you? Do you have a website, a blog, or both? Where are they hosted? Do you have any blog or website maintenance tips you'd like to share with your fellow indies?


10 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I went with a blog as a website because it killed two birds with one stone - websites and social site.

Rinelle Grey said...

I made my first webpage in frontpage! Those were the days! I love wordpress now, for my webpage and blog. Does everything I want, and is so easy to customise with widgets.

J.L. Campbell said...

I used to have a separate website, which I pointed to my blog. Thing is, I intended to include all the info from the site on the blog. Just haven't got around to it yet. :(

Kimberly said...

I am in the process of looking into websites, but I hear a lot about how great Wordpress is, so considering that as my blog/website. :)

Andrew Leon said...

I'm using a blog but only because I don't have the skills I need to set up the kind of website I'd like to. And I don't feel like investing the time to figure it out, at the moment. At some point, I'd like to have a fully armed and operational battle st... um, I mean website.

Mary DeSantis said...

I use a blog because I'm still establishing myself. When I get further along in my writing career I think I'll get a real website. No matter which people use, though, I'd say it's important to switch it up every so often. Change the look of your blog/site to keep it fresh.

Sandra Almazan said...

Alex--it's much easier to maintain one site than two.

Rinelle and Kimberley--I belong to a group blog on Wordpress. It's much easier than working with Frontpage!

J.L.--It's hard to stay on top of everything we indies need to do.

Andrew--Templates make it much easier to set up a website. If you can customize a blog, you can do the same for a website.

Mary--Don't wait too long to purchase your preferred domain name. Good advice about updating the look every so often.

Andrew Leon said...

I haven't figured out how to do the things to my blog that I want to do. Like change the background to something that's not a provided image.

Sarah Allen said...

I've been using blogger. Simpler than figuring out how to do a site from scratch, I think. Hopefully it works.

Sarah Allen
(From Sarah, With Joy)

Rachel Morgan said...

I use my Blogger blog (with a custom domain) as my website. I think it works fine for me. But good job with your new website!

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