Whether you’re a multi-published author or you’re just dreaming about seeing your name leading the Amazon charts, there’s a truism that every author knows – platform matters. And a big part of a platform, it turns out, is having a professional website.
Now forgive us for the generalization, but a lot of authors don’t have great websites. That old Geocities page with the outdated headshot just isn’t cutting it anymore. And while you might say, “I just want to be known for my great writing” – and we hope you are! – a beautiful website can help scale your impact, get you attention, and even build your fan list to help you score a generous advance.
So in this article, we want to inspire you with the why and the how of building a great author webpage. The good news is that there’s NEVER been a better time to be creating your little corner of the internet, with an awesome site that will thrill potential agents, readers, and publishers alike.
These are the 5 best website builders for authors.
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In this article...
What you can do with an author website?
I suppose the question all depends on what you want, but if you’re in the process of querying (especially for nonfiction), you’re probably hearing a word you might not have thought about: platform.
More and more agents and publishers alike are wanting to see that you’ve got that enigmatic and elusive thing called platform.
But rather than being another checkmark in the box, your author website is an opportunity to do some amazing things. For example:
- Build your brand and thought leadership among potential readers.
- Grow a thriving community of people around your ideas who will cheer you every step of the way (and buy the book).
- Present yourself as a professional for potential agents and publishers.
- Monetize your ideas (before you publish a book) through things like online courses, paid community, and/or live events.
- Collect emails or contact information that show a publisher you’ve got people interested in your work.
- Cultivate a list of raving fans who will talk your book up to their friends, families, and other networks.
- Sell your book on autopilot as new visitors discover you.
For all these reasons, building an author website doesn’t just have to be a throwaway thing you do to check the right box for a publisher.
In fact, building an author website can earn you more money than a book in many cases! This could be through selling memberships, coaching, consulting, and more. We’ll give you some examples in the case studies below.
How to build an author website: A step-by-step guide
Step 1: Clarify its purpose
Get clear on who your website is for and what you want it to accomplish. Do you want it to get you a book deal? Make money? Grow your following? Having a clear sense of your expectations can help you choose the right platform.
Step 2: Clarify your brand & messaging
Your website is the place where you showcase your brand. So before you even start building, you should understand what your brand messaging is. If you’re writing YA fiction, will your website reflect that? If you’re a thought leader trying to define your expertise in an area, does your website get that across?
Clarifying your brand and how you talk about yourself can add a lot of value to your website. Get a friend to look at it too and give their opinion on the messaging it gives. `
Step 3: Choose your website builder
Obviously, choosing the platform you use to build your website is part of this process! In the list below, we’ll talk about 5 of the best website builders for authors.
Step 4: Populate it
Part of your work, once you choose a website builder, will be to populate it with great content. Again, you get to decide how far you go with this. Are you building a blog, with SEO value and a regular posting schedule? Are you building a dynamic free or paid community of people who LOVE your work? Or are you creating a home page, bio, and contact page and moving on to other things?
You get to choose.
Step 5: Tell the world!
Once your website is up and running, tell the world that it’s there! Share it with everyone, on social media, via email, and more. You’ve taken all the time to build it, sharing it with people is the next step to getting yourself established.
Step 6: Update it!
Last, but DEFINITELY not least, update your website as stuff happens. Did you get a book deal? Share it! Are you doing speaking engagements? Share them!
Too many authors forget to use their website to its full potential, resulting in missed opportunities.
5 Best website builders for authors
We’ve walked through the basics of why you need a website and a rough outline of the steps it will take to build it. Next, let’s talk about the 5 best website builders for authors. Each of these has a different focus and approach, so it’s important to choose a website builder that fits your brand and goals.
1. Mighty Networks
Best all-in-one for community and content
If you’re looking for a website that will take you beyond a static page toward a dynamic community centered on your work, try building a Mighty Network! A Mighty Network is a perfect platform for non-fiction authors who are working to launch a movement OR for fiction authors looking for a place to connect with their fans.
Either way, a Mighty Network isn’t just a static webpage; it’s a community hub that lets you bring together your content, courses, and people in a way that resonates. With features like live streaming, integrated events, paid or free memberships, an elegant forum, and chat features, it’s the perfect place to cultivate a space for your work.
One of the other neat things about a Mighty Network is that it creates a recurring, reliable income stream for authors that – in many cases – generates more revenue than book sales.
For example, Dan Miller’s book 48 Days to the Work You Love was a best seller, and Dan was the host of a podcast and newsletter that reached tens of thousands weekly. Dan launched a Mighty Network at $48/month, quickly seeing 600+ people join. On top of this, he sells a $500/month mastermind group and a high-ticket coaching program.
Dan is an example of an author thinking beyond just book sales, and he’s built a thriving business around his membership site.
For authors who want to go the extra mile, you can also choose to upgrade your Mighty Network to Mighty Pro and get all these features, PLUS a premium app under your own brand in the App Store and Google Play Store.
When you have your own app, you will have your audience’s undivided attention on your work. And if that still seems unlikely, just look at how successful author Luvvie Ajayi Jones is utilizing Mighty Pro to supercharge her business with her community, LuvvNation.
Best drag-and-drop static website builder
If you want to keep your website really simple, basically if you’re looking for an elegant website that you almost never have to touch, you should look at Squarespace. It’s a no-code website builder that lets you quickly get something up. And it has a lot of templates to choose from (search for “author” in the template section).
Squarespace has some options for email integration if you’re running a mailing list for your website. It will also give you some good content features like an image editor, a commenting system (especially useful if you’re posting blogs), and some built-in SEO options.
Squarespace is for the author who doesn’t want to monetize or build a community. If you just want a few static pages and maybe an email list sign-up, it works well.
Comparable drag-and-drop website builder
Wix is another drag-and-drop that’s comparable to Squarespace. It also has lots of templates to choose from that could work for an author. It also gives you some options around e-commerce that might work for selling books or products from your website if you chose to.
It has easy editing software and an intuitive builder that works well for adding your own brand and style to your author website. Like Squarespace, Wix is probably best for authors looking for a static website that they won’t update too often.
Best for plugins and blogs
WordPress is getting knocked down this list every year as competitors open up more and more options for author website-building. But it’s still a contender.
Although complicated to use, requiring plugins and – let’s face it – a premium theme to create something that looks professional, it’s still an option for authors.
WordPress is too complicated if you just want a static website. Ditto if you want to sell courses and memberships – it’s going to add a whole nother level of headaches. Just don’t. Trust us.
So why is it on this list?
If you’re going to take the time to learn how to use it, WordPress works best for content-heavy blogs. Unlike some of the drag-and-drop builders, that haven’t quite caught up in terms of SEO (no matter what they say), WordPress is a good option for a blog-focused site. If you want to publish on a regular basis and share your content with the world (as opposed to gating it), WordPress is probably your best option.
Best for e-commerce
If you’re an author with a heavy e-commerce focus, selling a physical product that is, Shopify is a good bet. It does have a website builder attached to it, but it will power a really good online store that helps you sell your stuff. It’s customizable and has a lot of integrations you can add. It also has a ton of great marketing tools that come with it – all of which will help you make more sales.
Ready to start building?
So we’ve walked through the 5 contenders for the best website builder for authors. Which is right for you? Well, when it comes to building a website, the answer is that it depends. Every author has a different vision and different needs for their website. We hope that the list above has helped you figure out which one is right for you!
And if you’re ready to start building a community around your writing work, come check out Mighty Networks! It’s a powerhouse builder that can get you earning bank before ever publishing your book, and can line up a network of eager fans ready to buy – something every publisher wants to see.
Ready to start building an author website?