When you’re trying to grow your author platform, one of the key focuses needs to be on optimising your writer website. Your writer website needs to be attractive to humans AND google, and a lot of this starts with your homepage. Your writer homepage is the first place people land after being sent from the land of google.
Your author website – and the homepage on your author website – is ‘prime real estate’ when it comes to your author platform. Why?
Social media is all well and good, but followers on instagram or facebook or TikTok are fickle and those platforms are ‘owned’ by others (which means they very often crash – remember the great Facebook outage of 2021?). It’s also much better for your business in the long-term, to be building an audience at your own ‘residence’ – AKA your website.
Now, attention spans are really limited online. If a potential reader comes to your website, you want to make sure they stay longer than a second. This signals to the search engines that you’re legitimate (and you rank better in SEO) and it also means you can potentially get someone to join your world – read your article, click a link, sign up for a freebie, watch a video, join your newsletter list. These are all valuable pieces of your writer platform.
When you set up your writer website, you need to consider your audience and how little they will know about you if they’re one of a billion strangers on the internet landing on your site.
The problem is, most writers create their websites for themselves, and don’t think about user experience, digital useability, and a host of other things.
If you’re trying to get a traditional publishing deal for your memoir or nonfiction then having a good website is a must. People staying longer than a second signals to google that you are a real person, and also makes google more likely to send MORE traffic your way!
If you don’t want your writer website homepage to turn potential readers away then here is a list of 5 things to look for. With a more effective writer website you can really build your online author platform and sell more of your work! Here’s five mistakes writers make on their homepages, and 5 quick fixes!
Mistake 1: Putting the information too low on your website homepage
Fix: Don’t make me scroll!
The top third of your writer website homepage is referred to in advertising circles as the area ‘above the fold’.
It is the MOST important piece of your writer website homepage. A human will click and give you about, oh, less than a second, to show what you do and what your expertise is. If you don’t have imagery and a headline that makes this super clear, they will be confused and leave. Think about it from a complete stranger’s perspective – you referring to a book or an article is lovely but will we know what you mean if we’ve never had a conversation? Treat your writer homepage, particularly the top third (above the line) as the front cover of a magazine you want people to open.
Mistake 2: Confusing, irrelevant or no images
Fix: Choose your images after considering your potential audience
Vague (but pretty) images that tell me nothing about your work or an author profile picture that don’t show you at your best are doing you and your author platform no favours. Unfortunately for those of us who are introverts, people NEED to see a clear image of the author to know, like and trust you. A profile picture of you that is clear, high resolution, and not blurred is absolutely essential. If you have a picture of a nice sunset, think – what does this tell someone? Everything on your writer website homepage must tell a story to the potential reader..
Mistake 3: Broken or dead links and redundant menu items
Quick fix: Check your links! All of them!
I can’t tell you how many writer website homepages have dead or broken links or social icons that don’t go to the author’s actual social platform. If you have a wordpress or Wix or squarespace website, you need to change these links and personalise them. Likewise, any ‘menu’ items at the top of your writer website homepage must work. Test them. Check them. Change them. Nothing ruins ‘trust’ in a potential reader or client quicker than dead or broken links. It seems like you’re not there and haven’t been active on the platform for years.
Mistake 4: No direction for the reader (no calls to action)
Quick fix: Tell me what to do like I’m 5
A mistake i made (and most writers make) when I first set up my website is that I didn’t realise I needed to give website visitors a call to action.
Think about what you want the reader to do when they land on your site. Do you want them to click a link, sign up to your email list, watch a video? Make it clear. So clear a five year-old could understand. Make the buttons bold and animated, if need be. Pop-ups are annoying but effective. That’s because humans are extremely distractible – particularly online. Make it SO clear what you want the reader to do when they arrive on your home page.
Mistake 5: Too much text and wordy and long sentences.
Quick fix: Cut half your text. Then cut some more. Write a headline like your author homepage is the front cover of a magazine.
People read VERY differently online to how they read a printed book or magazine. We scan, flick, look at visuals. So many writers make the mistake of writing masses of text on their home page and NO-ONE READS IT. Try and change everything to a headline, if you can. Use keywords and bullet points and visuals and animations to signal to the user what to do.
Your writer website homepage is the most important piece of your online presence and if you can get people to stick around, you will grow your platform, bring potential readers into your world and more. Start to look at websites you love and assess what it is about the home page that you like. Is it clear where to go? Where to click? Is there less than 150 words in text?
Save your words and writing up for blogs, articles and emails.
If you need any help with your writer website homepage, I teach authors how to grow their digital platform in Create Your Writer Platform. I worked in digital communications and marketing for many years and learnt SO much about user experience and website useability, that I’ve adapted into a program for authors to get book deals and sell more of their work. Details belowl
Create Your Writer Platform shows you step-by-step how to set up your digital assets for an effective writer platform: