Let me first just state that if you’re starting out it’s perfectly fine to have an author website through wordpress.com (I personally find it the easiest blogging platform to use) with your own domain name. I did that for 8 years and it worked well for me but I’ve reached a point where I wanted to use plugins and where I want to start making money and sadly, to make money, I need to spend money. So, I upped my self-publishing game and took the plunge and collected together all my pennies (borrowed pennies on my credit card is more accurate) to pay for a website.
I was totally clueless about all of this but thankfully my boyfriend is also setting up a site for his business and did all the research and told me what I need to do, which was amazing but also, obviously, caused arguments. I do not like being told what to do.
So, after I’d calmed down a bit I got to work and this is how you create an author website on WordPress:
Starting out with a wordpress.com site makes sense, it’s easy to use, has great layouts and it’s free. BUT, you are limited with plugins, SEO, and you don’t actually own your site. So, there comes a point where you might want to switch from wordpress.com to wordpress.org, the smarter older sister of the blogging platform. But, before you make the switch you need to sign up to Bluehost.
I had no idea what the point of Bluehost was for the longestest time but apparently, it’s necessary and so I read about it. Bluehost hosts WordPress for you, making it run faster, making it more secure (protecting it from malware etc), gives you support and updates your site for you. Basically, it’s WordPress.org, supercharged. And everyone recommends it and I’m a crowd-follower, so I have it now too. But, feel free to shop around as there are other companies that come recommended but I’m not an expert so I went with the most well known.
Be warned, you have to pay up front for Bluehost (hurray credit card) and I went for $2.75 for 36 months, which came to a painful $147.46. But, that’s a nice little break from payments for a while. I’ll recover in a few months from that one.
And, one more thing, Bluehost uses shared servers which makes it a lot cheaper so when searching for comparisons, look for other companies who use shared servers.
You’ll need to transfer your site from wordpress.com to wordpress.org. This post explains how to do it without too much hassle but be warned, I had issues transferring all my posts because there are so darn many. I had to break it all down to get my content across. Also, I chose to transfer my domain name which meant I couldn’t do anything for 5 days whilst it went through. But, essentially you are exporting wordpress.com data, downloading wordpress.org and then importing all your wordpress.com (via a plugin) data onto it. Pretty simple really. And, if you’re really paying attention, you’ll have noticed the changes to this site.
I built this website with a company called Thrive after I’d spent a week pulling my hair out with Studiopress (which I’ll talk about after this). Jules had come across Thrive and read great things and after he forced me to watch their videos and explore their themes I reluctantly agreed that he was right, Thrive was for me. The reason Thrive is so good is that it’s really, really easy to use. I set up this website in a day and a half with only a few frustrations due to my complete inexperience.
A few helpful tips:
- I didn’t know how to remove all my posts from the front page but they helped me with this humiliatingly easy guide.
- If you want to get your website looking like the theme (I used Ignition) you can use this link.
- If you’ve written content into your page in WordPress you can’t change it in the Thrive content builder. I just copied everything into the content builder as it was much more effective.
The Thrive plugins make the process so much easier and the content builder gives you so many layout options and by building it directly on the page you don’t have to keep flitting between pages to see how it all looks. And you can choose what type of button you want! It sounds like nothing but this was part of my issue with Studiopress, I’d have to use code to create buttons and I’m just not skilled enough to do that.
The only thing I need to figure out is how to change the font size and colour on the header menu, but I’ll tackle that another day.
With Thrive you can just purchase, say a theme, or the content builder, but I bought the whole package because it’ll be useful when I come to making my blog more ‘conversion focused’. Thrive costs $19 a month but, as always seems to be the case now, I had to pay up front for the year, a painful $273.60. At this point I’m getting palpitations and I’m so relieved I have a credit card.
And, just remember, have a look at examples of other authors websites so you have an idea of what you want to create before you start, it’ll really help you. You don’t want to spend days trying to figure out your look, let alone figure out how to build the thing.
However, if you’re talented in coding I’d still recommend this incredible theme from Studiopress. For some more fantastic recommendations on premium themes this article has an amazing selection. My faves were Author Pro (which I did buy but then had my purchase refunded), Impose and Preface. This will set you back $99 and you will need to pay for extra plugins.
Despite my struggle it appears that’s all it takes. Upsetting. It took me so long, gave me stress neck ache but I was learning and learning take times. Hopefully by showing you what I’ve done it’ll make the process easier for you if you decide to spend $421.06 (that’s £337.92, GULP!) on a new website. Just remember, it’s still so much cheaper than paying for someone to do it for you.
If you do decide to go down this route to create your own author website and run into problems I will try to help you but please remember, I’m not an expert! However, if I had a similar issue I should be able to help.