Many authors have virtually abandoned their websites in favor of social media. That’s risky because you can never control what Facebook or any other social media site does with its interface and functions–or your followers. These days Facebook wants Page owners pay for reach. Only some of your followers see your posts unless you pay to promote them.
Social media sites go out of style. (Look around and you can easily see that Facebook isn’t the draw for the younger crowd it once was.) When the social media site where you’ve put all your eggs loses popularity, you’ll have to rebuild your presence somewhere else.
Unlike social media, you always have total control over your website (and your mailing list) and you can make them stronger and better over time.
Make an honest appraisal of your website. Is it showing signs of age?
1) Outdated content
Your blog hasn’t been updated in months; you’ve got a notice that your book is “coming in 2013,” and many of your links are broken. Why should a visitor stay—or return—if it looks like you’ve abandoned your site?
2) Doesn’t play well with mobile devices
Nearly two-thirds of Americans are now smartphone owners, and for many these devices are a key entry point to the online world (Pew Research). If your website doesn’t look as good or function as well on smartphone or tablet as it does on a desktop computer, you’re missing out. (Test your site for mobile here.)
3) No content management system (CMS)
You shouldn’t have to pay a website designer to make routine changes to your site. A CMS (such as WordPress) makes it easy for you to create and update content, add images, and blog.
4) Old-fashioned elements
Is your design clean and modern-looking? Details such as a guest book, visitor counter, animation, flash introduction, and auto-play music or auto-play video date your website and you look out of touch.
5) You aren’t being found by search engines
Search engine algorithms change. If you want to be found and draw traffic to your site, you need to optimize your site’s content, images, links, and more.
6) No interactivity
It used to be that websites were a one-way conversation. Now, visitors expect clear invitations to interact with you by doing such things as leaving a comment, signing up for your mailing list, participating in a contest, or buying your books.
Your website is the foundation of your web presence. Technology and marketing trends change rapidly. Even if your website is only a few years old, it could look old fashioned be ineffective.
Perhaps it’s time to bring your website up to date?
P.S. As I prepared this post, I became aware of a great blog post by Diana Urban describing frequently used elements that anyone building an author’s website should consider including. It’s worth the read.