Marie and I go way back from when we worked together at a magazine in Phoenix. Now that most of my magazine buds have gone off to do their independent projects (including my own dino-themed book/RAWResome blog), I was super impressed when I checked in on Marie’s website, MarieLook.com. I told her, “You have to write a guest post for how to make an awesome website because I know lots of indie authors who are running their own websites!” (Yes, I said that run-on sentence.)
And she said, “Settle down, spaz.”
“I’m sorry, ” I said. “But please tell me, ahem, others how they can make their website as cool as yours.”
Then she said yes! Without further ado, here are six elements to help spruce up your website, courtesy of my friend (we are still friends? Yes?) Marie Look …
Growing a writing career comes with many different challenges — some of which didn’t even exist a generation ago! One of the best examples? Establishing an online presence where prospective collaborators can check out your work and learn how to contact you. I’ve personally had a great experience with my own website, where I’ve blogged and displayed my resume and writing clips since 2010. If you’re looking to beef up your own site, or are on the fence about whether or not you even need one, here are six things (in no particular order) I’ve learned are good to include, and why.
When a person or company looking to hire a writer or editor sees your picture on your website, you go from being just a printed name to being a person, and people appreciate doing business with other people. Also, you can think of your photo as an opportunity to convince potential clients or publishers that you could easily step into a given role. For example, if you write for children, dressing in bright, solid colors would be a good idea. On the other hand, if you’re a technical writer, you probably want a more buttoned-up look. Projecting the image of the kind of writer you want to be is key.
Having some background information on your website is important for the same reasons a photo is important: It humanizes you and allows you to present yourself as the kind of writer you want to be seen as. It’s also the place to pat yourself on the back if you have some major credits or awards to your name. Just don’t make the mistake of not making your bio relevant in some way to what kind of writing you do, whether it’s environmental, fashion, fiction, nonfiction, travel, or just general lifestyle.
This one’s a no-brainer, right? If you want people to check out your work, they’ll need access to it. Clients have said they appreciated the fact they could conveniently access my clips and resume via URLs, rather than be forced to download multiple email attachments. On From my perspective, I’ve definitely purchased books after reading the first chapter on an author’s website. Clips allow a prospective collaborator, publisher or reader to get a feel for your writing style, plus see what genres or subjects you’ve covered. Don’t have any clips yet? See #4.
Maintaining a blog on your website is an excellent way to overcome the “but I don’t have anything published” conundrum. Blog posts can be informal writing samples, or a way to start covering a new subject matter. I realize blogging isn’t something everyone can, or even wants, to keep up with on a regular basis, but it’s personally made me a more efficient writer. Anything you do often you’re bound to get good at. Pick a topic and a word count goal, and then write your post. Try to stay on topic and see how long it takes you to hit your word count.
If you’d rather not put your resume online, I’d recommend including a few of the highlights in your background information instead. I personally have both my resume and background info on my website since my website is a hybrid of content and marketing. People who read my blog are more likely to click on my “About Me” page because they’re curious about the blogger behind the curtain; alternatively, those who are considering me for a writing job find the resume more relevant. So while placing your resume online is optional, if your website is geared toward getting you more work, don’t be afraid to put it up there!
I’ve seen writers’ websites that don’t include a way to get in touch with them, which is something you just can’t afford to forget — if would-be clients or publishers can’t contact you, they can’t contract you!
Some of my favorite articles from MarieLook.com …