The Wonderful World of Writer’s Websites

The Wonderful World of Writer’s Websites

On the importance of writer’s websites.

This is something some writers may or may not have realized: building an author platform is important, especially when you’re starting out.


Even those looking to traditionally publish will need an author website, and are often asked on query forms whether or not they have them, their social media outreach, and credentials. Why? Even agents want to see how active you are in the community, and your marketability when it comes to your work. This does not apply to everyone, of course, there are always those who get picked up without any social media presence, but it’s best to get started now and understand your platform.


With that said, here are a few things you should think about if you’re considering going this alone or hiring a website designer:


Time Best Spent: Marketing or Writing

Ultimately, a lot of your time may be spent marketing: social media, editing, offering services, writing blog posts, building/maintaining/updating your website, and more. What you need to start asking yourself is what you find more valuable. Do you enjoy the marketing side of writing, or do you prefer to spend that time writing?


Something you may not have considered is that the once-promised aspect of traditional publishing would market your work for you. That’s no longer the case. (Check out this blog post to see what I mean). They want to see you’re active in the community in some way, so building a website is a much-needed step to ensure your readers are able to find you. Consider what social media platforms you’d like to be part of, and start building your (potential) fan base.


With this comes a lot of time spent building your website on places like WordPress or Wix. I’m WordPress all the way, but it is time-consuming. I’ve been able to get help building and learning how to maintain my website, though I’m far off. I still have issues with SEO, security, and formatting that goes awry. When thinking of these issues and how tech-savvy you are, it might be best to look into a website designer, get a quote, and balance your options.


Your Availability

With that said, think about how you spend your day-to-day. Do you have kids? What do you do in your downtime? Full-time job, part-time, or unemployed? Do you travel a lot? Life can get in the way, and it can be easy to push things back that may not take precedence in your life. Do you have to post a blog this week, or update your readers? Nah…but these are important. If you miss one update, then another, and another, you may lose traction and readers.


If you want to make changes to your website, it might be easier to dial in a website designer to take a better look and spend a few hours trying to fix/develop your website rather than trying your best for one to five hours (depending on your technical talents) in developing your website.


That Thing I Keep Bringing Up – Know Your Stuff

 It’s one thing to start a website and get it moving, but it’s another trying to build traction and ensuring every piece is in order and working. I cannot tell you how much I have struggled to try and work out the kinks. Now, again, I did not go to school for this and went in relatively blind. Later on, I asked my mother-in-law to take me on and show me the ropes so I could get an understanding of website design.


She’s super talented and patient when it comes to this stuff—I am not. She’s a technical genius, and I’m a technical nightmare. Still, I try. I made my website very plain and simple because that’s what I need. However, I hope to touch base with her when I’m ready to really kick it into gear. For the moment, I’m trying to focus on all these other moving pieces, but that’s what matters—


I don’t have the time, the availability, or the technical talents that many who learn to run their websites have, and I’m incredibly lucky to know someone who does this for a living. In my case, it’s worth hiring a website designer to connect with my readers, easily show them my pages to buy my books (eventually), and lead my readers to my social media pages so they’re getting the latest updates. Not to mention the SEO side of it that will help attract my potential readers.


Finally… the Aesthetics

I have run into writer’s websites with atrocious colors, or look as though they got up and running in the seventies…eighties…a long time ago only to be surprised the website is recently updated. I’ve run into mint green backgrounds with pink ink (for murder mysteries), and dark websites with an eerie tone only to discover they’re romance.


While I suggest taking a deep dive into the look of your website, I do think about Susan Dennard who (once upon a time) had octopi and sea creatures on her website. It was memorable despite being a fantasy writer, and I remember her website well because of it. Turns out she’s a marine biologist—cool! However, I will always remember her as a marine biologist and fantasy writer. Think about what you want to be known as, and what cool quirk you might want to share on your website. It doesn’t necessarily have to match the tone of your books, but how you want your readers to remember you.


Which brings me to the other part of the aesthetics:



When you build your website, can your readers find your merchandise page? How easy is it for them to add your books to their cart? What if they want to know more about you? Do you have an “About” page? Can they contact you? Should they be able to contact you? Navigation is important when it comes to your website because you want writers to have an easy and nice time getting to know you and your work. I have been frustrated and left the website since I could not find a way to buy an author book or blog.



In Conclusion

A web developer can help you tackle the above points, and if you need a bit more convincing, take a look at this article by Janet Reid. If you do not know her, she’s a guru of the writing world with a ton of experience who touches on the importance of writer’s websites along with a nice list of what you should have. I highly recommend it as do many professionals.

Now, for fun, take a look at some of these author pages and decide which you think are good and which are bad.

Who I Serve

After 17 years managing the Internet department of an IT firm, I became a freelancer with the goal of being generous. My name is Hillary Norfleet of On Time Web Development and I help small  businesses solve their website problems. With over 20 years experience I’ve built and maintained over 300 websites.  Many of my clients have been mistreated by firms who charge premium fees and  become unresponsive; leaving them with broken, hacked and outdated sites. Others have been charged exorbitant “maintenance fees” for services never rendered. One client was charged $300 monthly for Google AdWords campaign management, a total of $3,600 before he cancelled the account. As a Google Certified Expert I was able to provide proof that no changes were ever made to his account.

Update March 1 – 7 2019: As my client he spent $600 on ads  – and received $6,000.00 in sales.

If you are tired of being treated like a doormat by your web development or Internet Marketing company. With my help we’ll turn your site into a welcome mat for your customers.

ROI	900%
Internet Marketing – Where to Begin?

Internet Marketing – Where to Begin?

It one of the most common questions I get from new clients. What’s the first step in growing my online presence? Should I pay Google for keywords? Or hire someone to do keep my social media updated? Maybe update the design of my website? While all of these ideas have merit, they are all secondary when it comes to internet marketing. The first thing I recommend is a site review.

Before you put money and effort into bringing visitors to your site you should make sure they will find it informative and user-friendly when they arrive. A typical website review provides insights on security, user experience and functionality along with actionable recommendations on how to optimize it.

Some of the main categories to look at are:

  • Page Load Time
  • Security Issues
  • Coding Errors
  • Display Issues
  • Search Engine Optimization

Let’s take a deeper look at each area.

Page Load Time

This filmstrip shows the process of loading a slow web page.

Speed is your best salesperson.  It’s a solid fact that every second you can save when loading the site translates into higher conversion rate.There are a lot of reasons your site could be slow loading.  Using tools like Google Page Speed tester and GTmetrix helps developers pinpoint and correct them. Tip: Most of the issues I see are due to server settings.  They can be fixed by your hosting company if you know what to ask for.

Security Issues

Firefox web browsers shows a green lock icon in the address bar of a secure website

Firefox web browsers shows a green lock icon in the address bar of a secure website

Every website should be protected by an SSL.  They come free with any decent hosting plan, and Google will actually penalize your site for not having one. Try visiting your site by typing in in the address bar.  Does it automatically send you to (or If not you may have a problem with the way the site is set up.

Other security issues I’ve come across include outdated plugins and themes, which can open your site (and any other sites on a shared hosting account) to attacks.

Coding Errors

Coding errors can make your website vulnerable to hacking. It slows down site speed and can break the layout and functionality of your site. The w3c validator is my go to tool for resolving code errors.

Display Issues

Google penalizes websites that aren’t responsive – meaning they don’t display nicely on browsers, tablets, and phones. You should also be aware that there are some differences between how different browsers display code.  Something that looks great in Google Chrome may not look good at all in Internet Explorer, for example.

To be continued

How To Increase ROI Using AdWords

How To Increase ROI Using AdWords

All conversion value/cost: 29.84

The data above is from an actual campaign. The eCommerce website is tied to Google Merchant Center and AdWords. Product feeds are submitted to Merchant Center (a free perk from Google). The AdWords account includes a shopping campaign with ads for each product in the feed. When someone searches for a product Google’s system kicks into gear, performing an auction with various merchants bidding on the opportunity to display their products.



The tricky part in all of this is knowing how much to bid. Bid too high and all your profits get eaten up, too low and you won’t get seen.


Obviously this is a simplified picture of setting up a profitable ad campaign. It’s taken years of experience, research and Google certification to get to this goal. The real answer to increasing your return on investment involves much more than creating a Google AdWords account. Success comes when you have a seasoned professional maintaining the account.
Website Optimization – Get The Facts

Website Optimization – Get The Facts

Website optimization means different things to different people.

To an ADA Compliance Officer optimization means making certain your website is accessible to people with disabilities. This includes guidelines like including text alternative tags for non-text content, and using high contrast colors with background/text combinations.

For content writers website optimization focuses on grammar, spelling, and informative content displayed in an easy to read format.

SEO professionals are concerned with page speed, keyword ratio and content hierarchy.

What should it mean to you? All of the above. Optimization means giving your visitors the best experience possible, so the first question to ask is ‘Who is your target audience?’

This includes criteria like

  • age group
  • income level
  • gender
  • location
  • education
  • interests

What is important to them? What pastimes do they enjoy?  The more deeply you can identify your target audience, the more effectively you can connect with them.

3 Critical Characteristics To Demand From A Web Development Agency… Does Yours Do These?

3 Critical Characteristics To Demand From A Web Development Agency… Does Yours Do These?

1. Request a written timeline for completion.
Some ‘developers’ make promises, take your money, and then someone with more money comes along and gets all the attention. Others simply stop responding to status requests. Getting a timeline in writing doesn’t guarantee success, but it does help to keep both parties on track.
2. Ask if you can make your own updates.
Maybe you just want to change a phone number, or update your hours. You don’t want to have to submit tickets that can literally take months for something simple, and then be billed for it.
3. Insist upon a secure website.
Especially in a world of scams and hackers, your website should include an SSL Certificate to encrypt sensitive information. Your developer should know that Google penalizes websites that don’t default to secure mode.

Over the years I’ve heard many frustrated website owners complain that they spent time and money and visitors still don’t come! They want to know…

“Whose Fault Is It When Website Visitors Don’t Engage?”

One of the reasons you build a website is to be found.  And, it doesn’t hurt to become known, liked, and trusted, right?

However, a great website alone is not a cure all for today’s rapidly changing digital landscape. One of the big reasons my clients find great value in my work is because I help their business to…


Develop an Online Presence and Not Just a Website

Payment Methods & Best Practices

Customer Engagement & Marketing

  • Google Trusted Stores
  • Trusted Reviews
  • eBay
  • Amazon Seller Central