One of the first recommendations I give to my writers is to create a website and a Facebook page. This is the beginning of creating a platform for selling their book. Even if the book isn’t written yet, the new writer needs to create an interested following. The easiest way to do this is through social media. As a writer, you need to get the word out that your book is coming. Creating a pool of followers makes for an instant customer base when your book finally hits the market.
Here are five reasons I recommend WordPress.com as a great, free website and blogging platform
There’s hardly any argument against free stuff. Creating your own site from scratch using hosting and web creation software can cost a lot of money. Hosting your web site on a server can cost from $100-$300 a year. Domain registration can cost $10-$30 dollars a year. You can create your own site if you know HTML and CSS and you have an artistic bent. Hiring a graphic artist to create your site can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars.
WordPress.com pays for itself with advertising that is displayed at the bottom of your page. Its a very small price to pay for free stuff. Plus, the quality of WordPress.com software is excellent. It is very easy for the non-technical person to learn. You don’t need to learn computer languages or hire a graphic designer.
No Administration Headaches
If you buy your own web hosting you not only have to pay yearly fees, but you have to administer it yourself. This could mean learning Linux or some other operating system. It is possible to install free WordPress software on your own server. I do that myself for my http://AgileWriters.com site. (It’s worth it to me because I customize the software for my needs). However, if you do this you have to keep up with the WordPress upgrades, which I talk about next…
Constantly updated against hackers
Another problem I have with my self-hosted sites is hackers. The language used to create WordPress is PHP. It is prone to being hacked. I have to make sure to constantly update my site with the latest WordPress software to make sure I don’t fall prey to the hackers.
WordPress.com is constantly looking for “exploits” in their code. Your WordPress.com site is automatically updated with the latest software that has been hardened against hackers.
Akismet Spam Blocker
One of the biggest headaches for bloggers is spam comments. These are comments left on your blog postings that actually come from robot programs (bots) that seek out new blog posts and respond to them with comments that sell some good or service that you haven’t authorized. Some websites get tens or hundreds of these spam comments every day.
Akismet is a service that monitors spammers and keeps a database of them. If you host your own WordPress site, you can pay for this service to protect your site from spam comments. WordPress.com does this for you for free. It’s an invaluable service.
Brochure Web Site Built In
A brochure web site is one that is filled with static content that advertises some good or service. It’s called a “brochure” site because it is like your sales brochure on the Internet. WordPress.com allows you to create “pages” of static content that just tells people what you do. You can create an “About Me” page where you give your biographical information and your writing influences. You can also create a page for each of the books that you have written. It’s really easy to do, and again, you don’t have to learn a programming language to update your site or add a new page.
Blogging Web Site Built In
A blog is dynamic content that you add to on a regular basis (daily, weekly, etc…). A new entry in your blog is called a ‘story’ or ‘posting’. If you had a traditional web site, you might find it difficult to update daily because you would have to write HTML code in a text editor, save it to a file, upload it to your site, and update other pages to create links to the story.
WordPress.com is made specifically for blogging. It allows you to add new posts as often as you like. You can even write a batch of blogs and schedule them to be released periodically – so you don’t have to sit in front of your computer every day. It is this dynamic and regular updating that makes your site feel fresh and alive.
So there you have it, five reasons (nope, it was six reasons – I gave you a bonus one!) for using WordPress.com instead of relying on your own hosting. You have a lot to worry about as an author just writing and selling your book. You don’t need the headaches of managing a web server too.
Take it from me. I’m a software engineer with a lot of experience in managing web sites. I use WordPress.com for my blogs as much as I can. Take a look at the site I built with WordPress.com over at http://ReelHeroes.net and you’ll see how much you can do with a free WordPress.com website and blog.