Does an Unpublished Writer Need a Website?
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Yes, I am of the firm belief you need a website even if you're not published. Why?
1. To build a platform: Platforms for the unpublished writer run the risk of becoming a Catch 22. You need a platform to get published, but you can't build a mega platform unless you are published. Okay, true, but that doesn't mean you can't get started and show publishers that you have what it takes to connect with potential readers. If you're not on social media, it's time to suck it up and get an account. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram are the holy trinity of social media, at least for the time being. As the times change, make sure you do to and get your name out there.
But once a potential reader has your name, they'll naturally want to know everything about you. That's when they'd go to your website where they can read your background, your blog and exciting news about upcoming publications. If you don't have one, it's harder for a reader to connect with you. And with so many new and promising writers, they'll put you aside and move on.
2. Branding : Social media allows us to give snippets of information, show tiny pieces of who we are and what we're all about. A website expands on that and allows the opportunity to really deliver authentic content to an audience. It's a chance to show your creativity through not only content, but the design of your site, photographs, videos...even the colors you pick say something about you. A website delves into your brand, who you are, what you have to say about yourself and to your audience. And a bad website says a lot. Someone who doesn't even have a website...well, I think that says something too.
But you may be asking, why should I invest money and time into a career that may never take off?
This is the question the majority of unpublished writers ask, and I'm sure the majority of published authors have asked at some point in their past. Simply, you don't have to be a published writer to write. Do what you love and what works best for you. But if you want to be published, whether traditionally or self-published, you need to invest in yourself (perhaps even more if self-published). Think of writing as a job, even if you only have an hour every other day to invest. And money? You don't need to pay for a website if you don't want to. My first website was through blogger.com and I didn't pay a dime.
BUT...you might be saying you don't know how to run a website!
Unless it's your job to make websites, you're not going to know what you're doing. And that's okay because there are tons of tutorials, plus companies like blogger.com or Squarespace make it very user friendly.
BUT BUT...you may just be scared.
Okay, this one I totally understand. Putting yourself out there is scary. You basically are opening a vein and being like "Judge me!!". But remember, you're in control of your website! So if you don't want to mention the time you got drunk at your work party and tripped into a koi pond, don't. And really, why would you? It has nothing to do with writing...unless you have a character who did a similar thing, then I could see why you'd include the anecdote. But really, it's up to you.
I mentioned "bad" websites earlier. I'm of the opinion that there are no perfect websites. We can all use some edits, so don't worry about striving for perfection. When I say "bad", I really mean bad content. Or if you never update it. Just think of website you've been on that left you unimpressed and do the opposite. Easy, right? :)
Now get started and enjoy!