Let me put this to you as simply as possible, if you do not have a professional writing website then you are hardly a professional writer. Of course, there are a few exceptions. If you are well established and have been that way for decades, then you might be able to do without one. Or if you are a one hit book wonder and your first book did really well, then you might be able to do without a site with WordPress as well.
That is pretty much it, though. Everybody else – whether they are just starting out full time or have been established for more than a decade – needs one. The question, of course, is how do you build it? Well, that’s the question that I am going to answer for you today. Are you ready?
Get an actual website
You might be tempted to just get one of those .wordpress sites. That is fine if you just want to have a blog, or entertain your family. However, if you are trying to build something professional, then that simply will not do.
Nothing screams ‘amateur’ as loudly as not owning the website you are working from. Why? For several reasons:
- It tells people that you really take yourself seriously.
- It says ‘I’m not making enough money from writing to pay for my own name’.
- It means you rank less well in terms of SEO, which means that people will have more trouble finding your site.
So do not do it! Buy your own site. You can still use WordPress on it (I do), it will just have your domain name, which means it is actually your property, you can do with it what you want and you can use plugins as well.
Choose a high-quality theme
In case you are wondering ‘high quality’ does not mean ‘pretty’. Sure, pretty is nice, but it is far from the only factor that matters. There are two more big factors that need to be considered.
- As in, will your site stay up and will hackers have a hard time breaking in.
- The slower your load time is, the more people you lose.
Therefore, when you are choosing your theme, check out online what people have to say about it. Is it stable and is it fast? If either of those questions gets answered with a big fat ‘no’ then it might be a good idea to try something different.
(One thing to note, do check which the version that they are talking about. Sometimes themes are updated and problems are dealt with. If they do not discuss which version they are talking about, look at the date of the article.)
Play around with the plugins but delete the ones you do not use
Go for it! Check them out. Some I heartily advise are:
- Yoast. It is absolute must-have. Yoast will help you maximize your SEO for articles as well as help you out with your article’s readability. In truth, I prefer other programs for that second part, but hey – it still helps me out occasionally.
- Digg Digg. If your site includes a blog as well, then you want to make sure that it is possible to share that content widely and easily (most people will share on a whim. For that reason it is important that you make it as easy as possible).
So there you go! There are a few great plugins that you can try out at your leisure. Now for the second part of this headline – make sure that you delete the ones you do not end up using.
Why? Because having plugins that you do not use on your website will both slow down your website as well as make it easier for hackers to break in, as we forget to update them and thereby leave security breaches in place. And you want neither of those things happens.
So de-install them if you do not use them!
Have an editor check your website
This is not really WordPress specific, but it is vital nonetheless. If you are a professional writer, you can not have a website with grammar or spelling mistakes. It will be very hard for clients to take you serious if that is the case!
So get rid of them. That means checking your writing again and again.
If you have a professional editor standing by, that is great. If not, then you can always use a writing service. It does not really matter who does it, as long as it gets done and the errors get removed.
Start building backlinks
In order for your site to get a little bit of recognition in the SEO department, you’re going to need to start putting in backlinks to it. Fortunately, as you are a professional writer, this is easier than it is for most.
The first step is going to all your online profiles where you have put up information about yourself and put in a link to your new site. Of course, include it in the byline of any new articles that you write. In fact, try contacting people that have published articles for you in the past and try to get them to change the byline. If you ask them nicely they might be more than willing to help you out.
As an extra bonus, this will get you back on their radar and hopefully look at your portfolio and overall website. From there, you might even get some work out of it. Now wouldn’t that be nice?
Finally, just keep working at it. If you keep it updated, keep adding new materials that you write up and keep including links to it onto your bylines and in your professional descriptions, then it should climb in the Google ranking. From there, when people search for your name, they will find it first and foremost.
In that way, you will have a fantastic bit of personal branding going on, which is now considered one of the most important things for a professional to do. What is more, this will be a bit of personal branding that will be completely under your control. You can change it, update it and keep it at the center of your professional life. That will make it a hugely useful tool for your current endeavors and your future ones as well.
And all that for a few hours of investment, a little bit of money and a bit of careful consideration. What’s not to love (and how come there are people that still haven’t done this?)