by Sarah Dopp
In this quick-search, online publishing age, your image is probably already on the web whether you like it or not. You can gain control of it by building your own website. If you don’t already know how a website can benefit you, take a look at the following list:
The Top 10 Things You Can Do with a Website
10. Portray yourself as an expert in your field.
9. Make your resume available.
8. Create a regular column and attract newsletter subscribers (build your fan club!).
7. List your book tour and public speaking dates.
6. Sell your books and articles.
5. Display samples of your writing.
4. Give people a way to find and contact you easily.
3. Show off your character with photos of your latest brilliant hobby.
2. Blog your heart out.
1. Make people come to you.
First, browse the web for freelance writers’ sites. There are a lot of good and bad websites out there. Use them to identify your tastes. What do you like? What do you dislike? What could you be doing with your own website?
Build your website.
If you have modest ambitions, you may be able to get by with pre-designed templates on free (or cheap) community websites. This is a great way to get started. Just make sure they won’t limit your style.
Otherwise, at the minimum for a professional website, you’ll need to buy a domain name (yourname.com) and some space on the web (a.k.a. “hosting”). Your domain name should be under $10/year and your hosting under $10/mo. Make sure your domain name is reasonably easy for people to spell and remember.
Your next concerns are graphic design and coding. Take an inventory of all of your creative and technical friends. Would any of them be willing to build you a website in exchange for a weekend ski trip? If not, size up your time and money resources. You may want to just pick up some software and start learning. This may take a few months, but it will also give you a great new topic to write about! If your time is precious, start looking up professionals. Research them well. Let your needs and tastes do the choosing, rather than your sense of convenience.
Throughout this process, keep in mind that the quality of your website will reflect the quality of your work. If you have to settle for a mediocre website, don’t.
Use your website.
Your job now is market your website. Tell all your friends. Include your URL in your bio and contact information. Post it on Craig’s List. List it in directories. Trade links with other websites who reach a similar audience. Soon, search engines will pick up on your presence and your reputation will grow.
You’ll be surprised at where you can go from there.
Sarah Dopp is a freelance writer who keeps her day job as a web developer. Her business, Autumn Technical Designs (http://www.autumntechnical.com), helps individuals and small businesses build their professional presence on the web affordably and creatively.