Monday, March 03, 2014
What People Think Matters (When It Comes To Your Website)
But then, I needed to check a list of author websites. And as I pulled up each name, that phrase came back to me. It was easy to see who had a thoughtful online presence—and who did not. By the time I’d finished checking a ton of websites, I’d learned a few things. But mostly, I learned that a little bit of thought can make a big difference in what people think when they see you on the web.
Like what, you say? So glad you asked:
If you want people to think you’re a dependable writer who’s on top of things, then keep your website information updated. That means posting regularly if you have a blog. If you just can’t get around to posting but once or twice a year, then do yourself a favor and take the blog off your website. (But if your blog is your website, make it static with no dates.)
If you want people to think you’re a professional, skilled writer, then keep your website free of spelling and grammar errors. It’s fine if you have a misspelling as a play on words or if your writing style is conversational in a blog post. But if you have “Welcome to This Writers’ Home’s” in your web title, in big, block letters, you might need to brush up on those pesky possessive rules.
If you want people to think you’re witty or urbane or spiritual or any number of other interesting things that you are in real life, then put your personality/interests into your website. With a blog, it’s easy for your voice to come through. But people don’t often stop to read a handful of blog posts. They will, however, click on that “About Me” tab, so there’s your chance to make a good impression. And if you’re not sure what kind of impression you’re making, ask for honest feedback from friends. (Or better yet, ask someone who doesn't know you well.)
Finally, choose the kind of writer you want people to see. When a person lands on your website, will they know instantly that you’re a romance novelist? Or a children’s writer? A poet or an essayist? Have you honed in on your niche, and does your website reflect that focus?
I think this might be hard for those of us like me, who might pen fiction as well as non-fiction, or write for children as well as adults. But it doesn’t mean we can’t keep writing whatever we want; it means accentuating what we want the world to see--and think--when they first meet us.
I suppose, then, that a website should get to the heart of the writer. That's what matters in a thoughtful online presence. So, yeah, I've got some website work to do. How about you?
~Cathy C. Hall