What You Should Know

So here’s where you start your website project: with a pen and piece of paper. Daydream some answers to questions like these:

  • What do I want to know about other writers?
  • Why will people visit my website?
  • What should people learn about me?
  • How will they know the site exists?
  • What are Google search terms that could lead people there? (Know that without an insane amount of effort on your part, people aren’t going to arrive at your website because they Google “short stories” or “contemporary American writer”)
  • What’s my message?
  • What’s the simplest way to get my message across?
  • How often will I update my site?
  • What’s my personal brand?
  • How many visitors should I expect a day/week/month?
  • Do I even care if people visit my website, or do I need one just in case someone wants to find out more about me?
  • Do I want to sell anything?
  • What kind of tone should my website take in its appearance and in the writing?
  • What pages would I have on my website?
  • What pages should appear in the main menu?
  • How should people interact — with comments, contact forms, social sharing, ranking posts, or maybe not at all?
  • How will I measure success?
  • How will I sustain the website?
  • How much money do I want to spend every year?

As long as you’ve got that pen and paper going, write down your own questions similar to these. I can think of plenty more, and you should too — even things like “what colors do I want my site to feature,” “how many pictures should I have,” and “what is the first thing I want people to see when they visit?”

In order to guide your thinking, look up the websites of writers you like, and those of super-famous writers. Most importantly, focus on writers who are at a similar point in their career as you. What kind of content do they have?