Building Websites for Writers Part II of IV: Unplug from the Matrix or Why Not To Web
by Nicki Salcedo
Looks Like Fish, Tastes Like Chicken. Web site Alternatives: Blogs, Groups, and the Real World
Here is a dirty little secret. You don’t have to have a Web site. You can blog. You can be an active participant in groups and boards. You can make nice business cards and e-mail your network of friends from chapter meetings and conferences. You don’t need to build a Web site if it is cost- or time-prohibitive.
Here is an even more frightening idea. You can unplug from the Matrix, Neo, and join the real world. You can write articles for your local chapter newsletter or maybe even the RWR (the Romance Writers Report, you remember this little goodie that shows up in your mailbox each month, don’t you?). Volunteer on committees and at conferences. Travel to a nearby chapters when they have interesting programs available. You aren’t just a cute little avatar with a pixie hair cut and the screen name Storm. You are a real person and a part of a real professional writing organization. There are many benefits to meeting people face to face and building your network in person.
The purpose of having a Web site is letting the world know who you are. You can also accomplish this by writing engaging stories and making valuable contributions to your local chapter and RWA.
Beware of Dog: Web site Don’ts
So you’ve got a Web site or you’re not listening to me and you really want to build one anyway. That’s great, but don’t say I didn’t warn you…
Do take responsibility for what goes on your Web site and correct when necessary.
Do take advantage of the opportunity to learn Web development skills that may be useful in other aspects of your life
Do be realistic about what kind of results you will get from building a Web site. If you build it, they may not come.
Do get help if you can or recommendations from friends who already have Web sites. They may be able to recommend good prices for purchasing domain names, buying hosting plans, or paying for someone to design your site.
Don’t be afraid to be creative. You are a writer. Being creative is what you do best.
Don’t let your Web presence become more important than your writing goals.
Don’t jeopardize your family’s safety or your real job security or your future writing career by what you post on your Web sites, blogs, and boards.
Don’t be stressed if you don’t update your Web site or blog as often as you had hoped.
Don’t have a Web site if you haven’t finished a book or if you don’t have time write each day. Or do have a Web site, but don’t call yourself a writer if you don’t “write.”
Don’t take my advice. What do I know? Absolutely nothing. Do what works for you.
To Web or Not to Web: That is the question
I hope you are focused enough on your writing to allow for a minor distraction, but building and maintaining a Web site may be a major distraction. If you are already distracted by family, work, and other commitments a Web site may not be for you. Don’t be afraid to be the only person in your chapter without a Web site.
I went to this little university called Stanford, and everyone at Stanford had a bike while I was there. The soon-to-be-fabulously-rich-nerds, football players, sorority girls. Everyone. Well, everyone, but me. In four years of college, I was the only person I knew who didn’t have a bike. I knew how to ride a bike, and I could afford to ride a bike, but I also had two feet, so I walked to class everyday. I walked to my job in the afternoon. And I walked home at night. The moral of the story: I still got a degree at the end of four years (the pain and anguish of that degree is another story) even without the bike.
You want to be a writer not a Web designer, and guess what? You can still be a published author or become one without a Web site. On the other hand, it’s not really as complicated as you think. Coming next month, The 30-Minute Web? Part III of IV: The Devil is in the Details. Wait, I just told you why not to have a Web site, but now I’m going to tell you how to do it anyway…
© Nicki Salcedo. All rights reserved. Article first appeared in The Galley, a publication of Georgia Romance Writers, a chapter of Romance Writers of America. For a printable version