Do I Need a Website? (ABCs of author websites)

cm_logo_final_vertical-copy_300When I am talking with authors (writing nonfiction Catholic spirituality) about putting together a proposal, one question comes up time and time again:

“How important is it to have a website or blog as part of my marketing platform?”

In today’s market, the answer is both simple and not-so-simple. The simple answer can be distilled to a single word: “Very.”

And yet, it can’t be just any website or blog. It also needs to be . . .

Active. Ideally, you have been developing yourself as a writer and speaker long enough to have developed a “tribe,” a group of faithful readers who follow and engage your posts. Ideally, they should have subscribed to your blog (and you will have been collecting their names and email addresses to create your personal distribution list of a couple of thousand names or more). It should also be maintained actively, with regular updates and posts.

Beautiful. Putting together an attractive blog or website doesn’t need to be an expensive proposition. Do-it-yourself programs like WordPress and Blogger can help you design the site that is just right for your needs. Images are important! If you are a photographer or artist, let your work shine! If not, use stock photography or clip art to enhance your message.

Concentrated and complete.  As you develop your author brand, you need to focus your energies in order to attract the audience and sustain the interest of your “tribe” (core audience). What is your area of expertise? Scripture study? Special-needs parenting? Saving money? Editing Catholic books? Develop your blog to appeal to this particular audience. Be sure to include not only your book and blog, but your speaker schedule and (if possible) clips of your talks, so event organizers can get a sense of who you are and how you present.

Ready to get started? Here are some of my favorite Catholic blogs, to inspire you!

Seven of My Favorite Catholic Author Websites/Blogs
(in alphabetical order)

Abbey of the Arts by Christine Valters Paintner. Christine’s online courses and other marketing innovations have helped her to cultivate a strong following all over the world. Her books consistently sell tens of thousands of copies, both here in the U.S. and abroad.

The Catholic Gentleman by Sam Guzman. Because so many of my other favorites are by women, I wanted to be sure to include one that has a more masculine appeal. His use of art and text is very clean and clear, and user-friendly.

(The) Catholic Table by Emily Stimpson. This is one of my favorite recent finds, in which an author shares her passion not just to promote a book, but to connect with her readers on a very personal level. Emily’s personal site is here.

CatholicMom.com by Lisa Hendey. In every sense of the word, the “mother” of Catholic bloggers. Over the years Lisa has generously given of herself to other Catholic moms and helped to launch the writing careers of many other Catholic writers. She has also developed her personal brand into a thing of powerful beauty by connecting and sharing with her “tribe” in a way that is truly impressive.

(The) Practicing Catholic by Deacon Joel and Lisa Schmidt. I especially like how they make following and connecting through every possible social media portal just a click away … and seamlessly integrate their website and blog. Kudos!

Pursuing the Summit by Sonja Corbitt. As beautiful as she is, with thoughtful use of video clips and product descriptions. And she did it all herself on WordPress!

Rose Sweet by … Rose Sweet. This is a good example of a self-branded website (as opposed to a book-driven website. If you don’t have a book to sell (yet) but are actively building your platform through speaking or other media events, or if you have MANY books, this is a good way to go.

A list of other top Catholic blogs may be found here. And for more inspiration, here is an article aptly titled “8 Great Author Websites.”

If you’re curious to see my personal site (which I confess I don’t maintain very well these days, and would need to give a “face lift” before I launch another book), click here.

What are your favorite sites?

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