The 7 reasons why you need a self-hosted personal Author Website. (Nr 5 is the most important reason of all)
You need a base of operations, somewhere where people can find you and interact with you. Now I understand that you can do this on Facebook, or Linkedin, or Google+, but, even though it’s a good idea to dabble in social media, I do not think staying there exclusively is the best idea. Here’s why:
1: You get to do your author platform your way
2: No-one but you can take your author platform down
On many platforms, such as social media, you will be at the mercy of the whims of the platform’s evil corporate overlords. If they want to make a change that wrecks your business, and your entire platform is on their servers, you’re going to have a bad time. You have no say in what they do on their platform, so you’ll have to live with what they say. Nicholas Carr warned us against this Digital Sharecropping, and it’s just that. You’re betting that these guys will serve your needs, when all trends suggest otherwise.
3: Your author page is the central access point to your whole audience (no matter which platform they prefer)
They might prefer Twitter, but you feel like a bit of a twit on there, (like I do). They might like Facebook, or somewhere you’ve not heard of. But that does not matter – The one thing that all social media platforms have in common is that they are on the internet, and if you have your own site, so are you. They can link your stuff from whatever platform they prefer, to whatever platform they prefer. You do not have to be on all the platforms and can still reach your audience, because they can click on a link and be on your site.
4: You get to control their user experience on your author page
On a social media site, your visitor gets what the platform thinks they should get. On your own site, you can take your fan by the hand, and show them what you want to show them, when you want to show it. This can be huge; it will stop people seeing things that have expired, such as launch offers that were only for a week. You can craft your website into a sales funnel bent solely on world domination (of book sales). On a social media platform, such as Facebook, you can’t even control the order in which your fans see your posts, if they see it at all.
5: Mailing list integration directly on your author website
You need a mailing list. I understand that it is possible to set up mailing list sign up forms to appear on a social media platform, but I don’t recommend it. It seems haphazard, and you have to get real creative or real technical to get the most out of the sign up button. On a website you own and run you can do some great things around your mailing list sign-ups, such as sweetening the deal with ethical bribes. Marketing to fans on social media is like shouting at them from across a crowded Black Friday shopping mall, talking to fans via e-mail is like whispering in their ears.
6: Better tracking for more professional results
Are people doing what you hope they should be doing on your platform? Do you want them to click on the link to your new book on Amazon, or sign up for your list? A website can track all those things for you through clever use of plugins (website apps) on the site itself. These types of modifications are not possible to use on a platform like a social network, or even on blogs hosted on Blogspot, WordPress, or similar free hosting sites. If you can track it, you can improve it.
7: It’s a lot easier, and cheaper than you think!
I’ve used the amazing Bluehost for many years without any problems. Even that one time that Japanese sports shoe selling hackers inundated my site with 480 000 ads for Chinese knockoff Adidas, they helped me sort that out pretty briskly. I’ve tried other hosts, but they’re just playing for seconds. Click here to see what they can do for you.
If you’re looking for more help on that mailing list issue, Steve Scott’s got a great write up on how to sort that out. Plus, Tim Grahl’s book, Your First 1000 Copies, which I consider a must-read for all authorpreneurs, has a great, step-by-step system for getting those e-mail subscribers in it. I wrote a glowing review for it.
Trust me, mailing lists are the only way to go.