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Hi everyone I’m Johanna pen from the creative pen comm and today I’m, going to go through a tutorial on how to set up your author website. Now there’s, going to be a series of videos and in this first video we’re, going to actually set up your own self hosted author website.
In the second video, we will actually install a theme and make it look pretty and in the third video we’re, going to set up your email list. We’ll. Take it step by step. So if you’re, not confident with technology, don’t worry, you’ll, be able to follow along and rewind the video or whatever you need.
But hopefully you’ll, see that it’s. Not that complicated to have a really professional-looking website and email list online, but first just a little bit about me. So currently I write under three author names.
I write under Joanna pen for my nonfiction and my website. The creative pen. I write thrillers under J, f pen and I also write sweet romance, which I co-write with my mum under penny appleton. Now this may look complicated and in fact this is the result of many years of work.
But what we’re going to do today is focus on the very simplest of my author names, which is penny Appleton, which has only been around for not that long at all and has a very simple website. So this is the penny.
Appleton com website and it is pretty basic, but it ‘ S got everything a new author needs. It has book information, it has an email signup and if I scroll down you can see, we have the different books and going into the book.
One of the examples you can see that it has links and all the information that our new author needs, as well as an about page and an email signup, so that’s. What we’re going to get to now, this type of design will work for fiction or nonfiction, so it doesn’t matter.
What you’re writing. The same process will apply and importantly, at this stage, penny Appleton does not have a blog. It really is just a basic author static website. So I hope that you will find this useful.
So we’re, going to start by looking at why you should go self-hosted because of course, there are lots and lots of free websites out there that you can use to start building your author platform and that’s completely fine.
But if you are ready to take your author platform to the next level, then I think you should consider doing this in a professional way. Now. These are the reasons why self hosting is so important. So the first first of all and the most important thing is control.
If you don’t own your site, then it can be taken away from you, but if you do own it, if you are paying for hosting you own that, and no one can take it away from you and that’s. Super important because free sites are built on the goodwill and often marketing energy of companies who own the real estate that you’re using for free, so take an example of Facebook.
You don’t own Facebook. Everything you put onto Facebook is owned by Facebook and they then use that to do whatever they want with. They can change the rules. The same thing, if you’re using a free website host, they can change the rules at any point, and there are authors who’ve had their sites taken down because the hosting company decided they didn’t like it, Whereas if you’re paying for hosting, you have control, and all you know what, if that company decides not to continue running the service anymore, your work will disappear so and the other thing is as indie authors, we love to be in control of Our own assets, our own intellectual property asset and a website, is an asset for your author business.
As someone who’s been doing this for many years now. I know that my websites are just so important for my profile as an author for how people find me on the Internet and yeah having control of your own site is super important, so the second reason is more functionality.
So if you use a free site, you will be limited in the number of different things you can use and you don’t necessarily have access to all the cool functionality that you would, if you self, host it so for WordPress sites.
This means you get to use all the awesome plugins that enable you to do so much more than the free sites, and also it’s more professional now, just as a book is judged by its cover, so you are judged by your professional-looking website Online, so readers, age, publishers, journalists, TV producers, bloggers, podcasters, all of these people are going to visit your website once you start getting out there with your work and as someone who does this a lot, I can tell a free site from a mile off and it Does affect my opinion of how professional that author is so how seriously are you taking your author career if you are just using basic free sites, so investing not very much money, like only a couple of coffees a month on a professional website is super important.
If you want to take it further – and we are very lucky at this point in history – I mean it used to cost thousands of dollars to set up a website. But now it really is very cheap and I will be going into the costs as we go through, but it’s.
It’s, just not much money at all. So hopefully that will help you to consider why you should have a self-hosted site and, yes, we are getting into the tutorial, but all this stuff is important up front so just to let you know as well as we go through these video series.
I’m, an affiliate of the services and tools that I mentioned, and that’s, because I really do recommend them and use them myself and hopefully have curated the best services for you. So you can find the best functionality.
So I make a small percentage of the sale if you buy through my links, but of course you don’t need to buy through my links. I make it very clear: what are the services you can use, but if you do buy through my links, I do get a small percentage and you don’t pay any more and in fact you will get a discount if you use my links In some of the examples, so using these links helps me produce these types of free resources, so I hope you will consider using them along the way.
So let’s start by getting clear about what some of these words mean. If you’re, not very technical, so first of all a domain name is your address on the internet. So it might be your author name, your business name, I wouldn’t, suggest your book name as your main site, because ever as I found you tend to write more books along the way.
So that was actually a mistake I made at the beginning of my author career. I built a website based on my first book and then, of course I wrote another book, so I definitely suggest writing and having website.
As your author name, I have jfn calm. The creative pen, calm, penny, appleton, calm and actually a whole load of other ones, but those are my main ones so that’s, a domain name hosting is basically where you rent a space to store and run your website on the computers of a Specialized hosting company – and this means that your website is accessible to people on the internet now the important thing is, as I have done over the last you know eleven years online is that you can change companies.
So if you buy a domain name or a hosting service at this point with the site’s, I’m going to tell you about. You can change those in the future and this is important as you scale. So I’m recommending Bluehost because I think it’s, the best service for authors starting out, and certainly it’s.
What I use for my basic authors, but when it comes to you, know a site as big as the creative pen. I actually have moved to a much bigger hosting plan, much more expensive because it’s a much bigger website.
But the point is – and it’s very good – to know this upfront if you use Bluehost that I’m, going to recommend and choose to buy a domain name through them choose to host with them that doesn’t Lock you in for the rest of your life, so what you can do later on if your site grows like mine has, is you can move to a more dedicated hosting service, but that will be a lot more expensive and something to do later on in your Career, so I recommend Bluehost if you’re just getting started and if you use my link, you’ll, get a discounted price and we will walk through it in a minute.
But that link is the creative pen com forward, slash Bluehost. So why do I recommend Bluehost? So first of all, they do have 24/7 support by email, online chat or phone now as an introvert. I always prefer the online chat version, because let’s face it.
Who wants to talk about these things, but that’s really useful? And sometimes you can just get your query solved with a little online chat reliability. So the up time average of 99.9 %, which you know is great means your websites up ease of use.
So it really is easy and I will walk you through it in a minute. So there shouldn’t, be any technical headaches. WordPress officially recommends three services and Bluehost is one of them, so it’s actually recommended you know by one of the biggest sites that people use on the web.
There are, if you choose the particular plan. I’m gonna recommend. There are no limits, so you get unlimited space. Bandwidth domains, email accounts, so your site can grow over time and that’s, exactly what you want and it’s affordable.
So it really is only a few dollars a month depending on which plan you choose and you can get a discount if you use my link and there is a 30-day money-back guarantee, if you change your mind, so let’s get into it.
So just go to the creative pen com forward, slash Bluehost! So if you go to the creative pen, comm forward, slash Bluehost, my affiliate link, you’re, going to end up on this page now. This is a special offer for people who come through.
My link, so you will get a discount, as it says, starting at 295 a month depending on what plan you use now. The other important thing is that the chat button is up here and there’s. Also, if you prefer to talk to people you can, but if you have any questions any time, you can always use the little chat box up here.
So we’re, going to first get started by quick, get started now, okay, so these are the current packages available. If you go through my link now I don’t own Bluehost and they do change their packages so depending on when you come through, these might change.
But basically you can see the difference in pricing and, of course, the plus and the prime right now are the same price. So why wouldn’t you go for the prime version and the difference here is mainly the one website versus unlimited and also the website space and the email accounts.
So those are some of the things to consider. You know if you’re just starting out, then absolutely you know you can just go for that. One. If you want to make sure you can scale, then maybe consider going Plus or prime now.
One other thing that I think is important. Is this option, which is the go pro option? If you are an author who is migrating from a different site, or if you are considering selling direct down here, you can see that the GoPro version actually has an SSL certificate and that SSL certificate means the HTTPS prefix that goes on websites.
Now. This will become increasingly important, especially if you’re selling direct, but for most authors, starting out these options will be completely fine. So I’m, going to demonstrate this prime version, and but you can make your own choice.
Okay. So now you’re, going to be on the sign up now at screen. There are two options: one you can get a domain from Bluehost or if you already have a domain name, you can type that in and continue your website hosting setup.
With your domain name, so, for example, I own jfn com, so I could type in jfn comm here and then set up a database on that site. However, what I’m going to demonstrate today is setting up a new domain within Bluehost, as this is what most likely a new author would do, but they’re, pretty much very similar functionalities.
So I’m, going to set up a completely new author so that when you go to look at this later on, you can see that I really did build it on this tutorial, and so I’ve typed in the name that I want there and then I’m, going to click Next now, just to say on the suffix, there are lots of different options.
So if your comm isn’t available, you can choose many of these other things. I’m gonna go for the dot-com okay. So now we come into the next screen and basically we set up our account details and if you do use Google Mail, you can sign.
In with Google, I’m, going to use just my normal information, so just type that in and it doesn’t matter. If you are in a different country, this is available globally, so just type in your details. Okay, so obviously I will hide my details for obvious reasons and then you come in and you have to decide on the package information.
So this is really important and this is where you get to decide what you want so that special price you can see here for 36 months, so you, but you can change that. So, for example, you can actually say no.
I just want to do pay for a year up front and I will pay a slightly higher price. So you get to decide what you’re going to do there. You will see the different options changing. The other thing you can decide is to add or take out these different things now.
So Bluehost is a company like any other. They do want to sell you other things and you will get lots of options as to extras, but you definitely don’t need them. So you can have a look decide whether or not you want to take those extras and if not just uncheck everything, so that you only get the basics, then you need to enter your payment information and again I’m, going to hide my payment Details for obvious reasons, then you need to agree the Terms of Service all the usual stuff.
And yes, of course, you should read all that because of course we always do and then click Submit. So now you get the congratulations. Welcome to Bluehost – and here are a few special offers. So here is where you will.
As I said, they will mention various upsells. You don’t necessarily need any of them, but there may be some that you do want. So here’s, a good example. You know you can accept major credit and debit cards now.
These are mostly not things that a new author is going to need. So I’m just going to say no thanks. You will see different things come up here over time. Ok, so then it will say your purchase was successful and you will get a confirmation email.
At this point, you might be offered a theme too for your website, but in the second video in this series I’m, going to show you how to set up the website theme that I use for my authors. So you can just scroll to the bottom and skip all you might like some of them.
You never know so. Then. What happens? Is you’ll get this message that says we are temporarily hosting the WordPress installation. We will upset update the site once it’s, ready, which is very cool, so essentially they are automatically loading the WordPress software on the site for you.
So while that’s happening, we’ll just go and have a look at the account, so you can see some of the other functionality. So I’m just gonna go to my Bluehost account. So this is what the account looks like behind the scenes and again I don’t own Brujo.
So the look and feel may well change over time, but you can see it’s, essentially quite a basic setup. There’s, nothing too exciting and you have different management areas. Importantly things like billing and email, and things like that.
So just so you know you can always come into your account and manage the various different things there right. So you will receive an email that contains your information and it will have various buttons in and have links to your account log on and in for important information that you will need to save and again.
For obvious reasons I won’t show you mine, but you can essentially go and log in straightaway. If you do get an error, it just will take maybe 10 minutes 15 minutes for them to set things up in the background, depending on how busy their services are, but certainly it won’t, be very long before you can just click log into WordPress and you will be inside a WordPress back-end as we like to call it, and basically, if you have been using a free, wordpress.
com site, this will be familiar to you and you can either say I don’t need any help if you want To get things set up or you can use a lot of their other services if you like, so I’m gonna click, I don’t need help and you’re, going to see lots of different information.
But what is exciting is to be able to actually have a look at your site on the Internet’s, so just go to welcome visit site and you’re, going to see your website on the Internet. Yes, it’s going to be there now.
This is a very standard type of initial install and what we’re going to do in the next video is actually configure this so that it looks like an author Pro site. Using the author Pro theme now, one thing to remember is that the internet takes a while to kind of propagate around the world.
So if you’re like oh well, you know I’ll phone, my mom and get her to check it and she can’t see it. Yet if you’ve just built it, it will be because it needs some time to replicate around the various internet nodes around the world.
But don’t. Worry you. Don’t need to know those technical details. Just know that within a certain amount of time it will be available and you can check again tomorrow on your phone or anywhere else, and it should be all good.
So congratulations. You now have a self-hosted author website, and now you can customize it add your books and do whatever you like and remember. This is the process that basically I went through back in 2008 when I set up the creative pen and what’s important.
I think with the WordPress software, and these hosting services is when you understand that what you’re building is, like you know your house over time. You can paint it, you can change the look. You can change the rooms if you want, you can add things.
You can take things away. You can basically, when you own it, you can do whatever you like to that site and the creative pen command. J of pen com have gone through various redesigns over time. I’ve, moved hosting platforms.
I’ve changed domain management, but the important thing is to get started with at least something that you can manage and it hopefully you’ve. Seen from this video that it’s, not that scary, it’s, not too technical.
It’s, not very expensive, and you can get started right now with a professional self-hosted website. Okay, so in the next video we’re, going to look at how to set up your website with the author Pro theme, which is what I use for pennyapple, send calm and jfn calm and what I recommend to many authors starting out.
So I hope you found that useful and I’ll, see you in the next video you