The very obvious answer is to pay a professional but hey, most of us live in the real world. Paying a professional web designer may be desirable, even sensible, but it’s also far more expensive than free. Author advances can quickly be gobbled by such expenses. If you want to build a free site for yourself, but are baffled at how to begin, hopefully I can give you a few tips over the next few weeks. Ready?
WEEK 1 The very, very basics……….
A few people have asked this question on various different forums so I thought I’d tell you how I did it. I’m no expert, I know a very very limited amount of coding, so what what I’m going to tell you is very basic but it’s probably enough to get you started. It’s also based on what I’ve learned as I’ve built various sites – there will be other ways to do it, possibly even easier ways!
Imagine a village high street full of shop fronts, behind which is the workshop with all the equipment to display the things in the shop hidden at the back. Those workshops are the website builders, or the platforms, and the shop front is your website. There are a lot of workshops to choose from and I can’t tell you about them all because I don’t have experience of them all. I’ve used:
Blogger ( meh)
Jimdo (Ok )
BT’s own website builder ( yuk)
WordPress.com (my fave and where this website is built)
Ready? We’re going to use wordpress and we’re going to build a really simple website together. I can’t promise I’ll do it all logically, I learned this stuff by trial and error, but by the end of this page you will have a website. Click this link, it’ll open on a new page so you won’t lose this one: GETTING STARTED (TIP To save you hopping back from one page to another, if you have Windows 7 or above, , you can pull apart the tabs at the top. We’ll call this blog A, and your new website B. Just left click on the tab for A and drag it away from B. Use the double page icon top right to make it smaller, then drag it to the left hand side of the screen as far as it’ll go – it should lock in place and fill the left side of the screen. Now make B a bit smaller the same way and drag it all the way over to the right. It should lock in place next to it so you can work in them side by side.)
On the page you’ve opened, you’ll be asked to choose a theme. This is the style of your website. Choose one you like, you can always change it later. I’ve chosen SOLA because it’s pink and I like it. Click your choice and you’ll move on to choose your…
Your domain name is just your blog address. That’s it. If you already own a domain name, you’ll need to map it to your new website. If you are starting from scratch, as I’m guessing you are if you are using my super easy guide, you can chose a domain name in the next step. Unless you choose something that ends wordpress.com you will need to pay for it and it’s usually a small annual fee. The advantage of a paid web address is just that it looks more professional and fits more neatly on your business cards/book marks.
But it’s up to you – for the purposes of this exercise, I’ve chosen
Cos it’s free and I already have a website.
So go ahead, type what you like in the domain or key name box and take your pick. It makes sense for you to choose your name not your book title – there’ll be more books coming after all! And we’re nearly there….
CREATE YOUR WEBSITE
Choose your plan – we’re going for a freebie, you can always upgrade it later – so do it now, click select a free plan!
There you go, we’ve done it! The website exists – now all we need to do is add content and for that we need to go into the workshop behind the shopfront…ready?
Click the magic words Let’s get Started.
And we’re in the workshop…
Today we’re going to WRITE a front page, insert a PICTURE and add some LINKS.
To begin just WRITE your title in the box where it says title…just type over it, it’ll be fine.
Now click underneath the little bar of icons to add content to the body of the page..
We’re going to add a PICTURE. See the add media button in this picture?
This page will store all your images and videos – click add new or add media and choose a file from your pictures folder on your computer. Make it a good one…Once it’s uploaded, click insert. There’s other stuff you can do on this page but we are keeping it simple…
Once you have inserted your picture you can change its size by clicking on it and dragging one of the tiny white boxes at the corner in or out. When you’ve clicked the picture, you’ll also see some icons – these allow you to change the position of the picture and add a caption – go ahead and have a play – you can always use the back arrow to undo what you’ve done – you’ll find that in the second bar of icons at the top of the place you’re adding your content. It’s just a back bending arrow.
Ok, now add some text underneath
Let’s use your bio – you can get some bio writing tips from me and Nick Cross over on Notes from the Slushpile.
You are basically writing a blog post but we can organise your content more as we learn. Wordpress will save as you go but if you want to save more frequently there’s a tiny blue SAVE up on the left hand side, over the publish button. You are doing GREAT and we’re nearly there for today. All we’re going to do now is add some LINKS! These are little gateways to other webpages. You might want to link straight to where someone can buy your book, or you might want to link to some other interesting content.
You could just put a web address in for people to copy and paste but it looks so much more professional to add a link to text. To do this, first find the website you want to link to . Next, highlight the piece of text you want the link to jump from.
Next, copy the web address you want to link to from the address bar of the page – highlight, right click, copy. Come back to your new website . Now look at the top line of icons at the top of the page, see the little chain icon? That’s your tool for adding hyperlinks. Click it.
Right click in the box marked URL and paste the website address you want to link to. Then tick the box underneath that says ‘open in another page’ – that just means they won’t lose your website when they click the link. Click Add link.
You’ve done it!!
Just one more tiny thing:
On the left hand side of the screen there are a few buttons that will help people find and navigate around your websites. We’ll come to most of them another time but we’re going to set your featured image today. Just click the drop down menu on featured image, select Set featured image, and choose the picture you uploaded earlier by clicking on it and then clicking Set Featured Image.
Now press that big blue button on the left that says PUBLISH.
We like that word 🙂 Well done, you’ve got a very basic website! We’ll add more next time! Now I have to go and write a book…but in the mean time, here’s one we made earlier. we’ll iron out some of the creases soon!
Next week : Categories and tags
In addition to running a fruit farm, Kathryn is a mother who loves to belly dance, fences competitively and is a passionate supporter of SCBWI for whom she volunteers as Finance Co-ordinator for SCBWI British Isles. She lives on her farm near Chichester. More of Me, published by Usborne, is her debut novel. Agent: Sophie@sophiehicksagency.com