Do Authors Need A Website or Blog? Pros and Cons of Both
Three years ago, I self-published a Christian dark-fantasy novel and was absolutely stumped as to how to get people interested in it. I searched every corner of the internet for advice, tips, and tricks on how I could boost sales and popularity and nearly every community I joined said the same thing:
Start a blog.
While others scoffed and said, no no no—start a website, my dear!
That same summer I started The Rebel Christian, a website and blog—haha! Three years later, The Rebel Christian is still here, growing every day, and that Christian dark-fantasy novel I mentioned earlier? Yeah, I decided to have it un-published not long ago—I’m rewriting and reworking and every other “re” you can think of *shrugs* In the meantime, I’ve learned a thing or two about the benefits of having a website or blog and decided to share them with you.
If you’re reading this article, you’re either one of two things: a dedicated Rebel reader or a curious author trying to decide what step to take next in this everchanging literary world. If you’re a Rebel reader, thank you for stopping by! If you’re a curious author, thank you for stopping by as well! But also, please take the time to subscribe to The Rebel Christian newsletter via email; this article is just one of many that will help you in your publishing journey, stick around and see what you can find.
There is much debate over which is more useful to an author: a website or a blog. I’ll go over the benefits of both.
With a website, you have the option to make more than a simple platform for fans to gather. You can make a brand, sell copies of your book yourself, hold giveaways and fundraisers, you can also start a blog within your website—it’s the best of both worlds. So, what’s the catch? Having a website is a bit more work than maintaining a blog. There’s coding, HTML, deciding which website to build your website on, layout and design and logos, and blah blah blah.
If you have a blog, all you’ve got to do is keep a decent schedule with your updates; one article a month, a week, every other week—but what are you going to write about? Writing? Tell the story of how you became an author? If you’re going to start a blog about writing—or anything else, you’ve got the task of attracting people to your blog and your book. The same can be said about your website, but its much easier to build a website around a single product than it is a blog.
With all that said: why did I decide to make both?
To be honest, The Rebel Christian started as a blog. I would post reviews for books I’d read and sometimes talk about my own writing, I also started a section explicitly for Christian literature and studies—pretty much what I do now. Except today TRC has hundreds of subscribers and reaches readers across the globe.
Having a blog allowed me to develop a much more personal relationship with readers and authors more than a simple website would have. But having a website also allowed me to run advertisement—not just for my work but for others as well—I’ve also added other blogs to the website and now offer editing services. I’ve had three years to build The Rebel Christian, a lot of prayer, fasting, and hard work was put into it. Truth be told, TRC wouldn’t be what it is today without Christ my savior—whether you’ve got God in your corner or not, the decision to start a blog, website, or a hybrid of both is one that will heavily impact your career as an author.
If maintaining either a blog or website sounds like a daunting task, you can always consider simply building a presence on social media. In my recent time sending queries to literary agencies, I’ve noticed many of them ask for a link to your website/blog as well as links to a number of social media platforms; Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, even YouTube in some cases. The point is, agencies expect you to have a platform—where that platform is built is totally up to you, but you need one nonetheless.
When I first set out to build an audience, I’d already had a few thousand followers across multiple social media platforms; so why did I decide to start a website from scratch? Because all my social media accounts were dedicated to my social life, which included nothing about writing. 99% of my friends or followers were either strangers or friends I hadn’t spoken to since high school; for me it didn’t matter whether I started a website or started tweeting about my writing once a week—I was starting from scratch either way and I thought it was best to start with The Rebel Christian. Social media is slightly easier to handle and definitely gives a more personal feel to things, but it still has its share of hard work and doesn’t offer as much diversity as a website does.
To me, it doesn’t matter whether an author has a blog, website, social media, or all three—if your work is good enough, it will sell regardless but that doesn’t mean a platform won’t help a little. When you’re just starting out, a platform isn’t so much about boosting sales as it is about raising awareness. Let readers know who you are, your book will tell them about your writing, take some time to tell fans about you. Like me, you may find yourself branching into other areas and interests or even helping other authors along the way.
Reading this article shows you’re already on the right path, even though this is an important decision, don’t worry, any platform is better than no platform and you can always shift and expand. A blog can become a website, which can branch into social media. Take it one step at a time and work hard at whatever you choose to establish. In the meantime, you are more than welcome to explore The Rebel Christian and take advantage of the free and paid services offered. Don’t forget to subscribe to the newsletter, there’s a form at the foot of every page.