Did you finally do it? Did you set up a WordPress website?
If you answered yes, then it means you can probably pull off the rest of the work on your own.
Unfortunately, installing WordPress is just the beginning of building a writer website. There’s more to do, but don’t get lost in the maze. It’s easy to get confused with all the things you need to learn about building a site with WordPress.
It’s not that complicated. You just need to take care of the important things first.
1. Set your permalinks
A permalink is a format for your site’s links, such as a link to a blog post. You can choose different formats for a permalink. This setting is, as the name suggests, permanent. Changing it later can greatly affect your site’s traffic, so you need to pick the one you really want from the start.
Go to Settings > Permalinks
Select which format you would want for your posts.
I like Post name because it’s shorter and easier to understand.
Remember that you need to pick and set the permalink you want now and you can’t change it later if you don’t want your old links to stop working.
2. Install JetPack
JetPack is like a Swiss Army knife for WordPress. It will give you basic features like website traffic information, social media sharing, and website backup.
When you first install WordPress, you’re going to get a prompt suggesting to install JetPack, and you should go ahead and do so.
It will connect you to your WordPress.com account. If you don’t have one, you can create a free account. Once done, you’ll see Site Stats on the left menu panel and this is where you can go to see your website’s traffic information (number of page views).
Another important feature of Jetpack is the ability to backup your site on a daily basis. This is a paid service, but it’s a great investment that ensures you get all your blog posts and website content backed up just in case your site crashes or falls victim to hacking.
3. Upload your logo and favicon
Even if you don’t have a clear idea of how you want your website to look like, you at least need to have a logo and favicon to work with.
A logo can go on top of your website’s homepage (or on all pages) and a favicon is a little icon that appears on a browser’s tab when opening a website. Below is an example of a favicon.
If you signed up with Hostgator and you didn’t change the favicon, it will show Hostgator’s icon — and that’s not a good look.
You can use a simple free graphic design tool like Canva to create a logo and favicon, or you can hire a designer — totally your choice.
4. Install a Coming Soon plugin
If you don’t want people to see a half-finished website, you can set up a “coming soon” page that only visitors can see. You’ll see the actual state of your website when you’re logged in to your WordPress dashboard.
The fastest way to do this without messing with HTML codes is to install a Coming Soon plugin — get the most popular one from Seedprod (affiliate link).
The plugin is free and provides basic features, but there’s also a premium version that gives you access to several Coming Soon Themes which includes a launch timer and an option for visitors to subscribe to your email newsletter.
5. Organize your tasks
Once you have done the first four tasks, you can proceed to the next ones — but you need to have a plan.
Whether you write it on paper or on a software, you need to have a schedule of things that you need to do to build your website. This is important become some parts of your website are dependent on a series of tasks that need to be done.
For instance, you cannot set up your portfolio or about page if you don’t have the copy or images that you want to put in those pages.
I used the project management app Trello when I was building my website to keep track of what I’ve done and what still needs to be done.
You can use whatever app or method you prefer. The important thing is to track your progress and keep moving.
6. Install a theme
This step is a big decision to make. A theme will define your website’s appearance. It will help you organize your pages and present website text, images and other media in an attractive way.
I’ve tried dozens of themes when I first started this website. The free ones were okay for a while. However, as my freelance writing services grew, I wanted my website to look really polished.
So I bought the Genesis Framework from Studiopress (affiliate link). This framework is the backbone of many themes from StudioPress. You can get the framework with a free sample theme or get a premium theme to go with the framework.
You can do what I did and start with free themes and upgrade later. But know that it will cost you to lose the look of your website with the old theme. So you would have to reconfigure the new theme to make everything look okay again.
Save yourself this trouble and get a theme that you’re sure you’re going to stick with for the long haul.
I am perfectly happy with my simple (yet powerful) Genesis theme, so I highly recommend it.
7. Write your website copy
When you decide to promote your writing services on a website, you are now more than just a writer — you become a salesperson.
You need to sell your service in every part of your site, from the home page to your About Me page. This also gives your audience an idea of how well you can write.
About Me page
They say your About Me page is not really about you. It’s what you can do for a possible client, and why you are the perfect person to do it.
Well, how will someone know your competency if you don’t talk about yourself on some level?
So my answer would be that your About Me is still about you, but it will be the things you’ve done in your life that makes you a qualified writer in your niche.
If you’re a travel writer and you’ve traveled 50 countries, then this information is worth a mention in your About Me page. You may be tempted to include other achievements like finishing a 100k marathon, but that won’t be appropriate.
Whatever you do, do not write in the third person. Use the first person if you want to make a genuine connection with your audience.
Setting a tone
You will need to write even more compelling copy for the rest of your site, including the homepage which is the first page someone sees when they go to your site. You also need to write your Contact or Hire Me page.
Whatever your approach, always have a consistent tone throughout your content. Do you want to sound friendly? Professional? Authoritative? Laid-back? Pick a tone and stick to it.
The most important thing is to proofread and edit everything on your site before hitting Publish. There’s nothing more embarrassing than a writer’s website with spelling or grammar errors.
8. Set up a contact form
One of the main goals of your writer website is to get more writing gigs by attracting clients.
When a client is interested, they’d want to get in touch with you. The easiest way to do that is to have a Contact page in your website and in this page, there should be a form that people can use to send you a message (which you received in your email).
Why not just put your email address?
It’s not a good idea to put your email address anywhere on your site for a few reasons:
- Your email can get spammed
- The person sending you an email might not spell it correctly and you will never get the email
- Your email can get added to a sales campaign that’s not related to your website or service (another form of spam
- Nobody does it (seriously, I checked)
I use Ninja Forms. It’s free and it’s enough if you want a simple form.
At this point, there are many other things you can do with your site, but I feel these are the most crucial ones.
When you finish these steps, it’s tempting to obsess over every detail of your site and feel like you need to start over again. Resist this urge.
As long as your website is easy to look at, doesn’t have typos and shows exactly the type of writer that you are, then you’re off to a great start.
Give your initial website room to breathe before you do any major changes. Don’t get hung up on fancy designs or expensive plugins. Focus on a website that is easy to navigate and a pleasure to read.