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Blog vs. Website: What’s the Difference?

November 21, 2010
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Image by Mulad via Flickr

Are blogs and websites different?  Reply hazy, try again.

As an author am I supposed to have both?   As I see it, yes.

Can’t I just write my book and ignore this marketing stuff and hope for the best? My sources say no.

Allow me to step away from vague Magic 8 ball predictions and try to clarify for you.

While as authors most of us would dearly love to ignore all this marketing stuff and just write our books (this is my own personal Nirvana), the simple fact of the matter is that you can’t ignore it.  If you ignore it, then no one will know who you are, and your books will languish at the bottom of whatever list they happen to be on.  You need a platform.

Now I’m not going to tell you to go out and set up active profiles on every social networking site imaginable—though you should set up a bare bones profile to snag your name for your brand.  You’ve done that, right?  I’m not going to tell you that you need to hire a web designer and spend lots of money on making some fancy pants website.  But I will tell you this.  You need to have SOMETHING out there with your name on it.  Somewhere to point people for information on you and your books.  Something for people to FIND when they google your name.

Should I have a blog or a website?  How are they different?

A website is not a blog, but a blog can be a website.  Lemme ‘splain.

Websites are hubs of information with generally static content.  Take our IBC website for example.  We have our main page that explains who we are and what we’re about.  Then we’ve got subpages with profiles on our founders, and oodles of articles providing information to you, our visitor.  For the most part this content doesn’t change.  We may add stuff from time to time, update articles as needed, and post new announcements, but the website is what it is.

A blog is something different.  A blog is (or should be) a dynamic site.  There should be a regularly updated steam of content on a blog, whether you’re posting daily, as I do on my blog, or twice weekly as we do here at the IBC blog.  If you don’t post daily, make a widget for your sidebar that says new posts show up on this day and that each week.  The point is to set a consistent schedule of some kind and stick to it.

I thought you said a blog could be a website.

So I did.  A blog is the hands down easiest way to create a website as an author.  There are several platforms out there where you can do it for free—the two biggest being WordPress.com and Blogger.com.  WordPress actually has two options—Wordpress.com and self-hosted WordPress.   This is outside the scope of my discussion here, but feel free to ask me questions over at Grou.ps where I have more room to expand.   For the purposes of our discussion here, we’re talking about the free versions.  We here at the IBC are divided in our opinions of which of the two is best.  I prefer WordPress.  Cristyn prefers Blogger.  You may direct your questions accordingly.

So as I said, it’s the easiest way to create a website as an author.  You simply pick your hosting platform, create an account (being sure to use your author name as the username—branding, remember?), pick your template, and boom.  Instant website.  No coding or knowledge of HTML or CSS required.  You may all breathe a sigh of relief.

As an author, it is perfectly acceptable to use your blog as your website.  So long as you have all the same information on the blog that you would on a website.  Which brings me to…

The 10 Commandments of An Author Website

  1. Thou shalt not use every widget under the sun. It gets busy and complicated and hard to read.  Simple is better.
  2. Thou shalt have RSS and email subscription options at the top where they are easy to find. People are busy.  They do not have time to come by your blog and check every day for new content.  Make it easy for your content to be delivered to them.
  3. Thou shalt have an author bio page. I know, you hate talking about yourself, but consider this your mini-press kit.  If somebody comes looking, they need to know who you are in a nutshell.
  4. Thou shalt have links to all of your social profiles. Make it easy for folks to connect with you.
  5. Thou shalt not use a patterned/textured background. It is hard to read.
  6. Thou shalt have a list of all your books and links to all available purchase points. Not everyone has a Kindle.
  7. Thou shalt have a search box. Maybe you don’t have a lot of content yet, but you will someday.
  8. Thou shalt not use light text on a dark background. Yes I know it looks pretty but lots of folks have a hard time reading it.
  9. Thou shalt have Share This buttons at the bottom of each post.  Again, this is about making it easy for people to let other people know about you and your stuff.
  10. Thou shalt use a service to automatically Tweet your blog posts. You’ve been following our advice to build your Twitter stream.  Now use it to get the word out.  Just remember that this counts as a commercial for your stuff, so balance it out with several tweets of actual content.

Feel free to swing by my blog/website to see a visual of what I’m talking about.  And if you have questions, please ask!  That’s what we’re here for!

~*~

Kait Nolan is a writer of action-packed paranormal romance that features a fresh and inventive mythology.  No sparklay vamps here!  Her debut release, Forsaken By Shadow, is currently the IBC Book of the Month and will be featured during the launch of ParaYourNormal in December.

It is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, Sony, Scribd, Amazon UK, Kobo, BooksOnBoard, Diesel, and SpringBrook Digital. It is available in audio from Audible, BooksOnBoard, Crossroad Press, Simply Audiobooks, and SpringBrook Digital.

She can be found at her blog, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, MySpace, and Pots and Plots (her cooking blog).

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. November 22, 2010 11:13 am

    Very interesting!

    http://www.bitchindesigner.wordpress.com

    Thank you

    Sarah Gwan

  2. November 22, 2010 11:20 am

    The 10 commandments made me laugh. I’m new to it all, but even I agree you need both or you’re blog has to have enough static content and be “professional” enough to serve as both.
    Very useful post, I’d never even thought of commandment number 7 … off I go …

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